In Great Britain, the standard single measure of spirits in a pub was 1⁄6 gill (23.7 mL) in England, and 1⁄5 gill (28.4 mL) in Scotland, while the 1⁄4 gill (35.5 mL) was also a common measure in Scotland, and still remains as the standard measure in pubs in Ireland.
After metrication, this was replaced by measures of either 25 or 35 millilitres (0.176 or 0.246 gi), at the discretion of the proprietor.
Half of a gill is a jack, or an eighth of a pint. But in northern England, a quarter pint could also be called a jack or a noggin, rather than a gill, and in some areas a half pint could be called a gill, particularly for beer and milk.
In Ireland, the standard spirit measure was historically 1⁄4 gill. In the Republic of Ireland, it still retains this value, though it is now legally specified in metric units as 35.5 mL.
There are occasional references to a gill in popular culture, such as in:
In L. Frank Baum's The Patchwork Girl of Oz, one of the ingredients required for a magic spell is a gill of water from a dark well. In chapter 19, the obscure unit is used for humor including a pun with the nursery rhyme "Jack and Jill", which also involved a well.
In George Orwell'sAnimal Farm, Moses the Raven is allotted a gill of beer a day after he returns, with the implication that this is part of his payment for supporting the farm leaders, the pigs.
In Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island there are uses of the measure gill, with Israel Hands drinking a gill of brandy in the chapter "I Strike the Jolly Roger". In Stevenson's Kidnapped the protagonist, David Balfour, is "forced" "to drink about a gill" of brandy.
The traditional English folk song "Byker Hill" begins with the words, "If I had another penny, I would have another gill."
The Fall's song "Edinburgh Man" contains the line "Keep me away from the Festival and just give me a warm quarter-gill."
A gill is also referenced in Archer season 2, episode 3 ("Blood Test") when Barry explains to Archer that a litre is, "about 8 gills" (the word gill is mispronounced in this exchange). (Eight gills would be 40 imp fl oz, or 1.1 L.)
In "Bart the Genius," an episode of The Simpsons, a child tricks Bart by offering, "I'll trade you 1,000 picolitres of my milk for four gills of yours." (A picolitre is a trillionth of a litre, so Bart is losing almost a pint of milk in this exchange.)
Because of its more widely used homograph, gill has sometimes been mispronounced with a hard 'g' sound.
FX's animated cartoon Archer mispronounced gill in the episodes "Blood Test" (Season 2, Episode 3) and "Heart of Archness: Part Three" (Season 3, Episode 3).