June 27th, 2007
July 4th reading assignment
As Independence Day nears, American drinkers, and particularly New England drinkers, will find validation for their passion for booze in the 2005 Salon article “The spirits of 1776.”
“The American Revolution was not about tea. It was about rum: the real spirit of 1776 … The real conflict between the colonists and Britain began over taxes on molasses, not tea. And that’s where the French come in. The Founding Fathers not only loved the French, but they also loved the molasses that Paris’ Caribbean colonies produced — and they loved even more the rum that New England distillers made from it,” writes Ian Williams.
I can’t flippin’ believe I didn’t know this. Maybe that’s because, as Williams puts it, “years of temperance pressure and Prohibition — and probably the Walt Disney Co. and Hollywood — have essentially shoved the real history of the Revolution down a memory hole.”
If you, like me, were in the dark about this bit of history, mix yourself a rum punch and give this article a read. Then go to your Fourth of July cookout and repeat the info to everyone there.
Extra credit: pick up today’s New York Times, whose Dining section is devoted to drinks of all kinds, and read “A Bit of History, Reborn in a Glass,” an article on bitters. The story is anchored on recent attempts to re-create Abbot’s bitters, which you may already have read about somewhere.