World Alcohol and Drinking History Timeline

The Age of Discovery

From about 1600 to about 1700

During the Age of Discovery, European countries were rapidly expanding
their exploration of the world, making not only geographic discoveries,
but material discoveries as well.

Note: This timeline presents events in the history of alcohol and drinking during the Age of Discovery, about 1600 to about 1700, in chronological order. When events are listed as having occurred within a period of time, such as 1680s, they are listed before more specifically dated events, such as 1680.

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Seventeenth Century

The early American colonists made alcohol beverages from, among other things, carrots, tomatoes, onions, beets, celery, squash, corn silk, dandelions, and goldenrod.18

1600

A temperance society was founded in Hesse, Germany. Its members pledged not to drink more than seven glasses of wine at a meal no more than two times per day. They also pledged to refrain from “full guzzling” for two years after their initiation.19

1602

1606

English Parliment passed “The Act to Repress the Odious and Loathsome Sin of Drunkenness.”22

1608

Bushmills, the oldest whisky currently distilled in the world, was founded in Ireland.23

1609

1614

For the first time, England imposed a levy on malt.26

1618

The wine trade was the most profitable industry in Rotterdam.27

1619

France imposed state control of distilling.28

1620-1776

During the first century and a half (1620-1776) of the American colonies that became the U.S., alcohol was widely and heavily used. Alcohol was viewed positively while its abuse was condemned. "In 1673, [Puritan minister] Increase Mather praised alcohol, saying that 'Drink is in itself a creature of God, and to be received with thankfulness.'"29

1620

A brewery was one of Harvard College's first construction projects so that a steady supply of beer could be served in the student dining halls.32

1627

A fine and whipping was imposed on anyone operating an ale-house without a license.33

1629

Hops were “introduced into the New Netherlands.”34

1630

The first attempt to impose prohibition in the New World occurred when Governor John Winthrop of Massachusetts attempted to outlaw all alcoholic beverages in Boston.35

1631

Holland ordered the closing of all inns and taverns during worship hours and after 9:00 at night.36

Cir. 1633

“The modern wine bottle was an English invention, its creator Sir Kenelm Digby [1603-1665]....” and “For the first time since the fall of Rome, Europe had the technology to age wine.” 37 “In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, hand-blown glass bottles began to surpass ceramic vessels as the primary means of alcohol storage and transport.”38

1634

Ireland began licensing the retailers of alcoholic beverages.39

1642

The “West India Company built a brewery on a lane that became known as ‘Brouwers Straet’” in what is now Manhattan in New York City.40

1643

A traveller in Poland described heavy drinking there as a national failure.41

1645

“In 1645, the Massachusetts General Court forbade ordinary keepers ‘to suffer anyone to be drunk or drink excessively, or continue tippling above the space of half an hour in any of their said houses.”42

1648

The cultivation of hops was begun in Virginia.43

1650

The importation of rum into New England from the West Indies began and the beverage became especially popular among poor people because of its low price.44

1651

1652

The first distillery was established in the American colonies on what is now Staten Island in New York State (1652).47

1655

The first vineyard in South Africa was planted.48

1657

By 1657, a rum distillery was operating in Boston. It was highly successful and within a generation the manufacture of rum would become colonial New England's largest and most prosperous industry.49

1660

Claret [i.e., red Bordeaux wine] was the most popular wine in Scotland and England at the beginning of the Restoration.50

1662

Maryland passed a law to promote the establishment of inns with a monopoloy on alcohol sales within a specific geographic area. It was intended to promote innkeeping, brewing, distilling, travel and commerce.51

1663

1666

In Germany, Saxony-Gotha enacted an ordinance outlawing public drunkenness and specified a fine as punishment for any violation.55

1672

1673

An ineffective petition was made to Parliment for legislation to prohibit brandy, coffee, mum, tea and chocolate “for theese greatly hinder the consumption of Barley, Malt, and Wheat, the product of our land.”58

1675

Massachusetts established the office of tithingman to report alcohol violations in homes.59

1678

In Portugal, it was discovered that if enough brandy is added to wine before the end of fermentation, the fermentation stops, leaving some of the natural sugar in the wine.60

1680s

Beer was the major drink of the English and consumption rose throughout the decade to 104 gallons per capita for the entire population.61

1680

William Penn, who founded Pennsylvania, operated a commercial brewery in Philadelphia.62

A daily ration of rum was issued to sailors in the British Navy from 1655 until 1970.63

1685

War broke out between Britain and France and King Charles II bannned the importation of French wine.64

1686

The first true cafe (Cafe de Procope) opened in Paris.65

1690

1693

1697

“In 1697 Emperor Peter I [of Russia] ordered the Moscow patrarch ‘to forbid priests to to the pubs [so as] not to tempt ordinary people.’”70

 

The Future

To learn more about alcohol and drinking after the Age of Discovery, visit

Resources

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  • 2 Esteicher, Stefan K. Wine from Neolithic Times to the 21st Century. New York: Algora Publishing, 2006, p. 70.
  • 3 Gately, Iain. Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol. NY: Gotham, 2008, pp. 137-138.
  • 4 Younger, William A. Gods, Men, and Wine. London: Wine and Food Society & Michael Joseph, 1966, pp.345-346; Doxat, John. The World of Drinks and Drinking. New York: Drake Publishers, 1971, p. 54; Seward, Desmond. Monks and Wine. London: Mitchell Beazley Pub., 1979, pp. 139-143.
  • 5 MacAndrew, Craig, and Edgerton, Robert B. Drunken Comportment: A Social Explanation. Chicago, IL: Aldine, 1969.
  • 6 Austin, Gregory A. Alcohol in Western Society from Antiquity to 1800: A Chronological History. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC - Clio, 1985, pp. 230 and 249.
  • 7 Gately, Iain. Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol. NY: Gotham, 2008, p. 147.
  • 8 Hanson, David J. Preventing Alcohol Abuse: Alcohol, Culture, and Control. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1995, p. 10.
  • 9 Schlaadt, Richard G. Alcohol Use and Abuse. Guilford, CT: Dushkin Publishing, 1992, pp. 8-9.
  • 10 Mendelson, Jack H., and Mello, Nancy K. Alcohol: Use and Abuse in America. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Co., 1985.
  • 11 Baron, Stanley. Brewed in America: A History of Beer and Ale in the United States. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1962, pp. 3-8.
  • 12 Krout, John A. The Origins of Prohibition. New York: Knopf, 1925, p. 7.
  • 13 Aaron, Paul, and Musto, David. Temperance and Prohibition in America: An Historical Overview. In: Moore, Mark H., and Gerstein, Dean R., (eds.) Alcohol and Public Policy: Beyond the Shadow of Prohibition. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1981. pp. 127-181. pp.132-133.
  • 14 Krout, John A. The Origins of Prohibition. New York: Knopf, 1925, p. 44.
  • 15 Smith, Frederick H. The Archeology of Alcohol and Drinking. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2008, p. 30.
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  • 18 Mendelson, Jack H. and Mello, Nancy K. Alcohol: Use and Abuse in America. Boston, Massachusetts: Little, Brown & Co., 1985.
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  • 20 Churton, Ralph. The Life of Alexander Nowell. Oxford, England: the University Press for the author, 1809.
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  • 25 Bickerdyke, John. The Curiosities of Ale and Beer: An Entertaining History. London: Spring Books, 1965, p. 115.
  • 26 Monckton, Herbert A. A History of English Ale and Beer. London: Bodley Head, 1966, p. 114.
  • 27 Zumthor, Paul. Daily Life in Rembrandt’s Holland. New York: Macmillan, 1962, p.174.
  • 28 Forbes, R. J. Short History of the Art of Distillation. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1948, p. 102.
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  • 30 Royce, James E. Alcohol Problems and Alcoholism: A Comprehensive Survey. New York: Free Press, 1981, p. 38; Mansfield, Stephen. The Search for God and Guinness. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2009, p. 6.
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  • 32 Furnas, J. C. The Life and Times of the Late Demon Rum. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1965, p. 20.
  • 33 Bickerdyke, John. The Curiosities of Ale and Beer: An Entertaining History. London: Spring Books, 1965, p. 115.
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  • 35 Ford, Gene. Wines, Brews, & Spirits. 4th ed. Seattle, WA and San Francisco, CA: Gene Ford Publications and the Wine Appreciation Guild, 1996, p. 17.
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  • 38 Smith, Frederick H. The Archeology of Alcohol and Drinking. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2008, p. 16.
  • 39 McGuire, Edward B. Irish Whiskey: A History of Distilling, the Spirit Trade, and Excise Controls in Ireland. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1973, pp. 96-97.
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  • 41 Mundy, Peter. The Travels of Peter Mundy in Europe, Asia, 1608-1667. Vol. 1. Travels in Europe, 1639-1647. Originally published in 1647. Edited by R.C. Temple. London: Hakluyt Society, 1925, p. 196.
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  • 43 Bickerdyke, John. The Curiosities of Ale and Beer: An Entertaining History. London: Spring Books, 1965. p. 87.
  • 44 Austin, Gregory A. Alcohol in Western Society from Antiquity to 1800: A Chronological History. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC - Clio, 1985, p. 240.
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