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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

  • Stormy Weather — Japanese Whisky, Lemon vodka, Bitters, Club soda, Verjus, Iced Tea, Rock & rye, Cane syrup, Lemon peel, Candied ginger
  • Clarified Wythe Russian — Vodka, Honey Liqueur, Rum, Bénédictine, Coffee liqueur, Chocolate bitters, Cane syrup, Orange flower water, Lemon peel
  • Marie Byrd Cocktail (2021) — Dry vermouth, Gin, Herbal liqueur, Salt Solution, Lemon peel
  • Silent Pardner — Mezcal, Coffee liqueur, Amaro Montenegro, Chocolate bitters, Herbal liqueur, Iced Coffee, Demerara syrup, Coffee bean
  • Macy's Parade — Apple brandy, Rye, Cynar, Bitters, Cranberry syrup, Cherry

Recent Discussion

  • Re A Forest, 1 week ago Craig E commented:

    @noksagt You are correct, an email with the OP confirmed "author's original creation" is right.
    I'll probably stir this rather than shake when I try it. Cheers!

  • Re A Forest, 1 week ago laerm commented:

    Hi all –

    Regarding a question in the comments here: my allspice dram and CdV were homemade so that may explain the surprising translucence of this drink.

  • Re A Forest, 1 week ago noksagt commented:

    "Yes" for OC; author uses same handle elsewhere & has the same photo on Twitter.

  • Re Peeping Clive, 1 week 1 day ago zebraqw commented:

    Used old tom gin and reduced the Bénédictine 1⁄2 oz

  • Re A Forest, 1 week ago Craig E commented:

    [deleted by poster]