Genever, An Old-School Gin That's Hot Again

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William Hogarth's engraving "Gin Lane," to represent the 18th century gin craze.

Last winter, I blogged wistfully about the scarcity of the august and historic style of gin known as genever. Also known as "jenever" or "Holland gin," genever is the original style of gin. Produced in the Netherlands, genever was such a hot commodity in the mid-18th century, it was condemned as a "social menace" in England. But genever's reputation didn't stop American bartenders from using it to create an array of ancestral gin cocktails a century later.

Richer, maltier, and with a greater depth of flavor than today's typical London Dry style of gin, genever was considered the style of gin for the better part of two centuries. Ah, but that was then.

In recent years, genever has all but disappeared from the U.S. market. Brands such as Zuidam and Boomsma can be found in well-stocked stores in a handful of cities, and a San Francisco-produced genever-style gin, Genevieve, began trickling into liquor stores about this time last year.

Now, genever may be experiencing a second wind. Last week, Lucas Bols--the massive Amsterdam-based spirits company that has been in business since 1575--announced a global relaunch of Bols Genever, based on a recipe the company has used since 1820. The first bottles should start appearing in bars and liquor stores in New York at the end of this month, and in San Francisco and London in the days that follow.

From the looks of the PR rollout, Bols is banking on a big welcome to genever from bartenders and consumers. Keep an eye out in your neighborhood, and once you've had the chance to taste it for yourself, please jump into the comments section and let us know what you think.

About the author: Paul Clarke blogs about cocktails at The Cocktail Chronicles and writes regularly on spirits and cocktails for Imbibe magazine. He lives in Seattle, where he works as a writer and magazine editor.

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