Origins | Winter 2014

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Alcoholic Origins Karen Meza Cherit › Beer is one of the oldest beverages in the world, believed to be invented in Mesopotamia in 10,000 BC. With the main ingredients barley, water and yeast, hops was added in the fifteenth century. Currently, beer is a preferred alcohol with a variety of flavors from different hops. › From the fermented grape in 7000 BCE, the great Greek and Roman civilizations gave us wine. The first fruits of the vine which gave way to the creation of wine lie in the Caucasus, near the Black Sea. Wine was stored in amphorae decorated with a variety of geometric patterns or scenes. › After Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World, the alcoholic properties of sugar cane came to light. Out of Barbados in 1650, the rich flavor of rum from fermenting cane juice, molasses, and cane syrup soon became an important economic factor in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. › Russia, in the thirteenth century, created vodka. Distilled grains or potatoes (ethanol), combined with water, created a substance with high alcohol content (ranging from 70-80%). The high alcohol content resulted in it being banned for import for a time, but reached global expansion during World War II. › Made primarily from fermented rice, sake originated in 4800 BCE in China before being exported to Japan. The processing techniques improved as the years passed, increasing the alcohol content while reducing the acidity of the beverage. › Out of the Popol Vuh, balché is considered one of the oldest Mayan drinks. Consumed in ceremonial rituals, the drink earned its fame from taking the consumer closer to their gods. Balché is made by fermenting the tree bark of a leguminous tree (Lonchocarpus violaceus) after being soaked in honey and water. › From the Mexica empire, the retired from public life, the elderly, and those about to be sacrificed were offered pulque. This fermented beverage is made from maguey leaves. Later in the seventeenth century, the Spanish made a different maguey drink called mezcal. Mezcal was used for ceremonies, a holiday drink, and as a form of medicine. \ IMAGES COURTESY OF RADIO TONREG (CC BY 2.0), RICARDO ANDRE FRANTZ (CC BY-SA 3.0), THAMIZHPPARITHI MAARI (CC BY-SA 3.0), RASBAK (CC BY-SA 3.0), FASTILY (CC BY-SA 3.0), RAINALDO AGUILAR (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0), AND ALEJANDRO LINARES GARCIA (CC BY-SA 3.0).

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