What is an “Authentic” 4th of July Cocktail you may ask. Times were different in 1776, and alcohol was an integral part of daily living whether or not you were a farmhand or a pen-wielding author of the Declaration of Independence. Find an explosive drink this holiday.
Our country’s first inhabitants scoffed at the thought of a tall, cool glass of water. In Europe from whence we originated, conditions were unspeakably unsanitary. Water was deemed an extension of the filth and disease left behind in the mother land. To combat the consumption of this unsavory beverage, beer and cider were the preferred drink of the day. The popularity of whiskey, rum, wine, and Portuguese Madeira also grew and received top billing at local grand affairs.
By today’s standards, most of our founding fathers would be hailed as considerable drinkers – consuming three or four bottles of wine per person per dinner party. Sounds like a Kardashian affair for sure.
However you slice it, the Plymouth was your basic party boat. It has been reported with strong authority that more beer was packed aboard this Pilgrim taxi than its lesser competition, H2O. Wine was also well-stocked, and considered a common meal appurtenance.
According to our country’s founding father, George Washington, “My manner of living is plain…a glass of wine and a bit of mutton.” As to the former, George celebrated his drinking affinity with regularity.
Washington & Kitman, the Simon and Schuster 1970 publication of George Washington’s Revolutionary War expense account, stated that his drinking budget balanced out at a whopping $6,000 from September 1775 to March 1776. In today’s conversion rate of $1 in 1775 being equivalent to $27.78 in 2016, that’s a staggering $166,680. Who among us can argue that a nice French Bordeaux isn’t the perfect accoutrement to our daily helping of sheep?
The heavies don’t stop with George – I cannot tell a lie. Benjamin Franklin was noted as weighing in on his country’s jubilance by stating that “Wine is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” But the war brought about scenery that was ripe for change.
For cocktail enthusiasts, pickings were slim until October 18, 1776. Of noteworthy significance, a 1998 post from Robert Hess on DrinkBoy, claims that Betsy Flanagan, 14-year old flamboyant inn keeper of Elmsford, NY, created the first specialty drink.
As the story goes, when a drunken patron asked that Betsy serve him a glass of “those cock tails,” she refilled his glass of “Bracer” and topped it with a feather that had been recently attached to one of the enemy English neighbor’s chicken farm cocks. Thus the cocktail is born, a true Revolutionary drink.
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For your authentic cocktail enjoyment, listed below are two common drinks of the day:
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2 oz. Dark Rum or Applejack
Pour into highball glass filled with ice, garnish with sliced apples, and serve with a salute.
Cream Sherry Flip
2 ½ oz. Cream Sherry
1 tsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Light Cream
Dash of Grated Nutmeg (optional)
Combine Cream Sherry, egg, sugar, and light cream in cocktail shaker ½ filled with ice. Shake well until egg foams. Strain into martini glass and dash with nutmeg. Bottoms up, and don’t forget a feather from the nearest cock tail.