Bathtub gin

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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.[1]

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 a open vessel such as a bathtub and so stories of distilled alcoholic products produced in a open bathtub are very likely apocryphal.

Many gin cocktails owe their existence to bathtub gin, as they were also created in order to mask the unpleasant taste.[2]

Bathtub Gin is also the name for a gin brand produced in the United Kingdom. Whilst not being made in a bathtub it is produced using compounding/infusing rather than using botanical distillation.[3]

Use in popular culture[edit]

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.

The band Phish has a song titled "Bathtub Gin" that was originally released on the album Lawn Boy. The song also appears on Hampton Comes Alive and several other live albums.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "bathtub gin". Merriam-Webster OnLine. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster. Archived from the original on 19 February 2010. Retrieved March 3, 2010. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ "Bathtub Gin". Gin Foundry. Archived from the original on 2014-05-22. Retrieved 2015-07-29. 
  4. ^ "Bathtub Gin History". Mockingbird Foundation. Retrieved 2015-07-30.