Gin may be mysterious, with its numerous, sometimes unnamed botanicals and nicknames like “mother’s ruin,” but some of the “facts” circulating about the spirit are just plain false. Whether you’re a skeptic or a die-hard gin lover with a juniper berry tattoo, you should know your gin realities from your gin myths. Here, six rumors about gin that are absolutely not true.
It Makes You Sad
Gin doesn’t make you sad—you and your actions while you’re under the influence of gin make you sad. There’s no difference between an 80-proof gin and an 80-proof vodka, aside from a few herbs and citrus peels. The ethanol is the same, and therefore the effects should be the same. There’s no magical sad-making ingredient floating around in juniper berries.
Every Gin Tastes Like Juniper
Speaking of those juniper berries, they’re often considered the distinguishing characteristic of all gins. While that’s true for many—and all gins include at least some amount of juniper—not all gins are juniper bombs. Many, such as Hendrick’s, which is made with rose and cucumber, or Malfy, which is made with a heavy dose of Italian lemons, taste completely different than London Dry style gins, which tend to lean heavily on the juniper. So even if you don’t like juniper and think it tastes like soap, there is a gin out there for you.
London Dry Gins Have to Be Made in London
London Dry is a style of gin made with no more than 0.1 grams of sugar per liter after distillation (hence dry). This type of gin must be distilled at 70% ABV or higher, diluted down to a minimum strength of 37.5% ABV, and made without any artificial flavors or colors. London Dry gins are typically more juniper forward than other gin styles and usually include other botanicals such as citrus peels and angelica. Most importantly for our purposes, though, London Dry gins can be made anywhere in the world—not just London.
Gin & Tonics Protect Against Malaria
While the tonic of yore did indeed help the British Raj fight against malaria, today’s tonic can’t help you. Back then, tonic water was made with high doses of quinine powder, the active ingredient that keeps malaria at bay. It was terrifically bitter, which was partially why British officials decided to add gin to the mix—to help make it more palatable. Nowadays, tonic water contains just a trace of quinine for flavor; the FDA limits producers to 83 mg of quinine per liter, which is nowhere near the 2100 mg daily dose of quinine you would need to prevent malaria.
Gin Should Only Be Drunk Cold
We would never advocate drinking a lukewarm Martini, but come winter you’re missing out if you don’t experiment with hot gin drinks. The tradition dates way back to the 1800s in England when Hot Gin Punch was all the rage—it was even mentioned in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Give it a try with this recipe for a gin-spiked Hot Chai Tea Toddy.
The Juniper Berry Is a Berry
The juniper berry, which gives gin its signature flavor, is not actually a berry—it’s a seed cone that happens to look a lot like a berry. With this fact firmly in your head, you are now prepared to be the most annoying person at the bar.