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Lauren Tamaki

A Brief History of Gin—and 12 Kinds You Should Try

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Lauren Tamaki

Today is International Gin and Tonic Day! Why not celebrate with one (or two, or three...) G&Ts made with these delicious gins?

No matter how sick you get, your doctor probably won’t prescribe a glass of gin. But that wasn’t always the case. During the Renaissance, the juniper-flavored spirit was thought to “cure” everything from gout to the Black Death. (It didn’t, but guzzling gin beat fighting the plague sober.)

During the late 17th century, British gin stopped being an ineffective medicine and became a cheap way to get blotto. Nicknamed “mother’s ruin,” gin was responsible for putting a good portion of the population of London in a permanent stupor. After a few decades of this decay, gin’s reputation became similar to heroin’s today.

Strangely, after centuries of dubious medical claims, gin restored its honor thanks to its therapeutic value. As the British Empire expanded into tropical areas, malaria became an epidemic. Quinine, derived from the bark of the cinchona tree, combated the disease, but it had a critical weakness: Its overwhelming bitterness made it tough to stomach.

Luckily, chemists perfected a carbonated tonic that made the quinine more palatable. Colonists soon realized that a slug of gin could liven up this concoction, and gin and tonic became everyone’s favorite medical cocktail. As these travelers returned home, they brought their new drink with them, and Londoners once again embraced gin as something other than the tool of the devil.

You could hardly blame them. Herbal, clean, and refreshing, gin is the perfect pour for a summer night. So for your health’s sake, why not toss back a gin and tonic?

After extensive testing, the mental_floss staff has narrowed down its top 12 picks to cure what ails you:

TANQUERAY NO. TEN

Bright orange flavors boast lots of complexity. Each sip is engaging, like a great novel that pours at 94.6 proof. $37

BERKSHIRE MOUNTAIN GREYLOCK

Tons of juniper and pine are backed by explosions of citrus juice. Snoop would be proud.$29

NOLET’S SILVER DRY

A floral, evergreen scent gives way to a rich note of raspberry and licorice. The clean flavor makes the perfect gin rickey. $49

FEW AMERICAN

Toasted grain aromas reminiscent of a white whiskey dovetail with a subtle butteriness to make a sublime mixer. $39

ST. GEORGE DRY RYE

With big hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, this is gin’s aggressive answer to your grandma’s Christmas cake. $35

BOMBAY SAPPHIRE EAST

Thai lemongrass and Vietnamese peppercorns give this old favorite a far cleaner, more delicious Asian flair than our failed experiment with a pad thai infusion did. $23

DRY FLY WASHINGTON DRY

This tangy, fruity offering packs just enough spice that it practically begs to be used in a jazzed up Tom Collins. $30

BLUECOAT AMERICAN DRY

Really stick it to King George III by cracking open this citrus-heavy Philadelphia-distilled treat. $30

RIVER ROSE

Iowa isn't a noted gin hotbed, but after tasting the local rose and cucumbers used in this one, we're thinking maybe it should be. $28

CAORUNN SMALL BATCH

This Scottish gin packs such huge, delicious floral flavors that you might think someone slipped a tulip into your martini as a delightful prank. $24

TREATY OAK WATERLOO

We were all kind of hoping that a Texas-made gin would taste like barbecue. Instead, we got something even better:  a crisp, clean gin with lots of lavender. $23

DEATH'S DOOR

The Wisconsin brains behind this one traded traditional gin's heavy juniper flavor for spicier licorice tones, and it paid off in a big way. $26

As hard as we tried to track down every worthy gin, we're sure we missed a few great ones. What's your favorite bolt for a martini or a gin and tonic?

Portions of this article originally appeared last year.

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New Pop Chart Lab Poster Is a Boozy Blueprint For Making Classic Cocktails
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Pop Chart Lab

Pop Chart Lab's posters combine design with data, and their latest offering—a full breakdown of the ingredients in 60 classic cocktails—is no exception. From the exact ratio of gin and tonic that should go into a G & T (2 ounces and 4 ounces, respectively) to the garnishes you'll need to make a proper Tom Collins (a maraschino cherry and a lemon twist), the 3-foot-by-2-foot "Constitutions of Classic Cocktails" artwork teaches mixology basics you'd typically learn in bartending school, sans tuition fee.

In addition to mainstays like the Negroni and the Whiskey Sour, the poster also includes relatively obscure drinks (ever heard of the Golden Dawn, or the Journalist?), which you can attempt after drinking your way through your favorite concoctions. Before you know it, you'll be explaining to your friends the intricacies of why you should stir martinis instead of shaking them (sorry, James Bond), or the difference between a highball and a Collins glass. Bottoms up!

"Constitutions of Classic Cocktails" costs $37, and is currently available for pre-order. Shipping begins on Friday, October 20, 2017. (To see the poster's details up close, visit Pop Chart Lab's website and click on the diagram.)

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Attention Beer Lovers: A London Brewery Is Hiring a Professional Taste-Tester
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Beer lovers aren’t given many chances to discuss their passion for imbibing at job interviews. But a new open position at London's Meantime Brewing Company lists that expertise as one of the top qualifications. As Fortune reports, the brewery is seeking a professional beer taster to help improve its products.

The brewery’s part-time employee will “join the panel brewers as they taste, discuss, and pass opinion on a range of different beers,” according to the job listing on LinkedIn. On top of steady access to free booze three hours a week, the taster will receive a competitive salary “with beer benefits.” As the description reads: “Yes, this could just be the best job in the world.”

Meantime isn’t just considering any casual beer drinker for the role. Their ideal candidate will have a precise palate that can distinguish “chocolate malt from dark malt” and “Fuggles from Cascade hops.” They will also have an understanding of global consumer markets, a functioning knowledge of English, and an extensive beer vocabulary. The brewery is located in the London borough of Greenwich, so applicants who aren’t local should be willing to relocate.

Founded in 1999, the Meantime Brewing Company made its name on the beer scene with signature beverages like their London Lager, London Pale Ale, and Yakima Red. If you’re interested in joining the team, post 30 words on your LinkedIn profile explaining why you deserve the gig, along with any photos or videos that may help your case, with the hashtag #pickmemeantime. The company will narrow down the pool to three candidates for an in-person beer tasting before deciding their top pick. Meanwhile, you can prepare for the job by brushing up on your beer facts.

[h/t Fortune]

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