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Self Destruction, the History of Gin

March 7, 2014 , , , ,

The medicinal use of gin to prevent kidney problems in the tropics was made popular by the British.  It was invented in the 17th century by Dutch medical professor Dr Franciscus Sylvius who called it Genever.  It was pure alcohol flavored with juniper berries.  The medicinal qualities of the berries treated the expatriate Dutch kidney complaints, since juniper is a diuretic.  William of Orange made it popular in the UK.   For almost the entirety of the eighteenth century half the population of England was guzzling gin.  The cheapness and availability made it the curse of lower class London.

Gin and tonic also came about for medicinal treatment, for malaria.  Quinine in tonic water was effective in prevention of malaria for the Brits in tropical parts of the Empire.  One of the greatest fans of this medicinal drink was a medical doctor himself. Graham Chapman of Monty Python stayed drunk with Keith Moon of the Who for the decade of the 1970’s in an homage to the eighteenth century, I suppose.  Dr. Chapman calculated how much gin and tonic would kill a person, and consumed just short of that amount each day.  That is a scientific view of self destruction that is unusual.  It took a toll. Now for Python lovers there will be a revival called One Down Five to Go in London.

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Gin is VERY fashionable here right now, we have lots of boutique gins from small distilleries


March 8, 2014

There are a few American gin makers now, and the Bombays are highly popular.



March 8, 2014

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