Despite its country-club image, there's nothing stodgy about gin. Throughout its history, it has been a dangerous, untamed thing. Gin made the Roaring Twenties roar, and it was what turned the regulars at the Algonquin Round Table into a vicious circle. The nicknames gin has earned over the years pay tribute to its rough-and-ready nature: red eye, mother's ruin, tarantula juice, strip-and-go-naked.
Gin, in short, has always been the life of the party. In the past few years, however, gin has been outshone by a recent arrival--vodka. But gin never really went away: it merely stumbled into the bedroom and passed out on top of a pile of coats. Now gin is back, and it's making as much noise as ever.
The evidence is on liquor store shelves, where a small crowd of new gins has shown up, none of which was around two years ago. The newcomers are all the more remarkable because they are all so various in style, from traditional, full-flavored sorts to modern, mild types. I'd almost say the gins in this second bunch are so soft-spoken they're hardly gins at all-- if it weren't for the fact that gin's ability to reinvent itself is one of its chief characteristics.