Active History is celebrating its tenth anniversary! As part of our anniversary celebrations we are sharing glimpses of how Active History developed and showcasing our favourite and most popular posts from the past ten years.
Founding editor Jay Young’s post on “Gin and Tonic: A Short History of A Stiff Drink” was one of our most popular pieces in 2012. Seven years later this piece continues to be frequently shared and discovered by new readers.
The Gin and Tonic – what better a drink during the dog days of summer? Put some ice in a glass, pour one part gin, add another part tonic water, finish with a slice of lime, and you have a refreshing drink to counter the heat. But it is also steeped in the history of medicine, global commodity frontiers, and the expansion of the British Empire.
Let’s start with the gin. Although it is commonly known as the quintessential English spirit, the history of gin underlines the island’s connections to the outside world. The origin of gin – unlike the drink itself – is quite murky. Sylvius de Bouve, a sixteenth-century Dutch physician, is the individual associated with the development of gin. He created a highly-alcoholic medicinal concoction called Jenever. It featured the essential oils of juniper berries, which the physician believed could improve circulation and cure other ailments. The berry, deriving from a small coniferous plant, had long been treasured for its medicinal properties, including its use during the plague. Continue reading