1) The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition – W.J. Rorabaugh
Oxford University Press | 1979 | PDF
Rorabaugh has written a well thought out and intriguing social history of America’s great alcoholic binge that occurred between 1790 and 1830, what he terms ‘a key formative period’ in our history….A pioneering work that illuminates a part of our heritage that can no longer be neglected in future studies of America’s social fabric. A bold and frequently illuminating attempt to investigate the relationship of a single social custom to the central features of our historical experience….A book which always asks interesting questions and provides many provocative answers.
2) Beer in America: The Early Years, 1587-1840: Beer’s Role in the Settling of America and the Birth of a Nation – Gregg Smith
Brewers Publications | 1998 | PDF
One of the most important but little-known aspects of early American history was beer’s role in the founding of our country and its formative years. The definitive account of beer’s impact on people and events that shaped the birth of a nation will astonish readers.
3) Rum Punch & Revolution: Taverngoing & Public Life in Eighteenth Century Philadelphia – Peter Thompson
University of Pennsylvania Press | 1998 | PDF
‘Twas Honest old Noah first planted the Vine
And mended his morals by drinking its Wine.
—from a drinking song by Benjamin Franklin
There were, Peter Thompson notes, some one hundred and fifty synonyms for inebriation in common use in colonial Philadelphia and, on the eve of the Revolution, just as many licensed drinking establishments. Clearly, eighteenth-century Philadelphians were drawn to the tavern. In addition to the obvious lure of the liquor, taverns offered overnight accommodations, meals, and stabling for visitors. They also served as places to gossip, gamble, find work, make trades, and gather news.
In Rum Punch and Revolution, Thompson shows how the public houses provided a setting in which Philadelphians from all walks of life revealed their characters and ideas as nowhere else. He takes the reader into the cramped confines of the colonial bar room, describing the friendships, misunderstandings and conflicts which were generated among the city’s drinkers and investigates the profitability of running a tavern in a city which, until independence, set maximum prices on the cost of drinks and services in its public houses.
Taverngoing, Thompson writes, fostered a sense of citizenship that influenced political debate in colonial Philadelphia and became an issue in the city’s revolution. Opinionated and profoundly undeferential, taverngoers did more than drink; they forced their political leaders to consider whether and how public opinion could be represented in the counsels of a newly independent nation.
4) Taverns and Drinking in Early America – Sharon V. Salinger
Johns Hopkins University Press | 2004 | PDF
Sharon V. Salinger’s Taverns and Drinking in Early America supplies the first study of public houses and drinking throughout the mainland British colonies. At a time when drinking water supposedly endangered one’s health, colonists of every rank, age, race, and gender drank often and in quantity, and so taverns became arenas for political debate, business transactions, and small-town gossip sessions. Salinger explores the similarities and differences in the roles of drinking and tavern sociability in small towns, cities, and the countryside; in Anglican, Quaker, and Puritan communities; and in four geographic regions. Challenging the prevailing view that taverns tended to break down class and gender differences, Salinger persuasively argues they did not signal social change so much as buttress custom and encourage exclusion.
5) The Spirits of America: A Social History of Alcohol – Eric Burns
Temple University Press | 2003 | PDF
Details the transformation of alcohol from virtue to vice and back again, how it was thought of as both scourge and medicine. This title tells us how the great American thirst developed over the centuries, and how reform movements and laws (some of which, the author says, were comic masterpieces of the legislator’s art) sprang up to combat it.