4 Little Known Facts and a Recipe to Celebrate National Gin Day

I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
After four I’m under my host

—Dorothy Parker

Did you know that Nov 7 is National Gin Day? It was news to us as well, but news worth celebrating—with a martini and some little-known facts.

Enjoyed liberally by Dorothy Parker, Winston Churchill and Ernest Hemmingway, gin bubbled into being as the product of medieval alchemists. It surged in popularity in the 1800s and 1900s and then took a nose dive in the late 20th century, bowing to the popularity—and sexy marketing—of vodka. Now, however, gin is enjoying a resurgence as artisanal distilleries get creative with botanicals and mixologists discover the versatility of the juniper-infused spirit.


You may think you know gin if you’ve sidled up to a bar to order a gin and tonic, but here are a few things you may not know:

  • Contrary to what the movies would have you believe (Belvedere Vodka sponsored the last Bond film), James Bond is a gin aficionado. In Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, Bond’s signature cocktail, the Vesper, consisted of three parts gin to one part vodka with a splash of Lillet.
  • Gin is essentially vodka – but with more flavor. Like vodka, it is typically distilled from grain, but then it is flavored with botanicals, often through an extra round of distillation. These botanicals can consist of everything from roots and herbs to fruits and spices.
  • In the 1920s, if you ordered a martini, the bartender didn’t ask you: “Gin or vodka?” They assumed you wanted a gin martini, as vodka hadn’t yet stolen the limelight.
  • Not all gin is “London dry” gin. This is the most common form, but if you like malty, beer-like flavors, you can enjoy Genever, a form of gin made from malted grain.

Now, that you have your basic gin knowledge, go forth and mix!


2 oz. London dry gin
1 oz. fresh lime juice (to taste)
1 oz. simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters (optional)
2-4 oz. seltzer

Directions: Shake all ingredients except for the seltzer with ice, then strain into an ice-filled collins glass. Top with soda, stir, and garnish with a lime peel or wedge.

Recipe from To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion

Many gin facts swiped from Drinks: A User’s Guide