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A Spontaneous Libation for your Consideration

From the Knowledge Vault

On the ’Rack

The Curious History of an Early Spirit

It went like this, but wasn’t. Some four thousand years ago in Mespotamia, the perfumers at the court of King Zimrilim created a technique to separate the essential oils of precious woods and flowers from the woods and flowers themselves in order to embalm their dead. Originally, this probably involved soaking flower petals in warm water and capturing the fragrant oils that rose to the surface. What they called this method is lost, but other cultures refined their work into the art and science now known as distillation.

Many ancient scientists ran up against this phenomenon. In the fourth century BCE, Aristotle realized that seawater could be made drinkable by distillation, and that the process could be applied to wine and other liquids, though there is no record of his actually distilling wine. To the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks, distillation must have seemed like magic, and their knowledge was guarded from unknowing eyes.

A major advancement in distilling came between the 3rd and 4th century CE with the invention of the alembic (from the Greek ambix – a cup, typically made of glass) by Zosimos of Panopolis, an Egyptian. Having two vessels, one with the liquid to be distilled and one to catch condensed vapors with a tube running between them gave much more control and finesse to this delicate process. With a few modifications, this device is now known as a pot still.

Recent Additions

  • Pirueta — Blanco tequila, Sotol, Celery bitters, Ancho Reyes Verde chile liqueur, Grenadine, Cocktail onion
  • King Louie — Bonal Gentiane Quina, Rye, Cognac, Crème de Banane, Bitters, Lemon peel
  • Big Spender — Cognac, Pineapple rum, Drambuie, Fernet Branca, Orange peel
  • Autumn in the Poconos — Applejack, Pear liqueur, Allspice Dram, Bitters, Apple Shrub
  • PhysTherapy — Pisco, Amarula Cream, Crème de Violette, Herbal liqueur, Ginger syrup

Recent Discussion

  • Re Fear and Loathing in Princeton, 1 day ago lesliec commented:

    If you can find it, use Gracias a Dios agave gin as the Old Tom (the mezcal then becomes superfluous).
    I've made this with the full amount of syrup and I've been quite happy, but a bit less also works.

  • Re St Columb's Rill, 2 days ago Craig E commented:

    Updated name and ingredients accordingly. Thanks all!

  • Re St Columb's Rill, 3 days ago yarm commented:

    They must've fixed it up after the 2014 printing. Mine bought in the first month of it coming out has it spelled as St. Columbus, and hence, that's the way it appears in my blog when I made it.

  • Re St Columb's Rill, 4 days ago Robbyfresh commented:

    My copy of Death & Co’s first book (1st edition) definitely lists it as St. Columb’s Rill. And this backs up Jojiro’s claim:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Columbs_Rill

  • Yep, fine with rye. Important to use only half the egg white, and to include that bit of rich syrup.