A History of the World in Six Glasses

Why are beverages so important in our lives and how do they shape us?






Without water we couldn’t live nor could we have created the other beverages we enjoy…it started to become widely contaminated, therefore we created other thirst quenching beverages.

To drink from the same glass was considered social and polite years ago. Now, the action of touching glasses or saying “Cheers” resembles the act of sharing a glass.

Plato stated that drinking with someone at a symposium is in fact the simplest, fastest, and most reliable test of someone’s character. Alcohol has the power to invoke supernatural forces and is filled with vitamins and minerals that cures what ails you.

Beer: was a gift from the gods; “banquet” means the “place of beer and bread,” associated with friendly, unpretentious social interaction; meant to be shared; staple drink of working man. 

Wine (universal staple): only the elite could afford to drink it; associated with emblems of power, prosperity, and privilege; synonymous with civilization and refinement; has power to clean and purify; it reveals what is hidden; prolongs life, clears away ill humor, maintains youth.

Rum: strengthened the connection between spirits, slaves, and sugar; nicknamed as Kill Devil and Rumbullion (a brawl or violent commotion) because of the outcome when people drink too much of it; John Adams wrote “…molasses was an essential ingredient in American independence.

Whiskey: un pretentious drink associated with independence and self sufficiency. Not an everyday staple, but for getting drunk.

Coffee: promoted sharpness and clarity of thought; preferred drink of scientists, intellectuals, merchants, and clerks. Coffee houses facilitate information exchange, used at ad hoc offices, and meeting rooms.

Tea: Japanese tea ceremony is immensely intricate and a mystical ritual. Britain urged everyone to drink it daily and every hour, and to increase consumption especially if you are ill.

Coca-Cola: leaves of the coca plant known as the “divine plant of the Incas.” Brain Tonic, cure for sick headache, neuralgia, hysteria, and melancholy. Linked to patriotism, support for WWII war effort, freedom, democracy, and free market capitalism.

History of the World in 6 Glasses, Book by Tom Standage