Gin was first distilled in the 1600s in Holland and soon became a popular drink, especially amongst the poor because it was cheap to make and consume. For no more than a penny people could get drunk. In 1751 there were approximately 7000 establishments where people could buy gin in London.
Gin was first made by a Dutch Professor of medicine, Dr Sylvius, who wanted a diuretic to get rid of excess water in the body. He used distilled juniper berries which were potent as well as fine-tasting. Patients reportedly kept asking for repeat prescriptions. Before long, the drink lost its medical connotations and became a recreational tipple. The Dutch called this drink ‘Genever’ (their word for ‘juniper’).