Ya know what’s great about bars? They tend to stay in the same spot that you leave them. Which is nice, because many other things that you encounter when you’re drunk, tend to have a way of disappearing come the next morning, like your pants, the contents of your fridge, the window to your bedroom, your companions attractiveness, and a certain amount of your dignity. Bars though, are one of the few things in life that tend to look just fine the next day, no matter what happened the night before.
The problem with bars though, is that they tend to stay in the same spot. When you wake up in that bed, with that strange person, with that broken window, and an empty pickle jar, peanut butter jar, and ice cream tub, all strewn about your house, it would be really nice if that bar was within groaning distance. Some people, like “scientists”, seem to say that the “hair-of-the-dog” philosophy is bunk and doesn’t help cure a hangover, but your hangover knows better.
This isn’t a new realization either. Distilleries and breweries and pubs and taverns and lounges and speakeasies have been notoriously immobile since their invention. Large barrels of beer, wine, whiskey, rum and everything else, are unwieldy, difficult to lift, and not to mention expensive. How on earth was a Zhou dynasty highwayman going to carry a whole barrel of rice wine on his back from Haojing to Shangqui without a fleet of mules which I don’t even think were native to China at the time? Did China invent donkeys? I don’t know. Doesn’t matter.
What I do know, is that at some point, humanity wised up, and figured out ways of taking a little bit of tavern to-go.
Enter the Pilgrim Bottle.
Flat on one side, curved on the other. A few handles so you could tie it to the saddle of your non-invented-mule. It was the perfect thing to keep you company from village to village, as the taverns stubbornly planted their feet and stayed behind. These pilgrim bottles were likely made of all sorts of materials, like goat bladders and mud and wood and ceramic. But the ones that have lasted the ages are the fancy ones, made of silver and porcelain, not meant for traveling, likely just for show. Like all the plates in your grandma’s china cabinet, not meant for eating, they’re meant for passing down from generation to generation, like sparkly hot potatoes of potential guilt, cause some asshole is gonna break that shit in a moving truck and you’d better hope that grandma isn’t alive when that asshole is you. Where were we?
Bottles! So these certainly did evolve over time. Eventually metals became a bit cheaper to get your hands on, and when that happened, Pilgrim Bottles started going by another name: Hip Flasks. Fancy versions appear in the Georgian era and become super popular in the Victorian. Made of bejeweled and polished silver, which of course also ways thought to have purifying qualities which would make the hooch inside taste better. Maybe so, likely not, but still, that was the fancy ones. The cheap ones, for the every man, the highwayman, was likely made of pewter.
If you know anything about the history of pewter, you know that it used to contain a bit of lead, and you also know why that’s a bad idea. Pewter with lead in it, far from purifying, leaches out into the hooch and poisons it. These pewter flasks are likely one of many reasons that alcoholics of the day had such a bad rap. Mad as a fucking hatter, waving their flasks in the air, shouting obscenities at frightened mothers, and all of this in the middle of Sunday’s sermon. Quite a shame.
Luckily for all of us, at the end of the 19th century, Hans Goldschmidt of Germany invented an aluminothermic process for producing carbon-free chromium, which led several researchers, particularly Leon Guillet of France, to create alloys that could be considered to be the very first stainless steel. Thus solving all our hip flask woes, just in-time for the institution of the U.S. prohibition of alcohol. What a time to have been alive. I’m not sure if there is anything sexier than a girl lifting her dress a bit to show a garter, fully loaded with bootlegged bourbon.
That’s really what we’ve been leading to this whole time.
It isn’t a cocktail.
It isn’t a spirit.
It’s more than a vessel.
It’s a 6oz way of life (which due to most open-container laws, remains illegal through-out the U.S. and abroad.)
Kick back and enjoy as many swigs off that flask as you can muster.
More hurricanes!!! Lots of em.
Tallboy beers. Lots of em.
Also either pulled pork or brisket. Choose wisely.