History of the Gin Dobry Club


The Poznań Fair has always been and will be a place of international meetings, exchange of goods and services, business experiences and interweaving of cultures. The best example of this is the cross-cultural GIN DOBRY CLUB set up for MTP.

At the 1966 Poznań International Fair, two British medical companies were exhibiting at adjoining stands. They were Zimmer Orthopaedic Ltd. represented by Mr. William Kirton and Eschmann Brothers & Walsh Ltd. represented by Mr. James Lindsay (now sadly deceased).

The stands had a joint hospitality suite where numerous visitors from Polish Foreign Trade Enterprises and Medical Institutions were welcomed. It was a golden rule that no alcoholic beverages were imbibed in the mornings, but at the stroke of 12 noon Gin & Tonics would be dispensed and drunk with great equanimity. The gin was Gordon's and the tonic was Schweppes.

At one of the early meetings it turned out that there was a similarity between the Polish language greeting for ‘Good Morning' – DZIEN DOBRY and GIN DOBRY (gin is good!) and this greeting was adopted as our daily toast, it thus became 'GIN DOBRY – FIRST TODAY!'. As the number of visitors began to increase at the 12 noon meetings, to avoid chaos a bell was used to regulate proceedings. This worked well and with the cry 'with decorum gentlemen' (to calm unruly members) is still used to this day with great effect.

The Gin Dobry Club was not limited to British and Polish Nationals but extended to cover nationals of any country who had a predilection for gin and tonic and consequently the membership increased over the years. The Gin Dobry Club meetings have been held globally whenever a quorum or more have been present at 12 noon and the stirring cry of 'GIN DOBRY – FIRST TODAY!' has been heard through exhibition halls in most countries of the world, much to the amazement of the populace. Each member is presented with a certificate and badge in a very moving and solemn ceremony which is carried out with due decorum and it is by wearing the badge at all times that members are able to recognize each other.

Only the President or Vice Presidents are empowered to induct new members. After the retirement of William (Bill) Kirton, the Presidency was passed to Vice President John Cash at the 30th anniversary of the Gin Dobry Club which took place at the 75th Poznań International Fair, June 1996. In September 2009 at the Polagra Food Exhibition, the Gin Dobry Club accepted a kind offer by the Poznań International Fair to return to its roots in Poznań to a permanent home in the fairgrounds.

We cordially invite all members to attend a session of the Gin Dobry Club and may the resounding cry of 'GIN DOBRY – FIRST TODAY!' ring loud around the fairground!

A solemn initiation of a new member of the Gin Dobry Club refers to the British royal accolade ceremony. Not a sword but a bottle of Schweppes tonic is used for the passage ceremony. A new member receives a proper certificate and the badge which is fixed into the jacket lapel. According to the Polish tradition, it is followed by three cheek kisses, whereas as far as the British one is concerned by a handshake. A proper recommendation by the club member is the only way to become the club member.

Insignias and proceedings of GIN DOBRY CLUB

The proceedings of the Gin Dobry Club are closely connected to its traditions. The meetings when new members are inducted are of a uniquely solemn character. A brass bell, a personal certificate, a club badge and a glass of gin and tonic are all important attributes of the club meetings.

A personal certificate certifies the admission to the prestigious, international Gin Dobry Club. The certificate’s originality is acknowledged by a decorative seal of the club and the signatures of John Cash, the club’s president, as well as one of its vice-presidents. A new member is presented with such a certificate during the admission ceremony.

The badge is a mandatory emblem of all members of the Gin Dobry Club and is worn on the days of meetings. The badge is first received during a solemn ceremony while being admitted to the club. Its colours including the letters GDC, standing for the name of Gin Dobry Club, as well as the number 12, standing for the time of the club meetings, refer to the colours of the label of Gordon’s gin and Schweppes tonic used for the toasts “First Today!” wishing successful business talks at an exhibition. The silver centre of the badge refers to the color of gin, its yellow ring refers to the colours of the label of Schweppes tonic, whereas the red letters refer to the symbol of the wolf found in the Gordon’s label.

Gin & tonic is a classical English drink served with a slice of lemon and an ice cube. Genuine British Gordon’s mixed with Schweppes in perfect proportions are used for toasting the Gin Dobry Club.

The brass bell – its sound together with the cry “Ladies and Gentlemen! Gin Dobry!” announces a celebratory toast.

The proceedings of the club meetings were agreed on by the founders of Gin Dobry Club and ever since then these have remained unchanged. It all begins with an opening by the president who says the formula “Ladies and Gentlemen, Gin Dobry”. Later all the guests clink their glasses with gin and tonic. Sometimes the president adds “Ladies and gentlemen, with decorum” to silence the company. Next, he toasts with the words “First today!” and all the members and the guests invited reply with the same words simultaneously.

“GIN DOBRY – FIRST TODAY” toast represents the club’s international character. The cry originated at one of the meetings where certain similarities between the phrases “dzień dobry” and “gin is good” were spotted.