Culinary History,  Drinks,  Food History,  History,  Holidays,  Parties

Making Merry with the Spirit of the Season

The end of the year is approaching and nothing makes the holidays more cheerful and warms you up like a good cocktail or drink. So this month, we are covering the history of alcohol in a short synopsis. I am by no means an alcohol expert; I just enjoy it every once in a while, but lets see what history we can uncover to end the year on a high note!

Alcohol has been around since the beginning of human history. Because fruit starts to ferment as soon as it falls from the vine or tree, it is not hard to understand how humans discovered alcohol and began to produce it for themselves. The earliest know discovered alcohol is from China where a fermented rice wine was made. Beer was not far behind. A form of barley beer was made by the Egyptians. And because grapes grow well in the Middle East, wine became a huge commercial product fairly quickly. Romans and Greeks were know to have many different types of wine at their banquets.

Making alcohol is a fairly involved and nuanced practice now days but it use to be much simpler. Often fruit, like grapes or apples, were mashed and left in a jar. Or some time of grain, such as rice or barley, was exposed to the open air and mixed with the wild yeast in the air. This started the fermenting process and it would go on as long as the beer or wine maker desired.

Alcohol follows along with the flow of human history. It’s a beverage that has had its ups and downs. It’s been accepted and unaccepted. Regulated and unregulated. Treated as a medicine or as a vice but it has always been around. And it is often connected to significant occasions and events.

Which makes it easy to understand why alcohol is often attached to holidays. In the Medieval Ages, as part of their Christmas celebrations, the lords who owned great tracts of land would give a measure of alcohol to their peasants and serfs. Alcohol was given out in greater abundance on holidays if you were a soldier or a sailor. Special occasions call for special foods and drinks in which alcohol played a huge part.

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