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Gin Glorious Gin: How Mother's Ruin Became the Spirit of London

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  278 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Gin Glorious Gin is a vibrant cultural history of London seen through the prism of its most iconic drink. Leading the reader through the underbelly of the Georgian city via the Gin Craze, detouring through the Empire (with a G&T in hand), to the emergence of cocktail bars in the West End, the story is brought right up to date with the resurgence of class in a glass - the G ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published August 28th 2014 by Headline
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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Jul 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-read-2015
There is nothing more English than a G&T on a fine summers day. Only two flaws in that statement; the chances of having a fine summers day are not high, and gin is Dutch.

Bought over with William of Orange in 1688 as genever, the English have taken this potent spirit and made it their own. But on it's way to becoming a quintessential English spirit, it has wreaked havoc in London, where you could be drunk for a penny, dead drunk for twopence and clean straw for nothing. For several decade the maj
Mix yourself a G&T and settle in for a pleasant tour through London’s modern “Ginnaissance.” More so than other liquors, gin has a very English history, and with its six distilleries, London is an especially important site. “Gin is very much a drinker’s drink,” Williams remarks, “complex not only in cultural associations but [also] in its flavors.” It has certainly come a long way in just over three centuries, from a symbol of poverty and vice to one of nouveau riche sophistication.

The story beg
Jul 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Gin has become trendy again. A ginnaissance if you will (and Olivia Williams will) although the number of things now being ended with -aissance is starting to get annoying. I'm a member of The London Gin Club myself (although I don't go there that often, but the tasting menu is amazing). There they follow all the rules of the form – big balloon shaped glasses, a wide selection of gins and garnishes as well as top of the range Fevertree tonic.

But, back to the book, it's an excellent, and very enj
Gordon Mcghie
Aug 21, 2014 rated it really liked it

I found Gin Glorious Gin to be informative, educational, entertaining and often disturbing, Also, the cover should carry a warning about reading the book in public.

The writing is informed and the style conversational at times so, despite the volume of anecdotes and information that is conveyed, you keep coming back for more.

What I did find as I read through Gin Glorious Gin was that I made new friends (cover warning time). The book is eye-catching and the subject matter seems dear to the hearts
R.J. Lynch
Nov 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway which I had entered because I enjoy books that combine factual research with social history--and Gin, Glorious Gin did not disappoint. The author has researched her subject thoroughly but the research is nicely embedded in the text and not glaringly in-your-face. What I enjoyed most of all was the way she put the history and development of gin making and gin drinking through three centuries firmly in the context of British society at the time. I had some s ...more
Jo-anne Atkinson
Sep 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Gin is a peculiarly English drink, developed in the seventeenth century from a Dutch spirit. Due to tax breaks gin became a very cheap spirit which was consumed in vast quantities before falling out of fashion and currently undergoing a revival. This simple premise has been woven into a truly fascinating exploration of the social history of drinking in London.

The detail and research is great but there are wonderful twists in this book - ideas for cocktails, information about the newer artisan br
Dec 26, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't quite give this 3 stars. It's an interesting history of gin and its social influence, but read as a disjointed collection of facts that seemed a bit repetitive in parts. Enjoyable, quick read, but might have benefited from a bit more editing. ...more
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sep 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is not just a book for those who like a twist of lime and a couple of ice cubes with their gin and mixer. It’s a riotous romp through the culture and history of London as seen through the eyeglass of this most iconic of drinks. From the squalid image of the bawds and hookers of Hogarth’s Gin Lane, through to the sophisticated pleasure palaces of our modern day, Gin Glorious Gin covers a whole range of senses and uncovers the complex history of a drink which knows no common dominator.

Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a totally fascinating story of how gin has waxed and waned in popularity over the centuries. From its origins in the Dutch drink 'genevra ' to modern 'limited edition' varieties. I don't actually like gin myself but having read this book I wonder whether that is because I haven't yet found the right flavour.

I did disagree with one statement in the book - that there is no scientific proof that gin makes drinkers depressed. The only time I have drunk gin I felt very depressed afterwards i
Victoria Harris
Sep 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway for honest review.

I thought I was a gin lover, but after reading this book I realised that I knew absolutely nothing about gin. Well, this was a fascinating way to go about correcting that. It is a wonderful history that took me right through the different classes of England and the different circumstances they found themselves in, all linked to gin. As well as being a great history of gin, it showed me the mind sets of people. It showed the coping and su
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
A charming, interesting, and entertaining book about London's fascination with the spirit gin.

I learned a lot about gin from this book. Especially how gin is tied up with the social history of London.

Worth reading.
Dec 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
Enjoyed the early part of how gin came about, and the 20s/World War Two/modern day history. In between was a bit slow - basically everyone was drunk on gin...
Apr 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A great read for any gin drinker. I am now desperate to work my way through a plethora of gins! Loved it.
Siobhan Johnson
This was a bad book.

Badly written, badly researched and badly presented. There wasn't a single footnote in the entire thing, sources are important if you're writing history!, and the bibliography at the end was a page and a half long. A page and a half long! I've written 3000 word essays with bibliographies longer than that. My dissertation, 10000 words and 70 odd pages, had a bibliography 4 times as long and still got (rightfully) criticised for not showing more research!

Granted, this book wasn
I started this a long time ago and it's taken me a while to finish. I found some of the early history of gin a bit tedious, but then I realized I wasn't bored, but shocked to discover just how much the history of alcohol and drinking is all about wealth and class. The 18th and 19th century panics about drunkenness among the city poor... report after report, commission after commission... NEVER said "The poor drink like this because they are poor, wretched and miserable. Let's do something to end ...more
Louise Milton
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am not usually a fan of non fiction, but have this a go after receiving it as a gift - and so glad I did! The way it was written was very engaging, I found myself absorbed in it to a similar degree as a good novel, whilst actually discovering a lot about the history of gin at the same time. The little reference guide at the back also makes a handy "cheat sheet" when discussing with true gin experts. ...more
Kate Parr
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fun and informative Trek through gin's history, all from the point of view of London's developing place in the world. The timeline bounces around a bit and sometimes gets lost in minute descriptions of old gin palaces, or gin-fuelled crimes, but but was easy going, and had a handy primer on gin's, botanicals and the best bars to drink them in. ...more
Sakina (Y.L.) Angel
Dec 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I tried to read this the previous year, but had difficulty getting into it, so I put it aside and gave it another go this year. Glad I made it through, as it was a good informative journey through the history of a lovely drink. Thanks William, for bringing it to London all those centuries ago!
Jun 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting enough but a bit high level I'd have liked more analysis ...more
Emma Rosen
Nov 13, 2020 rated it liked it
A well written and researched book, just not one that overly interested me. I did discover though that I do actually like gin - I had no idea that Pimm's and martini were gin based! ...more
Lori Larsen
Feb 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Fun read-- a lot of interesting facts and history of gin.
Tina Ambury
May 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating. Bit out of date as is from 2014 so doesn't cover the explosion of recent makers. ...more
Iain Bertram
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Boring. Tell a story..
Apr 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 7.5/10

I am a fairly recent gin convert. I somehow managed to get to the age of 26 without ever having tried it, until my friend decided to change that a couple of months ago. Now I am a gin enthusiast, so when Headline gave me the opportunity to read their latest gin-based release, I jumped at the chance.

Packed to the brim with interesting facts, recipes, history, pop-culture references, and advice from master Distillers and bartenders alike, Gin, Glorious Gin is an absolute must-have fo
Eddie Clarke
Oct 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, 2015, food
An entertaining romp through the history of gin manufacture and drinking in London through the ages, with lots of facts served up with plentiful lashings of intriguing anecdote. Very good on the literary and arty associations with the spirit. Long regarded with fear and loathing by the establishment who repeatedly tried to curb the lower orders from drinking it throughout the 18th century, it was Lord Byron who created a vogue for louche and young Romantic writer types to get stuck in and gin ne ...more
Daniel Woodward
Sep 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
An easy to read, light-hearted,witty yet very informative book on the social history of Gin especially in the London area. I am not A gin lover but still found this book fun to read and reminded me of the Pete Brown books that are concerned with the social history of beer/ale.
For people who like their gin or who are interested in social history I would recommend this book as it doesn't seem to take itself too seriously even though its about a real subject!! I have even had a couple of people who
Dec 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
A history of gin, particularly in England: although the original stuff is Dutch the London version is rather different and took on a life of its own, with some help from that otherwise most unappealing of monarchas, William III. The social history of gin is very interesting - we're all no doubt familiar with Cruikshank's "Gin Lane", and that picture was, it seems, no exaggeration. Gin went from being a cheap (and inferior) drink consumed in vast quantities by the poor, with all the social proble ...more
Jan 10, 2016 rated it liked it
I loved the early part of this book - it delved thoroughly into the origins of gin and it's fuddled trajectory through the 17th-20th centuries. But then it loses its way. Williams throws in some popular cultural icons with tenuous gin links - Evelyn Waugh, Kingsley Amis, the Happy Valley set - and then slips clumsily to the present day. There are sloppy editorial errors as well, including anachronisms within spitting distance of each other and lazy spelling mistakes. A shame as the first 2/3 of ...more
Aug 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is an informative, well-written book about the history of gin (and some other info about cocktails) in the UK. The writing style is engaging and entertaining, and the historical information was embedded quite well.

For me, it wasn't really a book to read cover to cover (as there isn't really much of a narrative), but one to pick up every now and then to read a chapter or two.

The cover and design are absolutely beautiful, eye-catching yet sophisticated.
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