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While it may have originated in Holland as a medicinal tonic, gin has become the staple spirit of England, ever since English soldiers returning from the Thirty Years War brought the taste for it home with them. In England, there are really only two types, London Dry and Plymouth, the latter the more subtly scented preference of naval types, and the foundation of a true pink gin. Juniper berries are the principal flavouring element in gin, but they are bolstered by a whole range of other aromatic plants (or “botanicals”, to give them their technical name), perhaps including angelica, orris root, coriander, dried citrus peel and many another, depending on the producer.

Gin’s best friend is quinine-rich Indian tonic water, with which it mixes superbly to make one of the most refreshing drinks in the repertoire. Otherwise, it's the base for classic cocktail recipes such as White Lady, Orange Blossom and Singapore Sling. Gin’s only drawback is its (undeserved) association with melancholy and feeling down in the dumps. Thus is it also the prime ingredient in a cocktail called Gloom Raiser.

Photo: Maria Gibbs


Your comments

Simple. The Scots have Scotch and we have gin.

Mark Robertson

Gin has been associated with the English for many years and was known as Mother's Ruin before the days when tap water was freely available and safe to drink. It features heavily in a cartoon by Hogarth, one of the most famous depicters of the English in his time. Maidstone, where I'm from, had once the only licenced distillery of gin in the country that could make the full 40% proof variety, it's owner having been trained in Holland in its production. The premises he used are now fronted by a row of shops, and very few people are aware of its interesting history!
Karen Tucker

Classic pub drink, sipped by many in all walks of life including, apparently, the monarchy.
Kim MacDonald

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My nomination is the garden shed.