I'm usually that girl who, after a night of heavy drinking, swears she'll never drink again...until later that night. And as someone who occasionally drinks more booze than she probably should, I'm always searching the Internet for how to prevent a hangover, or tips on how to step up my cocktail game. But it turns out that these questions, from how to sober up to how to get drunk more efficiently, have been asked by partiers since the beginning of time (or, at least, since the beginning of wine). We can learn from the mistakes and successes of our heavily drinking forebears, many of whom wrote down their sage drinking advice in books.
Elizabeth Archibald, who holds a Ph.D. in history from Yale University and currently teaches at Johns Hopkins University, sifted through those old books and picked out the best morsels of advice. Her new book Ask the Past: Pertinent and Impertinent Advice from Yesteryear, based off her blog of the same name, is a hilarious collection of how-tos taken from the past.
"How-to manuals offer possibility," writes Archibald, like the promise that you can drink all you want without suffering from a hangover the next day if you just follow the instructions as outlined. Now, I cannot guarantee success with any of these instructions, but they're definitely an insightful — and hilarious — look into the parties of days past.
Ask the Past: Pertinent and Impertinent Advice from Yesteryear by Elizabeth P. Archibald, $12, Amazon
So if you want to throw a rager like the Black Death just ended, here are seven party tips taken straight from the past.
How to Drink Beer (1623)
Nearly four centuries of proof that good beer is best enjoyed chilled. Beer that's too bitter will fill "the ventricles of the braine with troublesome vapors," which is as good a reason as I've ever been given to avoid bad beer. Those party animals from 1623 also knew that cold beer is always best because warm beer "is nauceous and fulsome to the stomack."
How to Make a Quick Cocktail (1658)
Don't you hate it when you're traveling and "cannot rellish their Beer or Ale at their Innes"? Yeah, I thought so. The people of the past did, too, so created this killer recipe for an on-the-go cocktail: a quart of water, five or six spoonfuls of aqua vitae, an ounce of sugar, and a sprig of rosemary. "Brew them a pretty while out of one pot into another, and then your drink is prepared."
How to Make Cock Ale (1697)
Cock ale is not a cocktail, but "it is very pleasant, and good against Consumption," according to the people from the past. To make, boil nine gallons of beer. Throw in four pounds of raisins, two nutmegs, and two chickens. Let it sit in a covered vat for two weeks. When you bottle it, put some lemon peel, candied ginger root, and sugar into each bottle. Stop it closed and let it sit for another two or three weeks. And that's it. You've got cock ale. Unclear if cock ale will actually make you drunk, so let me know if you give the recipe a shot.
How to Leave a Party (c. 1200)
"When you are about to leave, have your horse at the door," which makes sense if you rode your stallion to the party. But "don't mount your horse in the hall, unless the host tells you to." As Archibald adds, "leaping on a horse while you're still indoors is a little dramatic."
How to Sober Up (1612)
If you've been drinking and need to not be drunk anymore, try drinking yarrow juice. If that doesn't work, eat pork marrow. And if you're still drunk, "annoint your priuie members in Vinegar, and ye shall waxe sober." (That's old-fashioned English for "pour some vinegar on your private parts.") Archibald notes this also has potential to be a great party trick.
How to Prevent Drunkenness (1653)
You don't need to sober up if you never got drunk in the first place, and we can thank the people of 1653 for really figuring this one out. Before you start drinking your alcoholic beverage of choice, first drink "a good large draught of Sallet Oyl" (Read: salad oil) "for that will float upon the Wine... and suppresse the spirits from ascending to the brain." Follow the salad oil up with some milk, and you'll be golden. Be warned, though: "But how sick you shal be with this prevention, I wil not here determine."
How to Cure Nausea (1693)
If your heavy drinking, or your attempt to prevent drunkenness with salad oil and milk, has made you feel unspeakably nauseous, the past has got a cure for you, too. "Take a large Nutmeg, grate off one half of it, and toast the flat side of the other." Then, take that scalding hot toasted nutmeg and "clap it to the Pit of the Patient's Stomach as hot as he can well endure it." Because nothing will make you forget about throwing up quite like getting a third-degree burn.
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