"In side the Queen of Bradgate is this picture- situated left of the amasing "Gin Bar"!!!!- research continues ........
History of Gin Gin is a spirit which derives its predominant flavourfrom juniper berries (Juniperus communis). From its earliest beginnings in the Middle Ages, gin has evolved over the course of a millennium from an herbal medicine to an object of commerce in the spirits industry. Today, the gin category is one of the most popular and widely distributed range of spirits, and is represented by products of various origins, styles, and flavor profiles that all revolve around juniper as a common ingredient.
The name gin is derived from either the French genièvre or the Dutch jenever, which both mean “juniper”.
Some legal classifications of gin are defined only as originating from specific geographical areas (e.g. Plymouth gin, Ostfriesischer Korngenever, Slovenská borovička, Kraški Brinjevec, etc.), while other common descriptors refer to classic styles that are culturally recognized, but not legally defined (e.g., sloe gin, Wacholder and Old Tom gin).
By the 11th century, Italian monks were flavoring crudely distilled spirits with juniper berries. During the Black Death, this drink was used, although ineffectively, as a remedy. As the science of distillation advanced from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance period, juniper was one of many botanicals employed by virtue of its perfume, flavour, and purported medicinal properties.
The Dutch physician Franciscus Sylvius is credited with the invention of gin. By the mid 17th century, numerous small Dutch and Flemish distillers (some 400 in Amsterdam alone by 1663) had popularized the re-distillation of malt spirit or wine with juniper, anise, caraway, coriander, etc.,which were sold in pharmacies and used to treat such medical problems as kidney ailments, lumbago, stomach ailments, gallstones, and gout. It was found in Holland by English troops who were fighting against the Spanish in the Eighty Years’ War (more notebly during the Thirty Years War which was the latter part of the same campaign) who noticed its calming effects before battle, which is the origin of the term Dutch courage.
Gin emerged in England in varying forms as of the early 17th century, and at the time of the Restoration, enjoyed a brief resurgence. When William III (better known as William of Orange), ruler of the Dutch Republic, occupied the British throne with his wife Mary in what has become known as the Glorious Revolution, gin became vastly more popular,particularly in crude, inferior forms, where it was more likely to be flavoured with turpentineas an alternative to juniper.
He made a series of statutes actively encouraging the distillation of English spirits. Anyone could now distil by simply posting a notice in public and just waiting ten days.
Gin became popular in England after the Government allowed unlicensed gin production and at the same time imposed a heavy duty on all imported spirits. This created a market for poor-quality grain that was unfit for brewing beer, and thousands of gin-shops sprang up throughout England, a period known as the Gin Craze.
Because of the relative price of gin, when compared with other drinks available at the same time and in the same geographic location, gin became popular with the poor. Of the 15,000 drinking establishments in London, not including coffee shops and drinking chocolate shops, over half were gin shops.
Beer maintained a healthy reputation as it was often safer to drink the brewed ale than unclean plain water. Gin, though, was blamed for various social problems, and it may have been a factor in the higher death rates which stabilized London’s previously growing population, although there is no evidence for this and it is merely conjecture.The reputation of the two drinks was illustrated by William Hogarth in his engravings Beer Street and Gin Lane (1751).
This negative reputation survives today in the English language, in terms like “gin mills” or the American phrase “gin joints” to describe disreputable bars or “gin-soaked” to refer to drunks, and in the phrase “mother’s ruin”, a common British name for gin. Paradoxically the “negative” connotations are now becoming associated with “positive” connotations – with the resurgence of gin, upmarket bars now frequently refer to “mother’s ruin”, “gin palaces”, where printed copies of Hogarth paintings may sometimes be found.
The problem was tackled by introducing The Gin Act at midnight on 29 September 1736, which made gin prohibitively expensive. A licence to retail gin cost £50 and duty was raised fivefold to £1 per gallon with the smallest quantity you could buy retail being two gallons. The Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, and Dr. Samuel Johnson were among those who opposed the Act since they considered it could not be enforced against the will of the common people. They were right. Riots broke out and the law was widely and openly broken.
About this time, 11 million gallons of gin were distilled in London, which was over 20 times the 1690 figure and has been estimated to be the equivalent of 14 gallons for each adult male. But within six years of the Gin Act being introduced, only two distillers took out licences, yet, over the same period of time, production rose by almost fifty per cent.
The prohibitive duty was gradually reduced and finally abolished in 1742. The Gin Act 1751 was more successful, however. It forced distillers to sell only to licensed retailers and brought gin shops under the jurisdiction of local magistrates.Gin in the 18th century was produced in pot stills, and was somewhat sweeter than the London gin known today.
In London in the early 18th century, much gin was distilled legally in residential houses (there were estimated to be 1,500 residential stills in 1726), and was often flavoured with turpentine – to generate resinous woody notes in addition to the juniper.As late as 1913, Webster’s Dictionary states without further comment, ” ‘common gin’ is usually flavoured with turpentine.”
Another common variation was to distil in the presence of sulphuric acid. Although the acid itself does not distil, it imparts the additional aroma of diethyl ether to the resulting gin. Sulphuric acid subtracts one water molecule from 2 ethanol molecules to create diethyl ether, which also forms an azeotrope with ethanol, and therefore distils with it. The result is a sweeter spirit, and one that may have possessed additional analgesic/intoxicating effects.
Dutch or Belgian gin, also known as jenever or genever, evolved from malt wine spirits, and is a distinctly different drink from later styles of gin. Jenever is distilled at least partially from barley malt (and/or other grain) using a pot still, and is sometimes aged in wood. This typically lends a slightly malty flavour and/or a resemblance to whisky. Schiedam, a city in the province of South Holland, is famous for its jenever-producing history. It is typically lower in alcohol content and distinctly different from gins distilled strictly from neutral spirits (e.g. London dry gin). The oude (old) style of jenever remained very popular throughout the 19th century, where it was referred to as “Holland” or “Geneva” gin in popular, American, pre-Prohibition bartender guides.
The 19th century gave rise to a style of gin referred to as Old Tom Gin, which is a sweeter style of gin, often containing sugar. Old Tom gin faded in popularity by the early 20th century.
The column still was invented in 1832, making the distillation of neutral spirits practical and enabling the creation of the “London dry” style, which was developed later in the 19th century. London Dry gin is usually distilled in the presence of accenting citrus elements, such as lemon and bitter orange peel, as well as a subtle combination of other spices, including any of anise, angelica root and seed, orris root, liquorice root, cinnamon, almond, cubeb, savory, lime peel, grapefruit peel, dragon eye, saffron, baobab, frankincense, coriander, grains of paradise, nutmeg and cassia bark.
In tropical British colonies gin was used to mask the bitter flavour of quinine, which was the only effective anti-malarial compound. Quinine was dissolved in carbonated water to form tonic water; the resulting mix became the origin of today’s popular gin and tonic combination, although modern tonic water contains only a trace of quinine as a flavouring.
By this time the battle for trade was hotting up between the beer shops and the gin shops. Following the 1820 ‘Beerhouse Act’, beer was sold free of licensing control and 45,000 beer shops – aimed to be the cosy homes from home – had appeared by 1838. Spirit retailers still required licences and, to compete with the beer shops, they devised the ‘gin palaces’ which first appeared about 1830. These were designed to be an escape from home. As home for the poor – who continued to be gin’s main supporters – was often a sordid slum, the gin palace was large, imposing and handsome and even luxuriously furnished. By the 1850s there were about 5,000 such places in London and Charles Dickens describes them in his ‘Sketches by Boz’ in the mid-1830s as “perfectly dazzling when contrasted with the darkness and dirt we have just left.”
In the mid-1830s the temperance movement started. Whilst it failed to make a big impact, it did encourage much debate on drink which was still a problem. Thomas Carlyle wrote of gin as “liquid madness sold at tenpence the quartem”. By 1869 this led to an Act licensing the sale of beer and wine (spirits were still licensed). Two years later a further Act was introduced which would have halved the number of public houses in the country, but public opinion was outraged. One bishop stating in the House of Lords that he would “prefer to see all England free better than England sober” and the act was withdrawn.
As reforms took effect, so the gin production process became more refined. So gin evolved to become a delicate balance of subtle flavours, and began its ascent into high society.
Gin triumphed in the 1920s – the first ‘Cocktail Age’ – after having been scarce during the 1914-18 World War.
Now recognised as a cosmopolitan and refreshing drink, gin became the darling of the famous Cunard cruises. During the 1920s and 1930s the newly popular idea of the ‘Cocktail-Party’ crossed the Atlantic from the USA to Britain via an American hostess who wanted to fill in for her friends the blank time between teatime and dinner.
London dry gin, with its subtle flavour made it easy to mix and it quickly became the staple ingredient in a host of fashionable drinks – including the world famous and enduring Martini. Over the next twenty or thirty years many other cocktails with improbable names came to reflect the dizzy and sophisticated society which created them.
During prohibition W.C. Fields was asked why, if he didn’t have a drinking problem, did he buy 300 cases of gin before it started. He replied “I didn’t think it would last that long.”
By 1951 the Bartenders’ Guild had registered 7000 cocktails on its files! At the same time gin had become one of the three essential drinks for home entertainment. Gin and tonic has remained one of the most popular and refreshing drinks right up to the modern day.
And the latest fashion for cocktails – with even a hit American film of the same name – has resulted in a new career for likely young men who want to be seen hobnobbing with the rich and famous. ‘Mixologists’ are the new breed of bartenders who invent and serve the newest cocktails – often including fresh fruit juices from all manner of exotic sources. Seen at a glitzy, modern, chrome and mirrored venue near you – gin has come a long way from the ‘palaces’ of the early nineteenth century.
Sloe gin is traditionally described as a liqueur made by infusing sloes (the fruit of the blackthorn) in gin, although modern versions are almost always compounded from neutral spirits and flavourings. Similar infusions are possible with other fruits, such as damsons, or beach plums.
A ‘National Gin Museum’ can be found in Hasselt, Belgium. There are others.
Beer Street Print - 1751 - William Hogarth Beer Street
http://kvickery1.workflow.arts.ac.uk/beer-street-to-gin-lane (found this here - interesting read)
'Beer street' is the partner print to Hogarth's more widely recognised 'Gin Lane'. Beer street depicts a thriving urban society, where tradesmen drink beer because they have the money to enjoy the alcohol, It seems to be a drink that brings joy and light-heartedness to these Londoners. We see all sorts of professions such as Butchers, Builders, a Priest, an Artist, Tailors, Road repair workers and fish sellers. The scene seems to be one of economic consistency where almost every character in this print has a job or a purpose, people seem to be flourishing and buzzing with energy. The Butcher holds a full joint of beef suggesting a healthy society with good food and supply; a trade that is doing well and serving the people quality.
There are a range of classes enjoying the beer, from the stout wealthy woman in the Sedan chair in the mid ground, to the working class tradesmen and the more dishevelled looking artist in the foreground. This suggests that beer is an alcohol that can give people hope and merriment in their daily lives. The poorest areas seem only to be the artist and the seemingly abandoned flat above the pawn brokers in the right hand corner.
Politically we can see all genders enjoying the alcohol, the fish sellers are women and they are enjoying the alcohol alongside men, however there is a suggestion of prostitution which could convey a problem in society. Despite this class gap we do see the range of classes above sharing the moment together which suggests there is a small class gap.
The print locates the area of St Giles, just north of Covent Garden, Bloomsbury. We can identify this by the steeple of the St Martins in the field parish in the background. The parish along with the priest suggest that there is a presence of religion and morals, if the priest is drinking beer but still has his books and his status upheld, this promotes beer to other members of society.
Gin Lane - 1751 - William Hogarth Print Gin Lane
Gin lane is the sister print of beer street. It is said that Gin lane conveys the complete opposite to beer street, looking at the bad effects Gin had on society in the 18th century. In this print we see a huge class gap where the Pawn broker appears to be doing well for trade, whereas everyone else is enfolded in chaos and poverty. The print is really one of desperation, where mothers disregard their children and children scavenge for food, where some are drinking to numb the badness of life and others take to suicide.
I find the most shocking imagery in this piece to be in the foreground and the mid section. In the foreground we see a mother holding a snuff box, her legs covered in syphilis sores and scars, her shirt freely open and her child falling from her arms. I find her state, especially her deranged looking facial expressions really disturbing and harrowing. In the mid section we can vaguely make out a naked woman being lifted into a wooden coffin, where a child cries next to her. Just right of this scene we see a child impaled on a tall spike; to me this shows the hopelessness for the next generation. The issue of impoverished children stands out almost more than the Gin craze itself in this print, we see a child sharing a bone with a dog, the complete opposite of the chubby butcher in beer lane waving about his joint of beef. We also see a mother feeding gin to her baby on the right hand side, its really ominous. Hogarth was very concerned with child welfare and was a governor in a children's charity founded in the 30's, who built up housing for impoverished children to live in the 40's. Hogarth seems to be genuinely concerned for the future of society in 'Gin lane'.
The political viewpoint comes into play where a figure of George I on a steeple in the background watches over the madness of the lane. The figure of George I being a previous monarch to the 18th century monarch George II suggests that those with most control in politics were uncaring towards the desperate lower classes, and observe the problems rather than intervening and taking action to solve the problems of the Gin craze.
Overall this print is looking at 'The downfall of lady gin' as the skeletal balladeer in the right hand corner holds on his ballad sheet. It looks at the desperation of the lower classes, who could afford the cheap gin to numb their hopelessness where they cannot even afford the luxury of satisfying food or decent building construction. I think the crumbling building sums up the mood of this print, Gin street ( also based on St Giles like beer street) is decaying for the poorer classes as those who can help sit by and watch.
The Secret Gin Club Letting people in on the secret of a whole new drinking experience https://secretginclub.wordpress.com/gin-history/history-of-gin/ (below found here- another interesting read)
Leila Houston (London, 1977) is a visual artist whose work investigates the social, political and historical aspects of a place.