People always ask how I survive winters in Provincetown. Isn’t it lonely? Boring? Too quiet? Too cold? Well, yes, it’s quiet and cold and you do have to be the sort of person who doesn’t mind Hunkering Down. Cause on long, cold nights here on Cape Cod, that’s what we do. We hunker down. But it’s rarely boring. We get creative in how we pass our time. Trivia, my friends. It’s all about the trivia. Nothing better than sitting around with a bunch of friends and shooting trivia questions across the bow. Ever since my college years, I’ve compiled a bunch of random and little known “facts” pertaining to assorted alcoholic beverages, collected from various bartenders. Here are five of my quirky favorites:
#1 Take some Gin and call me in the morning
Gin was originally flavored with juniper to make it taste better to patients. That’s right…patients. If you found yourself in a Dutch hospital during the 17th century suffering from gallstones or gout then this may have been your prescribed treatment.
#2 Always add an ‘e’
Scotch whisky and Irish whiskey differ in more ways than just the spelling. While they are both distilled from water and barley, makers of Scotch allow the barley to sprout. Scotch whisky is then aged for just two years, being distilled twice in the process. Irish whiskey must age for a minimum of three years and is distilled three times. My bartender insists this is why Irish whiskey is smoother and blends better into cocktails.
#3 The worm lives!
The little red worm floating in your bottle of mezcal is actually the larvae of the chinicuil or “maguey worm”, which feasts on the Agave plant. If this completely edible guy wasn’t busy swimming laps in your drink then he would turn into a beautiful little butterfly. I’m equal parts impressed and disgusted.
#4 Feel the burn
“Voda” is the Russian word for water which later, somehow, became Vodka. Early Slavic references use the word as a verb meaning “to burn” perhaps giving reverence to the distillation process or the feeling after consumption. That said, one of the reasons this drink became popular was its ability to aid in the gunpowder manufacturing process during the 15th century (a whole other story in itself).
#5 Rum rinse
Every Cape Cod sailor loves their rum…but did you know that in the 18th century, it was used to clean hair and strengthen roots? I’d like to imagine they rinsed it out afterwards but who knows.
Don’t believe me? Google them for yourself and get ready for a winter trip down the interweb rabbit hole! Stay safe everyone and enjoy the winter!