Why is Gin so popular?
Gin is one of the most well known and popular spirits in the world. It’s found in nearly every culture with many variants and cocktails. From a refreshing Gin and Fizz, to a sophisticated French 75, this spirit has a plethora of mixing opportunities found nearly anywhere on the planet. This begs the question: why is gin so popular?
The gin origin:
We’ve discussed in past articles the birthing of this spirit, but to catch up, I’ll give you the short of it. Gin was invented in the 17th century, and while it’s not totally clear on the objective creator, it’s said to be Franciscus Sylvius, a professor of medicine at the University of Leiden in Holland.
The drink wasn’t always meant to get your buzz on however; instead it was supposed to be an inexpensive cure-all medicine for the masses. If you’re a health nut yourself, you’d probably taste the familiar piney taste of juniper berries within gin! The alcohol was distilled with this superfood because of its known health benefits. It’s still present in the alcohol today, but more for taste and not for performance (I mean, it might be ok to tell yourself you’re being healthy by pouring that gin into your tonic if it helps you sleep at night).
Nearing the 18th century, the price of food went down and the income went up. London got a hold of gin and put their own spin on the spirit. They loved this liquor so much that they nearly drowned in the stuff (not literally, but may as well have). In fact, it’s said that the entire city had a love affair with gin, which they coined as “the mother’s ruin” because women would mistreat their children when guzzling the stuff. Although this might all be hearsay, what is well documented is that London drank upwards of 11 MILLION GALLONS of this alcohol in 1733 alone! Things got so out of control for them that parliament had to step in five times to pass five major acts to pump the brakes on their societes addiction. Needless to say, the gin craze finally saw an end around 1750.. Or did it?
Well, I don’t want to sound misleading, but gin never really died out after England’s insane problem with the stuff. The Brits still loved the spirit. In fact, it found a home with soldiers to fight infections, malaria, and simple health ailments. Does this sound familiar? Once again, the drink found itself a medical use once more! The taste of this spirit could mask the bitter flavor of the antimalarial quinine well. We can now call this refined and developed concoction Gin & Tonic today. This is perhaps the most well known highball cocktail in modern history!
Gin has been around for centuries but it’s certainly grown immensely in popularity in today’s world. There’s many reasons for this and it’d be hard to pinpoint the exact reason for its fame, but here a couple reasons:
This comes in two parts. Firstly, our neighbors across the pond used to deal with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (or HMRC for short) making it next to impossible for new gin companies to prosper due to their hold on the industry. After a historic two-year legal battle however, distilleries won the legal right to produce and sell gin in small amounts. This opened a wormhole of new independent gin companies across their nation to pump out the alcohol. This wasn’t exclusive to Europe; here in the US, we saw a spike in our gin consumption after the rise of craft distilleries. What this means is that the drink’s popularity went up, the price went down, and we all can enjoy its goodness no matter our economic status. They say history repeats itself, but I surely hope we don’t enter our own Gin Craze.
To backpack off of gins accessibility and affordability, it’s also incredibly versatile. Mixed drinks and cocktails are for anyone over 21, and what was once reserved for the bougie class or boozy nights out, is now for any occasion. Cocktail culture took ahold of gin, so there’s many options to choose from; you could go with classics like the Gimlet if you’re seeking a citrusy mix to get your sea legs under you, or a Papa Smurf for your modern and progressive, yet still true to gin’s healthy heritage needs! This alcohol could be adapted and mixed to your heart’s desire.
Gin has one of the strangest origins of any spirit today. From being used repeatedly as a medicine throughout its near 300 year old history, to Europe’s weird obsession and addiction to the stuff. We now see it as not just a staple spirit in bars and liquor stores alike, but it transcends into pop culture when referred to in songs and cinema too. It’s no secret that gin is a household name today, and it’s safe to say that it’ll stick this way for a very long time.