At Lords of the Drinks we’re not big fans of the world of medicine nowadays. Big pharmaceutical companies rule the world and doctors are slaves of the system who will prescribe you all kinds of drugs for every minor health problem you might feel. Our medical cabinets are booming and as we drug ourselves more and more our immune systems can’t handle anything anymore. Whatever happened to the days when you would just have some hard liquor? Who would want to pop pills if you can have some warm brandy with honey? We already let you in on the Czech drink called Becherovka, now here are 10 more tips to make your liquor cabinet also your medical cabinet.
Absynthe was invented during the French revolution (1789-1799) by Dr. Pierre Ordinaire as a medicine for almost everything. This miracle potion was recommended for treating epilepsy, kidney stones, headaches, worms and many more things. Dr. Ordinaire travelled the countryside to promote his new drug, but soon enough it became the most popular drink in France. Many great painters, like Vincent van Gogh, and other artists also used this medicine to boost their creativity, or so they claimed.
Brandy was very popular medicine in the 19th and early 20th century. Primarily as a cardiac stimulant, meaning it was believed to be good for the heart and blood pressure. A 2007 study in France proved that the number of heart patients in Gascony (the region of the Armagnac cognac) was extremely low. Apparently this medicine still works.
This drink was invented in the 16th century as the Plague killed one third of the total population in Western Europe. As we told you in our special post on jenever this drink owes it’s name to the Dutch name for juniper. These small berries were already known for their healing powers and so the jenever potion was distributed as a remedy for the ‘black death’.
Greek ouzo is believed to have so many uses in Greek folk medicine that it also goes by the name to farmako (the medicine). Of course the alcohol does it’s part like in all other drinks, but ouzo also contains many herbs that are believed to have healing effects. One of them of course being anise, that gives the drink it’s special flavor. Similar drinks are mastika (masticha in Bulgarian) and sambuca.
The name whiskey comes from the Gaelic word uisge. This is short for uisge beatha, which means water of life. That’s because whiskey was basically used for any kind of physical problem. As a medicine it was used for both internal anesthetic use and as an external antibiotic.
A list of medicinal alcoholic drinks would not be complete without vodka. Since the 16th century this clear liquor was sold in pharmacies in Eastern Europe. It was believed to cure almost anything. From infertility to the plague, vodka was always the answer. And let’s face it, it kind of still is right?!
Now here’s a drink that never lost her image as a medicine. All over South-Eastern Europe people are still making their own fruit brandy. With plums, apricots, pears, peaches, grapes, cherries and honey the possibilities are endless. And so are the medical effects. But what they have in common is that they work miracles as a disinfectant, both internal and external. People who caught a cold usually drink heated rakija with honey or caramelized sugar.
The Hungarian equivalent of rakija is called pálinka. Up to today it still plays a large role in folk medicine. A popular Hungarian saying about this strong local drink is ‘Pálinka in small amounts is a medicine, in large amounts a remedy’. The first records of pálinka date back to the 14th century under the Latin name ‘Aqua vitae reginae Hungariae’ (the Hungarian queen’s water of life). Both the king and queen at that time suffered from arthritis and apparently their brandy blended with rosemary made their disease bearable.
Rum has always been the drink of the navy and soldiers. It was used to make the troops recover both mentally and physically. In World War 1 it was the thing that kept most soldiers who suffered from shellshock going. A report on shellshock in 1922 concluded: “Moral can be and had to be created.” Many soldiers from that time literally said “If it wasn’t for rum, we would have lost the war.”
10. Peppermint Schnapps:
The key ingredient peppermint, that gave this drink it’s name and special taste, has been used for medical purposes for thousands of years. From colds and coughs to viral infections and gallbladder problems, peppermint oil helps with all kinds of minor problems. And let’s be honest: so does alcohol. So some genius put the two of them together and there you have it: a potion that works miracles when you’re feeling sick and gives you a nice fresh breath.
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