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First Cocktail 5,000 Years Old 258

Praxiteles writes "The first cocktail was...grog?! From the article: 'The first cocktail ever was made in Mesopotamia 5,000 years ago, using wine, beer, apple juice and honey. Patrick McGovern defined the mix as "grog", an archaic drink that in the United States is sold as the Midas Touch'."
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First Cocktail 5,000 Years Old

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  • by pwnage ( 856708 ) on Sunday September 11, 2005 @09:25PM (#13534640)
    • by gardyloo ( 512791 ) on Sunday September 11, 2005 @10:29PM (#13534942)
      I'm sorry. You must refer to Boone's by the proper "Bitch Candy".
    • Grog means Rum. This is beacuse Admiral Grog, of the (British) Royal Navy ordered that all British sailors be given a tot of rum every day at mid day.
      • by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Monday September 12, 2005 @06:11AM (#13536310)
        Grog means Rum. This is beacuse Admiral Grog, of the (British) Royal Navy ordered that all British sailors be given a tot of rum every day.

        Grog is not (straight) rum, there was no Admiral Grog, and the sailors already drank rum, since the 17th C, and it became part of their official ration in 1731.

        "Old Grog" was the nickname of Admiral Vernon (1684-1757), from his grogram cloak, afterwards applied to the mixture he ordered to be served out to sailors instead of neat rum.

        By Vernon's time straight rum was commonly issued to sailors aboard ship - and drunkenness and lack of discipline were common problems. On August 21, 1740, Vernon issued an order that rum would thereafter be mixed with water. A quart of water was mixed with a half-pint of rum on deck and in the presence of the Lieutenant of the Watch. Sailors were given two servings a day; one between 10 and 12 AM and the other between 4 and 6 PM. To make it more palatable it was suggested sugar and lime be added. In 1756 the mixture of water and rum became part of the regulations, and the call to "Up Spirits" sounded aboard Royal Navy ships for more than two centuries thereafter.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 11, 2005 @09:26PM (#13534643)
    Does it run linux or something?
  • Arrrr! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 11, 2005 @09:26PM (#13534645)
    Everyone know that grog be rum and water.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 11, 2005 @09:27PM (#13534651)
    "What is in that grog stuff anyway?" Guybrush Threepwood
  • I'm wondering... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by demondawn ( 840015 ) on Sunday September 11, 2005 @09:27PM (#13534652) Journal
    If the traces of apple and honey weren't actually from alcohols based on those particular ingredients (apple brandy or mead, for example.) Other than that, though, it is pretty amazing how much they can find out about the diets of ancient peoples using a combination of archaeology and chemistry.
    • If the traces of apple and honey weren't actually from alcohols based on those particular ingredients (apple brandy...for example.)
      5000 BP is just a little early for distillation.
    • by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Sunday September 11, 2005 @09:56PM (#13534795) Homepage Journal
      Other than that, though, it is pretty amazing...

      It's most amazing how conclusively these findings are presented. I guess it doesn't sound as interesting to say "The first cocktail appears to be 5,000 years old and made with these ingredients, based upon current archeological knowledge, which of course is almost certain to change as we uncover more information in the future".

      Perhaps I'm a cynic, but I've seen these sort of absolute statements proven wrong countless times.
      • Gravity appears to be a force proportional to the observed rest mass of an object, reliant upon current measurement technology, which of course is almost certain to change as we uncover more information in the future.

        No, instead we say things like, "Gravity is proportional to the masses of the two objects in the gravitational relationship" or "Gravity has an inverse squared relationship" or "The rest mass of an ojbect..."

        Get it? Science is authoritative exactly because it, and it's practitioners, know that
        • No it's not! (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ergo98 ( 9391 )
          Science is authoritative...

          Science is authoritative when there is a strong confidence that the theory is correct (such that there is with gravity). Where there isn't that confidence, scientists regularly disclaim their statements, using terminology like "we believe...", or "it appears...". Few scientists immediately proclaim absolute based upon preliminary, or incomplete, information. "Bumble Bees can't fly! News at 11".

          This is especially true of archaeology, a field where it is pretty difficult to place va
  • and not "first cocktail"?

    Still not sure what that mini-article has to do with technology or news for nerds. :(
  • by bubbaD ( 182583 ) on Sunday September 11, 2005 @09:28PM (#13534663)
    Grog is an alcoholic beverage made with water and rum. []
    • As stated in the wiki article, grog is a term used to mean any sort of alcoholic beverage in Australia and Sweden.
    • There seems to be some variation in the use of rum; my edition of Joy of Cooking gives nearly identical formulations for grog and toddy. I've had grog made with brandy instead of rum, and it's good that way also.

      To summarize: splash lemon juice, 2oz rum (or brandy), large spoonful honey in a coffee mug. Fill mug the rest of the way with boiling water. Stir until honey dissolves. Optionally add cinnamon or clove. Do not inhale the fumes until it's cooled a bit.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    All togeather now:

    And it's all for me grog -- me jolly, jolly grog
    It's all gone for beer and tobacco
    Well, I spent all me tin on the lassies drinkin' gin
    Now across the western ocean I must wander

    (Hat!) Where is me hat? (me what?)
    Me noggin', noggin' hat (oh!)
    It's all gone for beer and tobacco
    Well, the band is knocked about and the brim is all worn out
    So me head is lookin' out for better weather

    And it's all for me grog -- me jolly, jolly grog
    It's all gone for beer and tobacco
    Well, I spent all me ti
  • by markass530 ( 870112 ) <markass530@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Sunday September 11, 2005 @09:30PM (#13534671) Homepage
    you could only drink about 5 of these before ya started puking.. what kinda crap is that?
  • Thank god we've evolved to the point where we understand that you shouldn't mix wine and beer in a single brew. However this is a recent jump in evolution because "Malt Duck" (beer + wine) was still popular in the 70s and early 80s (my dad has the stories to prove it).
    • What's wrong with mixing wine and beer. I just spent the weekend going back and forth between beer and wine, whenever the mug got a little light. I'll admit, Harp on top of Sangria has a bit of a twang to it, but it still does the job.
  • Newest Oldest (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Sunday September 11, 2005 @09:36PM (#13534704) Homepage Journal
    Now that they've found evidence of the ingredients of a 5000 year old drink, what makes them so sure its the "first ever"? Of course that's what they thought the last one was, however old (<5000 years) it might have been. This kind of arrogance really makes people look stupid. How about just "first in history"? That description would tell us as much about the drink as it might hint at how limited is our knowledge of history. I'll drink to that.
    • "History" means writings about things. Pre-history is what archaelogists uncover. Obviously there are tendrils of history that extend into the prehistorical period and vice-versa.

      Back on topic, as soon as they learned how to make wine and store it in a cool place, they learned that it didn't spoil. They also learned that mixing water and wine made the water good to drink, and didn't make you sick.

      Diluted wine was the soft drink of the ancient world. Make wine from fruit, then mix in fruit juice(s). Mayb
      • History is written by the victors. Often long after the fact. For instance, most East Indian "history" was written by British conquerors about fictional events thousands of years in the past. Even the famous Roman historians often wrote retrospectives, sometimes "to the beginning of time". Today's archaeology is tomorrow's history.

        As for "first cocktail", humans, like other animals, have long consumed rotten fruit laying beneath trees. Who knows when the first human ate two of those rotten, fermenting fruit
    • It does say the oldest mixed alcoholic drink. You'll find that the oldest alcoholic drink period is likely mead because it can occur naturally (water gets into a bee hive, add some airborne yeast, and give it a bit of time).
      • The point is that all we can say with certainty is that it's the oldest mixed alcoholic drink known ("in history"). There could very well have been another mixed alcoholic drink, perhaps mixed rotten fruits, made by people any time in the few hundred thousand years prior. But we just haven't found evidence of it yet. And might never, because such a mixology could leave no evidence, certainly none still detectable thousands of years later.
  • D'oh,
    This whole time I thought Grog was the screen name for [] *nix developer, Greg Lehy.
  • The Italian PM office's news site for Arab countries?! Who regularly checks that? (Other than those in Arab countries concerned with the news from the Italain PM's office...)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 11, 2005 @09:39PM (#13534717)
    I'm not sure about other English speaking parts of the world, but Australians still refer to "grog" as a general term for alcoholic drinks.

    Interestingly, quotes its origins [] as such

    "After Old Grog, nickname of Edward Vernon (1684-1757), British admiral who ordered that diluted rum be served to his sailors, from grogram(from his habit of wearing a grogram cloak)."
  • Everyone knows that the first drink invented was the California Wine Cooler. :P
  • Midas Touch (Score:5, Informative)

    by pancake_lover ( 310091 ) on Sunday September 11, 2005 @09:42PM (#13534734)
    Midas Touch is made by Dogfish Head brewery in Delaware. It's an interesting drink, hard to catagorize.

    More info can be found on their web site: []

    • Hmm, I actually have a posted rating for this stuff, so this was my take on it, anyway:

      (750ml bottle, 9% abv.) Spicy, herbal, fruity, sweet and flowery aroma, the honey and white grape additions very apparent. Golden yellow in color, bubbly, with an ivory colored head. Grainy, sweet barley malt flavor, some esters and honey, finishing with a warming alcoholic flourish. Thick, syrupy texture. Interesting indeed, but not necessarily something I'll be looking to sample often. Score: 3.4 out of 5.
    • by Gruneun ( 261463 ) on Monday September 12, 2005 @09:01AM (#13537064)
      Dr. Patrick McGovern of the Museum discovered that the residues inside the vessels belonged to a "Phrygian cocktail," which combined grape wine, barley beer and honey mead.

      I've read this before, but my first assumption would have been that the people also enjoyed wine, beer, and mead (or more likely, braggots and melomels), but used the same containers to make them and did a lousy job of washing them.

      It makes me wonder what future archaeologists will make of the stuff in my sink. "It looks as though these people drank a Mountain Dew, orange juice, beer, and chicken soup cocktail!"
  • by putko ( 753330 ) on Sunday September 11, 2005 @09:42PM (#13534738) Homepage Journal
    Whenever I read a story here that doesn't have to do with geeks or anything that matters (and how could it matter, given that it predates Linux?), I often notice that the editor in charge of the story is El-Zonko, The Most Zonkoriffic, Zonkalicious one -- -"ZONK" -- who is despised by the folks at []

    Go ahead and mod me down, idiot moderators.
  • Blow Your Lunch... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mwaggs_jd ( 887826 )
    Punch. Modern version of this, big coleman cooler, a bottle each of Everclear, Vodka, Whiskey, a case of beer, several cans of fruit punch, chunks of fruit, a bag or two of ice, close lid, shake, serve. Guarenteed to curdle your stomach
  • by Quirk ( 36086 ) on Sunday September 11, 2005 @09:48PM (#13534763) Homepage Journal
    I can't provide a referrence, but I read an adage said to be from an equally ancient time frame. An anoymous scribe wrote:

    "Cloth to wear
    Cooked meat to eat
    Beer to drink"

    The important things never change.

    • Beer was important in a lot of cultures for one very good reason - the water often wasn't safe to drink straight due to native bacteria, population centers dumping sewage straight into waterways, etc.

      When the water can kill you and the beer is safe to drink (not to mention neutritious), you drink the beer.
  • Grog Bowl (Score:3, Informative)

    by UnifiedTechs ( 100743 ) on Sunday September 11, 2005 @09:57PM (#13534797) Homepage
    Every slashdot reader who has ever been to a military Dining-in is having flashbacks of the grog bowl right now. ory.htm#grog []
  • by myowntrueself ( 607117 ) on Sunday September 11, 2005 @09:59PM (#13534805)
    Those old beer and wine recipes are quite different from their modern counterparts.

    The main differences would probably be the lack of effective filtration and the yeasts.

    The filtration is probably the biggest difference.

    We are used to beer and wine being relatively clear; in ye olde days the beers and wines were rather murky.

    This has the interesting side effect that modern beers and wines are substantially less nutritious than their ancient counterparts.

    The Egyptian beer (which built the pyramids) has been described as 'mildly alcoholic, liquid bread'

    I've tried making wines and beers like these, they have a much lower alcohol content and are far more tasty.

    People also tend to turn their noses up at them cos they look cloudy and have bits floating around. More for me! Yum!

    And ahhh genuine Cornish scrumpy cider... even though I know they throw a dead rabbit into the vat, it still tastes good! :)
    • You might not be making them right if you feel the need for filtration is just. I have been brewing for quite awhile now and have rarely had cloudy brew, or for that matter "bits" floating around in it. You might want to brush up on your brewing habits. []
      • I've been brewing for years, and generally speaking you are correct. However, our ancestors used moss and clay as fining agents. If you are simply waiting for yeast to drop out you may be waiting for awhile.

        I've done all-grain that clear over several weeks of cold conditioning (refrigeration), I've seen room temp meads take many months.

        Chances are we were drinking cloudy but not *chunky* beverages before modern times.

      • The lack of effective filtration makes the end product a lot more nutritious which, in pre-modern times was a definite advantage.

        And traditional Cornish scrumpy most certainly is a little cloudy with bits floating around in it.

        Remember, this is not your regular home brew we are talking about here.

        Same goes for sake; the old style sake was very definitely cloudy and its flavor substantialy improved by heating. Modern sake is often served cold.
    • by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Sunday September 11, 2005 @11:30PM (#13535191) Homepage Journal
      Throughout various places in the Andes, indigenous people make a sort of 'drink' called chicha. It's made either of corn if you're in the mountains, or cassava root (aka manoic or plantain) if you're in the jungle area. Traditionally it fermentation was started by women chewing the plant material and spitting it into a big tub. Nowadays they use other methods. It is said that the Incan empire was literally built on chicha rations.

      I was in a field school for a couple summers in Ecuador. The second summer, we stayed with and indigenous family in the jungle. They made manioc chicha, but pounded the roots with thick sticks, and started fermentation with a sweet potato. When ready, it has various textures, from liquid at the top, to thick at the bottom with manoic bits. The taste is stlighty sour, bitter, and pasty. Absolutely disgusting, in both taste and texture. At times I felt like I was drinking baby spit-up (it is whitish). It was all I could do to choke down the last bits at the bottom. I didn't want to seem like a weenie in the jungle.

      However, there is a slight alcohol content, and while I didn't notice it, it is enough to start you up if you lack the gene that lets you metabolize alcohol like Native Americans do.

      • " Throughout various places in the Andes, indigenous people make a sort of 'drink' called chicha."

        ahhh I've always wanted to try chicha. Theres also the pulque from Mexico that sounds interesting, again often a bit lumpy from what I hear, and very nutritious.

        One that I really want to try is the fermented mares milk from Mongolia. I have a feeling that its somehow connected to the whey alcohol thats in many commercially produced spirits.

        "It's made either of corn if you're in the mountains, or cassava root (a
    • Real old beer never had hops either, they were added by decree of the church, to limit the randiness of drunks, which lead to "brewer's dropsy"
    • Very true (Score:3, Informative)

      by jd ( 1658 )
      Egg yolk was adopted to filter beer/wine in medieval times, but I couldn't give you any idea as to when. I do know I've seen recipes from the 1600s mentioning the method. More recent finings were based around seaweed, not sure what the current method of making finings is.

      Personally, I never use finings for filtration. If I leave the demijon with airlock sitting for a week, it is usually pretty settled. Not totally - a friend of mine took a batch of my mead to the LRP Summerfest one year, and it was pretty c

    • by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Monday September 12, 2005 @01:56AM (#13535710) Homepage

      The main differences would probably be the lack of effective filtration and the yeasts.

      I'd agree that the yeasts were definitely different (the strains used today have been developed by selection by brewers over the last several hundred years). I wouldn't agree that one of the major differences in beer between today and the past was filtering. I'm a homebrewer and I never have filtered my beer. The difference is taste isn't really noticeable. Most beer that is is filtered is done so for cosmetic reasons (getting rid of haze), and also to get rid of any sediment on the bottom. Most strains of yeast have a fairly high "floctuation" (that is clump up together) and fall to the bottom of the tank, so they don't often tend to be hazy. It's possible that yeasts of old didn't have high floctuation, and thus beer had a more yeasty taste (think hefe-weizen, which means yeast wheat). The strain of yeast used to make hefe-weizen has low floctuation, and thus tends to be cloudy.

      The biggest difference between beers of old and modern beer is the addition of hops. Hops weren't even used in beer until somewhere around 700-800 AD. Until then there were using various other herbs added to beer to add flavor (and probbably preservative qualities) that hops provides. Hops didn't become widely popular in much of europe until somewhere after the 14th century.

      This has the interesting side effect that modern beers and wines are substantially less nutritious than their ancient counterparts.

      I guess I don't know why beer would be more nutrituous for lack of yeast (most of which settles out anyway). Anyway, many modern beers aren't filtered (maybe even most, but I really don't know that for sure). Guiness is one good example of an unfiltered beer.
  • What are these scientists using to determine that a vessel was used to hold this cocktail? Do they have any proof that the vessel held the cocktail rather than being used to hold several different liquids over the years?

    Plus who stores mixed drinks other than bloody marys? Mix them at the bar and drink them there.
  • bar code... (Score:5, Funny)

    by ( 745183 ) on Sunday September 11, 2005 @10:11PM (#13534858) Homepage
    The first cocktail ever was made in Mesopotamia 5,000 years ago...

    Supporting the finding was the nearby discovery of several small papyrus umbrellas...

  • by ErikTheRed ( 162431 ) on Sunday September 11, 2005 @10:12PM (#13534860) Homepage
    It could have been a case of reusing a container without properly cleaning it, a practice that continutes with annoying roommates to this day!
  • by erikharrison ( 633719 ) on Sunday September 11, 2005 @10:19PM (#13534890)
    Despite the total lack of useful information in this article, does it strike any one as odd that they did not consider the possibility that the same container was used to hold multiple things over time?

    It's not like they had industrial strength santizing dish washers 5000 years ago - over ten years of use, one could imagine an accumulation of residue inside such a container
    • Plus, most World Civ classes discuss the first drink as a ply to keep students awake during history class, so this isnt exactly an earth shattering report.

      While I cant prove it one way or another, it's either a slow news day, or I smell a Piquepaille-esque submission/ad revenue scenario.
    • This is what I meant in the bad science topic by looking for ambiguities. We have absolutely no idea, unless they've done some VERY elaborate chemical analysis.

      If the vessel has been used multiple times (very likely) and has a build-up of residue, the build-up will be sedimentary. In other words, in definable layers, although not necessarily easily identified.

      What you do is look at each layer. If one layer is uniform and contains X, and the next layer is also uniform and contains Y, then it is something tha

  • by darkitecture ( 627408 ) on Sunday September 11, 2005 @10:31PM (#13534953)

    Found nearby, a toilet bowl carved out of stone and the world's oldest recipe for a hangover cure.

  • And the first hangover was 4999 years, 364 days ago.
  • by Kozar_The_Malignant ( 738483 ) on Sunday September 11, 2005 @11:39PM (#13535236)
    A cocktail is a mixture or a liquor and a liquer, with possibly other additions. For example, gin or vodka and dry vermouth is a martini. Tequila and triple sec with lime juice is a margarita. Since distilled alcoholic beverages are not know before the eight or ninth centuries, whatever this was, it wasn't a cocktail. doesn't mean it couldn't knock you on your ass, however.
  • by MonkeyBoyo ( 630427 ) on Sunday September 11, 2005 @11:44PM (#13535258)
    maybe they just unearthed containers from an old prison where they were making pruno [].

    An analysis of one old pot does nothing to prove the prevalence of such a drink.
  • Which implies a mixed drink. This sounds more like it was brewed with the given combination, a sort of cross between cyser (apple mead) and braggot (barley mead).
  • Some slashdotters might find this holiday to be enjoyable: International Talk Like a Pirate day. September 19th, only one week away! []

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