I think it has more to do with financial reasons. Grain and apples go bad. Spirits and cider not, and you can sell the latter for more than the former. I mean, there must have been some as-far-as-they-knew medical knowledge and folk wisdom about what foods you had to eat in order to be healthy.
Did they think of spirits as having some kind of common nutritive properties with grain, such that one was a decent substitute for the other? Dr Benjamin Rush was an early temperance advocate, and he made this great chart of what will happen to you if you drink various alcohols in various quantities see above. Managed to get to the grocery store for more cider and a DiGiorno pizza. Throughout America, early afternoon dinner was accopanied by hard cider or distilled spirits mized with water; in later afternoon came another break; then supper with more refreshment.
We promptly fell asleep. Consuming so much alcohol so early in the day, on an empty stomach, is a surprsingly unpleasant feeling. I thought since the alcohol was spread out through an entire day that I would feel pleasantly buzzed, and not much more, as I Colonial drank away the hours. I still have afternoon drinks, dinner drinks, and after dinner drinks to go.
I watch jas townsends and sons on youtube jas is the short version of james and he does 18th century reenactments and lots of period correct cooking. It was handed out at a great lecture on prohibition at the American Museum of Natural History last month. But yes, I do find myself drinking punch and doubting Just Government very frequently. A Boston-area cocktail store commissioned a special run of the posters from a local movable type letterpress company. You might be able to find it elsewhere though.
Sara, I worry that you may be overestimating the potency of most alcoholic beverages from this time period. Slohman — you are a national treasure. Having been a farm kid, I have to say that the eye opener would have been very useful at 5 am, on those cold dark winter days. Rum was found to keep better on long voyages. And farming would have been the most prevalent occupation in the Colonial era.
As the April  departure date came closer, Dickens felt tired and acutely homesick. On reading days, at seven in the morning he had fresh cream and two tablespoons of rum, at noon a sherry cobbler and a biscuit, and at three a pint of champagne. Also, a pint of champagne???
I have to admit cream and rum does sounds nice… but not nicer than a cup of coffee… though all three together would be fine…. I suppose Dickens was imbibing what the Victorians considered remedies for malaise or maybe stage fright? Apparently pregnant women in Ireland used to drink a raw egg mixed with a bottle of Guinness nutritionally, not a bad meal, although the egg would probably be more nutritious if cooked. One of the things I noticed when I was last in Ireland was the prevalence of hard cider as a beverage—on tap and cheerfully consumed alongside the ubiquitous stout.
I, for one, would love to see a serious resurgence of hard cider in the US. I wonder if it was the equivalent of Lindsay Lohan drinking Kombucha which had a slight alcohol level due to natural fermentation.
The Food Timeline--beverages
That might be perfect for a lightweight like myself! Forgot to ask: do you know if such a thing exists today? Or maybe, we can brew it up ourselves or some really low-alcohol cider. I took a terrible photo of myself first thing this morning which i decided not to post! If you look at cookbooks from the early 20th c. This was many, many years before the germ theory of disease was even thought of.
So any assumption that people drank alcohol because it was less likely to carry disease than plain water is based on the notion that people had accidentally figured out cause and effect about water-borne diseases — but the overall historical record does not support this idea. That is an excellent point! Actually, I think many are forgetting that wildlife was abundant in , meaning Giardiasis — Beaver Fever — would have been more frequently found in the streams and ponds.
Well water here in NWCT has high iron content and requires potability treatment. Apples did indeed provide the answer and kept the trade imbalance from running too high. It was the wealthy who created the trade imbalance importing Madeira wine. Nice analysis, TheParsley! Joseph Bazalgette, who engineered the London sewer systems, is one of the great unsung heros of history. If not for his tireless, exhausting efforts, thousands more would have died of cholera.
I am not sure about outhouses and wells, though. Cesspits have been around for a pretty long time — since at least the high Middle Ages, in the UK anyway. Night soil men emptied them, and the job was so disgustingly unappealing that they were paid three times as much as a common laborer. The alternative would be to build a new outhouse every few years. Between the flies and the stink and the, er, inevitable accumulation, I just wonder if even a Colonial-era person would have built an outhouse near a well?
I figured every suburban home had a sunken part of the back lawn where the cesspit is! It sounds so dumb to us, like the idea that rats sprung from piles of old rags. However, there is a clear connection between revolting sewage, human and animal waste, rotting foods, and bad smells. Sewage or spoiled food can make you very ill, even though the cause is not the smell itself. Nonetheless, if not for the Great Stink of , they would not have built the London sewers.
In the 19th century, they did understand that cholera, yellow fever, smallpox, and typhoid were communicable, and of course the plague of the Middle Ages was understood to be communicable. It was also merchant ships trading goods. And as always, disease affected poor people more than the wealthy.
Or having undrinkable water…. By the way, all the of the colonial mixed drinks are spirits, sugar, and water! Horrid is the way to describe it. I pride myself on being able to hold my alcohol, but this regimen really kicked my ass. I think if you can manage to stick to this schedule for a few weeks you will have it no problem.
Im also sure there are plenty of places in NY to hit up an AA meeting. Definitely going to do my best to drink more Porters with meals. I had the same thought. I give you credit for going as far as you did. We tend to forget how prohibitively expensive coffee and tea were at one time. It was cheaper in the long run to put something in a cask and ferment it than to buy beverage ingredients by the ounce. Anyone who has spent money at Teavana recently can attest to that. How you suffer for our amusement, er, I mean edification.
Managing Your Calories From Alcohol
Also, of course, the more you drink the more you can tolerate without getting tipsy and ill. The polluted water argument, while probably accurate I saw a show recently where they brewed beer from duck pond water and it came out safe to drink and tasty in that beer made from polluted water is safe to drink, rings false to me. Very appealing but a little too perfect to be true. And, as you point out, they certainly did drink water too!
One thing I read recently, not sure where, was that the reason early Americans drank so much alcohol was that it was a major source of calories in their diet. Obviously they burned a lot more energy than we do today and it had to come from somewhere.
Indigenous cuisine revitalization: best places to sample traditional foods
Alcoholic drinks pack an energy punch and go down easy. Incidentally, Sarah, Colonial Williamsburg is having a conference on Colonial Alcohol in March and it is going to be fantastic their earlier foodways conference a couple years back was hands down the best symposium I have ever attended.
Thank you for discovering the true reason colonial Americans did not bathe as frequently as we do — they just kept forgetting! Next time I would suggest a dry cider — it tastes better and is much less likely to leave you feeling hungover. Maybe as a semester-long independent study project…. A cold beer or cider at 10am seems pretty logical then. We call it channeling our ancestors. The effects dissipate pretty quickly, but the little break and little buzz are refreshing. It makes the work more fun, and no ill effects really. This sounds perfectly logical to me; I often think you can understand the past better when you put yourself in the middle of a similar situation.
It seems to me you did the math wrong, and massively overestimated what you needed to drink to keep up with our forefathers. Your chart from yesterday shows the total alcohol consumption at its peak about was under 4 gallons per year. Divided over days, gives the equivalent 3. Did I do something wrong or were you done by AM? Not at all! The author suggests that for a male or many adult females the average was far higher.
My agenda from the day also came from period sources reference in the Alcoholic republic. Sailors were rationed a gallon of beer per day, which is 8 Imperials 16 oz pints. At like 5 or or 6 at the very latest. Also, maybe try to get more physical movement and labor in there. But physical movement helps get alcohol through the system. Very true. Your dedication to research is awe-inspiring!
My husband weighs maybe all of ten pounds more than me, and he can still drink twice as much. I read a Thanksgiving book to my daughter tonight which prompted me to research the colonial lifestyle. I remembered hearing that they were a bunch of lushes so I googled colonials and alcohol and wala…your blog post came up. I am inspired by your approach to research. Botanicals can be added to the neutral spirit in the pot still and left to steep for a number of hours before distillation or Botanicals are placed in a basket above the liquid spirit in the still.
Here as the spirit is distilled the vapours pass through the basket before condensing back into liquid and retaining the botanical flavourings. Another method of producing gin is called Cold compounding. This is means infusing the base spirit with botanicals rather than adding the botanicals through distillation. Here the botanicals are allowed to rest in a neutral spirit at ambient temperature, before filtering, dilution and bottling. The technique was long seen as a poorer method of producing gin and rarely used anymore.
In fact, it is easier and faster to produce a consistent product through traditional distillation. However, with skill and attention to detail, it is possible to create a high-quality gin using this method. Flavourings can be added after this process but it must taste predominantly of juniper and be London gin is similar to distilled gin but must contain no artificial flavours or colourings. Only water, additional neutral grain spirit, and a small amount of sugar no more than 0. This is a style or process identification, rather than a geographical identification.
The original Dutch liquor and precursor to modern gin, Jenever enjoys a protected status and is only produced in the Netherlands, Belgium and France.
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The traditional spirit boasts a malty flavour similar to whiskey. Two distinct styles of Jenever are available — Oude old and Jonge young. The older being sweeter and more aromatic, while the younger is lighter and dryer. These are gin that have pushed the boundaries of the definition of gin. Gins that strayed away from the traditional dominant flavour of juniper letting more unusual botanicals lead.
These are gins that have one predominant flavour, usually derived from maceration after distillation. These are often coloured by the predominant botanical used. Sloe gin is a classic example of the style but more and more fruit flavoured gins are being produced. Gin that has been aged in wooden barrels.
These take on the flavour of the wood and also the spirit the barrel was previously used for such as Sherry or Whiskey. A stiff drink, which would test the most seasoned of drinkers, the Vesper was invented by Ian Fleming and features in Casino Royale. Easy to make and delightfully refreshing, why not give this recipe a try? An Italian favourite and a classic aperitivo cocktail. The Negroni is the perfect drink for dinner parties and swanky soirees.
There is a lot to choose from but where to start? We have put together a quick guide to the great Irish gins available, so you can discover some great new tastes for yourself. Every gin has its own unique flavour notes. This guide will help you find the perfect one for you. Glendalough Distillery have taken the expertise, botanical knowledge and flavour design gained with their great seasonal range of gins and produced a new year-round release that captures the essence of the four seasons. The delicate balance of floral, fruit and spice notes in their Wild Botanical Gin will keep any gin lover happy.
Dingle Gin is extremely proud of its Kerry roots and only uses botanicals found in the local landscape. Although categorised as London Dry, the gin is infused with rowan berry, fuchsia, bog myrtle, hawthorn and heather to create a wonderfully balance spirit using their hand-crafted copper pot stills. Bertha passed away just shy of her 49 th birthday, but to commemorate her long and illustrious life, local gin producers, Justin Green and Anthony Jackson, christened their new gin in her honour. Grain is the base ingredient for most spirits however Berthas Revenge is made from whey alcohol.
This produces a smooth creamy texture which marries perfectly with the spicy cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and more delicate juniper notes. Soft and sweet upfront with a long spicy finish. This gin is distilled using 21st century distillation equipment housed in a year-old stable on the grounds of Listoke House in Co. It is a combination of traditional and inspiring botanicals growing both in the wild and in the Edwardian walled gardens at Listoke estate. Leaning towards spice and citrus flavours, it has great use of botanicals with each distinct and clear in the taste yet the gin is more than the sum of the parts.
Blackwater Distillery are looking to the history of Waterford for inspiration with their Blackwater No. Whites of Waterford were one of the largest importers of spices into the British Isles in the 19th century, bringing in exotic ingredients form around the world. Blackwater have created their gin using only botanicals that would have landed in Waterford during the 19th century for a delicate floral and gently spiced aroma and flavour. Heading north to a former boatyard on the banks of the picturesque Lough Erne, we have Boatyard Double gin. Boatyard is the brain child of Joe McGirr who brings years of experience working with household names like Glenmorangie and Moet Hennessy.
Double gin is a traditional Dutch style of distilling where the spirit is given a second contact with fresh botanicals to give greater depth of flavour.
History of gin (1831 to 1953)
Everything about Boatyard distillery is about attention to detail, authenticity, and provenance, from taking the unusual step of making their own base spirit, an organic wheat spirit, to their beautiful label that has been printed on a 's letterpress printer. The result is a gin with classic Juniper led character backed up with a complex mix of spicy root botanicals and light citrus notes. The gin is produced by Gavin Clifford and his father Michael, at their distillery in Newtownmountkennedy, county Wicklow, using a in a traditional copper pot still.
Every bottled of Bonac 24 is hand filled and hand labelled. The whole process, from base spirit and botanicals to beautifully balanced gin in bottle, takes just 72 hours. A balanced, fruity, and spicy gin with an exceptionally smooth palate. The delicate aromas on the nose open up on the palate with classic juniper profile upfront giving way to fresh citrus and smooth spearmint before finishing with a touch of sweetness and complex spicy notes. Produced in small batches in Tullamore. The recipe represents 18 months of development by distiller Eoin Bara. Firstly, the softer fruit flavours like blackberry, raspberry and cranberry are achieved by seeping the fruit for 24 hours.
The floral and spice flavours are achieved by vapour distillation of botanicals like juniper, angelica, coriander and rosemary. The result of this care and attention to ingredients and technique is a gin that delivers upfront juniper notes leading to earthier, spicier tones with a distinctive mixed berry character that bursts forth on the finish alongside a tart kick of cranberry. The surroundings are stunning, with wildflowers, meadows and rivers teeming with wildlife and Shortcross gin reflects this in every last drop. The use of unusual and interesting botanicals such as fresh apple, elderberry and wild clover, as well as more traditional varieties like juniper, coriander, orange peel, lemon peel and cassia, produces a vibrant, floral style of gin.