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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

3.35  ·  Rating Details ·  147 Ratings  ·  32 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
Hardcover, 275 pages
Published December 4th 2012 by Grove Press
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Jun 10, 2012 Mark rated it it was amazing
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.
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 :)
Steven Van gucht
Aug 13, 2013 Steven Van gucht rated it liked it
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
Victoria Dean
Dec 09, 2012 Victoria Dean rated it really liked it
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!
Dec 09, 2012 Amy rated it liked it
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.
Dec 16, 2012 Barth rated it did not like it
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
Alex Orr
Mar 17, 2014 Alex Orr rated it liked it
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
Oct 29, 2013 Erik rated it liked it
Shelves: booze, non-fiction
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
Nov 16, 2012 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
Nancy Day
Jun 07, 2014 Nancy Day rated it really liked it
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
Alexander Veee
Jul 14, 2016 Alexander Veee rated it really liked it
Ramos Gin Fizz

2 oz. gin
1 oz. simple syrup
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. lime juice
1 oz. heavy cream
1 egg white
5 drops orange flower water
1 drop vanilla extract

Dry shake all ingredients, then add ice, and shake until too cold to hold.

Double strain into collins glass.



Slowly add Topo Chico until almost overflowing.

Add straw.

Feb 06, 2015 Jason rated it liked it
Barnett has clearly done exhaustive research - this feels like a definitive historical guide to how gin developed and its influence on culture.

It was a bit disappointing not to see more illustrations or some color plate pages. He goes to great lengths painstakingly describing paintings or advertisements, and a visual would really help.
Sara Habein
Jul 07, 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.
Nov 26, 2012 Alicia rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
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.
Becki Iverson
Jan 04, 2013 Becki Iverson rated it it was ok
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 ...
Nov 26, 2012 Lauren rated it it was ok
"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.
Jan 16, 2013 Susan rated it did not like it
At the risk of a bad pun, this book is dry. Appendixes with classic texts and tasting notes were interesting.
Jan 21, 2013 Karen rated it liked it
Started out a little , but good tale of origins, history and use of gin. Gibson for me!
Dec 01, 2012 Jason rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Would rather have just drank gin than read about it. A dry subject.
Ed Boyno
Aug 15, 2013 Ed Boyno rated it did not like it
Who cares? I'm a devotee of gins and I didn't care, what a waste of time and paper.
Jul 30, 2012 Brady marked it as to-read
John Beynon
Nov 14, 2012 John Beynon marked it as to-read
Largehearted WORD Books of the Week, Nov. 14, 2012:
Mar 03, 2013 Deirdre rated it did not like it
Didn't make it too far. Surprisingly dull and rambling
Mar 22, 2013 BJ rated it really liked it
This was an interesting book and I liked it.
Dec 28, 2012 Carmen rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I love Gin! My favorite is from Alameda, CA. The distillary is St George's and the variey is their Dry Rye Gin. Yum!
Dec 16, 2012 Amy rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
Too detailed on the early history and too rushed from the 19th century on.
Dec 02, 2015 Anna rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook, 2015
An interesting read about gin and history around alcohol.
Perfect for those moments between perfect fiction.
Aug 13, 2015 Lizzy rated it liked it
the history was interesting, the writing not so much
David rated it really liked it
Nov 11, 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.” 1 likes
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