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Bathtub gin refers to any style of homemade spirit made in amateur conditions. The term first appeared in 1920, in the prohibition-era United States, in reference to the poor-quality alcohol that was being made.
As gin was the predominant drink in the 1920s, many variations were created by mixing cheap grain alcohol with water and flavorings and other agents, such as juniper berry juice and glycerin. Because the preferred sort of bottle was too tall to be topped off with water from a sink, they were filled from a bathtub tap. In addition, mixing grain alcohol, water and flavorings in vessels large enough to supply commercial users, had to be small enough for the operation to go undetected by the police. The common metal bathtub in use at the time would have been ideal as would have been a ceramic bathtub, hence the name, 'bathtub gin'. Note: Distillation requires closed distillation apparatus and can not be accomplished in an open vessel such as a bathtub and so stories of distilled alcoholic products produced in an open bathtub are very likely untrue.
Many gin cocktails owe their existence to bathtub gin, as they were also created in order to mask the unpleasant taste.
Bathtub Gin is also the name for a gin brand produced by Ableforth's in the United Kingdom. Whilst not being made in a bathtub it is produced using compounding/infusing rather than using botanical distillation.
In popular culture
The Simpsons episode "Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment" features Homer and Bart mixing and brewing alcohol, including gin, in various bathtubs in the basement and secretly supplying and distributing it to Moe's Tavern via an elaborate delivery system to avoid detection.
Mean Miss Hannigan (Carol Burnett) in the film Annie (1982) is shown doctoring bathtub gin.
There is a bar in New York City called Bathtub Gin. It is hidden behind a cafe to refer to the secret bars of the prohibition era.
There is also a bar in Seattle, Washington called Bathtub Gin & Co, a speakeasy style bar in the heart of Belltown.
- Bathtub Gin (Phish song)
- Fusel alcohol
- History of alcohol
- Alcoholic beverage
- Distilled beverages
- List of cocktails
- List of alcoholic beverages
- "bathtub gin". Merriam-Webster OnLine. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster. Archived from the original on 19 February 2010. Retrieved March 3, 2010.
- Sandham, Tom (1 October 2012). World's Best Cocktails: 500 Signature Drinks from the World's Best Bars and Bartenders. Fair Winds Press. p. 72. ISBN 978-1-61058-648-1.
- "Bathtub Gin". Gin Foundry. Archived from the original on 2014-05-22. Retrieved 2015-07-29.
- "Bathtub Gin History". phish.net. Mockingbird Foundation. Retrieved 2015-07-30.