“Toasting” as a wish for good health originated in ancient Rome, where a piece of toasted bread was dropped in wine. The celebration party for the 55 drafters of the US Constitution included 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, 8 bottles of whiskey, 22 bottles of port, 8 bottles of hard cider, 12 beers and seven bowls of alcohol punch large enough that “ducks could swim in them.” A drinking establishment is now located in the New York City building that once housed the National Temperance Society. The longest bar in the world is 684 feet long at the New Bulldog in Rock Island, IL. In Bangladesh, $5 will buy a beer or a first-class, cross-country train ticket. In old England, a whistle was baked into the rim or handle of ceramic cups used by pub patrons to signal bar service, giving rise to the phrase “wetting one’s whistle.” In 1917, Pennsylvania outlawed free lunches to prevent taverns from giving free sandwiches to customers who bought beer. This led some shop keepers to sell the sandwiches and give away the beer.
Napa valley has replaced Disneyland as California’s number one trourist destination, with 5.5 million visitors per year. The pressure in a bottle of champagne is about 90 pounds per square inch, about three times the pressure in automobile tires. A product called a ‘Grape Brick’ was available legally during prohibition, consisting of a ‘brick’ of dried, pressed winegrape concentrate and a packet of yeast, along with the warning: “Do not add yeast or fermentation will result.” In ancient Babylon, a bride’s father would supply the groom with all the mead (a fermented honey beverage) he could drink for a month after the wedding. This period was called the “honey month” or, because their calendar was based on the moon, what we still refer to as the “honeymoon.” The most expensive bottle of wine was a bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafitte claret engraved with Thomas Jefferson’s initials that sold at a 1985 auction for £105,000. Eleven months after the sale, the cork dried out, slipped into the bottle, and the wine turned to vinegar.