A history of the enigmatic liquor known as gin belongs as much in a library of herbal medicines as it does at the bar. Derived from the aromatic juniper berry, which has been a curative for all mannner of ills dating back to the ancient Egyptians, gin (or its more potent ancestor, genever) was being prescribed as a preventative for scurvy, headaches and other disorders more than 400 years ago.
"Where modern gin is essentially flavoured vodka, genever is headier stuff, having more in common with fine whisky than the clear-coloured aromatics of English gin," food writer Lesley Jacobs Solmonson explains.
Published in The Edible Series of Reaktion Books, Solmonson's history of the liquor cabinet staple is full of surprises and insights, covering the beverage's medicinal origins, the gin craze that hit Britain in the 18th century, its decline in popularity in the 20th century, and its recent renaissance.
The types of gin are compared and described, from London Dry’s juniper-forward Tanqueray or Beefeater to the more citrus-forward gins such as Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray 10 and the new craft gins like Hendrick’s and Aviation. A dozen or so classic cocktail recipes are included along with a brief directory of today's available gins.
by Lesley Jacobs Solmonson
Reaktion Books, 2012More about this title in The Book Stall