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Chasing Dr. Silvius

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J.Luke Johnson

on 26 October 2013

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Transcript of Chasing Dr. Silvius

The Low Countries
Juniper-based spirits
Dutch East Indies
Cape Town
What is Gin?
“A spirit distilled from a fermented mash of grains and flavored with an number of botanicals, of which juniper must be predominant.”
- Regan, The Joy of Mixology (2003)
Parliamentary Brandy
Make Shift
Old Tom
Colic Waters
Mother’s Ruin
Asparagus gin
Maple gin
Damson gin
Sloe gin
Pimm’s No. 1
Spice Islands
Dutch Courage
Spirit of the Low Countries
...and Water - especially pure with a low mineral content
Traditional botanicals...
lime, orange
and lemon peel
licorice root
cubeb berries
cardamom pods
Paging Dr. Silvius?
13th c. First mention in printed Dutch of juniper-based tonics.
14th c. Genever brandies
16th c. First mention of juniper berry spirit.
Over time, switch from grape- to grain-based distillation, leading to the first "Hollands" gin.
17th c. Dutch East India Co. spreads juniper wherever they went.
19th c. 10 litres of 50 percent alcohol drunk per capita per annum.
The "genever-drinking classes”
Oude - Based on 2/3 neutral alcohol (grain or sugar based) and 1/3 moutwein, Juniper berry extract and Botanicals, in particular juniper, angelica, coriander, licorice root and hops.
Jonge (since 1950s) - contains more grain than malt and less flavor, similar to modern vodkas
Korenwein - 18th c. style genever, traditionally aged in oak barrels; 51-70% maltwine and sugar< 20 gpl
Styles of Genever
Link between Dutch Genever and London Dry
Captain Dudley Bradstreet
“puss”... “mew”...
Very popular in the 1800s, up through the onset of prohibition. Many different recipes and techniques in 19th century, all but lost until very recently
Flavored with juniper and sweetened with sugar
Modern distilers have taken difering approaches to reintroducing this variety, from the early style of Ransom to the modern, more rectified style of Hayman’s
Some say that the sweetness was added to this variety to mask the impurities of cheap production methods
Old Tom (Mid 18th c.)
Dawn of 19th c. move from goal of intoxication to savoring flavors
1830 - Coffey continuous still--> lighter purer alcohol base for...
‘Strong or unsweetened gin’
‘Sugar free’ to take advantage of health-oriented trend
Each house has its own botanical recipe and distillation technique
Some add botanicals and spirit to the kettle
Some infuse the steam
By law, no artificial flavoring permitted and nothing can be added after distillation, except:
spirit of the same standard
.5 g of sugar per liter
London Dry
Washington, DC
Rectifiers Club (1820 - 1840)
Gordon & Co.
Tanqueray & Co.
Meanwhile in France...
With increased regulation and standardized production techniques, gin becomes respectable.
Martinez Cocktail
"Old Tom" Collins
Genever Oude Fashioned Cocktail
Schumann's Gimlet
Plymouth Gin
The first dry gin (although not London Dry)
1793 - Black Friar’s Distillery starts producing Coates & Co. gin
The offical drink of the British Royal Navy (Officers Only)
Stocked by British Royal Navy during 18th-19th centuries
1850 - Coates & Co. supplying the Royal Navy with 1,000 barrels of Navy-strength (114 proof) gin a year
"I only drink for medicinal purposes..."
Assembly line-like affairs
Seduction personified
Cream of the Valley
The Out and Out
The No Mistake
Gin palaces and the eve of the industrial revolution
1867 Lauchlin Rose patents lime cordial
1870 Schweppes tonic water from Indian tonic water (c. 1858)
1882 - First Plymouth trademark - Protected Geographical Indication designation
"When the monk’s feet get dry, it's time for a new bottle."
Earliest recorded use of Juniper in distilled spirits was in Salerno, Italy (11th century)
Black Death (14th Century)
Other applications
Juniper-filled masks
Juniper necklaces
Juniper garlands
Food and Drink
The real reason behind Juniper's effectiveness in warding off the plague?
Mid-19th Century: vineyards are devastated
Phylloxera Epidemic
200 ‘Strong water’ shops by 1600
Thirty years war (1618 - 1648) and “Dutch courage”
“Daffy” or "Blue-ruin" or "Short" or "Tape" or "Max" or "Duke" or "Gatter" or "Jackey"
Dutch Courage, Blue Ruin and Cuckold’s Comfort
1688 - William of Orange invades England and wins the crown
1689 - Ban on importation of French brandy
1694 - Heavy taxation of beer - gin becomes the cheapest alcohol available
1720 - Mutiny Act (George I) - exemption of home distillers from billeting soldiers
Glorious Revolution and Perfect Conditions
In 1733 one out of every four residents of London - including children - is falling down drunk at any given time
Very little regulation on gin-->attempts to hide the poor quality poisons being passed off
Three ways to produce gin:
London Dry and Plymouth styles - a fine gin typically has 6-10 all natural botanicals, with juniper predominant.
Distilled - Made from any spirit alcohol made from agricultural product which must be distilled to a minimum of 96% abv.
Cold Compounding - flavoring neutral grain alcohol with ‘flavoring substances’ (e.g. oil of juniper) that provide a predominant juniper flavor.
European Community Regulation 110/2008
Gin in America and the Birth of the Cocktail
By the early 19th c. Americans were drinking more than Londoners during the gin craze.
The move from Punch (1 of sour, 2 of sweet, 3 of strong, 4 of weak) to the fix/fizz/sour/daisy (citrus, sugar, spirit and water in a single portion) to the toddy/sling (like a fizz without the citrus), and finally to the cocktail (aka ‘bittered sling’)
Healthful tonics, self-medication
A morning drink of the "Sporting Fraternity"
Saloon compared with the gin palace
The Prohibition liquor business was an alcohol business and liquor consumption rose by over 38 Million Gallons a year.
Bathtub gin
Prohibition - 1/16/1920 - 12/5/1933
The Post-Prohibition Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Gin
Post-prohibition gin bounces back the fastest, yet falls from glamor
Vodka is the most popular spirit by 1970
1987 Bombay Sapphire
Craft Distilling
Dawn of the 21st Century
Old gins reborn, gins redesigned, and new gins are born
(Hendricks, Beefeater 24, Catoctin Creek)
honeysuckle flowers
New Botanicals
poppy seed
chamomile flowers
black pepper
anise seed
baobab fruit
lotus leaves
dragon eye
caraway seeds
tea leaves
rose petals
Old and New 21st Century distillation methods
Apple spirit distillation (Cap Rock Organic Dry)
Grapes (G’Vine)
Corn grain (Right Gin)
New spirit bases
‘Country garden’ botanicals (Bloom’s Gin)
Celtic botanicals (rowan berries, dandelion, heather, Coul Blush apple and bog myrtle) and Highland water (Caorunn Gin)
Glacier water from Iceland to reduce proof (Martin Miller’s Reformed Dry Gin)
Water from the Sierra Nevada Mountains
Water from Malmo Sweden
Regional characters
Turning Point Cocktail
"This is a vigorously flavoured gin which must apear on all sizeable bars. It has a very potent juniper taste, aids digestion, promotes appetite, and is needed in several important cocktails like Death in the Gulf Stream." (Charles H. Baker Jr. - The Gentleman's Companion, 1939)
"Old Tom has an oilier texture and a slight orange taste. Indispensable." (Baker, 1939)
"A white spirit flavoured with juniper oils, and too well known to describe here. All we can plead for it is to get a decent grade, and stick to it. No bar can be without dry gin, and be called a bar." Charles H. Baker, Jr. (1939)
Old Tom Gin . . .
Dry Gin . . .
François dele Boë Silvius,
Pofessor of Medicine
Sylvius de Bouve
(Late-16th century)
2 oz. Oude Genever
3-4 dashes Gomme Syrup
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice
Lemon twist garnish
2 oz. Old Tom Gin
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 tsp. Gomme Syrup

Build in Collins glass
Top with soda
Orange (or lemon)-cherry garnish
2 oz. London Dry Gin
1 oz. Sweet Vermouth
1 tsp. Maraschino Liqueur
Stir with ice
Lemon peel garnish
2 oz. Plymouth Gin
1-1/4 oz. Rose's Lime Juice
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice

Shake well over ice
and strain into a
chilled mixing glass
Lime wedge or zest
to garnish
3 oz Catoctin Creek Organic Watershed Gin
1 oz Dolin Blanc
Dash of orange bitters
Grapefruit twist
Stir together the ingredients in a shaker of ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
The nice, if unfortunately erroneous, story of Franciscus de la Boë aka Dr. Silvius (1614-1672) - professor of medicine at University of Leyden in Holland. Supposedly created gin as an inexpensive medicine. He named it Genièvre, the French word for juniper.
"Gin is nothing but an alcohol extraction of all these crazy plants from around the world--tree bark and leaves and seeds and flowers and fruit."
- Amy Stewart, The Drunken Botanist (2013)
Know Your Gins (Stewart, 2013)
Distilled Gin
London (Dry) Gin
Old Tom Gin
Plymouth Gin
Sloe Gin
Originally it was a small green triangular pennant measuring approximately 18 by 9 inches (460 by 230 mm), defaced with a white wine glass, nowadays the gin pennant is a Starboard pennant defaced with a wine or cocktail glass. Its colour, size and position when hoisted were all significant as the aim was for the pennant to be as inconspicuous as possible, thereby having fewer ships sight it and subsequently accept the invitation for drinks.
The Gin Pennant
Bathtub gin
Chasing Dr. Silvius…
A global interactive history of gin
in five cocktails

Credit: Deepak Gupta (wikimedia commons)
1896 - First-ever printed recipe for a Dry Martini in Stuart's Fancy Drinks and How to Mix Them called for Plymouth Gin: Plymouth, French vermouth, 1 dash orange bitters
By early 20th c. - shipping over 1000 cases/wk to New York
1930 Called for by name more than any other spirit in the Savoy Cocktail Book.
Credit: Doug Coldwell (via Wikimedia Commons)
Um, wait a minute...
Thomas van Cantimpré (1201- circa 1272)
"Liber de Natura Rerum" ("Book about the nature of things")
Created 1230-1245
Translated to Dutch by Jacob van Maerlant in 1266 as"Der Naturen Bloeme"
Recommended boiling juniper berries in water or wine.
Credit: Simon Huguet, geograph.org.uk
Credit: 70023venus2009 (via flickr)
Credit: John W. Barley, Silverlux Studio (2012)
Credit: John W. Barley, Silverlux Studio (2012)
Credit: John W. Barley, Silverlux Studio (2012)
Credit: John W. Barley, Silverlux Studio (2012)
Credit: Leo Reynolds (via flickr.com)
Credit: Sydney Young, Fractional distillation, Macmillan and co. (1903)
"The working man's friend, and family instructor" Vols 1-2 (25 Oct 1851)
Credit: James Vaughan (x-ray delta one on flickr)
Antique copper pot stills
Cold (or vacuum) distiallation
no heating whatsoever - vacuum reduces pressure and lowers temperatures to vaporize the spirit
Credit: Henrik Mattson (via Wikimedia Commons)
Thanks to:
Philip Greene and the Museum of the American Cocktail
Jo-Jo Valenzuela and Occidental Grill
Becky and Scott Harris, Catoctin Creek
John Barley, Silverlux Studios
Veronique Beittel, Diep9
Eric Seed, Haus Alpenz
Joe Fee, Fee Brothers
Jessica Johnson
Maurice Saylor
Louis Clement
Judy Johnson
Dave Lord and Matt Keller
Credit: Linus Johnson (2013)
Luke Johnson
Dry Gin
Holland Gin, or Hollands, and sometimes Schnapps
Old Tom
Sloe Gin
The Gentleman's Companion, Charles H. Baker (1939)
Full transcript