Who doesn’t drink bathtub gin?

Linda Pinto and Heather Prochnow

Compared to the other six essential spirits, gin has, by far, the worst reputation. Once called the “mother’s ruin”, it was often used by women “in trouble” in order to induce miscarriages. How’s that for a toxic beverage? Save yourselves the trouble of the morning after pill, ladies – apparently gin is the cure for unfortunate bedroom mishaps. Many Lawrence students can relate to this next lesser-known fact about gin. Once brewed in bathtubs during prohibition, gin was one of America’s favorite drinks of the time. Fast-forward to present day: our bathtubs are lucky if they get fruit punch, stolen fruit from Downer, and whatever cheap alcohol is sitting around on our windowsills.
The origins of gin date back to 16th-century Holland, where it was used for medicinal purposes. The blend of herbs and botanicals was thought to protect against the ills of the flesh … which must have made for many an interesting Saturday night. In 17th-century London, gin was often distilled from the basic beer ingredients, differing only with the essence of juniper. At the time, strict levies on beer made it more expensive than gin. Many college students can relate to this predicament, as we all have experienced the delights associated with the assorted varieties of Fleischmann’s liquors. Gin became the staple drink of the poorest classes; broke college students with loans high enough to purchase their own distilleries back in the day. As gin became more popular, gin shops began to pop up around London and public drunkenness became widespread. But let’s be honest … those Londoners had never witnessed drunk Packers fans on Sunday afternoons in Wisconsin. That introduces a whole new level of public intoxication on “the Ave.”
But seriously, enough about public drunkenness, we deal with enough of that at the VR. Instead, let’s take another look at gin. There are two main types of gin: London Gin, which includes Beefeaters and specialty gins such as Tanqueray and Bombay; and a Dutch Genever, which is a traditional variety with a pungent flavor. Although they are both called gin, they are distinctly different in taste.
As far as favorite gin drinks go, currently the gin and tonic is one of America’s favorite gin drinks. The drink is so popular, in fact, that the production of tonic is sustained almost exclusively by gin drinkers. Gin also mixes well with many juices, including orange juice and grapefruit juice and makes an excellent gin martini. Next time you are out at the bars, you might want to try one of these favorites: gin fizz, gimlet, white lady, or a pink pussycat. Gin and tonic lovers beware; you just might find a new favorite version of this infamous but beloved alcohol.