Tastes range widely among brands, but gin's defining flavor comes from juniper berries - fleshy seed cones (not actual berries) produced by the coniferous trees.

A peculiar ori-gin

Tastes range widely among brands, but gin's defining flavor comes from juniper berries - fleshy seed cones (not actual berries) produced by the coniferous trees.

In fact, its name derives from either the French word "genievre" or the Dutch word "jenever." Both mean "juniper."

For years the berries were used for therapeutic purposes, including as a diuretic. Looking to create an affordable medicine, a physician named Franciscus de la Boe thought that he could collect the substance by processing juniper berries with alcohol.

Instead of soothing those with kidney stones, the man who later was known as Dr. Sylvius developed a juniper-flavored drink that exploded throughout the Netherlands in the mid-1600s.

Tonic tale

Getting malaria sucks. However, so does the taste of quinine, which can prevent the disease. That's why malaria-prone British soldiers exploring India during the 1700s would cut their tonic, essentially quinine and water, with gin, their liquor of choice.

The foundation was established for one of the world's greatest drinks. Limes were added to the drink sometime after 1747, when vitamin C from the fruit first was used to combat scurvy. Carbonated tonic water replaced the flat stuff near the turn of the 18th century.

Gin madness

William III is credited with bringing gin to England from Holland when he became king after the Glorious Revolution in 1689. It didn't take long for the drink to catch on.

Between 1729 and 1751, five major acts were passed to control consumption of gin, which also became known as Mother's Ruin, Madam Geneva, The Makeshift and Slappy Bonita.

Still crazy

Millions during Prohibition illegally enjoyed bathtub gin. Sort of.

The horrible homemade hooch wasn't always gin - and it wasn't always made in bathtubs. The term was minted in the late 1920s, when gin was king, but it came to refer to any amateur alcohol fashioned from clear spirits, water and flavored essences and oils.

Tubs were often used to flavor crappy spirits and mask their rubbing-alcohol taste. Also, booze bottles were too tall to be cut with water from the sink, so they had to be filled in the bathtub.