DRINKS by Wm. Gorby
I continue to collect information on foods of the
18th century I continue to be struck with what
appears to be quite a tremendous diversity in the
foods available during this time period, and
commonly available. Although it would be of no
value to the trekker, in the same cookbook that
gave me the previous list of confections, there
was a complete recipe for making of raspberry ice
cream! As a side light, Charles I, who reigned
early in the 17th century commonly served ice
cream to his guests.
will discuss the use of coffee, tea, herbs, and
spices available to the early American colonists;
what was common, what was difficult to obtain, and
whether or not it might be a valid trekking item.
doing my research I tried very quickly to move
into this area for selfish reasons. I’m not much
of a fan when it comes to tea or hot chocolate,
but I do enjoy a good cup of coffee. I knew that
tea and chocolate were commonly available in the
colonies in the 18th century (remember the
"Boston Tea Party"), but what about
coffee? And what about spices and herbs? Hopefully
I can answer some of these questions to your
comes from the leaves of a small evergreen bush
that was originally native to southeast Asia. The
earliest record of the commercial use of tea was
in the 7th century where it was cultivated for
sale in China. Around 800AD the tea was formed in
cakes or, bricks, if you prefer, and boiled.
Around 1300AD the tea leaves were powdered and
whipped into hot water to create the beverage. By
1600 the steeping of individual sprigs of tea in
hot water was common along with the use of tea
bricks and powdered tea.
first samples of tea app- eared in Europe around
1560, brought back by early traders. By the mid
1600’s the Dutch and English had established a
regular sea trade with the Orient expressly for
the importation of tea. During the early 18th
century tea began to replace ale at the English
breakfast table. In 1702, England imported close
to 20,000 pounds of tea and by 1801, England was
importing some 20 million pounds. It was sometime
during the middle portion of the 18th century that
the English and some of our colonists were
consuming tea in the afternoon. Because the
Chinese, as well as the Japanese, were so
secretive about the preparation of tea from raw
leaves it was well into the 19th century before
either the Dutch or English attempted to grow and
process tea themselves in their Asian colonies.
Prior to the researching of this article I thought
you just picked off a leaf and dried it; I was
there are 4 completely different steps in making
tea suitable for use as a drink; withering,
rolling, fermenting, and firing. Withering means
that the leaves are dried to a point where they
wilt and become structurally weak. Withering takes
no more than 24 hours to complete. Rolling during
the 18th century, was done by hand and simply
meant that the leaves were crushed, a few at a
time, to mix the chemical components of cells in
the leaf together. Rolling along with fermenting
is what will eventually give each of the various
teas their color, flavor and astringency.
the rolling is complete and cellar contents are
mixed, they are allowed to "ferment" for
2-3 hours. This fermentation does not involve any
yeast or microbes but simply refers to the
complete mixing of all cellar contents and their
enzymatic degradation. It is the same process that
causes browning or oxidation in fruit when fruits
are cut and exposed to air. This whole process is
extremely complex and unless you happen to be a
biochemist it is also boring. Once the amount of
fermentation that is desired is completed, the
leaves are "fired" or dried using heat
of about 200 degrees F until the leaves are left
with a moisture content of about 5%.
the fermentation process, or lack of it, that
produces some of the distinct character of the
various teas. Green tea is not allowed to ferment
at all. Its enzymes are destroyed by steam before
the leaves are rolled. Black tea is fully
fermented for 3 hours. Oolong tea has a
fermentation time about half that of black tea.
coffee tree is indigenous to tropical Africa where
it was first used to make wine and used as a food
source. Around 1000AD coffee began to be used in a
manner more familiar to use today, as a beverage.
Its first recorded use in this manner was by the
Arabs. By the 15th century the use of coffee was
common place in Italy and Spain, and by the 17th
century the English had discovered it. The first
recorded use of coffee in England as a beverage
took place in 1630. By 1652, coffee was firmly a
part of English society.
order to overcome the Arabian monopoly on coffee,
the English, Dutch, and French smuggled the whole
un-roasted beans to their colonies in India, Java,
and the West Indies. By the late 18th century
coffee growing was firmly established in South
America, but it wasn’t until the mid 19th
century that this area became significant with
respect to world trade.
there are two species of coffee tree, coffee
arabica which was the original source of the
Arabian coffee and the type used in colonial
America and coffea canephora, also known as
robusta canephora. Robusta is a hardier plant that
produces significantly more fruit. It does however
have a more neutral, less interesting flavor.
Also, the robusta coffee was unknown in the 18th
century. Certainly for anyone portraying an 18th
century personae the use of coffee is very
acceptable. However to be perfectly correct you
need to make sure you have coffee that is 100%
arabica. For me this information was well worth
the research effort, nothing is better than a good
cup of coffee around the morning fire.
berry of the coffee tree contains 2 seeds or
beans. In order to be used the beans have to be
roasted, which is just an- other term for heating.
Roasting of the bean can be done at home or over
an open fire during a trek by simply placing them
in a dry pan and heating them (use medium heat on
your stove) while constantly stirring them. The
longer the beans are roasted the darker they
become, and the more strongly flavored the coffee
the beans can be used, they must obviously be
broken down by a grinding process. The finer the
bean is ground the more readily the particle will
give up its flavor. The original way to brew
coffee is the way that I have always used. The
ground beans are boiled in water over an open fire
and the liquid is decanted off. It works very well
since the grounds quickly settle to the bottom.
Although it may well be my imagination, coffee
prepared in this manner has always tasted better.
I have always felt it is due to a greater exposure
of the surface areas of the coffee to the water. I
have also noticed that the best coffee is prepared
by heating the water to a boil and then removing
it from the fire, prior to the addition of the
coffee. Once the water is re- moved and no longer
at a rolling boil, the coffee is added. With the
pot setting away from the fire, let it stand for
15 minutes prior to the separation of the liquid
and the grounds. If you allow the water to
continue boiling on the fire after the coffee has
been added, a number of problems are created.
First, as the water is boiling and the steam is
escaping, so too is the coffee flavor. Also the
continued boiling allows the complex molecules of
the coffee to be bro- ken down to harmful acids,
significantly changing the flavor.
finally a word about caffeine, which is present in
both tea and coffee in significant amounts. In
normal amounts, form the consumption of tea or
coffee for breakfast, caffine will improve
attention, concentration, coordination, and
according to more recent resources, endurance. Not
only does that cup of morning coffee taste good
but it was probably important to the early
frontiersman in giving him an edge when in
unfriendly territory. If you are however worried
about the amount of caffine you are consuming, for
whatever reason, it is interesting to note that
the historically correct and more flavorful
arabica beans have only half as much caffine as
the newer hybrid, robusta.
Kroyd,W.R. The Story of Sugar. Chicago:
Honey: A Comprehsive Survey. London:
The English-American: His Travail by Sea and
Land. (1648). Edited by J.E.S. Thompson.Norman,
OK.: University of Oklahoma Press, 1958.
History Begins at Sumer. Philadelphia:
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1981.
From Honey to Ashes. Translated by
I.Weightman & D.Weightrnan, New York: Harper
and Ron, 1973.
The Book of Chocolate. New York: St.Martins
The Cultivation and Marketing of Tea. 3d.
Ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1964.
& M.Walls.,The Oxford Book of Food Plants.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969.
Early History of Coffee Houses in England.
London: Kegan Paul, 1983.
Book of Spices. New York: Jove, 1973.
& K.Schapira, The Book of Coffee and Tea.
New York: St.Martins Press, 1975.
Ecology. New York: Academic Press, 1970.
in Food Research. 24 (1978): 229-287.
Delectable Past. New York: Simon &
in Antiquity. London: Thames & Hudson,
1919. Carson,G.Cornflake Crusade.
New York: Rinehart, 1957.
Conquest of New Spain. Harmondsworth, England:
Penguin Books, 1963.
Chemistry & Technology. St.Paul,Minn.:
American Association of Cerceal Chemists, 1972.
Maize Processing Techniques in the New
World". Science. 184 (1974):765-73.
of Cereals. 2d. ed. Oxford: Pergarnon, 1975.
& J.H.Martin.Cereal Crops New York:
Cereal Technology. Westport, Conn.: AVI,
Lowlands of Scotland". Gourmrt.January,
The Wild Rice’s Guide. Berkeley,CA.:
The Foxfire Book. New York: Anchor Books,
"American Cooking: The Eastern
Heartland." Foods of the World Series.
New York: Time-Life, 1973.
the barley grain in the oven, then grind into
cracked grain. Brew into a tasty drink. Sweeten
with sugar, honey, or karo if you wish.
searching for information about "Ceylon
Tea" as I found a wooden box at an estate
sale with these words on it and a date of 1837,
heres what I found for the"Tea
from the 16th century, establishment of
plantations of export crops like cinnamon, later
also coffee and coconut, were encouraged by the
colonial governments in Sri Lanka and started to
suppress the traditional system of peasant
agriculture. The tropical island of Sri Lanka
southeast of the Indian subcontinent offers ideal
climatic conditions for tea (Ceylon) and rice
cultivation which led to a history of highly
developed hydraulic civilizations in the dry zone
lowlands. The wet zone and highlands in the
southwest constitute the core area of plantation
agriculture because of environmental conditions
suitable to support a variety of perennial
commercial crops. After 1870 tea was established
to replace coffee which succumbed to a virulent
fungus. Until recently, plantation products
contributed two thirds and more to the national
economy, half of which was on account of tea. Tea
also contributes substantially to government
revenue in the form of various taxes and duties,
as well as to the welfare of the people by
providing direct and indirect employment for as
many as one million citizens.
tea has been acclaimed as the best tea in the
world for over several centuries. The Sri Lankan
climate varies tremendously from the central
highlands to the southern plains. These varying
climatic conditions impart distinct flavors and
aromas on our teas. Sri Lanka produces the world
renowned "Seasonal Teas" which are grown
on the mystic hills of Sri Lanka, with fragrances
unmatched by teas from any other parts of the
world.Only the tender and succulent "two
leaves and a bud" are carefully hand-picked
for the tea crop. Highly skilled scientific and
technical processes are applied in the cultivation
and manufacture of teas, resulting in a product
which is among the most sought after by tea
connoisseurs around the world.
is Sri Lankan food?" asked a colonial visitor
somewhat fearfully when to eat at Taprobane with
me. He was imagining it would be mostly like
Indian fare, made with lots of ghee, or clarified
did he realize that it was a cuisine influenced by
such diverse styles of cooking as Dutch and
us probably have trouble recalling exactly what we
know about Sri Lanka. So here, taken from the
first issue of "The Lankan," the journal
of the Sri Lanka Association of New York, are a
Lanka is an island in the Indian Ocean about 20
miles of the southeast coast of India, about the
size of West Virginia or half the size of New
was the name given to Sri Lanka by Greek and Roman
travelers and traders. Arab traders called it
Serendip, Portuguese invaders called it Ceilao,
Dutch colonists dubbed it Ceylan, and under
British colonialism it became Ceylon. The
Sinhalese called it Lanka, and the Tamils named it
and Tamil are the country's official languages,
and English is widely used, too.anka is the name
of the island earlier known as Ceylon and situated
at the Southern extremity of the Indian
Subcontinent, separated from it at its narrowest
point by 22 miles of sea called the Palk Strait.
covers an area of 25,322 square miles almost the
size of Ireland or Tasmania and has a population
of 18 million. Both the Sinhala and the Tamil
nations existed in the island for over 2,500 years
and shared the rule of the island separately.
sources of the national conflict in Sri Lanka are
historical, economic, cultural & religious. In
the words of David Selbourne of Ruskin College,
Oxford, it is "a true national question, if
ever there was one".
the Tamil People & Sinhalese people are
indigenous people of Sri Lanka. Early history
records that they had their own monarchs and
kingdoms. They were conquered by the colonial
powers separately and in different periods in
existed as separate communities until the British
brought them together in 1883 under a single
administration (for the very first time in their
Colonial Era Year Major Events
..Arrival of Portuguese - They first occupied the
low country Sinhalese areas in the south west of
Jaffna Tamil Kingdom fell to the Portuguese (more
than a century later)
..Dutch occupied areas which were under Portuguese
..Treaty of Amiens - Dutch possessions ceded to
..The Sinhalese Kandy rally
..The British unified the island based on the
recommendations of Cole Brook - Cameron Commission
(purely for administrative convenience).
Post-Colonial Era Year Major Events
..British grant independence under the Soulbury
constitution. The parliament with its entrenched
Sinhalese majority legislates to disenfranchise
Tamils of Indian origin who have live there for
generations and have always exercised their
franchise. The Tamil people lost almost half of
their representation in the parliament.The state
aided colonization of Sinhalese people in Tamil
areas promoted to annex Tamil homelands and
further reduce Tamil representation in the
intensity and yields within the tea sector,
coupled with larger extents diversified into
equally intensive types of alternative
agricultural cultivation, would also be likely to
absorb a higher amount of labor per unit area.
That way, the present tea areas could contribute
more effectively to ease joblessness and
under-employment, one of Sri Lanka's major
problems. In addition, income, agricultural
production, and even export values could be
increased and optimized as well.
this was't to boring and Ceylon Tea has been
around for centuries all over the world, next time
we meet lets have a spot of tea.
A LITTLE HISTORY ON COFFEE
herder named Kaldi started it all in 850 AD. He
wanted to know what could be responsible for the
"queer antics of his flock." Fearing his
sheep possessed, Kaldi paid close observation from
high on the mountain and watched as his herd
nibbled red berries from the branch of a strange
closer inspection he discovered the sheep eating
berries from a new leaf. When he sampled the berry
himself, he felt a surge of exhilaration and
rushed to tell the local imam. That night the two
shared a concoction made of the berries, pranced
around, and generally got pretty tanked on
caffeine. When they finally dozed off, Mohammed
appeared to the imam and said the berries enhanced
wakefulness and wakefulness promoted prayer.
Prayer, counseled Mohammed, was better than sleep.
than you can say percolate, the imam and his
monastery became famous throughout Arabia for the
spirited praying of its coffee-drinking brethren.
Soon others in the old world were clamoring for
the newly discovered bean.
legend credits Kaldi with the find, some suspect
that coffee was around long before him. But no one
bothered to give it a proper noun. Among other
tales of coffee lore, the Bible relates that
Abigail brought to David "five measures of
parched corn," which some believe to be
coffee. Hippocrates is said to have collected all
the herbs of his time and coffee, under another
name perhaps, was included in this collection. The
"black broth" of the Lacedaemonians was
a strong, well-boiled brew.
its origins, the black broth is now ingested by
over a third of the world's population and,
centuries later, continues to promote queer
WHISKY & BARRELS
become the proud owner of an original [ "H-H
& S" 1832 ] 2 1/2 gal. white oak whiskey
barrel in good condition, only missing one split
limb barrel band, a present from the wife. She
surprises me every now and then with a little
treasurer like this or a neat period scale or
period tea case (related items of a trader), and
being in that type of business that we would have
used such items.
receiving the barrel I got on the Internet and
starting "searching" a number of
websites on whiskey for history and possibly
something on small producers of the beverage like
"H-H & S". I will share my findings
with you and a few remarks about whiskey from the
brothers of the AMM in the information listed
World of Straight Whiskey
found on the Internet).
are three main types of straight American whiskey
- bourbon, rye, and Tennessee - and all three must
be made in accordance with certain criteria laid
down by law, "Jefferson's Guide-Lines".
(Corn whiskey, which can also be designated as a
straight whiskey, differs from the regulations
below in as much as it must be aged in either
used, charred oak barrels, or new, uncharred oak
barrels.) Some of the regulations are, of course,
rather technical, but here are the main points
that differentiate straight whiskeys from their
bourbon, rye, and Tennessee whiskey must be:
Distilled out at less then 160 proof (80 percent
alcohol by volume [abv]). The fact is, most
American straight whiskeys run off the still at
between 62.5 and 70 percent abv, and by keeping
the proof low, the distillers ensure that more
flavor stays in the whiskey. In comparison, vodka
usually comes off the still at almost 95 percent
for a minimum of two years in new charred oak
casks. However, if the whiskey is matured for less
than four years, its age must appear on the label.
Therefore, most of the straight whiskey that
appears on liquor store shelves is bound to be at
least four years old. Many people think that
whiskey must be aged in American white oak
barrels, and indeed, all American whiskeys that we
know of do spend their adolescence in that
particular variety of oak since the configuration
of the grains make it ideal for holding liquid.
But this is merely the choice of the distillers,
no specific type of oak is laid down by Jeffersons
coloring or flavoring may be added to straight
whiskey. When whiskey runs off the still it is
clear - just like vodka - and it tastes similar to
an eau-de-vie. But as the whiskey ages, certain
impurities, known as congeners, react with the
wood and develop into the "flavor
particles" in the spirit. The color of
straight whiskey is mostly a result of the spirit
expanding into the charred wood during the warmer
months and gaining color from the "red
layer" in the barrel. So what's the red
the barrels are formed, the staves are heated to
help them bend, and the heat caramelizes some of
the wood sugars and tannins within each stave.
This toasting stage of coopering forms the red
layer, which not only helps give color to the
whiskey, but also imparts some extra flavors.
After the barrels are formed, their interiors are
then charred over open flame creating a layer of
charcoal over the red layer. When the whiskey is
in the aging houses, it filters through that
charcoal as it expands and contracts with seasonal
temperature changes, or in certain cases, by
artificially raising and lowering the temperature
in the warehouse. Both the red layer and the
charred interior add flavors to the whiskey.
then, are the main points that concern us when
dealing with straight American whiskey. Blended
whiskey, on the other hand, is flavorful straight
whiskey that has been blended with flavorless
neutral grain whiskey. Further, blended whiskeys
can have other flavorings and/or colorings added.
Don't discount blended whiskeys out of hand, many
of the top-name brands are sterling examples of
the blender's craft, and should be enjoyed in
their own right.
George Dickel or Jack Daniel were alive today,
they would be proud that today's versions of their
whiskeys aren't called bourbon - Tennessee
whiskeys are very special. Back in the 1820's
there lived in Lincoln County, Tennessee, a
distiller by the name of Alfred Eaton, he is said
to be the man who first discovered that when he
filtered his whiskey through giant vats of
sugar-maple charcoal, it became a much smoother
product. Bear in mind that back in those days,
whiskey wasn't usually aged, so any process that
took the rough edges off new whiskey was very
procedure is now known as the Lincoln County
Process (1823), or charcoal mellowing. We have
tasted Tennessee whiskey straight off the still,
and again after the mellowing process and can
vouch for the fact that it is this leaching over
sugar-maple charcoal that gives the Tennessee
whiskey the wonderful "sooty sweetness"
that is not present in bourbons.
don't be confused. Though your bottle of bourbon
may bear the words "charcoal filtered,"
the process is different from the Lincoln County
Process. Most bourbons - in fact Booker's bourbon
is the only exception - are filtered after aging
and before bottling with activated charcoal. Some
are filtered at room temperature, others are
chilled and then filtered, but the process is
quick and meant solely to remove certain
impurities that affect the visual appeal of the
whiskey. No flavor is imparted by activated
charcoal. Why do it? Because when unfiltered
whiskey gets too cold, it can develop a
"chill haze" or cloudiness. There's
nothing wrong with cloudy whiskey, in fact, it is
generally more flavorful than the filtered
variety, but the public at large doesn't know
that. They think the whiskey is spoiled in some
way and don't want to buy it; therefore,
distillers generally filter their bourbon before
bottling it. Tennessee whiskey goes through the
same quick filtration process after aging.
Single Barrel Whiskey
whiskeys are, like their small-batch cousins,
selected from prime areas of the warehouse.
However, in the case of single-barrel bourbons,
the distiller doesn't have the luxury of marrying
one barrel with another to achieve a particular
result. Each single barrel bourbon may differ
slightly from the last if it came from a different
barrel (check the label, the barrel number should
be noted), but each master distiller selects
whiskeys that have matured into a specific
"flavor profile," and are, therefore,
very similar to one another.
remarks about whiskey from brothers of the AMM.
must got some of the old "good" stuff --
Everclear has been toned down a bit to 'bout 160
proof -- it was killin' too many stupid college
kids who didn't respect it. The only way you can
get truly "high octane" alcohol is from
commercial paint suppliers. It's called
"dehydrated ethanol" & it's roughly
199 proof (99.5% pure). Since the "dehydrated
ethanol" isn't denatured, it's
drinkable(???). Actually the old 195 proof
Everclear was almost equal to the stuff
("ardent spirits") hauled to rendezvous
& used in the concoctions you describe that
were supposedly used at that time. From some of
the "old recipes" used that I've seen
& heard of, it's a wonder they didn't kill
somebody! For example -- the tobacco leaches out
nicotine sulfate, which in a more concentrated
form used to be sold as the pesticide "Black
Leaf 40". NM
traveled a day and half on a stakeside truck
through the Andes with 20 members of the Charosani
band, drinking clear alcohol from a 5 gallon tin.
The first swallow evaporated off my lips like
ether. I thought I was poisoned. It might be that
6 months traveling in Peru and Bolivia on that
trip. In Peru, up and down the Urobamba valley are
village after village after village, nearly every
one with a tienda. Each tienda had a centrally
located +or- 4foot in diameter cask from which you
could fill whatever container you brought with you
for a few cents .Every village's barrel of booze
was different in taste and effect from every
other. Some, unbelievable! None bad tasting. Turns
out, the one common ingredient they all shared was
those same 5 gallon tins we sloshed from on the
truck. Only each village's tienda had a different
recipe, concocted by, in every case, an old woman.
A crone. They wouldn't reveal their ingredients or
proportions for nothing.
herbs and other things with everclear is, in some
places, a guarded secret, and high art. LD
Hanson, in "The Buckskinner's Cookbook",
pg. 15, says "...fur traders, Indians and
mountain men, popular legend notwithstanding, did
not indulge in rotgut alcohol flavored with red
pepper and rattlesnake heads. There are plenty of
orders for Monongahela corn whiskey, some for rye
whiskey, and in later days, grain alcohol to be
cut with water and no contemporary references to
ungodly concoctions dreamed up for lurid dime
novels." Hanson then provides several recipes
un use in the mountains and on the plains in the
finally got around to that experiment trying to
recreate the "whiskey" that was mixed up
and served to them thirst fellers at rendezvous. I
kind of threw together 3 different recipes I've
found to come up with a reasonable mixture.
Quantities were a little elusive (how much is a
"portion" or "handful"?), but
I did my best.
is the general recipe:
ml (aprox 12 oz) Everclear pure grain alcohol
tablespoon fresh ground ginger
medium hot red peppers, chopped
of Elephant FFG black powder
tablespoon pipe tobacco
all together in a glass jug and let it sit in a
warm spot for 4 days. I pulled it out tonight and
strained it through a piece of unbleached muslin.
I didn't have the nerve yet to take more than a
sip. The verdict: Pretty awful. I am a bourbon
drinker (usually straight) so I don't find hard
liquor distasteful. BUT, all things considered I
could see it as being palatable (with time) if it
was all you had available and on a limited basis.
If I did it over again I would cut back on the
molassis. The ginger definitely helped. Maybe use
a little less water, but that Everclear is
POWERFUL stuff (I tried an earlier experiment with
a 2:1 ratio for 100 proof, but it still smelled
get the nerve I'll try another drink. The bottle
will probably accompany me to the next rendezvous,
in search of brave souls and those who insist on
the highest degree of period authenticity! L? *
...............spelling was left as received.
come on over to the fire and get another cup of
shrub! What's in this stuff anyway?
juice, brown sugar and (I think) vinegar. From
that humble start it goes down hill depending on
what spirituous liquor you add. Capt. Morgan's
Spiced Rum will make it a drink fit for Kings.
Anything else is just using up what can't be drunk
otherwise. I remain.......
- Capt. Lahti
you asked. One quart of rum, the juice from 3
oranges and 3 lemons, and the zest of the oranges
and lemons. No pulp, and NONE of the white fiber
under the zests! Let the elixer percolate over the
zests for 2-3 days, add a pint of water, and sugar
to taste. Recipe came from a Virgina almanac back
around 1750 via Jerry Young aka
Clark. M.M.Quaife in his 1913 book, Chicago and
the Old Northwest,1673-1835. Quaife has many good
references to forts and players. Kaskaskia, its
taking by the Hannibal of Kentucky (which was a
county of Virginia) Clark, and its history are
fully covered. Later (1814) Forsyth is pleading
the case for a Factory at Ft. Clark, so the
Pottawatomies can receive goods "as cheap in
this was as they formerly did in the factory at
Chicago". They were bemoaning the high prices
at the sutler's store.
an excellent text in some ways, and the fact that
the map shows many forts and settlements and
pointedly does not show Fort Clark in relationship
to Kaskaskia may or may not shed light.
Until next time, we leave as friends and followers of
those that went before us.