In this episode, we will be discussing different kinds of drinks from the 18th Century. I’ll be going over a few recipes too. Some of the drinks mentioned will be alcoholic, so if you decide to try one of the alcoholic drinks, please drink responsibly and be of legal age.
Welcome back to the 18th Century Podcast. I am your host, Cj. In today’s episode, we will be discussing different kinds of drinks from the 18th Century. I’ll be going over a few recipes too. Some of the drinks mentioned will be alcoholic, so if you decide to try one of the alcoholic drinks, please drink responsibly and be of legal age. Some of the drinks mentioned and the recipes provided in this episode I got from the 18th Century Cooking, series on youtube put out by Townsends. I’ll provide links to their videos on the bottom of the script post for this episode. If you’d like to read the script for this episode and its citations, go to 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. Let’s begin this episode by taking a look at a brief overview of 18th Century drinks.
PART 1 18TH CENTURY DRINKS
What may surprise you about the 18th Century is the multitude of available drinks. A wide range of alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages can be found throughout the Century. Some of the non-alcoholic beverages may surprise you by the multitude of them. Also during the 18th Century regarding alcoholic beverages, we start to see the beginnings of cocktails. I want to start this off by giving a fun fact about water during the 18th Century. Water is perhaps the most basic drink we consume, and today we could get it right from our fridge or bottled. I think it’s clear that they didn’t have fridges back then, but they did have bottled water. If you were in the country and found a clean source of water, you’d probably drink it. But if you lived in a larger city, clean water was hard to come by. They didn’t know about germs at the time, but they could tell if water was clean or not. Water would be bottled from clean sources and sold to those in the city. Mineral water was also being sold during the 18th Century as it was viewed as having healing properties. Let’s continue with our next segment, non-alcoholic drinks.
PART 2 NON-ALCOHOLIC DRINKS
I believe the most proper way to start discussing non-alcoholic beverages would be to talk about the most famous drink from the 18th Century, tea. Tea was perhaps one of the most popular drinks especially in England and the Colonies. They consumed it as green or black. Though tea was popular, that doesn’t mean it was cheap. Tea could cost up to 10 shillings per pound. Milk was commonly added to the drink. Personally, I have found myself enjoying green tea with a little cream once and a while. I will be devoting a future episode entirely to tea at some point because it’s a larger topic than you’d think. Regarding milk, the better quality milk was found out in the countryside on farms. There were cows brought in to provide milk for the cites, but these cows were typically in poor health due to their diet. People in the 18th Century didn’t typically drink milk by itself, and it was usually added to something instead. We can find the drink, hot chocolate found in the 18th Century, but they prepared somewhat similar to how we would do it. Taking a recipe from Elizabeth Raffald’s, The experienced English house-keeper, quote, “Scrape four ounces of chocolate and pour one quart of boiling water on it, mill it well with a chocolate mill and sweeten it to your taste; give it a boil and let it stand all night, then mill it again very well; boil it two minutes, then mill it, it will leave a froth upon the top of your cups.” unquote. Coffee was also a popular drink. Coffee Houses were popular in England and the Colonies, and the first ones date back to the 17th Century. Coffee Houses acted as a sort of hub for discussion and gossip. Just like today, coffee was a popular breakfast drink. Coffee and Hot Chocolate were typically drunk from cups without handles. Sometimes to cool their coffee, they would pour it into a saucer. Towards the end of the 18th Century, coffee would start to lose its popularity in England. An interesting 1730s summer drink which was supposed to be refreshing was Barley Water. If you’d like to try Barley Water, here’s a simple recipe. First, boil 4 ounces of barley, then add 1-2 quarts of water to cool. Next, you’ll want to add a stick of cinnamon, and 1 or 2 blades of mace. Bring it back up to a boil. After it boils, strain the liquid into a bowl. Let it cool to about room temperature. Add sugar to taste. Add the juice of around 2 lemons. Then you’ll want to bottle the drink and keep it cool. Once it’s cool you can serve and if you wish, garnish with lemon peel. If it’s kept cool the drink should keep for a few days. Now, I’m going to take a short break and when I come back we’ll discuss alcoholic drinks during the 18th Century. I’ll be right back.
PART 3 ALCOHOLIC DRINKS
Welcome back. We’ll finish up the second half of this episode by discussing alcoholic drinks in the 18th Century. And based off of my research for this episode, they loved to drink. To give proof to this, let me quote a Georgian, quote, “If I take a settler after my coffee, a cooler at nine, a bracer at ten, a whetter at eleven and two or three stiffners during the forenoon, who has any right to complain?” Unquote. Also to further back this up with some numbers, in 1790 the United States found out that those who were 15 and older drank on average “thirty-four gallons of beer and cider, five gallons of distilled spirits, and one gallon of wine,” per capita annually. In the Americas Cider and Beer were the primary choice for a time. Before the American Revolution, rum was the preferred drink over whiskey. But because of patriotism during the American War of Independence attitudes shifted to a drink which was more local to the area, Whiskey. Going back to rum for a second, in the colonies alone by 1770 there were over 140 distilleries. When whiskey came into fashion in the Americas, it was Kentucky Bourbon which got near the top. During George Washington’s later life, he would distill whiskey on his property. I’ve been to the site, and if you ever get a chance to tour Mount Vernon, do so, and make sure to go through the distillery. In the morning John Adams would drink hard cider. Samuel Adams assisted in the running of his father’s brewery. John Hancock was accused of being a wine smuggler leading up to the Revolution. Thomas Jefferson would import French Wine. At one point, Patrick Henery was a bartender, and when he was the Virginia Governor he would serve his own brewed alcohol to his guests. Another prevalent drink during the 18th Century in the Americas and England was Small Beer. Small Beer was a low alcoholic beer which would have been consumed by men, women, and children during the 18th Century. It also went across class as both rich and poor would consume it. It could be found being served with meals, such as breakfast. You might not find the word cocktail in the 18th Century, but they did have mixed drinks. One such drink was called the Rattle-Skull. The Rattle-Skull was made with, “three to four ounces of hard liquor usually an equal split between rum and brandy would be dropped into a pint of strong porter, tarted up with the juice of half a lime and then showered with shaved nutmeg.” Another drink which you might have found at a tavern would have been a Stone Fence. A Stone Fence was made by pouring two ounces of dark rum into a glass, then topping it with hard cider. You might want the cider to be a little sweet too. Perhaps one of the most interesting recipes I found was for a drink called a Whipped Syllabub, which would have also acted as a dessert. To make a Whipped Syllabub, take a glass of wine (your choice) and add a teaspoon of sugar to it, or sugar to taste if you prefer. Stir the sugar in until it dissolves. To make the whipped part, in a bowl pour a cup of white wine, mix in the juice of 2 lemons, and a 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. Stir this until the sugar is dissolved. To the bowl, and one pint of heavy cream. Whip the bowl’s contents into a froth. Once you’ve completed whipping, layer the whip on top of the wine. You can garnish with a little nutmeg if you so desire. You’re going to consume this with a spoon. You can eat each layer one by one, or you can stir the whip with the wine and consume it that way.
Well, this brings us to the end of this episode of the 18th Century Podcast. It was fascinating to learn about the different types of drinks which were consumed during the 18th Century. I hope you found this episode to be as interesting as I did. The script and citations for this episode and all other episodes can be found at 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. If you’d like to support the show, please share it and leave a review. I’ve been your host Cj, and thank you for listening to this episode of the 18th Century Podcast.
Crews, Ed. “Drinking in Colonial America: Rattle-Skull, Stonewall, Bogus, Blackstrap, Bombo, Mimbo, Whistle Belly, Syllabub, Sling, Toddy, and Flip.” Drinking in Colonial America: Rattle-Skull, Stonewall, Bogus, Blackstrap, Bombo, Mimbo, Whistle Belly, Syllabub, Sling, Toddy, and Flip : The Colonial Williamsburg Official History & Citizenship Site, 2007, https://www.history.org/foundation/journal/holiday07/drink.cfm.
Swindell, Melissa. “What Was in Colonial Cups besides Tea? Cider, Water, Milk, and Whiskey!” National Museum of American History, 29 Sept. 2015, https://americanhistory.si.edu/blog/2012/12/what-was-in-colonial-cups-besides-tea-cider-water-milk-and-whiskey.html.
Geri Walton. “Popular Drinks of the Georgian Era.” Geri Walton, 14 Nov. 2016, https://www.geriwalton.com/popular-drinks-of-georgian-era/.
Murden, Sarah. “A Cup of Tea Anyone, Made the 18th Century Way?” All Things Georgian, 8 June 2019, https://georgianera.wordpress.com/2018/05/31/a-cup-of-tea-anyone-made-the-18th-century-way/.
Murden, Sarah. “18th Century Drinking Chocolate.” All Things Georgian, 28 Apr. 2018, https://georgianera.wordpress.com/2015/01/06/18th-century-drinking-chocolate/.
“History of Bottled Water.” EFBW, https://www.efbw.org/index.php?id=39.
Major, Joanne. “A Brief History of Coffee in the Georgian Era.” All Things Georgian, 8 May 2018, https://georgianera.wordpress.com/2018/04/12/a-brief-history-of-coffee-in-the-georgian-era/.
Townsends. “Barley Water From 1734 – Perfect Drink For This Summer Heat!” YouTube, YouTube, 8 July 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zV1FuzftraI.
Townsends. “What Is Small Beer? – Q&A.” YouTube, YouTube, 19 May 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtjN1qWoflk.
Townsends. “Making Easy and Delicious Whipped Syllabubs.” YouTube, YouTube, 4 May 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6NIMNkaGI4.