George Washington may have been the first person to host a “cocktail” hour. In a witness account from May of 1783, Washington was observed pulling out his watch and noticing it was near dinner time, “offered Wine And Bitters.” In the 1700s, such drinks, including gin and bitters, as well as brandy and bitters, were considered the cocktail of the day.

Spiked Apple Cider

A colonial drink you can make at home

Hot Spiked Apple Cider:

Combine 6 cups apple cider, 1 cup rum, 2 star anise, 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves and 3 cinnamon sticks in a medium pot. Heat over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until warm. Enjoy.

*Mary Calvi toasts George Washington with her friend, journalist Alex Denis at Fraunces Tavern in New York City. Colonial drinks and cuisine are cited throughout Calvi’s debut novel, Dear George, Dear Mary: A Novel of George Washington’s First Love, publishing February 19, 2019, by St. Martin’s Press.

Screen Shot 2019-01-13 at 9.25.21 AM.png

Washington’s Ale Recipe:

Take a Sifter full of Bran Hops. Boil 3 hours. Strain out 30 Gallons into a cooler put in 3 Gall[ons] Molasses while the Beer is Scalding hot or rather draw the Melasses into the cooler & St[r]ain the Beer on it while boiling Hot. Let this stand till it is little more than Blood warm then put in a quart of Yea[s]t if the Weather is very Cold cover it with a Blank[et]. Let it Work in the Cooler 24 hrs. Put into a Cask–Bottle it that day Week it was Brewed. *From New York Public Library archives, ca. 1757