Posted by J on June 23, 2005
In Reply to: Please answer posted by Tess on June 21, 2005
A strong drink taken to brace oneself before an ordeal
Like many British phrases, its origins are naval.
It is believed to originate from the Anglo- Dutch wars at sea in the 17th century, The battles in which the Dutch often emerged victorious. Among British sailors it was widely believed that much of their success was due to being allowed to drink large quantities of gin before a battle.
(Nelson saw no signal, the Dutch could never focus on their own ;) )