Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the North
8:12 AM 11th April 2021

Gin Shop Re-opens With Free Tasters From Eccentric Vending Machine

A gin shop is re-opening from lockdown on Monday – and will serve free samples from a socially-distanced contraption based on the world’s first vending machine.

The iconic York Gin shop in the historic centre of York is re-opening on 12 April. Managers say they’ll keep their popular socially-distanced gin tasting machine in place, serving free tasters.

Staff stand behind a Perspex screen and pour the gin through a stainless steel pipe into a compostable cup held by the customer. This means they can have a safe, socially-distanced chat about the gin while the customer tastes it.

The contraption is based on the world’s first vending machine, invented during the 18th Century Gin Craze. The machine was known as a ‘Puss ’n’ Mew’.

Jo Hird and Susannah Baines of York Gin showing off the York Gin shop’s Pus ’n’ Mew machine.
Jo Hird and Susannah Baines of York Gin showing off the York Gin shop’s Pus ’n’ Mew machine.
During the Gin Craze, customers would buy illicit gin from the cat-shaped machine attached to the outside of a house by putting a penny in a slot and being served through a lead pipe. It was a way to get around a ban on gin sales.

The York Gin vending machine has no lead - and no pennies change hands during the free tasting.

York Gin co-founder and marketing director said Emma Godivala: ‘Before the latest lockdown, customers loved our Puss ‘n’ Mew machine. They adored the fact that they could relive a bit of gin’s history in our shop.

‘It was originally introduced because of safety concerns, but has actually turned into a real talking point - something customers really appreciate. We think we’ll keep it in place even when the Covid crisis has passed.'

The York Gin shop won Visit York's Shop of the Year title in 2020.

Customers who can’t make it into the centre of York can still get free delivery from

The York Gin shop at 12 Pavement, York, YO1 9UP will be open from 10.30 until 5.30 seven days a week from Monday 12 April.