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Why Gin Tastes Like Christmas Trees (And More Weird Gin Facts)

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If there's one liquor that's truly polarizing, we'd have to say it's gin -- with tequila as a close second (from a night of one too many shots).

When it comes to gin, people are either die-hard fans or they can't handle its "Christmas tree" flavor. We have two things to say about that. First, anything that tastes like Christmas is awesome. And second, if you're tasting an unpleasant Christmas tree flavor, chances are you're drinking cheap gin. It's like saying you don't like burgers when you've only ever had one from White Castle.

Take a moment and educate yourself on this liquor that was once used as a prevention for the plague, to ease the pains of childbirth and to treat a lack of courage. And then go buy yourself a decent bottle of gin and mix yourself a classic cocktail.

  • 1
    Gin is basically made from pine cones.
    Emilia Blom/500px
    Well, not exactly. Gin is made from juniper berries. And juniper berries are not actually berries, but female seed cone (read pinecones). THIS IS WHY IT TASTES LIKE CHRISTMAS TREES, which (in our opinion) is a very good thing.
  • 2
    Gin is basically just vodka.
    Kat Chadwick via Getty Images
    Gin is pretty much just flavored vodka -- but the best kind possible. While juniper berry is the most popular and predominant flavor, other aromatics that give gin its flavor include: cumin seeds, coriander seeds, angelica root, orris root, citrus peels, cardamom pods, cassia bark, grains of paradise and cubeb berries.
  • 3
    The '80s were brutal in many ways, but at least they brought back gin.
    RACKHAM /500px
    We will forever be okay with big hair and leg warmers because they are from the era that brought gin back to its proper glory. Bombay Sapphire is mostly responsible; in 1988, they were one of the first new premium gins produced in decades.
  • 4
    You have the Dutch to thank for your next gin cocktail.
    Hillary Fox via Getty Images
    The Dutch gave us the masterpieces of Rembrandt AND gin. The first confirmed date for the production of gin is the early 17th century in Holland. We are forever indebted to the Dutch for this. FOREVER.
  • 5
    Gin was first sold at pharmacies, not bars.
    Flickr: Barry Winiker via Getty Images
    In the 17th century, gin was sold in the Netherlands to treat medical problems such as kidney ailments, lumbago, stomach ailments, gallstones, and gout. That's one treatment we can fully get behind.
  • 6
    A proper martini is always made with gin.
    Artifacts Images via Getty Images
    All you vodka martini drinkers can just go home.
  • 7
    The expression "Dutch courage" is all about gin.
    albert mollon via Getty Images
    More specifically, Dutch courage refers to getting drunk on gin. The British came up with this expression during the Dutch War of Independence 1568–1648 as the drink presumably gave them courage in battle -- and expression has stuck.
  • 8
    You're never supposed to order straight gin.
    Holger Leue via Getty Images
    Gin is meant for cocktails. You don't ever take shots of gin like you would tequila and you wouldn't really sip on it like whiskey, but when mixed into a cocktail gin comes to life. The botanicals add complexity to cocktails -- which is why many classic cocktails are made with this liquor.
  • 9
    Despite some haters, some countries really love their gin.
    Soma Images/500px
    Global gin sales have reached approximately 47 million nine-litre cases, with the Philippines leading in sales. The U.S., Spain and UK follow closely behind.
  • 10
    Gin and tonics were invented to cure malaria.
    Annabelle Breakey via Getty Images
    In the 1700s, quinine (what gives tonic water its unique flavor) was used to treat and cure the disease. As you can imagine, it tasted terrible so sugar was added. Then gin. Then soda water. Not a bad dose of medicine if you ask us. Now gin and tonics are so popular there are bars devoted entirely to gin and tonic in Spain.

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Filed by Julie R. Thomson