Thesis: History of the World in Six Glasses

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History Of the World in Six Glasses

The great civilizations of the world have left us among their great achievements their innovations related to a certain alcoholic or caffeinated drink or another. In his book "A History Of the World in Six Glasses," Tom Standage goes through the history of the world led by one of the six beverages that marked a giant step in the history of humanity until today. If beer and wine, as Standage points out in the first two parts of his book, were alcoholic beverages discovered more or less by accident in ancient times and marked the way of living of some of the greatest civilizations in the world, the spirited alcoholic drinks were discovered and developed in order to bring the resulted beverages to levels of mass consumptions by another great civilization: the Arabs. Through the process of distillation they used to make perfumes, which appears to have been already known in the fourth millennia BCE, the Arabs in Cordoba obtained in the first millennium CE a new range of drinks called spirits. The irony is evident. The alembic, a relatively rudimentary, but efficient from today's standards installation became thus famous and it is still used in private households still today. The film M.A.S.H. comes to mind when thinking of this invention that the Arabs gave the world. Three of the protagonists, Hawkeye and Trapper, later replaced by B.J Hunnicutt, live in a tent in a MASH medical unit on the front war with Korea. The presence of an alembic and their martini glasses are constant elements when the setting is their tent. The spirits keep people company in difficult times and they had their shared the praise and the blame of the world when it cam to their influence on the human behavior, like the rest of the alcoholic drinks.

The leap from the way the Greeks drank wine and the high degree alcoholic beverages obtained thorough distillation of wine or fruits or later, was huge. The new drinks developed through the distillation of wine were easier to transport over long distances and long periods of time and it soon became an exchange currency, along with other European products for slaves supplied by African slave traders. The Portuguese spirits were highly acclaimed in this case.

Standage points out that the new stage in our history, the discovery of the Americas, remains linked with the slave trade, the sugar plantations and the spirits. "Over the course of four centuries, around eleven million slaves were transported from Africa to the New World[…].Distilled drinks plaid a central role in this evil trade, which intensified as the British, French and Dutch established sugar plantations in the Caribbean during the seventeenth century" ("A History of the World in Six Glasses," p. 103-104).

Just as the Egyptians and the Mesopotamians ate and drank their gains under the form of bread, respectively that of beer, the rich planters who came to farm the lands of Barbados, had their solid and liquid form obtained from their sugarcane plantations: they had both cane sugar and cane brandy. This was the way the drink we know today as "rum" came into the world. By mid seventeenth century, rum became the official beverage of the British sailors as it replaced beer from their daily ratios. In short time, the first cocktail based on rum was developed and it is known today as grog, a name derived from the man who first had the idea to add sugar and lime juice to the very strong, but not very pleasant rum: Admiral Edward Vernon, whose nickname was "Old Grogram"(ibid, p.108-109). Standage emphasizes the role the spirit called rum plaid in the dramatic changes that the world underwent once the New World was added to the maps of the European explorers. He presents it as the summum of "several intersecting… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cite This Thesis:

APA Format

History of the World in Six Glasses.  (2009, October 21).  Retrieved July 22, 2019, from

MLA Format

"History of the World in Six Glasses."  21 October 2009.  Web.  22 July 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"History of the World in Six Glasses."  October 21, 2009.  Accessed July 22, 2019.