- what distinguishes a Bamboo Cocktail from an Adonis Cocktail?
- that people drank Bénédictine to protect themselves against fever and cholera?
- how ginger ale changed over time?
- how scientists debunked cranky alibi myths that gin & tonic was a malaria prophylactic?
- that the Highball got its name because bored bartenders melted ice cubes into a ball between their hands?
- that spirits in unopened glass bottles change and that, for example, the pH value can shift into the alkaline range after only 10 years due to the extraction of sodium from the glass?
- that the use of small glasses is a centuries-old tradition in Italy and confirms that the original Negroni was served in glasses holding about 30 ml?
- that you can disinfect water with wine?
- that around 1872 practically everything except Scotch was usually adulterated?
- that lime juice has long been known to prevent hangovers?
- that every American who could spare five cents always drank soda water in the morning around 1819?
- that just adding ginger to any drink makes it a cocktail?
What one has to note, however, is: A Bamboo Cocktail is made with French vermouth, the Adonis Cocktail with Italian vermouth. They differ not because of their sweetness, but because of the vermouth aroma.
Soldiers from other nations are also associated with the Bénédictine, and that is why the love affair between a club in Lancashire and the Bénédictine has existed since the First World War, when thousands of soldiers from this area were stationed at the front in northern France. The fighting was heavy with casualties, and away from the battlefields, hospitals were set up. Among them was the Palais Bénédictine in Fécamp. This palatial building was erected in 1880 as a production site for the liqueur. Whether Lancashire regiments received medical treatment there is not known. Nevertheless, they drank Bénédictine and visited Fécamp. The soldiers of the East Lancashire Regiment in particular quickly developed a taste for Bénédictine and drank it mixed with hot water. They called this mixture ‘Bene’n’hot’, which quickly became the favourite drink of the East Lancashire soldiers. In particular, a particularly long stay in the region by the regiment’s 11th Battalion, known as the Accrington Pals, is said to have been important in embedding this fondness. After the armistice on 11 November 1918, the Accrington Pals were in Gramont, Belgium, and moved from there back to France, to St Omer, Calais and Abbeville, before being transferred to Le Havre, just 20 miles from Fécamp, in early June 1919. The atmosphere in the camp there was relaxed, with plenty of free time for sightseeing and eating and drinking in the local cafés and bars. Following the French custom of passing the time in the café with coffee and liqueur, the soldiers will also have drunk liqueur there, and why not also Bénédictine. Fécamp and the Palais Bénédictine were also popular destinations. The men whose health had suffered from the warfare or who were still recovering from their wounds and illnesses agreed that Bénédictine strengthened them and had medicinal properties. It is known that soldiers in the military hospitals of northern France received their daily ration of Bénédictine during the war. A letter from twenty-one-year-old Private Archy Wilson of the East Lancashire Regiment to his wife Clementine attests to the importance of the liqueur. While waiting for his transport home, he wrote: “My dear Clementine…My tummy and back were sore in the night. It is very cold. Our nurse brought round a very nice drink with hot water in it called Benedictine. It warmed my heart.Lads of the 5th East Lancs Battalion are in my ward and they all drink it. They went to a place today which makes Benedictine and were given a slap-up meal with a good drink. They are all in a good mood and so am I.” When the soldiers returned to England, they did not want to do without their Bénédictine. The first 24 bottles were delivered to the Burnley Miner’s Club on 22 December 1918. Another 100 bottles followed in the first week of January 1919, and 200 more in March 1919. Even today, many of the 600 club members end their evenings with a Bene’n’Hot. Bénédictine is not only popular in Burnley, but also in other towns in Lancashire, for example in Nelson, Colne, Blackburn and Accrington. Nevertheless, the Burnley Miner’s Club is considered to be the world’s largest consumer of Bénédictine, with 1000 bottles a year.
Andrew C. Jackson makes a critical reference to the myth surrounding Bénédictine and the Accrington Pals. This is his objection: the battalion was not recognisable as the Accrington Pals at the end of the war. At the start of the war it still consisted of around 1000 men, drawn from Accrington, Burnley, Chorley and Blackburn. During the war hundreds had fallen and were replaced by men from outside the battalion’s home towns. In addition, the miners were the first to return to England in December 1918. In January 1919 two officers and 223 men left the battalion, and in February 1919 four more officers and 266 men. There was also the British Government’s decision of 17 January 1918 that all men enlisted in 1914 and 1915 should be demobilised as soon as transport was available. So by the time the battalion arrived in Le Havre on 28 May 1919, very few of the original Accrington Pals were likely to have been in it. There were some men from Burnley, but hardly so many that they could have justified the drinking habits at the Burnley Miner’s Club. Moreover, the first shipments of Bénédictine reached the club before the Accrington Pals came to Normandy. It is recorded that not only the Accrington Pals drank Bénédictine, but also the 5th Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment, known as the Burnley Territorials. Private Archy Wilson reported this in a letter he is said to have written to his wife Clementine in a military hospital in Yport: “Our nurse brought round a very nice drink with hot water in it called Benedictine. It warmed my heart. Lads of the 5 E Lancs Batt’ are in my ward and they all drink it.” Bénédictine was first imported into the UK in the 1870s. There is no definitive explanation as to why it became so popular in Burnley out of all places. Andrew C. Jackson also notes that one did not have to be near Féchamp to obtain Bénédictine and quotes from the history of the 2nd Battalion of the Leinster Regiment that in January 1917, when it was not in action: “luxury was the order of the day. Les Brebis, not three thousand yards from the enemy, supplied eggs and Benedictine“. Les Brebis was located in the Pas-de-Calais department between Mazingarbe and Bully-les-Mines. The area was known to the troops as the ‘eggs and chips front’ because of the availability of hot meals and good accommodation. The 5th Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment, the Burnley Territorials, took up their quarters at Le Préolan, also on the ‘Eggs and Fries Front’, on 22 December 1917. Three days later, Christmas was celebrated, and it has been handed down: “Rations were supplemented lavishly from canteen funds, and there was no lack of cash, for it was intended that the men should have a good time.” Andrew C. Jackson now wonders whether this Christmas party of the Burnley Territorials might have been the trigger for the later great demand for Bénédictine at the Burnley Miner’s Club, for that would be a more plausible explanation than the appearance of the Accrington Pals in Normandy at the end of May 1919.
Everyone can form their own opinion on this. Nevertheless, I would like to object that Bénédictine was certainly available in many areas of France and that one did not necessarily have to be stationed near Fécamp. For me, the central question is this: What event led to Bénédictine remaining a standard drink in Burnley and the surrounding area after the war? Other regiments certainly enjoyed Bénédictine in France but gave it up on their return to England. The decisive factor must therefore have been some event uniting the group so that they identified with Bénédictine, in much the same way as each German regiment had its own regimental concoction. In this respect, Andrew’s suggestion offers a suitable explanation.
One reason why Bénédictine was so popular with the soldiers could also be the medicinal properties it was said to have. It was advertised with the words: “This Liqueur … is Tonic, Anti-apoplectic, Digestive, and of an exquisite flavour … and one of the most efficacious preservations against epidemic diseases. Latterly French Medical men have almost unanimously prescribed it for patients who by their gastric tendency were more subject to attacs of Fever and Cholera.”
One can well imagine that the regular intake of Bénédictine was intended to protect against fever and cholera, especially in the poor hygienic conditions during a war.
Ginger ale is said to have been invented in Ireland in the 1850s. However, there are also other opinions. Robert Robinson from New York City, for example, claimed to have been the first to produce ginger ale in the USA in the 1840s and to have called it ‘ginger soda’. As far as we can tell, however, it was more like a kind of ginger ale, a ‘gingerade’, as it was made in England at the time. The Irish version was different in taste. It is likely that this type of ginger ale was invented by the Irish doctor and pharmacist Thomas Joseph Cantrell Cantrell in Belfast, perhaps in conjunction with the Grattan & Company, also based in Belfast, as they were involved in the earliest production of ginger ale. They advertised on their bottles with the statement: “The Original Makers of Ginger Ale”. Whether this is really true, however, cannot be proven. The taste of this early type of ginger ale was very different from today’s varieties. We would not recognise it as such.
This lemonade was dark in colour, with intense ginger notes and a distinct sweetness, and this style is known as “Golden Ginger Ale”. Ginger ale was further developed by the Canadian pharmacist and chemist John McLaughlin. He founded a soda water company in Toronto in 1890, and in this context developed a new ginger ale variant in 1904, which he called “Pale Dry Ginger Ale”. This quickly became popular and was patented in 1907 as “Canada Dry Ginger Ale”. Both styles differ clearly in their aroma.
The quality of a ginger ale was often not very good. That is why Charles Sulz wrote in 1888: ” … it is an unfortunate fact that a great deal of American ginger ale is ‘miserable stuff,’ in many instances nothing more than sweetened water.”
We may assume that in the cheap and inferior bottlings capsicum was added to imitate a pungency that one would have if much real ginger were used. The Englishman J. T. Norman wrote in 1896: “Ginger ales should not be hot lemonades heavily doused with capsicum; the chief palate characteristic should be a clean pure ginger flavor, not attained with capsicum. In competition, beverages which erred on the side of fiery flavor were relegated to their proper position, near the bottom.”
Early ginger ales contained essences of lemon, rose and ginger oil in addition to ginger extract. Serious bottlers used only a hint of capsicum. According to local preferences, fruit essences and spice tinctures were added to some recipes. Ginger Ales from Belfast had a fine aroma. The Americans tried to copy this with varying degrees of success. Their typical flavours came from ginger root, orange peel, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon and sometimes capsicum. Descriptions from the period between 1880 and 1930 suggest that the taste of ginger ale was revered.
There was discussion about the qualities of imported and American ginger ale, about the varieties ‘pale dry’ and ”golden’, about aroma and fruitiness. However, there was agreement that a crisp taste, brilliant clarity and appropriate sharpness were crucial for success. It was difficult to make a high quality ginger ale and only a few mastered the art.
Ginger ale was the most popular soft drink in the US in the 1860s. It would remain so for the next 70 years. The use of ginger ale in mixed drinks seems to start in the mid-19th century. Jerry Thomas, in his 1862 book ‘How to Mix Drinks’, does not mention ginger ale, but he does mention “Ginger Lemonade”. In the 1887 edition there is a recipe for “Brandy and Ginger-Ale” and he recommends using an Irish Ginger Ale. In 1895, Horse’s Neck appears in George Kappeler’s “Modern American Drinks”. Mamie Taylor was all the rage around 1900.
Against this historical background, one could assume that John Applegreen had ‘Pale Dry Ginger Ale’ in mind when he suggested it for a Bourbon Highball. It was created in 1904 and John Applegreen’s book was also published in 1904, so perhaps he was among the first to use ‘Pale Dry Ginger Ale’. In any case, his book was published in Chicago, and Toronto is also accessible via the Great Lakes. How the appearance in the same year in a Paris book can be explained remains a mystery, at least now, as does whether a “Pale Dry Ginger Ale” was meant there.
Be that as it may, however, one must also take into account a statement from 1883 when making one’s assessment. in the Evening Star, namely, one wrote: “Ginger ale has had a great run lately with hard liquor.” 
Long before bar books described a Bourbon Highball made with ginger ale, the custom of mixing ginger ale with spirits had already existed; thus, the coincidence of these first publications with the emergence of ‘Pale Dry Ginger Ales’ could well be coincidental, especially since the popular Bucks and Taylors, made with scotch and gin, for example, were popular drinks even before its invention.
In 1825, a cookbook describes how to make lime juice: “Prepared Lemon Juice. (No. 406.) In the following manner you may prepare and preserve the juice of lemons, limes, or oranges, for punch, lemonade, iced creams, &c. Pare very thin, or rasp off the outside rinds of the fruit with a bread grater, till you have got about a quarter pint of them; put them into a wide mouthed bottle, pour in half a pint of good brandy, and set the bottle in a warm situation for three days, frequently shaking it up. Then squeeze as much fruit as will yield a quart of juice: let it settle, and run it through a flannel bag: squeeze the brandy from the rinds, and add it to the juice of the fruits; bottle it, and cork it well. Obs. – This will keep for years, and improve in flavour; and make the finest punch, &c., by only adding sugar, spirits, water, &c. to the palate.”
Israel Acrelius also reports in his 1759 account of New Sweden that bottled and imported lime juice was used to make punch: “Punch is made of fresh spring-water, sugar, lemon-juice, and Jamaica spirits. Instead of lemons, a West India fruit called limes, or its juice, which is imported in flasks, is used.”
The scientists write: “The medicinal addition of tonic water to gin prompted the question whether the amount of quinine might be sufficient to exert inhibitory or toxic effects on the malaria-causing Plasmodium falciparum parasites and, thus, might prevent or even cure malaria. Willing to contribute to talks and tales and to battle cranky alibi myths, we made this an issue.Five hundred to 1000 ml of tonic water, containing 58.3 mg/l quinine, was downed within 15 min by six healthy (voluntary!) candidates. … Considerable quantities of tonic water may, for a short period of time, lead to quinine plasma levels at the lower limit of therapeutic efficacy and may, in fact, cause transitory suppression of parasites. However, continuous levels that are appropriate for malaria prophylaxis cannot be maintained with even large amounts of tonic.”
Another less credible account of the origin of the term Highball dates back to 1906, when The Evening Times copied an article from the Kansas City Star: »Bartenders have many theories and ideas regarding the origin of the names of drinks, but they are all agreed on the origin of the “high ball.” The drink derives its name from an old custom of the drink mixers. During their spare moments they used to roll a piece of ice between their hands until it was shaped in the form of a ball. These balls of ice would then be put away and kept in reserve to drop into a glass of whiskey, diluted with water or ginger ale. The drink came to be caled a “high ball” because of the ball of ice floating high in the glass. The custom of rounding the ice has disappeared now. The ice is cut into small squares.«
We’ve explained why the Holland House cocktail is perhaps the first to use an eau de vie: – This statement needs a brief explanation. The problem is rooted in the English language, where the term ‘brandy’ is ambiguous. For example, a ‘cherry brandy’ can be a distilled spirit or also a cherry liqueur. [2-145] Therefore, with old recipes, there is always room for interpretation as to what exactly was meant. Here, however, in the Holland House cocktail, for the first time it is precise: an unsweetened orange eau de vie is meant, not an orange liqueur.
The combination of rum and mint is something that has a long tradition. In a tavern in Boston, it was already served in 1721 as a “dram of rum and mint-water”. The latter will probably have been a kind of mint distillate, because mint water was already being made in this way at the beginning of the 16th century.
Maria Gorbatschova aptly comments on this topic on Mixology online. First, she describes how bottled wine changes over time. Under the heading “An original Mai Tai? Alas, no.” she then continues, “What about spirits? After all, by and large they use the same glass, the same bottle sizes and even the same closures. We know with absolute certainty that wine oxidises under these conditions in closed bottles. We also know that spirits can also be affected by oxidation. And yet, with spirits, closed bottles are sold to us as magical time capsules that preserve flavour for decades or even centuries. At least that is what is claimed, often in a careless aside, in numerous books and articles. So, in theory, you can buy a bottle of 17-year-old Wray & Nephew rum that hasn’t been made for decades and use it to make an original Mai Tai as Trader Vic conceived it in 1944. It’s a nice idea, but unfortunately not a realistic one. Because just like wine, a spirit changes with ageing. Perhaps the changes are more subtle and slower, certainly other chemical processes take place, but they do happen. And not only after a few hundred years, but under unfavourable circumstances as soon as the bottle leaves the distillery. Vibration, temperature fluctuations, light, oxidation: if handled incorrectly, these processes can negatively affect even closed spirits in a comparatively short time. Let’s assume that a bottle is stored for years at a constantly low temperature and in the dark. Does nothing happen to the contents then? “We have noticed changes even when the bottles were stored in perfect conditions,” says Oscar Garza. “The probability of nothing changing at all after a few years of storage is vanishingly small.” The changes can also be subtle, but the liquid still does not remain completely static. Over long periods of time, the researcher was even able to determine that spirits with a low pH value not only reacted with oxygen and closure materials, but even with the bottle itself. The lower the pH value (e.g. after long storage in wood), the more reactive the liquid. After more than ten years, the liquid had extracted sodium from the glass, the PH value was now in the alkaline range.”
– “Ein originaler Mai Tai? Leider nicht.« fährt sie dann fort: »Wie ist das bei Spirituosen? Schließlich verwendet man hier im Großen und Ganzen dasselbe Glas, dieselben Flaschengrößen und sogar dieselben Verschlüsse. Wir wissen mit absoluter Sicherheit, dass Wein unter diesen Bedingungen in geschlossenen Flaschen oxidiert. Wir wissen auch, dass Spirituosen ebenfalls von Oxidation beeinflusst werden können. Und doch werden uns bei Spirituosen geschlossene Flaschen als magische Zeitkapseln verkauft, die den Geschmack jahrzehnte- oder sogar jahrhundertelang konservieren. Zumindest wird das, häufig in einem unbedachten Nebensatz, in zahlreichen Büchern und Artikeln behauptet. In der Theorie kann man sich also eine seit Jahrzehnten nicht mehr hergestellte Flasche 17-jährigen Wray & Nephew Rum kaufen und damit einen original Mai Tai so zubereiten, wie ihn Trader Vic 1944 ersonn. Das ist eine schöne Vorstellung, nur leider keine realistische. Denn genau wie ein Wein verändert sich eine Spirituose mit der Lagerung. Vielleicht sind die Veränderungen dezenter und langsamer, sicherlich finden andere chemische Prozesse statt, und doch finden sie statt. Und das nicht erst nach ein paar hundert Jahren, sondern unter ungünstigen Umständen, sobald die Flasche die Destille verlässt. Vibration, Temperaturschwankungen, Licht, Oxidation: Bei falscher Handhabung können diese Vorgänge in vergleichsweise kurzer Zeit auch geschlossene Spirituosen negativ beeinflussen. Nehmen wir einmal an, eine Flasche wird über Jahre bei konstant niedriger Temperatur und Dunkelheit aufbewahrt. Passiert mit dem Inhalt dann nichts? „Wir haben selbst dann Veränderungen festgestellt, wenn die Flaschen bei perfekten Bedingungen gelagert wurde“, so Oscar Garza. „Die Wahrscheinlichkeit dafür, dass sich nach einigen Jahren der Lagerung gar nichts verändert, ist verschwindend gering.“ Dabei können die Veränderungen auch dezent sein, komplett statisch bleibt die Flüssigkeit trotzdem nicht. Über lange Zeiträume konnte der Forscher sogar feststellen, dass Spirituosen mit einem niedrigen PH-Wert nicht nur mit Sauerstoff und Verschluss-Materialien reagierten, sondern sogar mit der Flasche selbst. Dabei gilt: umso niedriger der PH-Wert (so z.B. nach langer Lagerung im Holz), umso reaktionsfreudiger die Flüssigkeit. Nach über zehn Jahren hatte die Flüssigkeit Natrium aus dem Glas extrahiert, der PH-Wert lag nun im alkalischen Bereich.”
Moreover, the morning consumption of soda water had a long tradition. In a travelogue from 1819, Adlard Welby writes about Philadelphia: “During the hot season, mineral waters, (chiefly soda,) sometimes mixed with syrups, are drank in great abundance; — the first thing every American who can afford five cents (about threepence) takes, on rising in the morning, is a glass of soda water: many houses are open for the sale of it, and some of them are fitted up with Parisian elegance.”
If we think back to the middle of the 19th century, we will not be surprised that at that time cheap alcohol of poor quality containing a lot of methanol – or fusel, as it is also called – was served much more often than today. So if you had too much of that, it can be really helpful to take a better quality spirit the next morning.
But why should this be a Scotch of all things? An analysis from the year 1872 gives us information about this: “Dr. L. G. Miller, Inspector of Liquors for Wayne Co., Michigan, says: Out of three hundred and eighty cases of whiskey, inspected in and near Detroit, he only found two pure. He did not find a drop of pure French brandy. Of one hundred and four samples of gin, he found but twenty-nine genuine. Out of thirty-two samples of Jamaica rum he found but nine genuine. The Irish and Scotch whiskeys were pure generally. Of Port wine, the genuine article is seldom found.”
Put simply, this means that in 1872 everything except Scotch was generally adulterated. Even 30 years later, this did not seem to be any different. Camper English reports that around 1900 the American Congress found that only two million gallons of unadulterated American whiskey had been sold and 105 million gallons of adulterated American ‘whiskey’. In response, the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed in 1906 under President Theodore Roosevelt. This consumer protection law was designed to protect against deceptive labels and claims on medicines and food products.
A cookbook from 1723 also reports on the benefits of lime juice: “To make Punch-Royal. TAKE three Pints of the best Brandy, as much Spring-water, a Pint or better of the best Lime-juice, a Pound of double refin’d Sugar. This Punch is better than weaker Punch, for it does not so easily afect the head, by reason of the large Quantity of Lime-juice more than common, and it is more grateful and comfortable to the Stomach.“
In 1750 Thomas Short reported the same: “Lemons in Punch make it more diuretick, help to prevent Drunkenness, and the over-heating of the Body with Sugar and Spirits; they hinder the Blood’s Rarefaction and excessive Thirst.”
Rose’s Lime Juice was also advertised in the middle of the 20th century with the claim that studies had proven that Lime Juice was good for eliminating ‘hangovers’.
We can confirm this from our own experience: It doesn’t have to be Campari. We prefer another bitter, the Berto Bitter. Of course, it’s a question of taste. In any case, we like the Berto Bitter better; it is more aromatic and complex, less sweet. Proof that we are right in our choice is this: We have always quibbled a little with the balance of Negroni and always preferred it served on ice, because cold makes imbalances disappear. With Berto Bitter, on the other hand, we have found that it is better without ice.
The Frenchman Émile Leveuvre describes the Americano in 1889 under the name ‘Vermouth de Turin au Fernet Branca’ as a mixture of Turin vermouth, Fernet Branca and soda water, served in a glass with ice. He adds that this is the preferred aperitif in Italy.
Incidentally, the use of small glasses has a long tradition in Italy. Michel de Montaigne reported from Florence in 1580: “The German bad habit of drinking from excessively large glasses has been reversed here: only unusually small ones are used.”
The Negroni probably became famous in America because, according to one interpretation, war returnees brought the Italian aperitif culture back with them after the Second World War. The recipe was adapted to the drinking habits prevailing there. People were already used to more alcoholic drinks, because the Martini Cocktail was already drunk as an aperitif.  Robert Simonson, however, disagrees. He writes that the Negroni was not very well known to the general public even in the late 1950s. It only became better known when it was reported that celebrities were drinking it. In the 1970s, however, it disappeared from the consciousness until the 1990s, when it was practically non-existent. He continues by saying: “When Italian bartender Francesco Lafranconi – who transplanted to Las Vegas to work for Southern Wine and Spirits (now Southern Glazer’s) – led a class for local bartenders in 2001, one of the the questions on the six-page exam was, ›What’s in a Negroni?‹ That was considered a toughie. Nimety percent of the students had no idea. … By the 2010s, riffs on the drink were doing their part to boost the profile of the mother cocktail. … The result of all these twining trends? Today, not only are there Negronis served at most American bars.”
Another important aspect was probably that water was disinfected by adding wine. The internist Alois Pick, born in 1859, proved the antibacterial effect of wine at the end of the 19th century. Cholera and typhoid bacteria in water are killed by adding wine. The more wine is added, the faster this effect takes place. Therefore, during the cholera epidemic of 1892, he recommended that the people of Hamburg add wine to their water a few hours before drinking it. Today’s research has shown that wine works much better as an antiseptic than pure alcohol because it contains other sterilising compounds besides alcohol, of which polyphenols have the greatest effect.
However, it seems that the Papageno was created earlier, at the Victoria Bar, because Gonçalo de Sousa Monteiro states: “The Papageno was created in 2006 at the Victoria Bar. When Le Lion opened, I tried to offer every flavour on the menu. Among them were digestifs. With the launch of Mozart chocolate liqueurs in the mid-noughties, we bartenders got opportunities to think about alternatives to Golden Cadillacs and Alexanders.”
– “Der Papageno entstand 2006 in der Victoria Bar. Zur Eröffnung des Le Lion war ich bemüht, jegliche Geschmacksrichtungen auf dem Menü anzubieten. Darunter auch Digestifs. Mit der Markteinführung der Mozart Schokoladenliköre Mitte der Nullerjahre bekamen wir Bartender Möglichkeiten, uns Gedanken über Alternativen zu Golden Cadillacs und Alexanders zu machen.“
“Now the difference between a brandy-cocktail and a brandy-toddy is this: a brandy-toddy is made by adding together a little water, a little sugar, and a great deal of brandy — mix well and drink. A brandy-cocktail is composed of the same ingredients, with the addition of a shade of Stoughton’s bitters ; so that the bitters draw the line of demarcation.”
One reason for drinking spring water was certainly that it did not make people sick. Near inhabited areas, water was often contaminated and made people sick. People avoided drinking it unless they were extremely poor. The German professor of medicine Friedrich Hoffmann wrote at the end of the 17th century that the healing power of mineral waters was limited to the bubbling waters alone. Therefore there was a demand for soda water and it was bottled and sold early on.
In an 1819 travelogue, Adlard Welby wrote of Philadelphia: “During the hot season, mineral waters, (chiefly soda,) sometimes mixed with syrups, are drank in great abundance; — the first thing every American who can afford five cents (about threepence) takes, on rising in the morning, is a glass of soda water: many houses are open for the sale of it, and some of them are fitted up with Parisian elegance.”
The purchasing power of one dollar in 1821 is equivalent to $26.27 in 2022. So five cents at that time would be about $1.31 today.
But the truth is somewhat different. As we will show in the following post, the origin of lemonade was in India.
In his book ‘Briefe eines reisenden Franzosen’ (Letters of a Travelling Frenchman), published in 1783, Johann Kaspar Riesbeck reports about Vienna: “One of the most beautiful spectacles for me on the last summer nights were the so-called lemonade huts. In the larger squares of the city, large tents are erected in which lemonade is served at night. Several hundred people often stand around it, and are occupied by ladies and gentlemen. At a little distance stands a strong band of musicians, and the great silence, which the most numerous assembly is wont to observe here, then does an indescribably good effect. The excellent music, the solemn silence, the intimacy which the night instils in the company, all give the performance a special charm.” [16-380] [16-381]
– “Eins der schönsten Schauspiele für mich waren in den letzten Sommernächten die sogenannten Limonadenhütten. Man schlägt auf den größern Plätzen der Stadt eine grosse Zelte auf, worin zur Nachtzeit Limonade geschenkt wird. Einige hundert Stüle stehn oft darum her, und sind mit Damen und Herrn besezt. In einer kleinen Entfernung steht eine starke Bande Musikanten, und die grosse Stille, welche die zahlreichste Versammlung hier zu beobachten pflegt, thut alsdann eine unbeschreiblich gute Wirkung. Die vortreffliche Musik, die feyerliche Stille, das Vertrauliche, welches die Nacht der Gesellschaft einflößt, alles giebt dem Auftritt einen besondern Reiz.“
The recipe [for Stoughton’s Drops] says to use the peel of two bitter oranges. The question is: how much is that? Christian Puszies gave me the peel of original curaçao oranges. If you take this as a yardstick, the dried peel of one curaçao orange weighs about 15 grams. 15 ml of dried gentian root equals about 7 grams; we will be right if we use 7.5 grams, half the amount of bitter orange.
Wine mixed with bitters was a common drink in Great Britain and its American colonies. George Washington also offered it to his guests on 6 May 1783: “Washington pulled out his Watch & observing that it was near Dinner Time offered Wine & Bitters.”
Nevertheless, there was an early view that a Cocktail should be prepared with little water. This is probably an American rather than a British view. According to this American view, a Toddy was also made with only a little water – although originally a lot of water also belonged in it. As proof, a travelogue from 1835 is cited here, in which the author reports on his stay in New Orleans. He also describes the Cocktail:“Now the difference between a brandy-cocktail and a brandy-toddy is this: a brandy-toddy is made by adding together a little water, a little sugar, and a great deal of brandy — mix well and drink. A brandy-cocktail is composed of the same ingredients, with the addition of a shade of Stoughton’s bitters; so that the bitters draw the line of demarcation.”
As an example [of drinking a cocktail in the morning], we also cite this source here: John Mactaggart travelled through Canada from 1826 to 1828 and reports: – “I have been through all the Canadian cities, towns, and villages, worth speaking about — Quebec, Montreal, Kingston, York, &c. The inhabitants are tolerably civil. In a common tavern, your food and bed will ease your pocket of a dollar a-day; if in an hotel, half as much more, exclusive of wines, which are so so — no great shakes, a dollar a bottle — and grogs in proportion. The fashionable young fellows follow a good deal the manners of the Americans — drink gin sling, sangaree, and lemonade, smoke segars, and in the morning take bitters, cocktail, and soda-water.” [18-38]
As further evidence that the term ‘cocktail’ does indeed derive from the addition of ginger to a drink, as inferred here, let us quote from an article in Bentley’s Miscellany, published in London in 1838. There, a voyage from New York to Philadelphia is described, and on the occasion of a ship’s voyage on the Delaware it is noted: “We had been talking on deck until we had the gang-way to ourselves, the other passengers having all retired to the stoves in the cabin, or to the bar-room, where ale-cocktail (ale with ginger and pepper in it), sangaree (spirits and sugar), and Mononghahela (whiskey) punch were in great demand.”
As we can see, the addition of ginger (and here also ‘pepper’, by which chilli will be meant) turns a simple beer into a beer cocktail. And any other drink with ginger is also a ‘cocktail’ according to our derivation.
Like bitters, ginger was also considered a medicine, and we will give two examples here as examples. In 1802 it is written:”As bowel complaints are at present more prevalent than has ever been remembered, a medical correspondent recommends the following safe and certain cure: … Boiled meat, and toast and water, should be taken at dinner, and a small tumbler of weak brandy and water warm, with ginger, previous to the patient retiring to rest.”
In 1831 Moritz Hasper wrote “On the treatment with beriberi. In mild cases Christie recommended Calomel with Squilla, or with other diuretic agents, and the promotion of perspiration and other discharges by drinks and small doses of Antimonium, or by the well-known James powder, and finally to strengthen the forces, for which he used liqueurs, especially those prepared from ginger, gin punch, which at the same time promoted the effects of Squilla. By these remedies the symptoms are often removed within a few days, with the exception of the falling asleep of the extremities, which usually remains for some time.”
– “Von der Behandlung mit Beriberi. In den mildern Fällen empfahl Christie Calomel mit Squilla, oder mit andern diuretischen Mitteln und Beförderung der Perspiration und anderer Ausleerungen durch Getränke und kleine Dosen Antimonium, oder durch das bekannte Jamespulver, und endlich die Kräfte zu stärken, wozu er Liqueure, besonders die von Ingwer bereiteten, gin punch, welcher zugleich sie Wirkungen der Squilla befördere, anwendete. Durch diese Mittel werden die Symptome oft innerhalb weniger Tage entfernt, mit Ausnahme des Einschlafens der Extremitäten, das gewöhnlich längere Zeit noch zurückbleibt.“
Cock Ale is said to have been a very popular beer speciality in England in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Oxford Dictionary describes it as “ale mixed with the jelly or minced meat of a boiled cock, besides other ingredients”.
The reason for mixing a spirit with water was that it was often not healthy to drink water near populated areas because it was contaminated. People only drank it if they were too poor to afford other drinks.
One can assume that a grog was also made with gin, because Camper English reports that the sailors of the British navy did receive their daily rum ration, at least when they sailed in the Caribbean, because rum was produced there. When leaving England, on the other hand, the ships were often loaded with gin.
In the 1870s, specially made jiggers replaced sherry and liqueur glasses when measuring out quantities.
The volume of a wine glass was never officially defined, yet the wine glass was often used as a British liquid measure in the 18th and 19th centuries. Initially it is said to have held around 60 ml, later around 120 ml.