During the Gin Craze of the 18th Century when William of Orange encouraged distillation, London was awash with spirits and the preferred style of the time was Old Tom Gin.
A wooden plaque shaped like a black cat (an Old Tom Cat) was mounted on a wall outside pubs. Passers by would deposit a penny in the cats mouth and would be served a shot of Old Tom Gin by the bartender through a tube between the cat’s paws.
As distillation methods improved in the mid to late 19th Century a cleaner and purer base spirit and a "dry" style known as London Dry Gin became increasingly common. However, Old Tom Gin still retained its popularity and was a fashionable drink until the mid-20th Century.