The Gin Palace 

"A Hidden Gem" on the first floor exclusively used for private functions 

Not everyone knows it but the Bookcafe has a secret first & second floor  .

This floor has a capacity of 100 people. 

We also have a wide selection of wines, beers, spirits & Peroni on draft.

However we do stock 21 Gins @ 21 Cornmarket.

For further details go to this link 

A Gintroduction…

Gin started to become known in England when troops returned from fighting the Thirty Year War (1618-1648).The British supported the Protestant Dutch against Catholic Spain and brought back tales of Genever and its warming properties which had given them ‘Dutch Courage’.

A Protestant alliance between England and the Netherlands was formed against Catholic France which restricted the supply of Brandy, increasing the demand for home produced spirits. To fulfil this demand the Distilling Act of 1690 was passed to encourage the distillation of spirits Gin became a colloquialism for Genever.

The London Gin craze, a term used in much the same way as we would use drug craze today, lasted from 1720 to 1751. Gin was cheap, of dubious quality and in such plentiful supply it was sold everywhere by street hawkers and in many private houses. In some parts of London, as many as one private house in four was selling spirits.

By 1723, the death rate in London had outstripped the birth rate, mostly due to the consumption of gin. The term ‘Mother’s Ruin’ is believed to have originated from about this time when gin was particularly popular amongst women to help quieten their children.To restore a level of sobriety the first of a series of Gin Acts were passed in 1729.

The Gin Palace

During the course of the first five Gin Acts from 1729 - 1743, the amount of spirits produced rose by 30% and although the sale of gin was officially outlawed, consumption grew to the equivalent of every man, woman and child drinking two pints a week!

It was not until the last Gin Act of 1751, known as the ‘Tippling Act’ that things finally started to change. It encouraged respectable selling and banned any still which had a capacity of less than 1800 litres. This then paved the way for large scale companies to prosper. Gordon’s, Greenall’s and Plymouth are among today’s big brands whose origins date back to the latter half of the 18th century. Gin started to become a classier and a more respectable, well made spirit.

The 1820’s saw the start of today’s pubs. Licensed public houses first started selling beer and to fund renovations and repairs, landlords obtained funds from brewers in exchange for becoming tied into buying their produce by contract. In 1825, spirit duties were cut and spirit production doubled; as a result the distillers wanted their own outlets to compete with pubs so they opened ‘gin palaces’. These were luxurious and in complete contrast to the slums that housed the poor, who were still the biggest drinkers of gin.

The Birth of the Gin and Tonic

The innovation of the column (continuous) still, patented by Aeneas Coffey in 1831, improved the production process and the quality of gin.

This reduced the need to mask the flavour by sweetening as was the case of Old Tom Gins; this enabled the creation of the London Dry Gin style later in the century. Duties on exporting gin were removed in 1850, opening up a number of new markets which have influenced the way we drink gin today.

Firstly in India, where members of the Raj sought to combat malaria by combining the medicinal benefits of juniper with that of quinine, often dissolved in tonic. The invention of the carbonated quinine drink, tonic water, saw the birth of what we know as the G&T, which is how the majority of us still consume our gin today.

Gin was also popular with naval officers who often drank it as pink gin by adding a drop of Angostura bitters which helped ease their sea-sickness. Over the next century, the popularity of gin and emergence of a cocktail culture continued to rise through two World Wars, the temperance movement and American prohibition. The rest they say is history.

What is gin?

Gin is a neutral spirit flavoured by juniper and other botanicals, juniper must be the predominant flavour.

This neutral spirit was traditionally made from grain, or for cheaper brands, molasses. However, the gin revolution has brought many other raw materials to the fore including: potatoes; apples and grapes. Flavour is added to the neutral spirit either by compounding or by redistilling. Compound gin, often referred to as ‘bathtub’ gin as a nod to prohibition, is closest to how the original gins were made with flavours and essences added to neutral grain spirit, sweetening and colouring is permitted.