BENGALURU: Gin gets its name from the Dutch word genever which is juniper in English. It is juniper - the tree of twisted trunk and gnarled bough - that sets gin apart from all other types of liquor. Gin traces its origin to liquors produced back in the Middle Ages, with references to a spirit flavoured with “genever” referenced in a 13th century Flemish manuscript. By the 1600s, the Dutch were producing gin in earnest, with hundreds of distilleries in the city of Amsterdam alone.
Gin was originally produced as a medicine and was distributed by “chemists” for treating ailments such as gout and dyspepsia. Consumed in large quantities, it probably did help ameliorate perception of the symptoms associated with these issues and many others, such as “Coward’s Fist” though only for a few hours at a time. Gin gained its popularity doing the Thirty Years’ War, when British soldiers fighting on the Dutch land were bolstered with “Dutch Courage” by, you know, drinking gin.
Gin remained popular with the Brits, notable for its use by soldiers and colonials living in lands which were prone to malaria infections. Gin was excellent at masking the unpleasant, bitter flavour of the antimalarial alkaloid quinine, a necessity for the susceptible foreigners. This medical elixir was developed into Gin & Tonic (G&T) we know, and love to this day.
Gin is essentially a day drink and a lot of whisky and rum drinkers prefer a G&T over other drinks during day time. With Covid restrictions, more and more people are drinking in the afternoon as everything is shut by early evening.
Apart from a lot of international gin brands making their foray into India, we have a lot more homegrown companies making gin and this too has led to its popularity among the drinking crowd. In the modern era, gin has seen a resurgence in popularity as mixology has gone mainstream.
One of the factors contributing to the popularity of this drink lies in its simplicity which lets mixologists experiment with various flavours and combinations to elevate the G&T. For instance, addition of lavender tonic water gives the cocktail a floral touch, elevating the drinker’s sensory experience.
At our place, G&T is an integral part of the URU Gin Garden. Here, the guest can choose from a plethora of house tonics like Frangipani, Cherry Blossoms, Japanese Yuzu and pair it with their choice of gin, to create their own perfect G&T.
(The writer is resident mixologist & beverage manager, URU Brewpark)