This is a tiny course preview for Gin, which starts next Tuesday. Gin can get a bad rap sometimes, and it's my self-selected job to bring it back to the masses. Fun fact: My relatives went to jail for distilling during Prohibition, can you think of a better instructor?
Once upon a time the Dutch started distilling alcohol. Thing is, though, they weren't very good at it. Faced with the prospect of having to drink something that was alcoholic (thumbs up) but tasted pretty bad (thumbs down), they decided to toss in a bunch of sugar and some herbs, and voila! Gin was born.
This ye olden days gin is sold as oude jenever or Dutch gin. Oude means old, and is specifically the old-distillation-technique method, while jonge jenever is Dutch gin that's been updated with column distillation (the same way they make vodka).
But I bet you don't drink either, 'eh? It's probably London Dry gin for you? I'm sure you know "dry" is just the opposite of sweet, but what's London have to do with it? A lot. They had a gin explosion thanks to some not-very-well-throught-through-laws that took half a century to deal with. Along the way gin picked up great nicknames like "Mother's Ruin" and "Strip-Me-Naked." It was essentially a fifty-year-long liquid crack epidemic.
Hankering for some bathtub gin**? With a quick trip to the store for some herbs and less than one ounce of elbow grease you can mix up your own batch in your kitchen - in some respects gin isn't much more than juniper vodka. OK, it won't be quite bathtub gin, I guess, but certainly kitchen sink gin.
It probably won't be the most amazing gin you've ever had, but even the worst case scenario is pretty good (You can force your friends to drink it and out of respect for your craft they'll have to say it's good).
** Where does the term bathtub gin even come from? I could tell you, but it's a secret for the moment! To learn more about the history of gin, and down a hearty handful of types in the process, sign up for Gin here!