Rebellious Spirits: The Illicit History of Booze in Britain
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A delicious history of the secret, exciting and often dangerous world of illicit spirits
For as long as spirits have existed, there has been someone doing something really naughty with them: selling gin through pipes in a London back alley; standing guard on a Cornish clifftop waiting for a smuggler’s signal; or dodging bombs and shrapnel running whisky in the Blitz. It is a history that is thrilling, utterly fascinating and uniquely British.
Packed full of historical recipes, from Milk Punch to a Wartime Martini, along with cocktails fromcontemporary bartenders, Rebellious Spirits is a treasure trove for the curious drinker.
From the gin dispensed from a cat’s paw at the Puss and Mew shop which could have been the world’s first vending machine, to whole funeral cortèges staged just to move a coffin filled with whisky, the stories show off all the wonderful wit and ingenuity required to stay one drink ahead of the law. The accompanying recipes are just as intriguing: How did we drink gin before tonic? Was punch really made with curdled milk? Or breakfast served with brandy porridge, and gin mixed into hot ale? What did the past really taste like?
cesspool and to sprinkle some pieces of cotton waste with pepper. Just before the excise men entered, she tossed some burning peats into the tubs and set the cotton waste smouldering in the corners. Waiting by the door, she slammed it shut as soon as they came in and trapped them in a room filled with foul-smelling, acrid smoke. She let them suffer for a while, stumbling in the dark trying to find the door, before opening it and scolding them for letting it shut behind them. They exited, having
general direction of the officers. The shot scattered them, as well as waking his brothers, and in the confusion they were able to slip out. They got away – though not without the loss of their equipment, which they had to leave behind. After this loss, two of the brothers turned to legitimate occupations. One became a miller and the other a farmer. The third brother also became a farmer, but unlike the first, he kept up his whisky distilling in a shed on his farm at Balmenach. One day the local
great thinker or inventor in Ancient Greece, there were at least ten people dedicating their lives to the worship of a deity who could only be appeased by a precise calendar of complex ritual. The two weren’t even separate – it is just that we tend to remember the works that we think of as important, and forget about the rest. Everyone knows Pythagoras for his theorem, a brilliant mathematical equation for working out the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle. Not many know that he was also the
six penny-weights of mace, thirteen penny-weights of the kernels of apricots, six penny-weights of cloves, twelve penny-weights of coriander seeds, ten penny-weights of ginger, 1 pound of raisins, and a pound of dates. Bruise the mace, cloves, kernels, cinnamon and coriander in your mortar; steep them sixteen days in one quart of strong spirits; then stew your raisins, and take your liquorice stewed, and boil the raisins and liquorice in three quarts of water, until it is reduced to a quart;
Since McColl had left his constable behind, he was the only witness to the seizure, and one witness didn’t meet the legal requirement for collaboration – therefore all five were found ‘not proven’. Although three boats were only a small proportion of the huge number making visits to the Politician, this was to be Charles McColl’s best day of hunting. He was unable to persuade Archie McIsaac, owner of the St Joseph, to hire out the boat again; Archie always told him that the weather was too bad,