Gin has had very bad press for years because it was considered to be a drink that made you sad or depressed, or maudlin. Now there’s a word that has gone out of use!
I never found it so and, in fact, when I started drinking gin in my early twenties, I found that it had the exact opposite effect on me. I chose gin over vodka or beer because I was big into appearing more sophisticated in those days. I also found that I didn’t knock the gin and tonic back half as quickly as the vodka and orange. You see, it was more of an acquired taste.

I also was a big fan of ‘Casablanca’ and was longing for a big love affair like Rick and Elsa’s in that wonderful movie. I used to walk into various drinking establishments around Dublin or Laois hoping that some romantic hero would drawl ‘Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.’

When GG appeared on the scene, he was a whisky man, but I soon converted him to G&T. I have read several articles recently espousing the health benefits of Gin so I set myself the task of researching if there was any truth at all behind the claims or was it more ’Fake News’.

FACTS

Gin dates back to the Middle Ages, when it was used as a herbal medicine, and King William III, a Dutchman who became King of England in 1689, encouraged the drinking of Gin.

The word Gin was taken from the French word genievre and the Dutch jenever, both of which mean juniper, the plant used by distillers of the era to make medicines for apothecaries.

 But juniper berries are still required to be the main flavour for Gin under European Commission regulations.

The most common botanicals used in the production of Gin are:

Spices: juniper, cardamom, liquorice, caraway seed, grains of paradise, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise seed, cassia bark, orris root, ginger and saffron

Herbs: coriander and angelica

Fruit and nuts: lemon, orange, grapefruit and almonds

Each producer of Gin has its own secret mixture of these ingredients, which is a trademark of its brand. The most popular way to drink Gin is with tonic – another medicinal recommendation from the era when the British ruled India and used it as a way to prevent malaria because tonic contains quinine. I guess you would need to drink a lot of G&Ts to be guaranteed remaining malaria-free.

FINDINGS

The main ingredient is juniper berries, a Northern Hemisphere shrub, and it well documented that these berries are eaten by sheep and that they can both prevent and cure dropsy in the animals.

But what about humans, I hear you say.  Well, let’s examine the juniper berries themselves which are packed full of health benefits, such as:

1. They help fight against infection.

2. They help reduce the risk of heart attacks because they contain flavonoids which help prevent clogged arteries. They can help increase circulation and maintain vascular health.

3. They are full of anti-oxidants and help the fight against wrinkles. Yes.

4. They are used to help ease pain of arthritis and rheumatism. So that’s good.

5. The berries have a natural diuretic effect and help flush toxins out of the system and ease bloating. I am all for that.

6. You can dispense with your Vicks and have a gin instead, as it is supposed to clear congestion and improve breathing.

7. It is relatively low in calories 97 seemingly.

8. It is the one drink that diabetics can imbibe as there are only traces of sugar.

9. Your digestive system will thank you as the berries increase enzymes.

So, if Gin is made from juniper berries, ergo, GIN is good for you!

Gin was often called Mother’s Ruin, but I prefer the evidence that points to the fact that it can actually reduce anxiety and improve your overall mood.

I also used it nearly thirty years ago to help with pain in my back, when I was confined to bed with a disc problem. Painkillers on their own did not work. I was unable to sit up and unable to sleep. So, I used to lie in bed, sucking the gin out of the stylist daughter’s bottle (she was 18 months old at the time!) complete with teat. I can attest to the fact that it eased the pain. I know my poor mother was worried I would become addicted to painkillers or gin or both. I didn’t.

FAVOURITES

In recent years, I have been introduced to different brands and while there is nothing wrong with Gordon’s or Bombay Sapphire, I must say that I love all the newer gins on the market and have several new favourites. Although I certainly still use Schweppes, I have progressed on to the newer tonics also. No two G&Ts taste the same anymore and it is like coming to a new drink every time.

 

When out for dinner or away on a break, we like to sample a new gin. Above, you can see two Short Cross gins from County Down (one with elderflower tonic), awaiting us on the bar at Mount Wolseley. Accompanied with strawberries and mint, I can assure you they were delightful.

So, I might just have to write another post soon with all my favourites!

Cheers!

WARNING

It goes without saying that all alcohol should be taken in moderation.

Julia Child claimed that the key to her long and healthy life (she died aged 91) were red meat and gin. I am not that big into red meat, so I think I will have to up my intake of gin.