Category Archives: Booze

Booze Entertainment Woodcut

A Dozen Drunkards

From the title page of John Taylor’s A Brown Dozen of Drunkards (1648)

I discovered this wonderful woodcut today. I particularly like the chap throwing up in the bottom left-hand corner.

Books Booze Printing

The Gin Lane Gazette

Today, Adrian Teal shares details of his forthcoming book.
   By Adrian Teal

In around 1800, a horrible old lecher called the Duke of Queensbury was obsessed with prolonging his youth and virility. Somehow or other, he got the idea into his head that sleeping with veal chops on his cheeks (which he fed to his dogs in the morning) and taking lengthy milk baths would do the trick. He had large quantities of milk delivered to his London pad, and would wallow contentedly for hours on end. A rumour soon started doing the rounds that he was then selling the milk back to the supplier, so huge numbers of people in London stopped drinking the stuff.

Stories like this tickle my fancy immeasurably and, if they tickle yours too, I bring you glad tidings: I’m writing a whole book of them.

The crowd-funded publishing venture, Unbound, has attracted brilliant writers like Monty Python’s Terry Jones and comic novelist Tibor Fischer to their ranks, and they are now pitching my book proposal via their website. It’s a bawdy romp called The GIN LANE GAZETTE, and will be an illustrated compendium of scurrilous highlights from a fictional Georgian newspaper, dealing with true stories of scandal, intrigue and oddities; a kind of Georgian Heat magazine, if you like.

In addition to gossip columns about ill-behaved eighteenth-century celebs, there will be sports reports, book reviews, obituaries, advertisements for bizarre Georgian goods, services and entertainments, and a ‘courtesan of the month’ feature for reading under the bedclothes. It will have warmth, humour, authenticity, and riotous caricatures disporting themselves across every page.

If my pitch attracts enough pledges, it will be published, and those who subscribe will have their names listed in the back of the book, and can also enjoy many splendid Georgian-themed perks, which include having yourself caricatured as an eighteenth-century belle or buck, and a Georgian pub crawl. You can come to the launch party, and even have yourself drawn into the book, if you like.

This was an age when alcoholic Prime Minsiters fought duels with political opponents, equestrian entertainers rode standing on their saddles while wearing a mask of bees, and quack doctors diagnosed their patients’ maladies by licking the soles of their feet. In undertaking this labour of love I have set out to give people a taste of the exuberance, self-confidence, debauchery, elegance, bravery, villainy, inventiveness and eccentricity which characterize this glorious period of our history, and I hope you will choose to come along for the ride.

You can watch my short video about the project, read my pitch, and pledge, if you like what you see, here

Booze Vice

The loathsome and odious sin of drunkenesse

These entertaining fragments from the mid 17th Century warn of the terrible dangers of drinking. Drunkenness and swearing had become such a problem that by 1644 the government was forced to issue a statute setting out fines for uncouth behaviour:

Whereas the loathsome and odious sin of drunkennesse is of late grown into common use within this realm, being the root and foundation of many other enormous sins, as bloodshed, stabbing, murder, swearing, fornication, adultery, and such like; to the great dishonour of God, and of our nation. Be it therefore enacted by the Kings most Excellent Majestie, that all and every person or persons, which shall be drunk, and of the same offence of drunkennesse shall be lawfully convicted lose five shillings (£21) of lawfull Money of England, to be paid within one week next after his, her, or their conviction thereof, to the hands of the church-wardens of that parish. And if the said person or persons so convicted, shall refuse, or neglect to pay the said forfeiture, as aforesaid, then the same shall be from time to time, levyed of the goods of every such person or persons so refusing or neglecting to pay the same. And if the offender or offenders be not able to pay the said sum of five shillings, then the offender or offenders shall be committed to the stocks for every offence, there to remain by the space of six houres. And it is further enacted that if any person or persons, being once lawfully convicted of the said offence of drunkennesse, shall after that be again lawfully convicted of the like offence of drunkennesse; then every person and persons so secondly convicted of the said offence of drunkennesse, shall be bounden with two sureties to our Kings Majestie, the obligation of ten pounds (£850!), with condition to be from thence forth of good behaviour.

A similar statute was issued for swearing, although the fines were not quite so severe:

Swearing and cursing is forbidden by the Word of God; Be it therefore enacted by the Authority of this present Parliament, That no person or persons, shall from henceforth prophanely swear or curse. And if any person or persons, shall at any time or times hereafter offend herein, either in the hearing of any Justice of Peace of the County, or of any Major, Justice of Peace, Bailiff, or head Officer of any Citie or Town Corporate, then every such offender shall for every time so offending, forfeit, and pay to the use of the poor of that Parish, where the same offence is or shall be committed, the sum of twelve pence (about £4).

Anyone over the age of 12 years who failed to pay the fine was placed in the stocks for three hours, but those under 12, were ‘whipped by the Constable or by the Parents, or Master in his presence’. Not only were there stiff fines for being drunk and/or disorderly, warnings about the dangers of drink were printed everywhere. The following snippets come from a thunderous text which exposes the character and nature of a drunkard:

Those being robbed of their strength and senses by drinke, are frequently subject to all fearefull accidents, and miserable mishaps. Some being drunke fall into the fire, and are burned. A Gentleman of worth, rising to make water, could finde no fitter place to do it in than the chimney; where, being a few live embers, he fell downe, and not being able to rise againe, had his belly puckerd together like a sachell before the Chamberlaine could come to helpe him. Whereupon, being in great torture, he dranke twenty two double jugs of beer, and so died, roaring and crying that he was damned. Some fall down dead as a dore naile. Some againe fall into the water, and are drowned, as is commonly seene. Some fall and batter their faces, bruise their bodies, breake their armes, their legs, and many breake their necks in the very act of drunkennesse. Others are wounded, beaten, and many times murdered, as often times they stab and murder others.

The drunkard commonly hath a swollen and inflamed face beset with goodly jowles; swimming, running, glaring, goggle eyes, bleared and red; a mouth nasty with offensive fumes, alwayes foaming, or drivelling; a feverish body; a sicke and giddy braine; a mind dispersed; a boyling stomacke; rotten teeth; stinking breath; a drumming eare; a palsied hand; gouty, staggering legs, that would go, but cannot; a drawling, stammering, tongue, clamped to the roofe and gumms; (not to speake of his odious gestures, lothsome nastinesse, or beastly behaviour, his belching, hickups, vomitings, ridiculous postures, and how easily he is knocked down).

And finally, this sobering thought:

Wine so inflames the drunkard with lust, that were his power equall to his desire, were his dreames and wishes all true, hee would not leave a virgin in the world.

See also Hops and Hogsheads, A Warning Piece to all Drunkards & Sack hath the power to make me mad. Or check out the label Booze.

© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved

Sack hath the power to make me mad

These snippets come from a very entertaining text entitled Historie of the most part of drinks, in use now in the kingdomes of Great Brittaine and Ireland, dated 1637.


Syder (whose Anagram is Desyr) desires and deserves the first place, as being the most ancient: it is made of Apples, and is of that antiquity, that it is thought by some to have beene invented and made by Eve, and afterwards practised by Cain, who by the making of it in the time of his vagrancy, got a very competent estate. Certainely it was a most frequent and usuall drinke amongst the Trojans, and was with the remainder of that Nation, first brought into this land. It is called Syder (as the Dictionary tells me) of the Starres, whose influence in those Heathenish times was much invoked in the composure of that most excellent liquor, whereof my native Country of the County of Glocestershire most plentifully flowes. It doth much refrigerate and qualifie the inward heat of man, it is also very purgative, and cleanseth the small guts of all viscous humours, and is much meliorated by the addition of Sugar.


Perry is more Aromaticke, being made of Peares, from whence it seemes to have its Appellation. There is much disagreement amongst ancient and moderne Writers about the antiquity, originall, and derivation of the name of it. Worcestershire is our Brittish Maggazin, or plentifull store-house for Perry; nor will I seeke further to dispute the poynt, the drinke being usuall and equall with what hath beene said before of Syder. It is very availeable in quenching of thirst, good against obstructions of the liver and spleene, and most effectuall against contagious diseases, by the opinion of the Brittish Doctors


A drinke in my opinion, not much beholding to antiquity, although some extant writings of the Barley avouch the receipt for the making of it to be sent over from the Emperour of the East, to Liolin the great Prince of Wales. This drinke is of a most hot nature, as being compos’d of Spices, and if it once scale the sconce, and enter within the circumclusion of the Perricranion, it doth much accelerate nature, by whose forcible attraction and operation, the drinker (by way of distribution) is easily enabled to afford blowes to his brother. It is hot in the third degree, in which respect it is held medicinable, against all cold diseases of the Stomacke.


The sixt sort of Brittish drinkes is Pomperkin, a drinke whose originall was from Pomeranea (a Province in Germany) as some writers relate. Some derive it from the Pomponii (a Noble Roman family) however Authors differ about it. It is not much materiall; most certaine it is that it is made of Apples, as the name of it imports; being nothing but the Apples bruised and beaten to mash, with water put to them, which is a drinke of so weake a condition that it is no where acceptable but amongst the Rusticks and Plebeyans, being a heartlesse liquor much of the nature of Swillons in Scotland, or small Beere in England, such as is said to be made of the washings of the Brewers legges and aprons. And I doe most yeeld to their opinions that the first Authour of Pomperkin was Perkin Warbecke in the raigne of Henry the seventh, who in his private retirements and lurking holes, had occasion to practise the thrifty making of this infusion.


I have no reason to love Sack, for it made me twice a Rat in Woodstreet Counter-trap: besides where other wines have scarce strength to make me drunke (as I may take them) Sack hath the power to make me mad, which makes me leave it.


Some there are that affirme that Ale was first invented by Alexander the Great, and that in his conquests this liquor did infuse much vigour and valour into his souldiers. Others say that famous Physician of Piemont (named Don Alexis) was the founder of it. But it is knowne that it was of that singular use in the time of the Saxons. First then, it is a singular remedy against all melancholick diseases, Tremor cordis, and Maladies of the spleene. It is purgative and of great operation against all gripings of the small guts. It cures the stone in the Bladder, or Kidneyes, and provokes Urine wonderfully. It mollifies Tumors and swellings in the body, and is very predominant in opening the obstructions of the Liver. It is most effectuall for clearing of the sight, being applied outwardly. It asswageth the unsufferable paine of the Gowt.  Ale was famous amongst the Trojans, Brittaines, Romans, Saxons, Danes, Normans, English men, Welsh, besides in Scotland, from the highest and Noblest Palace to the poorest or meanest Cottage. Ale is universall, and for Vertue it stands allowable with the best receipts of the most Antientest Physitians.  Ale is rightly called Nappy, for it will set a nap upon a mans thred bare eyes when he is sleepy. It is called Merry-goe-downe, for it slides downe merrily.  It is such a nourisher of Mankinde, that if my mouth were as bigge as Bishopsgate, my Pen as long as a Maypole, and my Inke a flowing spring, or a standing fishpond, yet I could not with Mouth, Pen, or Inke, speake or write the true worth and worthinesse of Ale.

© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved

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