Monday, May 25, 2015


Attempts to strike a balance between moderation and excess have resulted in "lots of crazy rules," said Rod Phillips, history professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, and author of "Alcohol — A History."
Consider a magnum of examples:

• Sitting down to drink brandy in the place where it was sold was banned in some 16th century German towns, an attempt to curb brandy's growing popularity over weaker beer and wine.
• Toasting to a person's health was prohibited, and sales were limited to a penny per person in 16th century German public houses, where consumption was allowed.
• A 1677 French police order banned brandy sales from Nov. 1 to the end of May to keep criminals from getting drunk and committing crimes during winter's long hours of darkness.
• Drinking for more than a half-hour in a tavern, or drinking to excess in a public house, in colonial-era Massachusetts meant stiff fines, up to 10 whippings and a three-hour stay in the stocks.
• In the 1700s in England, the Gin Acts imposed duties and licensing fees to close down retailers and raise prices to curb consumption of gin.
• When workplace drinking was blamed for interfering with munitions production in World War I, British bars were restricted to serving drinks from noon to 2:30 p.m. and from 6 to 9 p.m.
• Starting in the late 1920s, passbooks were required for Ontario citizens buying liquor; clerks kept track of purchases, and anyone who they thought was abusing alcohol could not make a purchase for a year.
• Prohibition experiments took place in Mexico, the United States, Canada, Finland, Iceland, Norway, India and Russia between 1914 and 1933.
• When Prohibition ended in the U.S., states and localities enacted various limitations, including a ban on "perpendicular" drinking (or drinking while standing) in Chicago.
• When restrictive laws on alcohol sales were relaxed in New Zealand in the 1960s, restaurant patrons had to sign a document promising that they intended to order food if they were drinking.
• When Virginia allowed mixed-drink sales in restaurants in 1968, patrons had to be seated to order a cocktail, and bars had to adhere to strict food-to-alcohol sales ratios.

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