Jenever, the national spirit of Belgium
Jenever or genièvre, is the national spirit of Belgium from which gin evolved. While beer may be Belgium's most famous alcoholic beverage, jenever has been the country's traditional and national spirit for over 500 years. The Belgian Jenever is now a Protected Product of Origin, it can only be crafted in Belgium, the Netherlands (were it's also called Dutch Gin) and a few areas in the north of France and Germany. Most of the jenever AOC's (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) certificates are exclusive to Belgians making Belgian jenever, the recipes to do so are one of the best-kept secrets in the liquor industry. One of most popular cities to make jenever is Hasselt.
For centuries jenever has been bottled in jugs handcrafted from clay. Its iconic shape is recognizable and unique to jenever. Traditionally the Belgians serve jenever in completely full shot glasses that have mostly just been pulled from the freezer. The glass is completely filled to the edge. The first step to drinking the jenever properly is to keep the glass on the table, bend down and take the first sip without holding the glass. Once this traditional first sip is completed one can drink the rest of the drink normally.