History of Alcohol

Scotland has had a reputation of being a heavy drinking nation for hundreds of years. The offence of ‘drunkenness’ is recorded as far back as 1436. Read more about the history of alcohol here.

Pubs in Scotland

Pubs in Scotland

In the 1830’s, both Glasgow and Edinburgh had one pub for every 130 people.

 

Pubs could open when they liked for as long as they liked. Alcohol could be sold to anyone of any age. Many men, women and children developed alcohol problems, so Scotland took action and now has some of the strictest licensing laws in the UK.

The Origins of Steaming

The Origins of Steaming

The 1853 Forbes Mackenzie Act made it illegal for pubs to open past 11pm and stopped them opening on a Sunday.

 

The only place people could buy alcohol legally on a Sunday in Glasgow was on the steam boats that cruised the River Clyde.

 

This is where the phrase ‘steaming’ came from to describe the feeling of being drunk!

The Vikings

The Vikings

In Viking times the alcohol of choice was mead, which was a type beer made from honey. It was the job of women and girls to make the mead.

 

To celebrate a wedding, the Vikings drank mead through the 28 days of the moon’s cycle. This celebration became known as a “honeymoon“.

Native Americans

Native Americans

Most Native Americans had no contact with alcohol until it was introduced to them by the early European explorers and fur traders. Jewellery and animal skins were traded by the Native Americans for alcohol.

 

The Native Americans called alcohol ‘fire water‘, because when they drank it, it burned their throat and burned the lining of their stomach.

 

Many became unwell or addicted to alcohol. Some even died because of their alcohol misuse. Many traders were able to take advantage of their drunkenness and addiction by stealing their land, food, animals and furs.

Prohibition

Prohibition

The problems caused by alcohol in the USA led the government to ban it. On January 16th 1920, the 18th Amendment banned the sale, transportation and making of alcohol in America.

 

This period was known as ‘Prohibition‘ which means it was prohibited or not allowed. This lasted for a period of 13 years and ended in February 1933.

 

People still wanted to drink alcohol during this period, so there was a huge market for illegal alcohol. Some of this alcohol tasted so bad that cocktails were invented to hide the horrible taste!

 

In Chicago, Al Capone’s gang produced and sold alcohol. Within 2 years Capone was earning $60 million a year from alcohol sales. Drinking became a hidden activity in drinking dens (‘speakeasy’), controlled by violent gangsters in major American cities.

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