While the drinks industry is always innovating new products, sometimes beverages are so classic they fall under the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra, and some are so ancient, they take digging through the dusty archive just to rediscover. In turn, curious drinkers and their bartending counterparts have taken to celebrating the happy hours of old. For example, concoctions like the Old Fashioned or even the immaculate gin & tonic, that decades ago were perceived as irrevocably old school, have been ushered into the spotlight through growing cocktail culture.
Everyone from Don Draper to Carrie Bradshaw have been seen sipping their favorites in the swankiest venues and with utmost sophistication; audiences have followed suit by skipping the lite beer and splurging on a craft cocktail. The proof is not only seen at the cocktail bars cropping up on every corner, but in the numbers. Technavio predicts the tequila market will grow significantly through 2020, and demand for whiskey has grown a tremendous 50 percent over the last five years.
Though many of the cocktails we know and love today have their (documented) origins in the 19th century, some recipes have been found deep in the alcoholic archaeological record. In one of the proudest and booziest state capitols — Madison, Wisconsin — one popular restaurant is serving up “grog,” a centuries-old cocktail with rum and/or mulled wine.
Though the latter ingredient is most strongly associated with British culture, grog can also be traced to glogg, a seasonal Scandinavian specialty. King Gustav I Vasa of Sweden first popularized the mixture as early as 1609, dubbing it “hot-glowing wine.” At Madison’s the Weary Traveller, they create the fragrant grog with rum, wine, tea, sugar, and spices. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they recommend that it’s enjoyed in moderation. For the adventurous, the New York Times offers a recipe.
Another increasingly popular beverage is mead, but its origins go back much farther than any of the aforementioned alternatives. The earliest evidence of this “honey wine” dates to 3000 BCE, but can be enjoyed today with the modern comforts of home (ie. watching playoff football and/or finishing take-out leftovers). Though always with strong hints of honey, mead’s taste varies from a fine scotch to sparkling wine, so most everyone can feel at home with the medieval-sounding drink in-hand.