Liquor is one of the world's most progressive inventions, and one of the oldest and most popular recreational drugs. Rich in history and diversity, drinking liquor is an honored practice enjoyed the world over, by scholars and skanks alike.
Sauce, poison, moonshine, firewater; whatever you want to call it, chances are this magic elixir has been the catalyst of most of your happiest memories, bloodiest brawls, and accidental offspring-- plus the only reason you've had so many victorious games of darts, pool, beer pong, and doctor.
Other handles include "spirits," or "aqua vitae," Latin for "water of life,"
due to its ability to bring both people and careers back from the dead.
The term "liquor," began as a pet name for "really awesome liquid." It was coined from the Latin word liquere, which means "to be fluid." And that's extremely appropriate, given the fact that liquor is best-known for its uncanny ability to loosen peope's inhibitions, and thus aid in the otherwise impossible feat of ever having sex with anyone.
"Cheaper than roofies!"
Booze begins with food that has fermented: science-talk for spoiled rotten and teeming with tasty, tasty organisms. When those organisms consume rotted food particles, they secrete a pure, drinkable, delightfully psychoactive form of alcohol known as ethanol.
These organisms could include yeasts, molds, bacteria, or Ke$ha.
The foods used to make liquor are usually from the bottom three base levels of the food pyramid-- grains, fruits and vegetables-- which of course ensures that alcohol is very good for you, and that a minimum 11-20 servings are recommended daily.
Health fanaticism at its finest.
Liquor is distilled, which is the major difference between it and other alcoholic beverages (such as beer and wine, which are kept undistilled after fermentation). Distillation, much like characters played by Michael Cera, has been done the same way since the 8th century; simply boiling or freezing the original solution in order to sort out the water. This process condenses and purifies the rest of the liquid, in order to produce a much stronger product.
Some popular forms of distillers.
After distillation, liquor has 20% or more Alcohol By Volume (ABV), whereas other alcoholic beverages typically contain 15% or less. The strongest liquor available is Everclear; at 190-proof, it's a whopping 95% ABV, but even that strength can't erase the horrible memory of hearing songs by Everclear. Most liquors are around 80-proof, or 40% ABV, and a 1.5 fl oz shot of most liquors usually has as much alcohol as a 5 fl oz glass of wine, or 12 fl oz of beer.
100% ABV would just be 100% alcohol, and drinking it straight would probably dissolve your face.
Alcoholic content measured in terms of "proof," is historically interesting, but not terribly accurate. It began in the UK in the 1800s, when British sailors were partially paid in rum (the lucky bastards). In order to make sure it wasn't diluted, the sailors needed "proof" of potency, so they'd mix it with a little gun powder and make sure it ignited. They'd figured out that the rum would not burn unless it was at least 57.15% alcohol, or "100 degrees proof." In the United States, "proof" is determined by simply doubling the alcoholic content. Bacardi 151, for example, is 151 proof, meaning it's 75.5% ABV, and 200% LOL WTF. Sadly, in modern times, killing your boss for serving you a watered-down drink is frowned upon.
Whores: also sometimes paid in rum.
Liquor and liqueur are frequently confused for each other, but they're not the same thing-- liquor has 20+% ABV and no added sugar, whereas pansy French-sounding liqueurs are usually distinguished by a large amount of added sugars and flavorings. Which is delicious, but while some liqueurs have up to 55% ABV, most typically only contain around 15%. They're often consumed by girls, n00bs, or anyone else lacking testicles.
Remember, kids: Liqueur's for pussies!
So here's a very basic rundown of what we're typically dealing with out there:
Both the 90s pop culture icon and the first liquor ever created are pretty unpalatable, but Brandy the liquor was thought up by the Moors in the 800s, who tried distilling wine to make long-lasting medicine for battle. Since Brandy is made from wine its flavor comes from fruits-- particularly grapes, but also apples, cherries, and so on. In short, brandy is O.G. cough syrup, and it should be made readily available at pharmacies.
During the black plague, a false rumor circulated that juniper berries were a possible cure. So many Europeans, especially the Dutch, began consuming them in absolutely everything, including their drinks. Though wine and brandy were most popular at the time, grapes don't grow so well in the Netherlands, so the Dutchies, who were constantly being passed to the left-hand side, began making their juniper drink using fremented grains instead. They called it "genever," and one fortnight some bitchy upper class gentlefolk started calling the English commoners' version of Dutch genever "gin" to be all snooty and condescending. But much like in Revenge of the Nerds, the jilt backfired-- and the name stuck. To this day, modern versions of gin are still flavored with juniper berries, as well as blends of other herbs and spices, including cardamom, coriander, caraway, cinnamon, fennel, and citrus peel. Top hat optional.
As the island drink that tastes only slightly better than the ocean, pirates and other such salty dogs used to drink rum in place of actual water. Originated in Papua New Guinea and perfected in the Carribean, it's made from sugar cane and the dashed hopes and dreams of plundered sea captains. Like women, there are two basic styles-- light, or white rum, which is thoroughly distilled to remove impurities and consequently flavor, and dark, or black rum, which is less pure but much more flavorful. Yo ho ho.
In 1521, Spaniards in Mexico did not want to be sober all the time. But when they tried the ancient Aztecs' Blue Agave cactus wine, they spit it out everywhere and beheaded several warriors. So they tried distilling it to improve the taste, and mescal was born. Mescal and Tequila are the same basic drink, but Tequila is a specific style that can only be produced in the Jalisco region of Mexico, while Tila Tequila can be produced anywhere there are genitals. Contrary to pop culture, "the worm" is a caterpillar, and it's only put in mescals, not tequilas. This was done both for flavor, and to prove the liquor wasn't watered down, in which case the "worm" would decay. Tequila is the #1 leading cause of unfortunate one night stands, likely an ancient Aztec curse put upon you for drinking the heart juice of a sacred cactus all willy-nilly.
Believe it or not, the livelihood of Ruskies everywhere was master-minded in Morocco and perfected in Italy (which they're probably peeved about). But the rest of its history lies in the frigid North of Soviet Russia, where vodka drinks you! This awful liquid is accomplished using purified water and potatoes, wheat or barley, highly distilled for minimum flavor and color. Like the Kardashian sisters, you can put anything you want in it, and then it goes down easy, making Vodka one of the most popular drinks worldwide, even though it sucks and everybody knows it.
The Irish and the rest of the world spell it with an E, but the Scottish, English and Canadians don't because as per usual, they wanted to be obnoxious about spelling. Originally concocted by the Celts, who then drank themselves to death with glee, whiskey is typically made from barley, corn, or rye. The recipe was mastered by Irish monks, tired of boring old god and looking for something deeper, but there are many, many specialized varieties throughout the galaxy that differ in age, methodology and content. It's also one of the most popular liquors in the world, probably because it tastes of unicorn tears and the breast milk of real angels.
Liquor can be served multiple ways, and preference can differ depending on variety, mood, locality, quality, and how close you are to pay day. Liquor, liqueur and other mixers are combined to create uniquely flavored drinks. Referred to as "mixology," mixing cocktails is widely regarded as a culinary art, especially if it's being done by a really hot, fliratious college coed behind a bar. Liquor is also popularly mixed with a single simple ingredient, such as a little water, sugar, juice, or soda. Otherwise, it can also be served hot or cold; heated, with a flame or warmer, "Straight Up," shaken or stirred with ice and then strained, "On the Rocks," poured over ice, "Neat," where it's served as-is, at room temperature, or "Sheen," where it's enjoyed on the street corner straight out of the bottle.
"Burns so good."
True, ethanol can be addictive, and drinking it in excess can cause damage all over your body, from your brain cells to your liver. But when it's not abused, it provides energy, nutrients, and senses of humor, plus it increases your metabolism and blood flow, as well as your production of all kinds of fun chemicals and hormones, including testosterone. Drinking alcoholic beverages also forces relaxation, which can be very beneficial, but could also make potentially dangerous activities-- such as operating curling irons or heavy machinery, throwing javelins, and being on balconies-- a very bad idea. Incidentally, feeling carefree in addition to a sudden desire to fuck or fight everything that moves can often end in regret.
And in the morning, you'll have a real Tequila Sunrise.
While liquor is traditionally used for more celebratory reasons, due to its commonly euphoric effects people sometimes attempt using it to drown their sorrows. This is generally unwise for two reasons: 1) ethanol is a depressant, which means it relaxes your brain's ability to, for example, act rationally, so it could inadvertently amplify feelings of sadness, and 2) never forget the old adage, "sorrows can swim." Drinking can't make your problems disappear completely, because when you sober up, your problems are usually still there. We're looking at you, Lohan.
"I own Crocs in every color."
No matter the occasion, liquor production was a foundation of civilization as we know it, and you can bet your britches it'll continue to be cherished and appreciated by human beings on and on for the rest of forever... especially the readers and writers of Cracked. So bottoms up:
This article was written by inoxipolitan. She writes lots of funny things, and smells pretty nice, too.