Rum, Hookers, and Smuggling: The Secret Story of Coolidge’s Visit to Cuba

By Christopher Woolf In 2016, Barack Obama became the first sitting US president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. Coolidge was known as Silent Cal, a dour New Englander; an old fashioned puritan and a dedicated enforcer of Prohibition. So what was he doing in fun-filled Havana? He had a two-fold mission: to[…]

Drinking in Ancient Greece

Archaic and classical Greek culture was steeped in spirit. Archaic and classical Greek culture was steeped in spirit. Drinking parties for the elite were a ritual that eventually filtered down to the man in the street. What went on at these gatherings and how were inebriation and public displays of drunkenness justified in cultural terms?[…]

Drinking Habits in Ancient India

Consumption of one or other form of intoxicating substances has been present throughout the history of the world. By Dr. Ottilingam Somasundaram, Dr. D. Vijaya Raghavan, and Dr. A.G. Tejus MurthyDepartment of Psychiatry, Madras Medical College, Institute of Mental Health, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India Abstract Consumption of one or other form of intoxicating substances has[…]

Medieval Mystic Margery Kempe and the Economics of Beer Brewing

This 15th-century mystic turned her hand to brewing the bubbly, and she wasn’t very successful. By Karl HagenIndependent Educational Consultant Near the beginning of her autobiography, the fifteenth-century mystic Margery Kempe relates her ill-fated attempts to make her worldly fortune. Among her mercantile ventures, she turned her hand to brewing: And than, for pure coveytyse[…]

Beer Brewing, Industrialization, and London Water Supplies Since the 16th Century

London was already a major beer producer in the sixteenth century. London was already a major beer producer in the sixteenth century. However, beginning in the eighteenth century, urbanization and industrialization meant a sharp increase in scale for brewers. Because brewers required large quantities of sweet water for manufacturing their product, this also resulted in[…]

“Come hear this ditty”: 17th-Century Drinking Songs and the Challenges of Hearing the Past

Alcohol played a central role in early modern life, occupying much of the time of both law enforcement officers and guzzling “cupp companions.” In April, 1612, the constables of Calne, Wiltshire, made a desperate plea to their superiors—the county magistrates—to help them reverse a surge in the number of alehouses in their town. Their complaint[…]