In A History of the World in 6 Glasses, Tom Standage informs readers on what he believes is to be the six beverages that has shaped our past, present, and future. The six drinks mentioned are beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and Coca-Cola. Within the chapters, Standage talks about each beverage and their origins, uses, and the overall impact they have made in the world. Although each beverage influenced history in different ways, specific drinks were similar in one way or the other. The six beverages mentioned are able to be divided up by social, political, and economical aspects. Beer and wine were similar since they were both considered social drinks, coffee and rum both resembled their political needs during the American Revoluton and Enlightenment period, and Coca-Cola and tea shared an economical characteristic since they were intensely popular from the start and reached a global market.
Beer and wine both shared a social aspect in the world. Beer, one of the first drinks to have emerged after water, was also known to have been one of the first social drinks. Because beer was made using grains, it was known to have been consumed through straws to filter out debris. Pictograms often depicted two individuals drinking beer from a shared container from two straws. Sharing a drink with someone then became known to symbolize hospitality and friendship, since it was drunk from a shared vessel which represents equality and togetherness 18. This was similar to how wine was consumed in Greece, which had become known as a social drink also. In Greece, men often went to banquets called symposion, where participants drank from a shared krater. Like beer, this represented friendship and equality. It was during symposions where individuals pursued pleasure and philosophical enlightenment. This however, differed from the Roman equivalent, called a convivium. Conviviums differed greatly from beer and the idea of equality through a beverage. These gatherings were an opportunity to emphasize social divisions, not set them aside. Here, drinkers would be served different wines depending on their positions in society. It generally was a banquet which reflected the Roman class system, based on the notion of patrons and clients (Standage 78). Still, to this day beer and wine are both used as drinks during social gatherings. The idea of hospitality and friendship still reflects through each person’s glass. Although beer and wine differed on how they were consumed, the basic idea of togetherness still lives on.
As politics began to rise, beverages such as spirits and coffee played a pivotal role in the course of history also. Whisky, a form of distilled spirit, became an important beverage during the establishment of the United States. In 1971, Alexander Hamilton imposed a federal excise duty on the production of distilled drinks to pay off the vast national debt during the Revolutionary War and many settlers complained. The disagreement over whiskey exercise showed a deeper divide over the balance of power between the states and the federal government. The suppression of the Whisky Rebellion was the first tax protest to take place since independence, forcefully showed that federal law could not be ignored, and from then on proved to be an impacting moment in the early history of the United States. This was similar to the impact of coffee during the Enlightenment period. In France, coffeehouses in Paris became meeting places for intellectuals and became environments for Enlightenment thought and centers for revolutionary ferment. French coffeehouses also emphasized the contradiction that even with the advances of the Enlightenment, progress in the social and political spheres had been stopped by the dead hand of the ancient regime. With the public becoming more anxious and angry, King Louis XVI had to call the States-General, an elected national assembly, for help for the first time in over 150 years. Overall, both beverages led to the...
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