Before the standardization of American whiskey distilling techniques and barrel maturation, whiskey often tasted unruly. People flavored their drinks with cinnamon, fruits, and even tobacco plugs. Then, bartenders started mixing booze with sugar, herbs, and splashes of soda water, making foul whiskey more potable, or at least tolerable.
In 1862, the venerable Jerry Thomas published the book How to Mix Drinks and gave bartenders the ultimate guide for making cocktails. Thomas loved a stiff punch. Take a look at his Regent’s Punch: 1½ pint each strong hot green tea, lemon juice, and capillaire (an herb); 1 pint each rum, brandy, arrack, and Curaçao; and 1 bottle of Champagne, with pineapple. This recipe has more alcohol than the average American consumes in a year! Suffice it to say, Americans loved to drink back then.
As for hunters, well, they were mostly known for bringing a barrel of whiskey to the hunt. Today, you’ll likely bring a flask or a good bottle of something delicious. But breaking out the cocktail shaker every now and then does still happen.
In fact, here’s a cocktail recipe called the Hunter Cocktail: 2 ounces rye whiskey, ½ ounce cherry brandy, and a Maraschino cherry. You pour the rye and brandy into a chilled glass filled with ice, stir, and garnish with the cherry.
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