May 11: Happy Birthday to Franciscus Sylvius

Today, May 11, is the  birthday of Franciscus Sylvius, a Dutch physician and the inventor of Gin.

At least by some accounts.   He is often credited as the inventor of Gin in the mid 1600s.   However, this is open to some debate.  Jenever is reference in Philip Massinger’s play “The Duke of Milan”, 1623.  Jenever is Dutch for Juniper so it appears that Genever would be a juniper flavored drink, à la Gin.  Additionally, in 1606 the Dutch had already levied taxes on Jenever and similar liquors.

So who invented Gin?  Does it really matter?  Whether it was Mr. Sylvius  or not, someone did and we should all be thankful.   And May 11 seems as good a day as any to celebrate the birth of Gin.