B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Drinking in Colonial America

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Whiskey Helmet - Koval's First Distillery
Whiskey Helmet – Koval’s First Distillery

In response to some complaining about the debauchery of St. Paddy’s Day in Chicago, I tweeted:

Undergraduate history class was a long time ago, so I started looking on the internet for some facts, and found this bit of fun:

Colonial Americans, at least many of them, believed alcohol could cure the sick, strengthen the weak, enliven the aged, and generally make the world a better place. They tippled, toasted, sipped, slurped, quaffed, and guzzled from dawn to dark.

Many started the day with a pick-me-up and ended it with a put-me-down. Between those liquid milestones, they also might enjoy a midmorning whistle wetter, a luncheon libation, an afternoon accompaniment, and a supper snort. If circumstances allowed, they could ease the day with several rounds at a tavern.

Alcohol lubricated such social events as christenings, weddings, funerals, trials, and election-day gatherings, where aspiring candidates tempted voters with free drinks. Craftsmen drank at work, as did hired hands in the fields, shoppers in stores, sailors at sea, and soldiers in camp. Then, as now, college students enjoyed malted beverages, which explains why Harvard had its own brewery. In 1639, when the school did not supply sufficient beer, President Nathaniel Eaton lost his job.

Like students and workers, the Founding Fathers enjoyed a glass or two. John Adams began his days with a draft of hard cider. Thomas Jefferson imported fine libations from France. At one time, Samuel Adams managed his father’s brewery. John Hancock was accused of smuggling wine. Patrick Henry worked as a bartender and, as Virginia’s wartime governor, served home brew to guests.

The age of the cocktail lay far in the future. Colonists, nevertheless, enjoyed alcoholic beverages with such names as Rattle-Skull, Stonewall, Bogus, Blackstrap, Bombo, Mimbo, Whistle Belly, Syllabub, Sling, Toddy, and Flip. If they indulged too much, then they had dozens of words to describe drunkenness. Benjamin Franklin collected more than 200 such terms, including addled, afflicted, biggy, boozy, busky, buzzey, cherubimical, cracked, and “halfway to Concord.”

(click here to continue reading Drinking in Colonial America: Rattle-Skull, Stonewall, Bogus, Blackstrap, Bombo, Mimbo, Whistle Belly, Syllabub, Sling, Toddy, and Flip : The Colonial Williamsburg Official History Site.)

Abstraction in Green
Abstraction in Green

Oh, and for the record, the website Paddy Not Patty amused and informed me. You do know that it is correctly called St. Paddy’s Day and never, ever called St. Patty’s Day, right?

Paddy is derived from the Irish, Pádraig, hence those mysterious, emerald double-Ds.

Patty is the diminutive of Patricia, or a burger, and just not something you call a fella.

There’s not a sinner in Ireland that would call a Patrick, “Patty”. It’s insulting. It’s really as simple as that.

Written by Seth Anderson

March 18th, 2012 at 9:01 am

Posted in Food and Drink

Tagged with , ,

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