Skip to main content

Cocktails Of The Blue And Gray

March 2023
1min read

The Authentic Guide to Drinks of the Civil War Era, 1853–1873

by Sharon Peregrine Johnson and Byron A. Johnson, Thomas Publications, 200 pages, S14.9S spiral bound. CODE: TMS-1

If you’d like to expand your repertoire of cocktails to include another era altogether, this straightforward, informative guide will stand you in good stead while you mix and pour. Using recipes culled from the manuals of bartenders and distillers from 1853 to 1873, the authors manage to provide a thorough and accessible sampling of drinks while steering clear of the kind of coy approach that usually dooms texts such as this. A brief history of alcohol’s role during the Civil War era is eye-opening. Early in the war soldiers in the Union and Confederate armies were given daily rations of spirits to help boost morale, but as the struggle continued and its horrors grew, soldiers began drinking to such excess they were often unable to fight capably. Bootleggers wreaked havoc with undistilled, near-poisonous intoxicants, and one Confederate general declared that the South had “lost more valuable lives at the hands of the whiskey sellers than by the [musket] balls of our enemies.” Some soldiers even set up their own makeshift stills.

Skilled bartenders set things to rights in local taverns, however, and their extensive collections are amply represented here. Study the chapter called “Stocking a Civil War Sideboard” to clarify measurements with a conversion chart, and use the glossary to define the more esoteric ingredients. Then create flips, fixes, crustas, cobblers, Mother-in-Laws, Corpse Revivers, Wait a Bits, Stone Walls, Columbia Skins, None Such Punch, and, perhaps later, a Drink for the Dog Days (simply lemon ice and soda.water), listed in the closing chapter on temperance.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.


Stories published from "May/June 1994"

Authored by: William B. Meyer

American attitudes toward them have taken a 180-degree turn over the last century—and so have the battles they provoke

Authored by: John Steele Gordon

Mary Mallon could do one thing very well, and all she wanted was to be left to it

Authored by: The Editors

Zipper: An Exploration in Novelty

Authored by: The Editors

Alone With the President

Authored by: The Editors

The Authentic Guide to Drinks of the Civil War Era, 1853–1873

Authored by: The Editors

Ride With Me—Connecticut

Authored by: The Editors

We’ll Meet Again: The Love Songs of World War II

Authored by: The Editors

The Home Front, 1938–1945

Authored by: The Editors

Gershwin Plays Gershwin
The Piano Rolls

Authored by: The Editors

The Hudson Valley

Featured Articles

Rarely has the full story been told how a famed botanist, a pioneering female journalist, and First Lady Helen Taft battled reluctant bureaucrats to bring Japanese cherry trees to Washington. 

Why have thousands of U.S. banks failed over the years? The answers are in our history and politics.

Often thought to have been a weak President, Carter was strong-willed in doing what he thought was right, regardless of expediency or political fallout.

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln embodied leading in a time of polarization, political disagreement, and differing understandings of reality.

Native American peoples and the lands they possessed loomed large for Washington, from his first trips westward as a surveyor to his years as President.

A hundred years ago, America was rocked by riots, repression, and racial violence.

During Pres. Washington’s first term, an epidemic killed one tenth of all the inhabitants of Philadelphia, then the capital of the young United States.

Now a popular state park, the unassuming geological feature along the Illinois River has served as the site of centuries of human habitation and discovery.  

The recent discovery of the hull of the battleship Nevada recalls her dramatic action at Pearl Harbor and ultimate revenge on D-Day as the first ship to fire on the Nazis.

Our research reveals that 19 artworks in the U.S. Capitol honor men who were Confederate officers or officials. What many of them said, and did, is truly despicable.

Here is probably the most wide-ranging look at Presidential misbehavior ever published in a magazine.

When Germany unleashed its blitzkreig in 1939, the U.S. Army was only the 17th largest in the world. FDR and Marshall had to build a fighting force able to take on the Nazis, against the wishes of many in Congress.