THE popular York Gin shop is re-opening on Monday with their socially-distanced contraption continuing to serve free samples.

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

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.

As the country prepares to reopen the high street, the shop wanted to keep the much-enjoyed gin tasting machine in place - providing a safe way for staff to chat with customers while they sip.

Staff will stand behind a Perspex screen and pour the gin through a stainless steel pipe into a compostable cup held by the customer.

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

York Gin co-founder and marketing director Emma Godivala said: "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 will be open from 10.30am until 5.30pm seven days a week from Monday, April 12.