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The Book of Gin: A Spirited World History from Alchemists' Stills and Colonial Outposts to Gin Palaces, Bathtub Gin, and Artisanal Cocktails
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The Book of Gin: A Spirited World History from Alchemists' Stills and Colonial Outposts to Gin Palaces, Bathtub Gin, and Artisanal Cocktails

3.22 of 5 stars 3.22  ·  rating details  ·  112 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Gin has been a drink of kings infused with crushed pearls and rose petals, and a drink of the poor flavored with turpentine and sulfuric acid. Born in alchemists’ stills and monastery kitchens, its earliest incarnations were juniper flavored medicines used to prevent plague, ease the pains of childbirth, even to treat a lack of courage.

In The Book of Gin, Richard Barnett t
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Hardcover, 275 pages
Published December 4th 2012 by Grove Press
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,054)
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Tanya
Dec 15, 2012 Tanya is currently reading it
Ahhh, so excited! Read the first chapter on BART today, looks like great writing about a small slice of history -- one that i find particularly tasty....
Looking forward to going into the Christmas vacation with this at the top of my book pile. Thank you, Christmas Elf :)
Mark
At times the writing is a bit academic for my taste, but this is a fascinating book chock full of wonderful stories and anecdotes about gin, cocktails, and cocktail culture.
Steven Van gucht
Its a good book, just the parts about genever is not treu. Genever is the grandfather of gin but the book said that a Dutch chemist and alchemist named Sylvius de Bouve, first sold genever as a medicine in the late 16th century.The problem with this theory is that Dr. Sylvius was born in the 17th century and that during his fourteen-year tenure as a professor at the University of Leyden, his research included distilling medicines with juniper berry oil, but none of his research papers contain an ...more
Amy
This book read like a college final paper. There are endless references throughout the book. (The last 15+ pages of the book make up the references/resources.) I felt like the author was throwing them in just to stretch the book to an acceptable length. While I did learn some interesting tidbits about gin and its history, this book was too cluttered and tedious to really enjoy.
Victoria
This is an amazingly insightful and intelligent book. While I love the drink of Gin, I didn't realize that there was such a rich and varied history behind the making and packaging of this delicious beverage. This book enlightened me to the life of Gin and the people it has affected in the past as well as the present. I can't wait to pass this book on to my friends!
Alex Orr
I've read a good number of books on the history of booze, both general and spirit specific, and this is a pretty good entry in the field. First off, if you're expecting this to be a scientific tome about distilling then you need to pass it by, and perhaps pay a tad more attention to the back cover and dust jacket copy. Like most other books in this genre, this is basically a whirlwind social history with one particular product at the center of the journey. I found it interesting, fun, and a gene ...more
Barth
I was hoping to have a scientific based description of distilling and the role Gin played throughout it's long history. But the book was unbalanced, too much detail about temperance movements and not enough about what I was hoping to learn.

Too bad, could have been a good book.
Amanda Richards
I received this book as a First Reads winner several months ago and have just now gotten around to reading it! I wish I hadn't waited so long as it was a fascinating romp through the history of Gin and how it has helped shape history and modern culture.

Although it was written as a history, the writing was not stuffy or boring. In fact I read through it rather quickly as I was fascinated by the cultural icons who consumed (or didn't consume) this popular libation.

I learned interesting tidbits, l
...more
Erik
I found the first three chapters of this book, relating to the early history of Gin in the Netherlands, the early years of Gin in England, and finally the so called Gin crazes of the 17th and 18th Centuries in England quite interesting and thought provoking. In particular, he argues for a more balanced look at the so called gin crazes, taking into account the perspectives of those who were writing the accounts we have often taken as evidence.

If he had stopped there, or stayed covering European c
...more
Nancy Day
Just what it says - the history of gin from its first development from spirits derived from wine, juniper added. The really interesting part, of course, is the social history. Gin had a societal effect in the 18th century similar to crack or meth in this one. Strict Government regulations only made it worse, since people concocted it themselves and created a prosperous black market (sounding familiar?). Only when the British government needed money to fight various wars did it lower the fines, i ...more
Korri
Jan 03, 2013 Korri added it
Shelves: food, first-reads
Gin has had many incarnations and connotations during its long life--medicinal aqua vita made in alchemists' alembics, famous export of the Dutch Golden Age, drink of the desperate urban poor in 18th century England, delicious aid in absorbing quinine to avoid malaria in colonial outposts of the British empire, and one part in the illicit speakeasy cocktail. Richard Barnett traces the impact of gin on European and American culture and history, offering such delightful gems and interesting facts ...more
Richard
little basic. lots of padding
Sara Habein
Jul 14, 2013 Sara Habein added it
Shelves: pass
Not going to star rate it because I didn't finish it, but I didn't all-out hate it either. This book is -- forgive the pun -- rather dry. It's really more about prohibition attempts in general, but with a focus on liquor over beer. I love gin, but apparently I don't want to know THAT much about it.
Lauren
"A Bottle of Rum" was much better. That had some storytelling and interest to it. This book seemed to boil down to a listing of documents, books, and movie which had simply mentioned gin through time. Thoroughly boring and not all that educational.
Becki Iverson
I really, really wanted to like this... but for one of the first times ever, I just couldn't finish it. It wasn't bad, exactly, but it was no Mark Kurlansky. I got about halfway through and stopped. That's about all I can say ...
Alicia
Quite a captivating read!It was very interesting to learn the long, deep history of Gin. This book brings gin out in the limelight both in the past as well as the present. A must read for any Gin enthusiast.
John Beynon
Nov 14, 2012 John Beynon marked it as to-read
Largehearted WORD Books of the Week, Nov. 14, 2012: http://www.largeheartedboy.com/blog/a...
Carmen
I love Gin! My favorite is from Alameda, CA. The distillary is St George's and the variey is their Dry Rye Gin. Yum!
Susan
At the risk of a bad pun, this book is dry. Appendixes with classic texts and tasting notes were interesting.
Karen
Started out a little , but good tale of origins, history and use of gin. Gibson for me!
Ed Boyno
Who cares? I'm a devotee of gins and I didn't care, what a waste of time and paper.
Amy
Apr 21, 2013 Amy rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: history
Too detailed on the early history and too rushed from the 19th century on.
Jason
Would rather have just drank gin than read about it. A dry subject.
Deirdre
Didn't make it too far. Surprisingly dull and rambling
BJ
This was an interesting book and I liked it.
Brady
Jul 30, 2012 Brady marked it as to-read
yum.
Lisbeth Baumayr
Lisbeth Baumayr marked it as to-read
Dec 26, 2014
Patrick Dougherty
Patrick Dougherty marked it as to-read
Dec 25, 2014
Chase
Chase marked it as to-read
Dec 24, 2014
Marjorie Gruen
Marjorie Gruen marked it as to-read
Dec 22, 2014
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“For some, gin was a vile and degrading venom, but for many others it was a thirst-quencher, a proof of virility, an aphrodisiac, a rite of passage, a tonic, a nourishment, a pacifier for children, a fount of confidence and inspiration for the preacher or the soapbox ranter.” 0 likes
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