Last week’s column on the origins of gin and tonic (G&T) brought me a rather interesting response from a reader. The gentleman, a restaurateur from Karol Bagh, wrote to tell me he didn’t completely agree with my explanation of why gin and gin-based drinks didn’t move well in Indian bars. It wasn’t gin companies’ failure in marketing the product well to young drinkers that explained the poor sales, he said. It was the result of a “great myth”.
“Dry gin causes impotency in Man (sic),” he said, adding that that’s what gin companies need to educate the masses about. The horrible consequences would be a “strong reason for tipplers to avoid it”, he added.
Now this was interesting. I had never heard or read about this piece of trivia. Of course, that could be because I’m not a man, and so not privy to guys’ chit chat. Why, I wondered, is this myth limited to dry gin (I’m assuming he’s referring to the London dry-style of gin)? Could that explain why James Bond never had kids?
A bit of research helped shed some light. As it turns out, the reader — let’s call him the Gin Man — was not quite right. It’s not just dry gin, or any style of gin, that can leave men high and dry; any form of alcohol when taken in excess can lead to temporary incapacitation. And constant abuse can lead to permanent impotence.
The first condition is quaintly known in certain circles as ‘brewer’s droop’, and other equally colourful slangs that cannot justify printing in a family newspaper. Shakespeare was well aware of alcohol’s effects, too. “Drink provokes the desire but takes away the performance,” says one of his characters in Macbeth.
To sum, men ought to drink in moderation (women too, but that’s another story). Make less love to your drink and make more to your wife.
To the Gin Man — you were partially right. Thank you for writing in. But I wonder if saying risk of impotency could keep tipplers away isn’t missing the woods for the trees. Alcohol in excess can have other, more damaging effects, and impotency should be the least of a man’s worries.