The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2015

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july 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  1 15 this is a surprising figure. Not only was alcohol accepted, it was embraced. Cider or ale accompanied every meal, including breakfast. Doctors prescribed tonics that were largely composed of liquor. Even children were allowed the occasional sip. The founding fathers were no strangers to the business of alcohol. It is well known that Samuel Adams had a hand in malting grain for beer and many may even know that Thomas Jefferson imported wines from Europe. A lesser known fact is that George Washington owed a distillery that made brandy and whiskey—quite a lucrative venture for the former President. At the entrance of the Spirited Republic exhibit, you can see a replica of one of the stills his distillery used. Indeed, you can visit a re-built distillery near George Washington's grist mill, a few miles south of his Mount Vernon residence, and buy spirits produced on-site using Washington's recipes. Several of the other items on display at the Spirited Republic exhibit deal with the various roles that alcohol played in the early days of the American Revolution and the formation of our country. Both the Army and the Navy needed rations of spirits; on view is a record of the delivery of liquors to the Navy dated from November 2, 1777 that includes Cherry Brandy and Sherry. There is also a petition to the Continental Congress asking that whiskey be provided to the Continental Army—a ration deemed to be necessary nourishment for our fighting men. As the alcohol industry took hold, our government had to deal with how to regulate and tax it. Local municipalities and the established states of the union were permitted to regulate the sale of alcoholic beverages as they saw fit, issuing permits for taverns and stores in the early years of licensing. The Federal government taxed alcohol in order to build its coffers, and those taxes were not always well received. Indeed, the "Whiskey Rebellion" exploded in 1792 when Pennsylvania farmers protested paying the taxes on the whiskey that their grain produced. The letter that George Washington wrote to the Attorney General, recommending prosecution for these instigators, is another item on display. The business of selling alcohol grew throughout the 1800's, with advances in technology and design patents for labels and advertising flowing into the public records. One can almost sense the excitement of the growing market, viewing such things as the patent for a pasteurizer—pioneered by Anheuser-Busch brewery in order to ship their beer longer distances without spoiling—or the early designs for labels, such as Simon Crow's Pure White Wheat Whiskey from 1864. By the mid-1800s, mixed drinks were increasing in popularity. In conjunction with the Spirited Republic exhibit, The National Archives Foundation and its first-ever Chief Spirits Advisor, Derek Brown, have developed the History of the Cocktail Series, a collection of events and seminars designed to inform and entertain attendees. The series began on May 16, with Derek Brown and a panel of other experts presenting American Drinking B.C. (Before the Cocktail). Among the revelations of this first installation is that there is evidence that native North Americans distillated agave spirits, even before the arrival of Hispanic and other European explorers. "Many people don't realize that native people had alcohol," explains Brown. "It just wasn't preva- lent in the Northeast." He adds that another surprising fact is that, "Sherry was likely the first beverage to make the sea voyage to the Americas aboard Christopher Columbus' ships." In homage to these two surprising details, attendees enjoyed this featured cocktail: Despite the rise of the cocktail, by the late 1800's, the United States would take steps to curtail drinking and the industry that encouraged it. In the next issue, we will see how our country started "Demonizing Drink" in these years, and treasures of the Archives that show how this time led to the enactment of Prohibition. The seminar series will continue with other classes to explore the evolution of cocktail culture in the U.S. For more information, visit PHOTO: JASON CAMPOS FOR THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES FOUNDATION PHOTO: JASON CAMPOS FOR THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES FOUNDATION M. Carrie Allan, Cocktail and Spirits Columnist for The Washington Post. Steve Olson, aka wine geek and Founding Partner of Beverage Alcohol Resource. Conquistadores and Kukulkan ◗ 1 oz. Williams & Humbert Dry Sack Sherry ◗ 1 oz. Siembra Valles Blanco Tequila ◗ 4 oz. spiced chocolate brew ◗ 1 whole egg Shake well with single large ice cube. Strain into chilled rocks glass. Garnish with a pinch of cayenne pepper.

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