What is Dutch Courage? A Close Look at Gin’s History of Inciting Bravery
Skip to main content

Join our newsletter to get daily gin deals sent straight to your email!


More to Enjoy

  • Whiskey Raiders
  • Tequila Raiders
  • Rum Raiders

What is Dutch Courage? A Close Look at Gin’s History of Inciting Bravery

Cheers to having a good time with a little boost of gin-fueled bravery. These soldiers may be full of Dutch courage! (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Depending on who you are and what you like to do for fun, alcohol might play a leading role in getting through moments that demand a little extra confidence.

You’ve often heard the term “liquid courage” when discussing the liberation felt after a drink or two — it’s a kind of booze-soaked sensation that has been known to help individuals score dates, meet the in-laws, sing karaoke or even deliver a lively wedding toast.

Whether you partake in liquid courage, or you prefer to leave the booze behind when partying, take this moment to read up on a special kind of gin-related courage to add to your growing knowledge of spirit history. Let’s talk about Dutch courage!

A Quick History of Gin

The genesis of gin can be traced back to the 11th century with Italian monks who used juniper and readily available grains to produce herbal medicines. Since juniper was considered beneficial to fight off a slurry of diseases and ailments, it made sense to find an easier way to consume the otherwise incredibly bitter conifer cone.

These juniper droughts evolved over time in the Netherlands to be referred to as genever (or jenever) and later inspired gin as we know it now. The Dutch are truly to thank for genever, the first official juniper spirit.

Genever became popular with English soldiers during the 17th century when the first Anglo-Dutch wars took place. British soldiers would often drink genever to gain a well-needed boost of courage. Enjoying genever also helped soldiers relax after battle and warm up in frigid temperatures. The origin of the term “Dutch courage” can then be perceived in two ways: the British soldiers needed some bonus boozy courage to face the Dutch in combat, or that genever was already heartily produced and consumed by the Dutch — which inspired British soldiers to start imbibing.

Dutch Courage Today

In contemporary times, the term Dutch courage is connected closely with the concept of liquid courage, with gin as the spirit of choice. Although, you may not hear the phrase unless you’re kicking back with a seasoned gin drinker, or you’re bringing it up yourself since you just now heard about it. That being said, be careful when you use the term, since you may affront any Dutch individuals listening in on your vibrant bar conversations.

Dutch courage has also been interpreted as an inauthentic courage, since you couldn’t muster the strength yourself and relied on alcohol to get you feeling rambunctious. Ouch, we’ll try not to let that stop us from having a good time. A gin bar in Baltimore, Maryland, named “Dutch Courage” also hasn’t let this negative connotation stop it from stocking over 100 bottles of gin to enjoy. This sounds like the perfect bar to flex your new vocabulary term, even if its patrons are already in the know.

Next time you’re in need of a little boost of courage — liquid, Dutch or both — think of gin and its time spent inciting bravery.

Here at Gin Raiders, we do more than write about current events in gin. We are the only media property reviewing gins and aggregating the scores and reviews of other significant voices in the gin world in one place. If you’re interested in getting a shot of gin in your morning email, sign up for our Deal of the Day newsletter.

This post may contain affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site. This helps support Gin Raiders at no additional cost to you.

Filed Under:

Follow Gin Raiders:

Candie Getgen is the managing editor for Gin Raiders. Before immersing herself in the world of spirits journalism, Candie has been many things: a bartender, a literary journal editor, an English teacher — and even a poet. Now, Candie shares her passion for gin with the world and hopes to help others fall in love with it, too (if they haven't already!). When not writing, Candie enjoys sipping an extra-dry martini while painting or relaxing by the pool with a campy mystery novel.