Taking Your Tipple’S Temp - Lightly Toasted: Chronicles of the Friday Night Cocktail Club Blog at Allrecipes.com - 136749

Lightly Toasted: Chronicles of the Friday Night Cocktail Club

taking your tipple’s temp 
Nov. 12, 2009 4:06 pm 
Updated: Nov. 21, 2009 9:18 am
Back when America was just a pup, it was seriously awash in booze. I’m talking late 18th, early 19th centuries, when people were regularly drinking with the dawn and carrying on well into the evening, when presumably they fell on their noses.

President Thomas Jefferson, for one, was sure that we might help ourselves simply by switching from spirits to wine. He said, "Wine is, in truth, the only antidote to the bane of whiskey." And also, "No nation is drunken where wine is cheap."

Meanwhile, another person whose name you might recall from the Declaration of Independence, Dr. Benjamin Rush, (I just googled the document, and there’s Dr. Rush, just to the right of the loopity-looping K of John Hancock), was creating a Thermometer of Drink, basically an annotated list that ranks potable liquids (alcoholic and non-alcoholic alike) according to how moral they are.

Dr. Rush divided the list into temperance drinks and intemperance drinks. Water and milk top the temperance drinks, not surprisingly. But wine and beer also make the temperance list.
According to Rush’s thermometer, we can expect wine to offer "cheerfulness, strength and nourishment," but take care to enjoy it "only at meals, and in moderate quantities." This advice sounds thoroughly modern and suspiciously reasonable. I can imagine my own doctor saying something like this to me.

But as we dip below zero on the thermometer, we hazard into the intemperate drinks. That’s when the real fun begins. First, punch, then toddy and grog, followed by flip and sling...until, finally, we come across a cocktail that I'm particularly fond of, "bitters, infused in spirits." Which I assume is another way of saying "old fashioned."

As I read the list of "vices" associated with "bitters, infused in spirits," I am alarmed to discover that I’ve been living as dangerously as I have dissolutely. According to the notations, I have moved well beyond obscenity, am full on into fraud, and am leaning in tantalizingly close to anarchy.

To be fair, anarchy ranges more closely toward "morning drams," as we might expect. And morning drams brings us just a hair’s width from "hatred of just government" (which I have to assume means “government that is just” rather than “hatred of government, sure, but only government; everything else I adore.”)

Ultimately, when at last we’ve slid all the way down the thermometer to arrive at “pepper in rum,” we find that things have deteriorated to the point of…MURDER! What an unexpected twist, eh?

Luckily, I would not think of peppering my rum. Or at least not until now. But for the time being at least, it's probably best to just dig a toe hold in at “bitters, infused in spirits.” And for those wishing to join me on the doorstep of anarchy, here's a favorite rye Old Fashioned recipe.
sick and wrong
Photo Detail
Nov. 12, 2009 4:28 pm
I'm off to google "flip" and "swing"...TY for another enjoyable read! Cheers!
Nov. 14, 2009 10:14 am
Thanks for the boozy history lesson. Can you post the Thermometer of Drink, I'd be curious to read more.
Nov. 21, 2009 9:18 am
Here’s the full temperance scale from good to bad to just plain awful: Water (health, wealth) -> Milk and Water (serenity of mind) -> Small beer (happiness) -> Cider (cheerfulness) -> Wine (strength and nourishment) -> Porter -> Strong beer -> Punch (idleness) -> Toddy (peevishness) -> Grog (quarrelling) -> Flip (fighting, lying) -> Slings (swearing, obscenity) -> Bitters, infused in spirits (fraud) -> Morning drams (anarchy, hatred of just gov’t) -> Pepper in rum (murder!)
Click to Change your Profile Picture
Lorem Ipsum

Home Town
Seattle, Washington, USA

Member Since
May 2008

Cooking Level

Cooking Interests
Slow Cooking, Italian, Nouvelle, Mediterranean, Healthy, Gourmet

Biking, Photography, Reading Books, Music, Wine Tasting

Go Pro!

In Season

Hop On Easter
Hop On Easter

Recipes for baked ham, deviled eggs, and oh-so-cute treats.

Fresh Spring Recipes
Fresh Spring Recipes

The best ways to enjoy what’s in season right now.

Subscribe Today!
Subscribe Today!

Delicious recipes, party ideas, and helpful cooking tips! Get a year of Allrecipes magazine for just $9.99!

About Me
My wife and I and our two devilish kittens live on Capitol Hill in Seattle. A few years ago, I got a masters in gastronomy. I'm a food/wine writer. I’m also blogging about cocktails.
My favorite things to cook
We cook fairly simple dishes using fresh local ingredients that we pick up at the Seattle farmers market. My favorite thing is making a nice slow-braised or long-roasted something on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I like cooking with wine (in the dish and in the glass...and in the cook).
My favorite family cooking traditions
My mom never liked to cook, but she did well despite herself. Her mother, my omi, was from Munich and made delicious rouladen, sauerbraten and other traditional German and American dishes. Always bins and bins of home-baked cookies at Christmas. Wonderful rye bread. And beer. Opa would say, "Brotzeit ist die beste zeit."
My cooking triumphs
We’ve made the signature timpano dish from The Big Night a couple times. And for Thanksgiving 2007, we made Turducken. My wife and I are always volunteering to cook the big holiday meals with the family. We mix a signature cocktail, and get down to it.
My cooking tragedies
I made Thanksgiving Dinner for myself once when I was snowed-in in Denver. I nearly burned down the neighborhood.
Argentina  |  Australia & New Zealand  |  Brazil  |  Canada  |  China  |  France  |  Germany  |  India  |  Italy  |  Japan  |  Korea  |  Mexico

Netherlands  |  Poland  |  Quebec  |  Russia  |  SE Asia  |  United Kingdom & Ireland  |  United States