The Victorian era has always been a time that has interested me and has warmed my imagination. It was a time of great change and development for Great Britain – exciting times indeed. One thing that did not change much from the Georgian period that preceded it is the peoples love for strong alcohol. You could say that this still remains prominent in the 21st century.
It was often mixed with other drinks such as absinthe – you might recall seeing this in the Johnny Depp film From Hell. You might just recall Johnny Depp in the bath.
The first version of the drink consisted of alcohol, wormwood, aniseed, lemon balm and herbs but it was late modified by a Dr named Ordinaire (apparently this is his real name). In 1792 he concocted a formula of 8 plants, including wormwood, anise, hyssop and fennel, and used 136-proof alcohol, which became the traditional proof of real absinthe.
Which is not entirely surprising considering absinthe is associated with crazy behavior and hallucinating. Van Gogh was a lover of absinthe and he cut his ear off. Shock rocker Marilyn Manson is also a fan of the green drink and has used it in his art work both as inspiration and sometimes as paint.
Not all popular drinks from this period are as peculiar though others such as gin but it does come with an certain controversary. The start if the 18th century Gin (also known as Mothers Ruin) became very popular in Great Britain so much so that theres is a period called ‘The Gin Craze‘. Pariliament passed five major acts to alter the consumption of gin due to the moral outlash it was causing. Remember this period of time was one with high moral standards and expected lady like behavior it was not until later on this all changed. By 1743, the people of England were drinking 10 litres of gin annually per head of population.
When you compare some Victorian drinks to modern drinks they would be considered some kind of potion. However although witchcraft and the punishment of drowning had died down by the Victorian era you could still be charged with witchcraft – so no actual potions in the ways of drink mixing were used.
But something that does relate closely to modern society is the governments work towards changing alcohol laws. There are talks going on at the moment about the pricing of alcohol and the contemplation of banning Buckfast Wine.
It would appear that Buckfast could be the modern day equivalent of the drinks I have mentioned. It is after all a ‘tonic wine’ and laudanum was used for medicinal purposes and like absinthe and gin it has been blamed for anti-social behaviour. So it looks like with this drink you would be more likely to get thrown in a prison cell and that sounds a little bit better than having your pockets filled with stones and thrown in a lake.