Gin is becoming popular in Britain -again. It first happened in the 17th century, when the juniper-flavored liquor made its way to England from the Netherlands. The populace loved it so much that unscrupulous manufacturers turned to spiking it with dangerous additives to keep the price down, which eventually led to the Gin Act of 1751, restricting the manufacture and sale of gin to licensed businesses. That hampered, but didn't stop, the illegal trade in gin.
A conman/adventurer named Dudley Bradstreet took advantage of the 1751 crackdown to start his own bootlegging business, with help from a giant cat-shaped vending machine:
“I then caused a leaden pipe, the small end out about an inch, to be placed under the paw of the cat, the end that was within had a funnel to it … When the liquor was properly disposed, I got a person to inform a few of the mob that gin would be sold by the cat at my window next day, provided they put money in his mouth … at last I heard the chink of money and a comfortable voice say, ‘Puss, give me two pennyworth of gin!’ I instantly put my mouth to the tube and bid them receive it from the pipe under her paw.”
Old Tom Gin Dispenser - During the 18th century London gin craze, you put money in the cat's mouth to get a shot of gin. pic.twitter.com/nMO1AinTGk— Christopher Kimball (@cpkimball) January 7, 2017