The Drunken Botanist, 1858 Style

Posted in History | 5 comments

Imagine my excitement when this came into our bookstore.

The full title of the book is Fermented Liquors: a Treatise on Brewing, Distilling, Rectifying, and Manufacturing of Sugars, Wines, Spirits, and All Known Liquors, Including Cider and Vinegar: Also, Hundreds of Valuable Directions in Medicine, Metallurgy, Pyrotechny, and the Arts in General, by Lewis Feuchtwanger.

The actual beautiful old weird creature that is this book is totally worth owning, but if you aren’t going to pick up a copy, it’s available as a free ebook from Google.

Anyway, it’s a fascinating compilation of recipes, including many that will be familiar and yet not familiar to modern drinkers. Lots of interesting uses for common plants, too. There is carrot wine. There is red cabbage dye. And I am so glad he managed to work pyrotechny into it, because I needed to know about that, too.

Everything about this table of contents explained what inspired me to write The Drunken Botanist. Corn beer? Elderberry wine? Beet sugar? Agave, ginger, etc?



Some of my favorite bits:

A mint julep recipe that features sugar, mint (so far, so good, right?), no whiskey at all, and–get this–rum, cognac, and GIN! GAH!


And then! An Egg Punch that calls for 24 egg yolks! Not the whites, but the yellows! The yolks. And please do note that this mixture of 2 dozen egg yolks, a full pound of sugar, and 1 1/2 bottles of rum is considered sufficient to serve six people.




And then there’s this. Plant dyes to turn your weird fermented liquors to the color of your choosing!

Cochineal is a bug, in case you didn’t know. A type of scale that excretes red stuff.

I had to look up orchill. It’s a lichen. The color is achieved through fermentation. Of course.



That’s your history lesson for the day. Cheers!


  1. I found a downloadable copy for those of us who don’t own a bookstore 😉

    • Thank you Emma!

  2. nice find! I love the egg punch recipe for 6. Your guests will be so drunk they will not notice their hearts popping from their chests.

  3. I love the ‘Champagne Powder’ recipe – not as appetising as the name suggests 😉

  4. Thank you Emma ~ very helpful indeed.