GIN CLUB SESSION #10

King-of-Soho-gin-min

Now that the gin craze has been put to bed, what next? How did London drinking culture change afterwards? What was next in store for gin as we know it?

To read up on our last instalment of the Gin Craze click here!

INDUSTRIOUS GIN

By 1761 the price of gin had shot up and consumption was down to less than 20% of where it had been a decade before.  The lower classes, now put off by the cost of their once beloved gin, reverted to beer and porter as their beverage of choice while the upper echelons continued to imbibe imported products.

The only way for gin to win back favour was to become a superior offering. Thankfully, the industrial revolution beckoned bringing with it, distillation equipment which was gin’s solution to quality control. Several reputable families had also begun to establish themselves as brands. Names such as Gordons, Plymouth, Langdale’ s, Booth’s and Boord were now raising the respectable nature of gin with attractive packaging and delectable liquid.

At the beginning of the 19th century, alcohol production had been rife with illegal distilling and smuggling, no thanks to the impossibly difficult legislations in place. In an attempt to restore order, the government introduced an act in 1825 which reduced the cost of a distilling licence and cut duties by 40%. Unfortunately for the brewers, beer production costs had now increased which was reflected in the price, making gin more popular drink, once again. It was now cheaper to drink a pint of gin that a pint of beer!

Beer Street
Beer Street & Gin Lane

Many of the taverns were bought up by opportunistic distillers, decking them out as ‘Gin Palaces’ with ornate glass murals, bespoke gas lamps and sleek polished bar tops. This was purely designed to get the drinkers in because once inside, the reality was quite different! There was no seating, gin was stored in enormous wooden vats and dished out in abundance to man, woman or child. ‘Drunk for a penny, dead drunk for two and straw for nothing’ was a phrase attributed to the fact that you could pass out on the floor if you need to!

Gin Palace
Gin Palace

The government, fearing a repeat of history, quickly reduced the tax on beer in 1830. Promoting beer as the drinker’s choice could prevent another gin craze. Taverns continued to use the Gin Palace style as design inspiration and this model has continued to shape the pubs we frequent today. 

KING OF SOHO

With so much talk of London drinking, this week’s gin fits in nicely.

Created by Thames Distillery with 12 botanicals, King of Soho is owned by Howard Raymond. Howard’s father, Paul, was instrumental in the regeneration of the Soho area era in the 70s and the liquid is a celebration of his legacy. The design is in keeping with the vibrancy and artistic nature of the area and perhaps upstages the liquid a touch! The gin itself is quite traditional in style and serves up a relatively citrus-forward London Dry palate.

We’re using this in an Aviation cocktail. First published in 1916 by Hugo R. Ensslin’s Recipes for Mixed Drinks, this is a gin sour that depending on the recipe, includes both maraschino and violet liqueur. In some recipes such as the Savoy Cocktail Book, the violet is omitted. At Blind Tyger, the violet is essential as it gives the cocktail that moody sky hue and links to its aviation theme.

Thank you to everyone who has followed our Virtual Gin Club journey during lockdown!

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