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Historical records that mention the use of beer and wine date back some 5,000 years.

The distillation of
liquor began about 2,000 years ago. Most types of liquor known today were developed between the 12th
and 19th centuries. Modern glass packaging and brand names began to emerge around the middle of the
19thcentury.The origin of "liquor" and its close relative "liquid" was the Latin verb liquere, meaning "to be
fluid." According to the Oxford English Dictionary, an early use of the word in the English language,
meaning simply "a liquid," can be dated to 1225. The first use that the OED mentions in reference to a
"liquid for drinking" occurred in the early- to mid-14th century.

The origin of "spirit" in reference to alcohol stems from Middle Eastern alchemy. These alchemists were
more involved in medical elixirs than in creating gold from lead. The vapors given off and collected during
some of their alchemical processes were described as being the spirits of the original object. When
processes akin to distillation were carried out by accident alcohol was produced and the result known as a


If youre unsurprised that vodka used to be given as medicine, you probably wont be shocked to learn that
gin was invented specifically for that purpose. 14th-century Europeans distilled juniper berries in hopes of
fighting the plague (then again, almost everything they did was in hope of fighting the plague).

But gin as we know it didnt come along until the mid-1600s. Thats when one Dr. Sylvius concocted the
first formulation in the Netherlands, hoping it would serve as a primitive type of dialysis for kidney patients.
(Were guessing he didnt particularly care about its effect on the liver.) By the end of the century, gin had
become popular in Britain because it was sold at cut-rate prices, despite a very widespread rumor that it
could induce abortion, which lead to it being nicknamed "mothers ruin." Later, when the Brits started to
occupy India, they found it useful in yet another medical mixture: the gin and tonic. The quinine in the tonic
water was effective in fighting malaria.


As vodka was to Russia, tequila was to Mexico; its been made there since at least the 16th century and
was originally used in religious rituals. (Having drunk a little too much tequila once, we can testify to its
ability to cause drinkers to beseech God for mercy.) The name comes from a town founded in 1656. And
while Jos Cuervo didnt exactly invent the drink, he was the first to commercialize it. As for its migration
northward, a fellow named Cenobio Sauza brought the stuff to the U.S. in the late 1800s; we cant help but
wonder if this is why frat boys on spring break still refer to this stuff as "the sauce."


Yo-ho-uh-oh and a bottle of rum the drink tastes great, but its history isnt so sweet. The story, as far as
we can tell, starts in India, where in 300, B.C.E., Alexander the Great saw some sugarcane and memorably
called it "the grass that gives honey without bees."

All well and good, until Christopher Columbus went and brought sugarcane to the Caribbean. There, it
flourished and became the engine of the slave trade. Africa sent slaves to the Caribbean, which sent sugar
to New England, which sent rum and other goodies to Africa, which sent more slaves to the Caribbean.
Known as the triangular trade, pondering the implications of it all is enough to make a person want a stiff
drink. But not, preferably, one steeped in rum.


Believe it or not, the name really does come from the Russian word for "water," which is "voda," and the
Russians have a pretty good claim to inventing the stuff. Production from grains has been documented
there as far back as the 9th century. It wasnt, however, until around the 14th century that vodka became
known as the Russian national drink, and for good reasons; it was served everywhere, even at religious

Poland likes to boast that its own vodka production goes back even further than Russias, to the 8th
century, but what was going made in that region at the time was more like grappa or brandy. Later Polish
vodkas were called "gorzalka," or "burnt wine," and were used as medicines, as were all distilled liquors in
the Middle Ages. Vodka was also used as an ingredient in early European formulations of gunpowder.

By the way, for those of you who turn your noses up the fruit-infused vodkas that have recently hit the
market: theyre the original. Early vodkas were not quite as palatable as your average Grey Goose, so
makers often masked the taste with fruits and spices.

A historical look at the stuff that gets us hammered. Whos ready for the first round?


To quote Homer Simpson, is there anything it cant do? Most likely invented in Persia circa 7,000 B.C.E.,
beers gone on to become hugely important in almost every ancient society its touched. Back in Sumerian
culture, the drink was considered positively divine a fact confirmed when archaeologists dug up the
4,000-year-old "Hymn to Ninkasi." The ode to the goddess of brewing actually doubles as a recipe for a
barley-based beverageguaranteed to make people feel "exhilarated, wonderful and blissful."

The epic of Gilgamesh tells us a similar tale; one of the main characters, Enkidu, is said to have had "seven
cups of beer, and his heart soared." After seven rounds we can definitely see why. In ancient Egypt, wages
were often paid to the poor in beer, or as they called it, hqt. It was sort of light beer, apparently, and not
very intoxicating, which explains how construction workers of the day managed to drink three daily rations
of it and still build their masterpiece: the not-at-all-leaning pyramids of Giza.


A wine snob will happily tell you, for hours on end, how difficult it is to make a decent wine and how many
complicated steps are involved. This may be true, but its ridiculously easy to make basic wine. The
beverage in its roughest form probably goes back thousands of years to primitive cultures who mistakenly
left grapes in the sun for too long and then attempted to eat them. As it turns out, all the yeasts needed to
ferment grapes actually grow on grape skin. (No additives necessary!)

Around 5,000 B.C.E., the people of present-day Georgia and Iran started making wine in clay pots. By the
time of ancient Greece, wine had acquired a religious significance; perhaps in homage to Dionysus, the
Greeks planted vines in all their colonies, including France and Egypt. (Wed love to know what the French
make of the fact that they have the Greeks to thank for their vaunted grapes.)

California winemakers should also praise God, literally, for the fruits of their labor: when Christian
missionaries arrived there, they planted the regions first vines so theyd have something to transmogrify
the blood of Jesus when they took Communion.


As you probably know, bubbly comes from the Champagne region of France, a longtime center of trade
(and also a region in the path of rampaging hordes: Attila the Hun, among others, left footprints there). As
you may also know, Dom Perignon was in fact a real person his first name was Pierre and, in a sense,
hes the inventor of the sparkly stuff. A Benedictine monk, the Dom served as treasurer of an abbey in the
Champagne region starting in 1688.

The region had slightly chilly weather that year, and the growing season was unusually short anyway
which meant grapes spent less time fermenting on the vine and more time fermenting in cellars.
Essentially, it was this process that led to carbon dioxide being trapped inside the bottles.

At first the Dom was horrified; this was a sign that hed failed in his duties as treasurer (which included, for
some reason, winemaking). Try as he might, he couldnt get rid of the bubbles. Finally, resigned to dealing
with them, he blended grapes to make a light white wine, which suited the effervescence far better than a
heavy red.

He also realized hed have to solve another problem caused by trapped carbon dioxide: a considerable
number of his bottles exploding. So, instead of stopping them with wood and oil-soaked hemp, he started
using a soft material from Spain: cork.

This lovely story, by the way, doesnt sit so well with the natives of Limoux, France. They allege that they
were making sparkling wine in their backyards as early as the 1500s, and that Perignon stole their idea.
Weve got to side with the Dom on this one: After all, the guy was a monk


Brewed with top fermenting yeast at cellar temperature, ales are fuller-bodied, with nuances of fruit or spice
and a pleasantly hoppy finish. Generally robust and complex with a variety of fruit and malt aromas, ales
come in many varieties. They could include Bitters, Milds, Abbey Ales, Pale Ales, Nut Browns, etc.

Ales are often darker than lagers, ranging from rich gold to reddish amber. Top fermenting, and more hops
in the wort gives these beers a distinctive fruitfulness, acidity and pleasantly bitter seasoning. Ales have a
more assertive, individual personality than lager, though their alcoholic strength is the same.

Ales are 30% of all beer sold in Canada.

Lager originates from the German word lagern which means 'to store' it refers to the method of storing it
for several months in near-freezing temperatures. Crisp and refreshing with a smooth finish from longer
aging, lagers are the world's most popular beer (this includes pilseners).

A lager, which can range from sweet to bitter and pale to black, is usually used to describe bottom-
fermented brews of Dutch, German, and Czech styles. Most, however, are a pale to medium colour, have
high carbonation, and a medium to high hop flavour.

Lagers are 56% of all beer sold in Canada.

Stouts & Porters

Theres very little distinction between a Porter and a Stout, but they do have their differences.

Porter is a dark, almost black, fruity-dry, top fermenting style. An ale, porter is brewed with a combination of
roasted malt to impart flavour, colour and aroma. Stout is also a black, roast brew made by top
fermentation. Stout, not as sweet to the taste, features a rich, creamy head and is flavoured and coloured
by barley. Stouts often use a portion of unmalted roasted barley to develop a dark, slightly astringent,
coffee-like character.

Generally dark and sweeter in flavour, malts contain hints of caramel, toffee, and nuts. They can be light to
full bodied.
Sample of sparkling wine

Perrier-Jout, Grand Brut

This elegant, complex, crisp and
balanced wine features fine,
persistent mouthfeel as well as
Magnum 163.00
lingering flavours of fresh
apples and lemons.
Bollinger, Special Cuve, Brut
Dominated by the Pinot Noir grape the aroma of this
102 Champagne is reminiscent of ripe spicy fruits with 105.00
roasted apples and peaches. On the palate the bubbles
are delicate with flavours of pear, spices and walnut.
Ruinart, Blanc de Blanc
Delightful combination of fresh citrus fruit with a hint
104 148.00
of peaches, cream and hazelnuts. A much respected
pure Chardonnay from the oldest Champagne house.
Veuve Clicquot, Yellow Label, Brut
108 Reflecting the traditions of the past, this is full, yet 90.00
dry and has a rich, creamy style with biscuit flavours.
Mumm, Cordon Rouge, Brut
116 Boasting a nose of citrus, peach and vanilla enhanced 85.00
by Mumms trademark biscuity nuances.
Mumm, Mumm de Cramant, Blanc de Blancs
A subtle and elegant attack that is rich in mineral
117 185.00
notes, leading into smooth body and a rich and
expressive finish that testifies to its aging potential.
Perrier-Jout Blason Ros
Succulent strawberry flavours give a round, supple
101 99.00
richness. Perfumed with red fruit, it ends bright and
sweet with a rich, long finish.
Laurent-Perrier, Cuve Ros Brut
The aroma of this Champagne encompasses a wide
106 125.00
range of small red fruits. The taste is clean, well
defined and slightly sharp.
Ruinart Ros
Delicate salmon pink with fine bubbles; delightful red
107 132.00
fruit and raspberry aromas with nice creamy
Veuve Clicquot, Brut Ros
109 Luminous, fresh, pink with initial aromas of red fruits 115.00
leading to dried fruits and biscuit notes
Dom Prignon, Brut, 2005
The first hints of fresh almonds and harvest aromas
110 immediately open up into preserved lemon and dried 250.00
fruits, rounded off by darker, smoky and toasted
Louis Roederer, Cristal, 2006
The taste provides a bite in the mouth which is full
111 345.00
and creamy, revealing an incredible concentration of
juicy fruits: yellow peach, apricot and mango.
Perrier Jout, Belle Epoque, 2007
A refined and subtle blend of charm and elegance.
The multiple facets of Belle Epoque reveal a broad
115 205.00
aromatic palette and a subtle persistence. Floral,
stylish and diamond-cut: the hallmark of wines from
theHouse of Perrier-Jout.
Bouvet-Ladubay, Saumur Brut, Loire Valley, NV,
Bright yellow colour with green highlights. Dominant
112 fruity bouquet with fine and persistent bubbles. White 45.00
flowery aromas. honeysuckle, acacia, fine floral
scented taste, Brut with a certain subtlety, very
Prosecco, Blue Label, Spumante, Brut, NV, Italy
Yellow straw in colour, an intense bouquet, with
113 apple, ripe fruit hints, acacia honey and peach 45.00
blossom notes. A fresh, lively taste, consistent with a
good body.
Nyetimber, Brut, NV - England
Considered one of Englands best sparkling wines,
the closest equivalent to Champagne outside of the
region. Its creamy and rich with notes of brioche and
a citrus twist a classically structured wine that lasts
on the palate.