Gin or the Motherís Ruin
Gin, or Mother's Ruin (how it is sometimes referred to), is a strong alcoholic beverage made from the distillation of white grain spirit and juniper berries, which provide its distinctive and recognizable flavor. Gin is often mixed with other beverages due to its high alcohol content and very dry taste.
The most popular type of gin is "London dry gin", which refers to a specific distillation process, not to a brand or origin. It is usually produced in a column still and then redistilled after ingredients like juniper berries are added. Besides juniper berries, gin is also made with lemon and bitter orange peel, anise, cinnamon, coriander, angelica and orris roots or cassia bark. Other types of gin include Jenever (Dutch gin), Plymouth gin and Old Tom gin (pot-distilled 18th century-style gin).
Gin is believed to be originated by a physician named Franciscus Sylvius in the 17th century in the Netherlands. Dutch gin, known as jenever, spread over England after the Glorious Revolution when a Dutchman was put on the British throne and was distinctly different from now known English-style gin. Jenever was produced in a pot still with barley and sometimes aged in wood. It typically had lower alcohol percentage and stronger flavoring than London gin.
Gin quickly gained its popularity in England. By 1740 the production of gin was six times that of beer. Gin was rather cheap, so it was very popular with the poor; more than a half of all drinking establishments at that time were gin shops. Nevertheless, while beer had a healthy reputation since it was safer to drink brewed ale than dirty plain water, some social and medical problems were blamed on gin.
Invention of the column still in 1832 made possible development of the "London Dry" style later in 19th century, which is currently one of the most popular gins for cocktails and mixed drinks. It was used in tropical English colonies to mask the bitterness of quinine, a malaria protection substance diluted in tonic water. This was the origin of Gin and Tonic drink widely popular today.
During the Prohibition-era in US so called "bathtub gin" was extremely popular due to its relative production simplicity. It had an awful taste though, which had to be masked with other drinks. After the prohibition was cancelled, gin remained as a popular base for many mixed drinks. It is very popular today as well and many gin-based mixed drinks like martini are available in most bars throughout the world.