Those Boozey Revolutionaries

When you’re researching things for historical fiction, one of the key elements is understanding what people in your setting did all day. And in the American colonies, what they did was drink.

Sure, they did a lot more. Like plan a revolution, write some neat aphorisms, lay the foundations for what would become a global power, and so on. But they also had a bit of a tipplin’ way, you might say.

You can read more about how American colonists imbibed with the birds in this article from the people at Colonial Williamsburg. But here are two fun snippets:

Many started the day with a pick-me-up and ended it with a put-me-down. Between those liquid milestones, they also might enjoy a midmorning whistle wetter, a luncheon libation, an afternoon accompaniment, and a supper snort. If circumstances allowed, they could ease the day with several rounds at a tavern.

The age of the cocktail lay far in the future. Colonists, nevertheless, enjoyed alcoholic beverages with such names as Rattle-Skull, Stonewall, Bogus, Blackstrap, Bombo, Mimbo, Whistle Belly, Syllabub, Sling, Toddy, and Flip. If they indulged too much, then they had dozens of words to describe drunkenness. Benjamin Franklin collected more than 200 such terms, including addled, afflicted, biggy, boozy, busky, buzzey, cherubimical, cracked, and “halfway to Concord.”

Be sure to check out the full article, and if you can, visit Colonial Williamsburg.

One more thing I just realized: if I’m writing about these people, it might be best to get into character as much as possible …

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