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A History of The World in 6 Glasses -by: Sarah Johnston

Here is a timeline of interesting events and facts about 6 drinks that shaped the course of human history: beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and Coca-Cola.

Sarah Johnston

on 18 August 2010

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Transcript of A History of The World in 6 Glasses -by: Sarah Johnston

10,000 BCE
Beer was accidentally invented. After the end of the last Ice Age, more and more people started to gather wild grains [in an area known as the Fertile Crescent]. They discovered that by crushing the grains and then soaking them in water, they could create a new foodstuff: gruel. Beer, however, was discovered when someone left this soupy mixture sitting out for a couple of days, only to return and discover that it had undergone a mysterious transformation. Upon tasting the gruel, they found that it was now a effervescent and gave the drinker a delightful, intoxicating sensation. 3rd Millenium BCE
Different types of beer emerged. Records show that in Mesopotamia, there were over twenty different types of beer at this time, some examples being fresh beer, dark beer, fresh-dark beer, strong beer, red-brown beer, light beer, and pressed beer. The Mesopotamian brewers could also alter the taste and color of their brews by adding different amounts of bappir, or beer-bread. Sumerian Period BCE
Beer became filterable. Ever since the 3rd millenium BCE, depictions of beer showed people drinking it with straws, as early brews contained debris such as grains and chaff. However, by the Sumerian period [around the 3rd millenium BCE], the people had figured out a way to filter beer, so that if preffered, it could be served in individual cups, as opposed to the previous practice of sharing a vessel. 2035 BCE
Beer was used as a form of payment for workers. On Egypt's Gaza Plateau, beer was used to pay people for working. It was even given to the workers who built the pyramids as payment, cancelling out the theory that the pyramids were built by slaves. Along with several loaves of bread, the average worker would recieve about 4 liters of beer per day, respectively. If you were a manager or an official, you would receive more. Paying workers in beer and bread supposedly gave them [the beer and bread] an image reflecting affluence and eudaemonia. The phrase "bread and beer" was used as a common greeting, wishing someone luck and prosperity. It also symbolized necessities for existance, and even translates to one Sumerian word for "banquet." 2,100 BCE
Beer was used as a medicine and was commonly reccomended in remedies. Both the Egyptians and the Mesopotamians used beer medicinally. It is even said that in the town of Nippur [a Sumerian city], there is a pharmacopoeia based entirely on beer. There were many different recipes and remedies involving beer that supposedly helped cure common ailments; for example, beer mixed with powdered olives was said to cure indigestion, while beer and saffron was supposed to help a woman with labor pains. The Egyptians believed that an adequate supply of beer would not only help them in life, but also in the afterlife. Royalty had special sieves for making beer buried with them, while ordinary citixens were buried with a few small jars of beer.
Wine Somewhere between 4,000 and 9,000 BCE
Wine is first produced. The earliest archaeological evidence of wine is in the Zagros Mountains, near modern day Armenia and Iran. It was said to first appear during the Neolithic period. This area harbors the Eurasian grape vine, not to mention enough cereal crops to provide for a wine-making community to thrive. In addition to these factors, another reason wine-making became possible in this area was the invention of pottery, which allotted for an easier way to make, preserve, and serve wine. 3,000 BCE
The domestic production of wine begins in Egypt. King Scorpion I, one of the earliest Egyptian rulers, was buried with seven hundred jars of wine after his death around 3150 BCE. Soon after, the pharohs started to like the taste of wine, and had vineyards created in the Nile Delta so as to produce it themselves. However, the climate was unsuitable for large-scale production, so wine was mostly enjoyed by the upper class, while the majority of the people stuck with beer, a cheaper alternative. 424 BCE
Acanthus changed sides in a war to save their vineyards. Wine was so economically important at this time that vineyards became targets during wars, particularly the Peloponesian War. The war was between Athens and Sparta, and it was not uncommon for vineyards to be trampled and set on fire. At one point, Spartian troops appeared shortly before harvest time in the town of Acanthus, a city on the side of Athens. Afraid the Spartans would destroy their grapes, the town had a quick election and switched sides in the war to avoid the destruction of their vineyards, which they did. 146 BCE
The Italian Peninsula became the foremost wine producing region in the world. At the start of the 2nd millenium BCE, the Greek wine was the only wine being exported on a mass scale to the Italian peninsula. However, the Romans quickly caught up, and by 146 BCE, the Italian peninsula produced the most wine worldwide, also around the time Rome became the leading Mediterranean power. Around 1,100
In the Christian church, only the priest recieved wine. It is often believed that wine played a strong part of the Christian religion, even in early times. This is true, as the wine symbolizes the blood of Christ, and it is considered holy. However, what is often unknown is that in those days, the only one who drank wine during the Mass was the priest, while the congregation only had bread. The wine produced on vineyards on church land was mostly given to those in religious orders for everyday use. Spirits 15th century [1430's]
Aqua vitae, once a medicinal drink, became a recreational one. As knowledge of the distillation process became more widespread, aqua vitae began to be used for not only medicinal purposes, but recreational ones as well. One contributing factor to this new idea was the development of the printing press in the 1430's. Brought to the Europeans by the Chinese, this allowed several books to be printed, including several on the subject of distillation and spirits. Claiming that a bit of aqua vitae a day could keep one healthier, amongst other things, spread the drink's popularity, but its biggest appealing factor was that it could quickly intoxicate the drinker, something that helped it become a huge part of world history. 1721
Rum became the cheif barter on the slave coast of Africa. Rum, when first invented, was used as a form of currency in slave trade: it could be used to buy slaves, who in turn could produce sugar, whose leftovers could be made into rum, used to buy more slaves, thus continuing the cycle. One English trader described rum as the "chief barter," even traded for gold and other valuables. Rum also replaced brandy as the currency paid to canoemen and guards, and made slave trade a much more profitable business. 1655
Rum replaced beer as a form of alcohol for sailors. Rum, popular throughout the Carribbean, also became popular among sailors, and in 1655 it became a substitute for beer, which had been rationed out to them until then. In less than a century, it would become the preferred alcoholic beverage of the Navy, as it was stronger and less perishable. However, it was so strong that it affected the ships' efficiency, so Admiral Edward Vernon ordered that the rum should be diluted with water. To make the drink taste better, he added sugar and lime juice, thus producing a cocktail, named in his honor. Although he didn't know, adding lime juice would also considerable increase his sailors' intake of vitamin C, thus protecting them from scurvy and eventually helping the British sailors to win a war. 1496
The practice of distilling your own wine and selling it was banned in Nuremburg, Germany. A cheaper alternative to wine and a stronger alternative to beer, aqua vitae's consumption quickly became mainstream. In fact, aqua vitae was so popular that many people would distill wine in their own homes and then try to sell the new drink on feast days. This practice became widespread, but it sometimes led to trouble, causing it to be outlawed in Nuremburg, Germany in 1496. 1500
Some spirits, such as brandy, began to be used as a form of currency. In exchange for slaves, the Europeans would trade many products, such as pottery, fabric, shells, jugs, and metals. However, the Africans' favorite trade for slaves was alcohol. To them, European alcohol was in high demand, and even people from the Muslim parts of Africa wanted some. Brandy, however, was the most convenient for the Europeans to trade, as they could ship more at once, and it would be less likely to go bad because it had a higher alcoholic content than wine. Beer A History of the World in 6 Glasses
By: Sarah Johnston [Book by: Tom Standage] Coffee 1600's
Coffee was introduced to Europe. At the time of coffee's introduction to Europe, the most commonly enjoyed beverages were beer and wine [spirits, on the other hand, were used mainly to become inebriated]. Since they were alcoholic, they were thought of as a safer alternative to water, which was ofter contaminated for those who lived in crowded cities. However, since coffee was made by boiling water, it was also a safer alternative to water. Instead of becoming intoxicated and drunk, coffee-drinkers found themselves becoming alert and awake, improving their work quality. 1605
Pope Clement VIII approved the use of coffee for members of the Catholic church. Shortly before he died, Pope Clement VIII was asked for the Catholic church's opinion on whether or not coffee was to be consumed. A sample was made available for tasting, and the Pope decided to taste it before making his decision. It is said that he enjoyed the taste and sensation of the drink so much that he deemed it appropriate for consumption by Christians. 1652
London's first coffeehouse opened. In 1652 Pasqua Rosee, an Armenian servant of an English merchant, decided to put his coffee-making skills to the test and open up a coffee shop. Customers were drawn in by Rosee's claims of coffee's health benefits, such as being "effective against sore-eyes, headaches, coughs, dropsy, gout, scurvy," and could even "prevent Mis-carryings in Child-bearing Women." 1666
The Great Fire of London destroyed many coffeehouses. After Rosee's coffeehouse proved to be successful, many others decided that they would follow suit and open up coffeehouses as well. During the 1650's, many coffeehouses opened up, thus increasing the drink's popularity. By 1663, there were eighty-three coffeehouses in London alone. However, in 1666, the Great Fire of London led to the destruction of many coffeehouses, but more came to replace them. 1723
Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu brings coffee to France. A French naval officer by the name of Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu found it upon himself to bring the coffee-plant to the French West Indies for cultivation, so as not to rely on foreign imports. He got a cutting from an aristocratic young lady, who he persuaded to recieve from the royal doctor, who was entitled to any plants needed for medicinal purposes. After obtaining the cutting, he kept it safe on a long and treacherous voyage back to Martinique. Once home, he tended to the plant and eventually gathered his first harvest. Tea Coca-Cola 1630's
Tea was only consumed for medical reasons, or as a luxury. Despite the fact that tea reached Europe a bit before coffee did, it did not impact it as much during the seventeenth century because it was much more costly. However, its rise began in the Netherlands, where it was considered a luxury or a medicinal drink, as it did not intoxicate the drinker like alcoholic beverages did. Some believed tea to be extemely healthy, saying that "Those who use it for that reason, alone [as a panacea], exempt from all maladies and reach an extreme old age." Others, however thought it was poisonous, saying it "hastens the death of those that drink it, especially if they have passed forty years." 1650-1700
Tea was popular among France's aristocracy. Tea had a brief spell of popularity in France's elite, as they were the only ones who could afford it. During this time, people began to drink tea with milk, which lowered its temperature and gave it an interesting flavor. However, the fad of drinking tea did not last long in France, and it was soon overshadowed by other popular drinks, such as coffee and chocolate. 1662
Catherine of Braganza married Charles II, bringing tea to the English court. Catherine of Braganza's marriage to Charles II brought him a huge dowry. Along with being able to trade overseas in several areas, Charles also recieved a good sum of money - in gold- and a chest of tea. Catherine, accustomed to drinking tea, brought the custom with her, and soon drinking tea in cups that were "no bigger than thimbles" sooon caught on throughout the aristocracy. 1718
Tea displaced silk as the mainstay of imports from China. Tea was thought of as something only enjoyed by the wealthy, as they were the only ones who could afford it. Coffee remained the popular choice, as a cup of it was one-fifth of the cost of a cup of tea. This changed, however, when the British East India Company established trading posts in China, allowing the amounts of tea imported to increase and the price to drop. By 1718, more tea was being imported from China than silk, and by 1721 imports had made it to five thousand tons of tea a year. 1732
The first tea garden of London opens up. In 1732, Vauxhall Gardens opened up. A beautiful park with lit paths, bandstands, performers, and stands that sold food and drink, it quickly became popular, and similar venues opened up as well. It was also a good place to meet members of the opposite sex, unlike coffeehouses, as both men and women were allowed to enter. The End! 1767
Soda water is invented. Soda water came to be in a brewery, ironically. It was produced by Joseph Priestly, an English clergyman and scientist. He was fascinated by the gas that fizzed from the fermentation vats in the brewery next door to his home in Leeds. Experimenting in the brewery, he decided to explore the properties of this gas. He eventually figured out the gas was heavier than air, and whem he poured water quickly between two glasses held over a vat, he could force the gas to dissolve in the water, creating soda water. 1886
John Pemberton, a pharmacist, perfected his formula for a medicine, and called it Coca-Cola. As medicinal drinks were popular at the time, and because of Prohibition, John Pemberton decided he needed to create a non-alcoholic alternative, and fast. He began to work on a formula, using coca, kola, and sugar, to hide the bitterness of the previous two ingredients. He edited his formula countless times, and often got his nephew to eavesdrop on the pharmacy's customers to recieve input on the new taste. Later that year, however, he finally was happy with the formula, and named it Coca-Cola, after its two main ingredients. 1942
Coca-Cola was exempt from sugar rationing rules. Coca-Cola was popular among soldiers, and was given to them on exercises, as it was both refreshing and non-alcoholic. This allowed its success to skyrocket, along with the fact that it reminded soldiers of home. One soldier wrote that Coca-Cola was crucial to the war effort, saying it "could be classified as one of the essential morale-building products for the boys in the Service." Similar letters were used as evidence, Coca-Cola lobbied in Washingon, eventually allowing them to ignore the sugar-rationing rules and keep production going strong. 1945-1950
Coca-Cola's success became world-wide. Because of the war, Coca-Cola established bottling plants and soda fountains around the world so that American soldiers could enjoy the taste of Coca-Cola for less money than it would take to ship the drink around the world. By the time the war ended, Coca-Cola had "established itself on every continent besides Antarctica. By 1950, 1/3 of the company's profits came from outside of the United States. Present day
"Coca-Cola" is the second most commonly understood phrase in the world, after "OK." The revolutionary brand is still an icon of all that is American, and it shows. The bubbly phenomenom is recognized as an American classic, but that hasn't stopped it from being enjoyed world-wide. It is so widely known that even today it is supposedly the second most commonly known phrase throughout the entire planet. It is one of the most valuable brands in all of the world, and it has been noted that countries whose people consume Coca-Cola are generally the countries whose people live a better lifestyle and have greater wealth than those who don't.
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