We’ve all seen how my namesake feels about Punch.
Moving a bit closer to home, and away from classical times, we see what Baltimore’s barkeeps are stirring up with the P-funk. A truly classic mixture for a city with a truly American heritage, Punch is shaping to be the drink of the summer. With the recent “Sailabration” of the War of 1812, a colonial essence is still wafting over the city, and the combination of oleo-saccharum and the devil’s elixir carry it far and wide. Maybe you’ll find it in a city or picnic near you soon?
“If you are afraid of head-aches — for, as Xenophon says of another kind of Eastern tipple, ‘rack punch is kefalalgez, i.e., “headache-making” — put twice as much water as spirits. I, however, never use it that way for my own private drinking.” — Morgan ODoherty (William Maginn), “Maxims” of ODoherty”, an excerpt used in Punch by David Wondrich
“Proceeding on their way, they arrived at some villages, from which the guides signified that they might procure provisions. In these villages there was plenty of corn, and wine made from dates, and an acidulous drink obtained from them by boiling. As to the dates themselves, such as those we see in Greece were here put aside for the use of the servants; but those which were laid by for their masters, were choice fruit, remarkable for beauty and size; their color was not unlike that of amber; and some of these they dried and preserved as sweetmeats. These were a pleasant accompaniment to drink, but apt to cause headache. Here too the soldiers for the first time tasted the cabbage from the top of the palm-tree, and most of them were agreeably struck both with its external appearance and the peculiarity of its sweetness. But this also was exceedingly apt to give headache. The palm-tree, out of which the cabbage had been taken, soon withered throughout.” — Xenophon, The Anabasis, or Expedition of Cyrus
In Tuesday’s post, I mentioned that if you just, “live life, everything will fall into place.” I don’t always fly by the seat of my pants, but sometimes I go off of what inspires me. Something that has just come across my visage. Something I just discussed with someone.
When you have a daily blog, you have to take advantage of those opportunities. So while I had an idea what I was going to post for today, I instead decided to slam on the brakes and take the sharp right to Spontaneous Topic Blvd. An article I read commented on the rise of Moscato sales in the US, as spurred by that nebulous and unnamed group — the “urban” community. Artists and songs in the genres of R&B and hip hop were attested to the rise, as their lyrics were a bit more sec than brut. The good people at The Congenial Hour have previously commented on hip hop’s influence on cognac, but here’s another spirit that seems to be trending. But why? And why would that influence even be possible — do people really listen to these big money artists when it comes to what $7 wine to purchase??
Let’s see if I can play a bit of Sherlock Xenophon here. For whatever “urban” legend or unfounded reason that people say African Americans mainly drink cognac (which I’ll touch upon in a future blog post), the truth is that cognac, whether Hennessy, Courvoisier, Remy Martin or another, has a significant market share within the culture. So when rappers started pushing more cognac in their songs, and Busta released “Pass the Courvoisier”, the connection was believable and a bit to be expected. On the other side of the palate, if you’re going to get many — not all — women to drink something, and especially wine, it should probably be sweeter than drier. This flavor profile combined with the push in champagne by hip hop artists, too numerous to count by now, as the connection of bubbles and hip hop go back to EARLY days. But let’s say that all these youngsters are going to the club, and can’t purchase that bottle of Ace of Spades that Jay-Z told them to buy when they left their car, but they still want to pop bottles in the club like T.I. and Drake said — what’s their option? Parade around the club with a bottle of wine, but sweet enough for them to pass around to unsuspecting and indiscriminating women.
Voila. Sherlock Xenophon has done it again! With no hands! *pause*
"Indeed, as far as pleasure goes, I find it better to await desire before I suffer meat or drink to pass my lips, than to have recourse to any of your costly viands, as, for instance, now, when I have chanced on this fine Thasian wine, and sip it without thirst. But indeed, the man who makes frugality, not wealth of worldly goods, his aim, is on the face of it a much more upright person. And why? — the man who is content with what he has will least of all be prone to clutch at what is his neighbour’s."
— Socrates, as recorded by Xenophon in The Symposium
Inscription in Cittie of Yorke, an English pub located in Holborn in Central London, said to have the longest bar in Britain.
in vino veritas — “in wine, (there is) truth”
“If my language has a touch of turbulence, do not marvel: partly the wine exalts me; partly that love which ever dwells within my heart of hearts now pricks me forward to use great boldness of speech against his base antagonist.”
— Socrates, from Xenophon, The Symposium
"Nay, gentlemen, if drinking is the order of the day, I heartily approve. Wine it is in very truth that moistens the soul of man, that lulls at once all cares to sleep, even as mandragora drugs our human senses, and at the same time kindles light-hearted thoughts, as oil a flame. Yet it fares with the banquets of men, if I mistake not, precisely as with plants that spring and shoot on earth. When God gives these vegetable growths too full a draught of rain, they cannot lift their heads nor feel the light air breathe through them; but if they drink in only the glad supply they need, they stand erect, they shoot apace, and reach maturity of fruitage. So we, too, if we drench our throats with over-copious draughts, ere long may find our legs begin to reel and our thoughts begin to falter; we shall scarce be able to draw breath, much less to speak a word in season. But….if only the attendants will bedew us with a frequent mizzle of small glasses, we shall not be violently driven on by wine to drunkenness, but with sweet seduction reach the goal of sportive levity."
— Socrates, as recorded by Xenophon in The Symposium