Spirits have symbolized multiple, contradictory things to different peoples over time. For the Muslims, who refused to drink alcohol, spirits (even more than other alcoholic beverages) symbolized sin and depravity—the violation of Islamic law. Yet for the Americans of the early 1800s, spirits (such as whiskey and bourbon) had an entirely different symbolic meaning: spirits represented strong opposition to the decadence and tyranny of the Europeans, whose love for wine was well known. It is perhaps this second symbolic meaning that the book portrays as the most influential: while whiskey has lost its specifically anti-European overtones, it continues to imply the same rugged masculinity and adventurousness apparent in the early culture of the United States.
A History of the World in Six Glasses
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The timeline below shows where the symbol Spirits appears in A History of the World in Six Glasses. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Introduction: Vital Fluids
...we can understand important things about human culture. He singles out six drinks: beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and Coca-Cola. Each one was “the defining drink during a pivotal historical period.” (full context)
...world. Another drink that became popular as a result of these trading practices was distilled alcohol—“spirits”—such as brandy, whiskey, and rum. Spirits were an important drink during the Enlightenment, and gave... (full context)
Chapter 5: High Spirits, High Seas
Chapter 6: The Drink That Built America
...Washington (knowing full well that Americans were rebelling in part because they’d been deprived of rum) made sure to provide all of his soldiers with adequate rations of rum, along with... (full context)
...experienced before their contact with Europeans. Because Americans knew about Native Americans’ love for beer, whiskey, and other forms of alcohol, they used alcohol to “sweeten the deal” when trading with... (full context)
...drink that incorporated the fermented juice of the agave plant. For many hundreds of years, spirits were a fixture of colonial life: spirits inspired colonies to rise up against Britain, and... (full context)