From Dutch Delight to London's Liquid Love: A Spirited History of Gin

From Dutch Delight to London's Liquid Love: A Spirited History of Gin

Gin and London: a love affair that's boozier than Bridget Jones's diary. But this tale of juniper-infused tipple goes way back, before even the invention of the double-decker bus. Let's raise a glass and dive into the fascinating, fiery past of gin in our beloved capital.

It all started around the 17th century, when a Dutch spirit called jenever (pronounced "ye-never") sashayed onto the scene. This juniper-based drink was originally used for medicinal purposes, but Londoners quickly discovered its "recreational" qualities. Thanks to the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which saw a Dutchman, William of Orange, ascend the English throne, French brandy fell out of favour. Gin, being a domestic alternative, became the new "it" drink.

Fast forward a few years, and London was in the throes of the infamous "Gin Craze" of the early 18th century. Cheap, unregulated gin flooded the streets, leading to a rise in social problems. Think "Oliver Twist" meets "Hangover," but with way more juniper berries. The government tried to rein things in with the Gin Act of 1751, nicknamed the "Gin Craze Act," making gin significantly more expensive. Talk about a buzzkill!

But fear not, gin lovers! The spirit never truly went out of fashion. In the 19th century, advancements in distillation led to the creation of London Dry Gin, the clear, juniper-forward gin we know and love today. This newfound refinement, coupled with a growing appreciation for quality spirits, saw gin reclaim its place in London's heart (and liver).

Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, gin continued to evolve, with new botanicals and flavours adding their unique twist to the classic spirit. Modern London boasts a vibrant gin scene, with independent distilleries popping up like proverbial bottles of bubbles. From the iconic Beefeater, distilled just a stone's throw from the Tower of London, to the innovative Sipsmith, crafting gin in the heart of Hammersmith, the spirit of innovation is alive and well.

So, the next time you sip on a refreshing gin and tonic, take a moment to appreciate the rich history behind your drink. From its Dutch roots to its tumultuous past in London, gin has come a long way. And who knows, maybe as you raise your glass, you'll hear the faint clinking of tankards from centuries past, a toast to London's enduring love affair with the spirit that's as vibrant as the city itself.


Here at Jim & Tonic, we are ushering in the Roaring 2020s in London with our East London distillery, bar and restaurant. Visit us today!

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