I am amazed by Gin. The more I learn about it, the more fascinated I become. For me, it is a very versatile spirit that can be enjoyed in many ways: neat, on the rocks, mixed with tonic water or as a cocktail. In fact, I would go as far as to say that I think that there is a gin drink recipe to suit everyone! You just need to find it!
And you can not ignore the the medicinal qualities of gin which has been used for centuries to relieve ailments. In fact, gin started off as a form of medicine. It had a bitter taste and probably all the other "special" ingredients outweighed the benefits, but still, there was a reason why the humble juniper berry has retained pride of place throughout the centuries in our gin culture. Science has shown that some of these ideas hold true today, and in our health obsessed society, gin has some health benefits which you should know about before selecting your favourite alcoholic beverages at the bar.
Gin has had a bad rap over the years too. The gin act of 1736 was put in place to curb excessive drinking of gin as it was realised that taking too many alcoholic drinks in a day contribute to many chronic diseases. So, before you all say it, I don't believe in excessive drinking. I do believe moderate consumption and in drinking responsibly. It is why I believe the old adage of quality over quantity!
But let me explain the two main reasons that I would chose to drink gin over other alcoholic beverages.
1. Gin and its health benefits
Gin is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and it's an antiviral. Thats a bold statement, isnt it? It can help with asthma, diabetes and heart disease to name but a few! Gin has been used for centuries to relieve ailments due to its high level of antioxidants that fight off free radicals in your body as well as other medicinal properties like relieving pain. The main health benefits of gin come from its ingredients and of course, the main ingredient is juniper berry. So let's explore what is so special about the juniper berry.
Throughout the years, juniper berries have been used to treat many conditions such as arthritis, toothaches, indigestion problems. And back in the 1700s it was event thought to help with fertility issues. It was thought that it could help with male erectile dysfunction and was used to induce unwanted pregnancies in women! There is a lot of myth mixed in with the facts about Juniper berries.
Let's look at the science.
Today, scientific studies have found that Juniper berries are high in vitamin C, flavonoid antioxidants and monoterpenes. What that means, when you translate the medical jargon, is that Vitamin C is good for your immune system and blood vessels. Monoterpenes found in the humble berry provide anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties meaning that the juniper berry is good for our digestive system and is a natural diuretic. Flavonoid antioxidants have many health-promoting effects to prevent against cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative diseases. In summary, a diet rich in the compounds found in the juniper berry is good for our skin, our digestive system, our heart and our brains! And again folks, I am not a doctor, but evidence suggests that drinking gin can help, even if you can not claim that it will help you to live longer! (I think that there are other factors involved!) Cheers!
Let's look at our way of living.
We are a society that consumes more sugar than ever as evident in the rise of diabetes. A study of the global diabetes trend and impact from 2009 - 2017 showed the following; the incidence of diabetes increased from 11.3 million in 1990 to 22.9 million in 2017, a 102.9% increase. Global deaths due to diabetes increased from 0.61 million in 1990 to 1.37 million in 2017, a 125.5% increase. That is all down to our love of sugar!
We are living in an age where sugar consumption has skyrocketed and, as all you gin enthusiasts know... there is no sugar in gin. The problem comes from the way in which we drink gin and the volume of alcohol consumption which negatively impacts our health. Simple things like a small glass or using a sugar free or reduced tonic water can help when you are on a calorie controlled diet. Does this mean, that we have help reduce levels of diabetes by drinking a sugar free gin and tonic?? That would have a huge economic and social impact as government and health organisations are under severe pressure trying to fund and manage the growing diabetic population. So, one could conclude that drinking gin, is a socially and economically good thing to do!
And my final health argument for why it is better to chose gin over other alcohol drinks is this... Its safe for Celiacs!
If you are looking for a drink that is gluten free then distilled gin is your answer! Despite the fact that gin is made from a base alcohol that comes from wheat, barley or rye, the process of distillation removes gluten from grain neutral spirit. Unlike other forms of alcohol such as red wine or beer that go through the fermentation process, gin distillation removes these impurities. So as long as there are no other gluten ingredients added into the gin post-distillation (which should not happen with a london dry style gin) then most gins are safe for people with celiac disease. Sante!
2. Gin is the most versatile of spirits
Variety is the spice of life! Gin is a versatile drink that can be drunk neat or as Gin and Tonic and gin makes very good cocktails like the Gin Martini. The most popular way gin is enjoyed today is with tonic water but even that has come a long way since being served with a slice of lime and some ice. So let's look at some of the most popular ways to enjoy gin today.
Shaken and not stirred
The Gin martini is the most famous perhaps of the gin cocktail. Made with Gin and Vermouth, though the ratios have changed over time and the cocktail's popularity has never swain. The Gin Martini rise to fame came about in America during Prohibition but it is thought that the martini first appeared on the scene in the 1860s when a miner who had struck gold asked for something special from the local bartender. Legend has it that the miner came from Martiniez in California and so the martini was named after him. Today the martini has evolved, become more elaborate and takes on different forms. We have even created a Pear and Vanilla martini here at Driftwood, so check out the cocktail blogs to find out more!
The Gin Sour
A gin sour is another type of gin cocktail and in its simplest form is made with gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and an egg white. You can be much more elaborate than this though. Here, you can perfect your bar skills by muddling, dry-shaking, shaking some more and dry straining your way to a perfectly balanced, silky smooth gin cocktail. By adding fruit or herbs to muddle, you can change the flavour to suit your mood and your palate.
The Gin and Tonic
What is not to love about a good gin and tonic? Its simple and easy to make! You can make sugar reduced options by choosing your tonic wisely and you can add lots of lovely fresh garnish to help pump up the vitamin C! Perfect!
In conclusion, this has been a "tongue in cheek" look at the health benefits of gin! Lets be fair, everything in moderation is the best way to go... but still, gin is a very versatile spirit and its worth trying it if you haven't yet!