For World Gin Day, here are a selection of vintage golf-themed Gin ads and a little background on the beverage:
Originating in Holland in the 1650, Gin originally was produced for medicinal purposes. Its inventor, Dr. Franciscus de La Boie, mixed a grain alcohol base with the oil of Juniper Berries, ostensibly for their diuretic properties. There’s no indication of how successful it was as a medicine. It caught on, however, with British troops stationed on the continent during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701 – 1714).
Juniper flavoring was nothing new. Brandies, for example, can be flavored with juniper. What made Gin different was that the Juniper was distilled into un-aged grain alcohol. Typically, grain alcohols need to be aged for years to turn them into palatable whiskies. White Lightening is just too harsh for most people. Juniper oil, on the other hand, makes it drinkable. And relatively cheap. The cost of a fine whiskey is in the time taken to age and the loss of product due to evaporation. A gin can go straight from distilling to the bottle (watered down, of course).
My own speculation is that the drink became popular among British soldiers because so many were from Ireland, Scotland and other parts of Britannia familiar with the distilling of grain alcohols. They wouldn’t have had the time or patience to age the whiskey in camp, so distilling with juniper berries and other aromatics and watering down the concoction was an acceptable alternative.
The classic Gin and Tonic cocktail originated with the British East India Company of the 18th century. Quinine was known to be an effective anti-malarial, but the bitter taste made it difficult to stomach. Given the popularity of gin among British soldiers — who were given a daily gin ration — a mix of quinine tonic water with lime, sugar and gin was a widespread solution.
The ease and relative inexpense of making gin probably accounted for its popularity during the American Prohibition, and for the rise of the Gin-and-Vermouth Martini as the classic American cocktail.
On buffet tables, garnished with glistening hors-d’oeuvre, spiced baked hams crowded against salads of harlequin designs and pastry pigs and turkeys bewitched to a dark gold. In the main hall a bar with a real brass rail was set up, and stocked with gins and liquors and with cordials so long forgotten that most of his female guests were too young to know one from another.
F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby
The great H.L. Mencken said that “Martinis are the only American invention as perfect as a sonnet.”
A Gin Rickey is also mentioned in The Great Gatsby:
With a reluctant backward glance the well-disciplined child held to her nurse’s hand and was pulled out the door, just as Tom came back, preceding four gin rickeys that clicked full of ice. Gatsby took up his drink. “They certainly look cool,” he said, with visible tension. We drank in long greedy swallows.
Gin Rickeys are a highball of gin, mixed with soda water and a squeezed half lime. It gets its name from a Colonel Rickey who is said to have invented it in 1883 when he asked for lime to be added to his morning bourbon. Gin was later substituted.
The Tom Collins is a mix of gin, lemon juice, sugar and carbonated water. Like the Rickey, it dates to the mid 1800s. The name may refer to an Irish political activist.
The distinction between a Tom Collins and a Gin Fizz, both of which have virtually identical ingredients, is up for debate.
Finally, there’s the great “Gin Quote” from Casablanca:
“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world. She walks into mine.”