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March 6, 2012

“Good Spirits: Alcoholic Beverages in the 18th Century” Conference Toasts Colonial Beverages and their Consumption

Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Foodways staff and some of today’s top scholars and authors from England, Canada and the United States explore the beer, wine and strong drink of the 18th century during the conference, “Good Spirits: Alcoholic Beverages in the 18th Century,” March 18-20. They will examine the manufacture, trade, service and consumption of the most popular beverages of the period and delve into how every level of society had their favorites. Learn about some of colonial barman’s more bizarre concoctions and sample some of their best.

Peter Brown, noted English food historian, sets the tone with a keynote presentation. Speakers discuss beer, cider and perry, fortified wines, punch, and the variety of glasses, bowls and other paraphernalia of serious drinking. There is gin, rum and whiskey. The afternoon will focus on the use of alcohol in cooking — both then and now — and culminate with a special version of the Williamsburg Lodge’s Wine, Wit and Wisdom. Along the way, there will be more tastings and samples.

Additional presenters include Daniel K. Ackermann, associate curator, Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Phil Dunning, material culture researcher, Parks Canada, Ottawa, Ontario; David J. Hancock, professor of history, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich.; Dennis Pogue, vice president, preservation, George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens; and Frederick Smith, associate professor, anthropology, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va.

Colonial Williamsburg presenters include Rob Brantley, journeyman, Historic Foodways; Frank Clark, supervisor, Historic Foodways; and Rhys Lewis, executive chef, Williamsburg Lodge.

Programs include:

  • Come Drink and Be Merry: Country House Consumption from 1690 to 1840. Peter Brown, director, York Civic Trust, York, England.
  • “Oyle of Barley”: Malt Liquors in the 18th Century. Frank Clark, supervisor, Historic Foodways, Colonial Williamsburg.
  • Cider and Perry: The Countryman’s Delight. Robert Brantley, journeyman, Historic Foodways, Colonial Williamsburg.
  • America’s Wine: Madeira and the Culture of Drink in Washington’s America. David Hancock, professor of history, The University of Mich., Ann Arbor, Mich.
  • Our Spirited Ancestors: The Decorative Art of Drink. Daniel Ackermann, associate curator, The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Winston-Salem, N.C., Hennage Auditorium, DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum.
  • In Praise of Punch. Phil Dunning, material culture researcher, Parks Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.
  • Fathom the Bowl! A Celebration of Libation in Popular Songs of the 1700s. Barry Trott, Cliff Williams and Bill Weldon. In addition to other professional pursuits, these three gentlemen are career musicians, who, combined, have more than 95 years’ experience enlightening and entertaining visitors to Williamsburg.

    Presentations offered are:

  • Drunk for a penny, dead drunk for two”: Gin, London, and the Politics of Potables. Frank Clark, Historic Foodways.
  • Caribbean Rum in the Atlantic World. Frederick Smith, associate professor, anthropology, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va.
  • Founding Spirits: George Washington and the Beginning of the American Whiskey Industry. Dennis Pogue, vice president, preservation, George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens, Mount Vernon, Va.
  • Good Spirits and Alcoholic Beverages of the 18th Century
    --Act I- Cooking with Alcohol: A Classic View. Historic Foodways staff, Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg Lodge Conference Center, 310 S. England St., Williamsburg, Va.
    --Act II- Cooking with Alcohol: A Modern View, Rhys Lewis, executive chef, Williamsburg Lodge.
  • Wine, Wit, and Wisdom
    --Act I- Make Mine Virginia Wine, Chef Rhys Lewis.
    --Act II- Dessert in a Glass: A Closer Look at Fortified Wines, Chef Rhys Lewis.

    Registration is $349 per person. Preregistration and payment in full are required. Payment can be made by check or credit card. The registration fee includes the opening reception, two morning coffee breaks, two afternoon breaks, closing reception, and admission pass valid through the end of the day March 23, 2012.

    Register online at www.history.org or by phone at 1-800-603-0948.

    Programs and exhibitions at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum are supported by the DeWitt Wallace Endowment Fund.

    The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. This town-sized living history museum tells the inspirational stories of our journey to become Americans through programs in the Historic Area and through the award-winning Revolutionary City program. Explore The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and discover the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum featuring the best in British and American decorative arts from 1670 – 1830 and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, comprising more than 5,000 folk art objects made during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Colonial Williamsburg Hotels feature conference spaces and recreation activities from spa and fine dining to world-class golf. Colonial Williamsburg is committed to expanding its thought-provoking programming through education outreach on-site and online. Purchase of Colonial Williamsburg products and services supports the preservation, research and educational programs of the Foundation. Philanthropic support by individuals, corporations, and foundations benefits the educational mission of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

    Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at www.history.org.

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121



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