By the mid-'80s liquor manufacturing was in a dire state, with gin sales falling fast and many of the traditional techniques and recipes abandoned in favor of mass-industrial production and a bland, homogeneous product. The turning-point came in 1988 with the launch of Bombay Sapphire -- the first new premium gin for decades, and one with a marketing campaign built around heritage, quality and character. Around the same time, the Swing Revival and Cocktail Nation trends -- remember "Swingers"? -- helped to give younger drinkers a new taste for gin. More recently, the success of "Mad Men" and the cult of James Bond certainly hasn’t harmed the mystique of the martini. In the last decade craft distilling has become hip, with dozens of small companies across Europe and the U.S. producing their own distinctive and delicious gins. Many of the bigger corporate brands have returned to an older, artisanal style of distilling. So, thanks to the gin renaissance, this is the best time in the last 500 years to be drinking gin.
What are some gin cocktails you would recommend our readers making?
For the holiday season there’s nothing better than an old-fashioned hot gin punch -- Charles Dickens’ favorite Christmas drink, and one he puts in the hands of his characters in stories like "A Christmas Carol". Traditionally this could be made by plunging a hot poker into a mixture of gin, Madeira, lemon juice, honey, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon, but a saucepan and a stove will do just as well. For something more refreshing but equally festive, try a gin fizz (gin, lemon juice, sugar, egg white and soda water) made with damson or sloe gin.
Is there any way to drink gin and avoid a hangover?