BUZZ: It's summertime again, so everybody's drinking gin-and-tonics. Ugh. Why anybody would drink something that smells like Pine-Sol is beyond me. Makes me queasy just thinking about it.
Marnie: Believe it or not, Buzz, modern gin traces its roots to a 17th-century Dutch remedy for upset stomachs, among other ailments. Alcoholic tinctures of botanical ingredients were common medicines. Juniper berries were thought to help kidney problems, gallstones and the gout, too.
Buzz: So how come people still drink it?
Marnie: Well, juniper's healthful properties didn't prove miraculous, but it did a great job of masking the dire quality of primitive distilled spirits. Soon, "genever" was a popular relaxing drink in the Netherlands, but it didn't really take off until British sailors discovered the appeal of what they called "Dutch Courage." The craze for gin they brought home was so frenzied that juniper became scarce in London; cheap, "common gin" at its height was flavored with turpentine.