Given his eventual lifetime achievements, it’s easy to imagine what Horace Vere got up to in Essex in the late 1580’s…
The tale of Sir Horace and his flask of Dutch Courage
Yes, he was born into a time of disease, famine and war, but it’s difficult to see such minor quibbles fazing him.
Whilst many were likely huddling around burning logs and catching rats to use in soups, Horace was probably bathing weekly and using anti-perspirant.
Tall, dark and handsome, he was almost certainly a hit with the ladies. In fact, rumours (that we definitely didn’t start) credit Horace with the invention of the pencil.
But of course, Essex was far too small a place for Horace. He had his sights set on much bigger things.
Horace sets sail aged 25…
So as soon as he hit 25, Horace Vere set sail for the far-off land of the Netherlands, where he joined the Dutch revolution in a war that would span eighty years.
Marching toward his first combat, he must’ve clocked the arrows from a distance because he stopped for a rethink.
OK, he was brave. But there were loads of those bloody arrows… and our hero wasn’t foolish.
An experienced Dutch soldier spotted Horace’s wobble and took a quick knee beside him. He spent a moment comforting him, before reaching into a pocket and introducing a secret weapon.
…and is introduced to the real hero of the story
It wasn’t a weapon Horace could use to slay his enemies. Nor was it a last line of defence to protect him from the arrows.
Instead, the experienced Dutch marksman gave Horace a warm, soothing, distilled drink, flavoured with junipers, blackberries and blueberries.
The Dutch marksman gave Horace his first ever gin.
Horace (correctly) decided right there and then that gin was much better than the ethanol he was used to.
Thanks to the gin’s calming effects, Horace could now think clearly
And after a second swig, his hands stopped trembling.
The cocktail kicked in further and his heart stopped pounding.
And he started to wonder what on earth it was he’d been worried about in the first place.
Horace’s Dutch comrade smiled and the pair marched into battle. And on that very first assault, Horace made an outstanding impression.
So outstanding, in fact, that he was personally requested to join the siege of Groningen.
So outstanding, in fact, that he received a knighthood back in England.
So outstanding, in fact, that for the next 40 years he made the battlefields of the Netherlands his own personal playground.
And when he wasn’t back in England conceiving one of his six daughters (all born to one woman, of course, for Sir Horace was noble), he was supporting Dutch revolutionaries in their battles against incumbents.
Of course, before every major battle, Horace was nervous
But throughout every major battle, he had his secret weapon.
So when you next enjoy a Brockmans – still flavoured with blackberries, blueberries and, most importantly, junipers – spare a thought for Sir Horace.
The noble English soldier with the flask of Dutch courage.