TASTE News Service May 3, 2016 - Belgium’s image abroad is one of a country full of bars and expressing a very tolerant view towards alcohol. Today, the legal age for being served alcohol in Belgium is 16 years and, public alcohol consumption is also permitted, though public intoxication is prohibited. These tolerant policies are fairly recent; during the course of the 19th century, the government declared open season on genever, the country’s traditional spirit.
Distilled from grain nurtured in the soil of Belgium and the Netherlands, genever embodies the spirit, creativity, and resiliency of the culture that created it. Surviving five centuries of wars and prohibitions, genever was perfected and spread across the world. During its evolution, genever inspired the creation of gin and secured a place at America’s early cocktail bars. Many classic gin cocktails were originally made with genever.