The Authentic Guide to Drinks of the Civil War Era, 1853–1873
by Sharon Peregrine Johnson and Byron A. Johnson, Thomas Publications, 200 pages, S14.9S spiral bound. CODE: TMS-1
If you’d like to expand your repertoire of cocktails to include another era altogether, this straightforward, informative guide will stand you in good stead while you mix and pour. Using recipes culled from the manuals of bartenders and distillers from 1853 to 1873, the authors manage to provide a thorough and accessible sampling of drinks while steering clear of the kind of coy approach that usually dooms texts such as this. A brief history of alcohol’s role during the Civil War era is eye-opening. Early in the war soldiers in the Union and Confederate armies were given daily rations of spirits to help boost morale, but as the struggle continued and its horrors grew, soldiers began drinking to such excess they were often unable to fight capably. Bootleggers wreaked havoc with undistilled, near-poisonous intoxicants, and one Confederate general declared that the South had “lost more valuable lives at the hands of the whiskey sellers than by the [musket] balls of our enemies.” Some soldiers even set up their own makeshift stills.
Skilled bartenders set things to rights in local taverns, however, and their extensive collections are amply represented here. Study the chapter called “Stocking a Civil War Sideboard” to clarify measurements with a conversion chart, and use the glossary to define the more esoteric ingredients. Then create flips, fixes, crustas, cobblers, Mother-in-Laws, Corpse Revivers, Wait a Bits, Stone Walls, Columbia Skins, None Such Punch, and, perhaps later, a Drink for the Dog Days (simply lemon ice and soda.water), listed in the closing chapter on temperance.