World Alcohol and Drinking History Timeline

European Expansion

From about 1700 to about 1800

European countries expanded their activities establishing colonies around
the world during this period. In addition, there were important scientific
discoveries, political revolutions, and social developments.

Note: This timeline presents events in the history of alcohol and drinking during European Expansion, from about 1700 to about 1800, in chronological order. When events are listed as having occurred within a period of time, such as cir. thirteenth century 1774-1783, they are listed before more specifically dated events, such as 1776.

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Eighteenth Century

1700-1730.

Cir. 1720-Cir. 1750

1700

By 1700, sparkling Champagne had become so popular that it sold for twice the price of the best still wine from the region.17

1703

Portugal established the oldest appellation system in the world, the Douro Valley.18

1714

By 1714, gin production in England reached two million gallons per year, double that of 1696.19

Cir. 1717

“The first large-scale vineyard was planted in northern Mexico around 1717, and varioius prohibitions [against other vineyard plantings] were decreed thereafter in order to secure the Spanish wine monopoly.”20

1720s

The profits of vintners in France increased as the demand grew for both inferior and good wines.21

Cir. 1720

Increasing rural prosperity in France enabled peasants for the first time to drink alcohol daily in viticultural areas.22

1729

To control drunkenness, Parliament passed the Gin Control Act of 1729. It raised taxes on alcoholic beverage retailers.23

1730

Londoner John Clarke invented the hydrometer, which could be used to measure the alcohol content of beer, wine or spirits.24

1731

English sailors were given the option to take their daily ration of alcohol as a pint of wine or a half-pint of rum, instead of the traditional gallon of beer. 25

1733

1736

Parliament passed a harsh new Gin Act. It attempted to increase the taxes on gin so high that that it would virtually prohibit its purchase by poor people.28

1737

In Bern, Switzerland, a society named the Golden Louse was formed, whose members were committed to becoming intoxicated wvery day of the week.29

1740s

In Holland, there were 100 berewers employing 1,200 people. 30

1743

John Wesley included a prohibition against drunkenness in the geberal rules of the Methodist church.31

1750 to Early 1800s

Alcoholic mutual aid societies (sobriety “circles”) were formed within various Native American tribes. Some circles later become the basis for temperance societies.32

1750s

In most French boarding schools, wine provided the third largest source of calories.33

1750

The first sobriety circles were established among Native American tribes in 1750. These sometimes later became the nuclei for temperance organizations.34

1754

“there were about 700 inns that served alcoholic beverages in Stockholm in 1754. This meant one inn per 88 citizens, which can be compared with today’s one restaurant per 700 citizens.”35

1759

Arthur Guinness established the Guinness brewery in Dublin.36

1763

Frederick II, king of Prussia, imposed a high tax on coffee in order to increase brewing, from which he derived substantial revenue.37

1767

Catherine th Great (1762-1796) of Russia, established a system of alcohol monopoly franchises (otkupa) in specific geographic areas to increase profits to the state.38

1769

Wine cultivation was introduced into California from Mexico and wine making became its oldest industry.39

1770s

During the 1770s, “The Wilderness Road, the northern route over the Alleghenies from Virginia, had whiskey for sale at strategic points along its length when it was little more than a path through the forest” and “...stills were the largest, more complex, and most valuable man-made objects to be carried over the mountains.”40

1774-1783

“The [U.S.] War of Independence was to have its effect on drinking habits. With the breaking of commercial links with the West Indies, which remained under British jurisdiction, there was demand for substitutes for rum. The new domains to the west of the Appalachians produced whiskey from their growing of maize; rye whiskey became more popular and a large estate in Kentucky began to make Bourbon.”41

1776

In Basil, Switzerland, a commission investigated the damage caused by abusive drinking.42

1777

George Washington wrote to John Hancock that the “benefits arising from the moderate use of strong Liquor have been experienced in all Armies and are not to be disputed.”43

George Washington was his new nation’s first large distiller.44 His wife, Martha, enjoyed daily toddys. In the 1790s, "happy hour" began at 3:00 p.m. and cocktails continued until dinner.45

1781

Corks were first used as a common stopper, which made wine bottle aging possible.46

Post-1783

“...rising nationalism in the post-revolutionary years led American drinkers to switch from rum, a product dependent on supplies from Europe’s Caribbean colonies, to whiskeys distilled from domestically produced grains.”47

1784

Dr. Benjamin Rush published his pamphlet “An Enquiry into the Effects of Spiritous Liquors upon the Human Body, and Their Influence upon the Happiness of Society.” He promoted his ideas that alcoholism is an “odious disease” for which his recomended cures included “whipping the patient severely,” blistering the ankles, bleeding, and purging with toxic substances. Parenthetically, he also promoted his belief that being black was a result of a curable skin disease, which he called negroidism. Intermarrying, he argued, help spread the disease.48

1788

By 1788, grape “Vines had been carried to the New South Wales colony by the first convict fleet.”49

1789

Folk hero Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman) began wandering the northeastern U.S. planting seeds from apples. Being sour, the apples were not intended for eating but for the production of hard cider.53

1790

Parliament made it illegal to pay wages in liquor.54

1791

1792

1793

During the Whiskey Rebellion that occurred in Pennsylvania, federal troops established the federal government’s ability and willingness to impose its power by arresting those who refused to pay taxes on their products.59

1795

The Sale of Beer act prohibited anyone convicted a second time for selling without a license from ever again holding a license to sell alcoholic beverages.60

Every signer of the American Declaration of Independence, without exception, drank alcoholic beverages.63

Late Eighteenth Century

“Alcohol was virtually unknown in Australia until Europeans began arriving in the late eighteenth century.”61

End of the Eightenth Century

Absinthe began as a tonic in Switzerland at the close of the 18th century.62

 

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Resources

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