19th century and Victorian era are inseparable conceptions in so many ways. In those times, abstinence and promiscuity had been hand in hand almost throughout the whole period. Nevertheless, the drinks and the attitude towards brewed beverages in the Victorian era had changed. One of the reasons why are referring to the memorable moments of the arising inspiration, creativity and innovation. Those three had been main characters on the two well known stages – America’s Wild Wild West and Victorian England. What is a stage, without its main characters. For that retro steampunk idea, core roles played Jules Verne and H.G. Wells and other notable authors. Back then, they had been modern technology visionaries. Many modern concepts were imagined, even before popular steampunk movies, using mainly steam for power – the tool of the era. If you keep that line of thinking, nowadays you can implement and link that style, known as Steampunk, in pretty much everything. Nevertheless, 19th century had some bumps on the road to creativity.
One major factor for the way of life had been water. In the beginning of urbanization and industrialization, the liquid of life has not been safe for drinking. It carried various diseases and caused health complications. Medicine hasn’t been evolved that much yet. Even so, it had been packed with men of science and ideas for innovations. Staying in that line of thinking, how the unsuitable for drinking water can be sterilized?
To answer the question above, think about the process of brewing alcohol beverages. Exactly! Victorian alcohol had been made using water in combination with steam machines. The Steampunk drinks part of that retro style, acknowledge the alcohol brewing and all its components like copper cups, pots, pipes, etc. Spirits had been used a lot as a doctor’s prescription as a Victorian cocktails for health. In those times, drinks like beer, gin and whiskey had been more hygienic than water. Needles to say, alcohol was the cause not only for healing problems, but causing them as well. Even though, in the 18th century drinking and drunkenness had been accepted as part of life, thanks to the increasing industrialization, the attitude to drunkenness had changed. Employers for example, had insisted their workers to show up for work sober. That necessity had been one of the first safety regulations. A signal to change in the way of work and the rhythm of life of the workers. A rhythm, that we are accustomed to in a large scale today.
Another prominent usage of alcohol in 19th century, had been as a preserver and antiseptic. People had learned, that diseases in food and drinks could be killed using those same qualities of alcohol. That explains the reason, why they had used raw eggs in combination with alcohol to create the tasty eggnog, as we know it today. Back then, it had been served at Christmas times too. What is more, the raw eggs in the drink had been alerting the people for arising potential salmonella threat. If you are true 19th century Steampunk fan, consuming spirits and beer will always bring you closer to that era. Beer had been one of the regularly brewed alcoholic beverages. Another drink, which combines few main flavors of that time is the cocktail The Drunken Earl. Its main ingredients are whiskey and tea. After all, what better way to steampunk your evening drink, than to use two of the regularly consumed drinks of the Victorian era.
There are numerous bars, where the atmosphere is almost identical as the taverns back in the 19th century. In places like that, you dive in into the atmosphere of the steampunk idea. There are places, where a unique backdrop is nurtured by warm glowing vintage bulbs and supported by a maze of copper or steel piping. In steampunk themed bars, your mind is racing to acknowledge and enjoy the surrounding mechanic spiders and post-apocalyptic hunting trophy heads. Steampunk is a skin, that can fit every genre. When visiting a steampunk themed bar, you can walk into anything – form the body of a watch to the mechanic head of a spider.
Today we feed the steampunk looks and style with pretty much everything connected to the Victorian drinks, even with the spoons for absinthe. There are such crafty workmanship, that keep 19th century alive and steaming. Many fiction authors of that era have had favorite drinks to enjoy. Back then, not just the idea of mixing spirits had been innovative, but everything else, that goes with it. All the small details, like ice, fruit, sugar, herbs and so on, that helps build the structure of modern equivalent of a Victorian cocktail. Great example for a drink, that travels in time and had preserved the antiquated flavors of 19th century is the punch Sangree. Its tasty descendant is the modern times Sangria. If you want to bring a whiff of steampunk to your party, you can always rely on an amazingly crafted glass bowl of Sangria. The Cock Tail itself, makes its way all the way back, from the Victorian London bars. It is a feast drink, combining sugar (or syrup), rye whiskey (brandy/rum//gin), bitters, water and sprinkled ground nutmeg. Other Victorian alcoholic drinks, that nurtures steampunk style mixed drinks are the well known gin-sling, mint julep and sherry-cobbler.
You can pretty much Steampunk a lot of cocktails and mixed alcoholic beverages. This style can be added to the way your glasses look, the method and “steam powered” machinery you use to pour and mix the ingredients. Here are some famous fiction writers of the era and some of their favorite drinks, that are reachable today too:
- H. G. Wells – he is known to be a bourbon lover. It has been enjoyed also in a cocktail. That drink is rich in anise flavor. In it, the bourbon takes a step back and let the anise be in the first row. Helping blend the flavours are dry vermouth and bitters.
- K.W. Jeter – he is known to be more of a beer man. Which is probably the easiest way to enjoy his drink of choice today.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald – his favorite had been gin. He favored it, because it was actually undetectable on his breath. Cocktail of choice – Gin Rickey.
- Tim Powers – he never really got into mixed drinks. Favorable drink – neat scotch.