1. Essentially, gin is flavored vodka.
Gin is a distilled grain spirit that is flavored naturally with juniper berries and other botanicals during, or after distillation—so in a way, gin is the original flavored vodka.
2. It’s from the Netherlands.
Despite often being associated with England (it is the national spirit, after all), gin originated in Holland and was brought to London by William of Orange.
More classic drinks contain gin than any other spirit.
3. It’s meant to be mixed.
Unlike tequila or whiskey, gin is almost exclusively used in mixed drinks.
4. Bartenders love it.
There’s a reason it’s meant to be mixed, after all. Because of its delicate botanical flavors, gin blends well and its flavors heighten when combined with other ingredients. In fact, more classic drinks contain gin than any other spirit. However, stir it, don’t shake.
5. The gin-and-tonic started in medicine.
Legend has it that in the 1850s, English naval officers frequently drank tonic water, which at the time contained quinine, to prevent scurvy. They added gin to make the bitter taste more palatable, thus birthing the classic cocktail.
6. Gin ingredients can be legally defined.
For instance, for a gin to labeled as London Dry, it must be at least 70 proof (35% ABV) and must not contain any artificial flavors, according to United States and EU laws.
7. Certain styles of gin are also geographically defined.
Plymouth gin, for instance, can only be made in Plymouth, England. Even if the style is imitated elsewhere, by law it cannot take the title.
8. In America, gin took off in the 1920s.
Because of that whole Prohibition thing, gin became the go-to spirit of the speakeasy era. There reason is pretty simple: You can make it at home, hence the term “bathtub gin.” Sadly, supposedly it doesn’t taste the best.
9. James Bond killed the classic martini.
The martini originated with gin and vermouth exclusively, no vodka. However, with the decline of gin’s popularity in the 1950s, coupled with a certain “shaken, not stirred” mantra, vodka became a viable option.
10. Gin still has some major pop culture moments, though.
This quote, for instance, was ranked by AFI as the 67th best ever.
12. If you’re feeling bold, try a Churchill Martini.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously disdained vermouth, or simply loved gin, to the point that his martinis contained no vermouth at all, just a brimmed martini glass of gin.
13. It’s huge in the Philippines.
Residents down roughly 24 million cases per year, running away with the title for highest worldwide gin consumption. The U.S. ranks a distant second.
14. It’s also known as Mother’s Ruin.
At the peak of its English popularity, gin was deemed a poor man’s drink and was consumed at slightly alarming rates, even leading to rioting when tax measures known as the gin acts were passed. At this time, a theory began to circulate claiming excessive gin consumption caused infertility and sterility.
15. There’s a World Gin Day.
The first was in 2008. The most recent one was on June 14th.