5 Archaic Alcohol Words That Should Be Revived

Cheers! Let's get banjanxed!
Cheers! Let's get banjanxed!

Because we began this week with Tales of the Cocktail, and because we all know how much serious bartenders love archaic things, and because old words are fun, I thought I'd compile a list of fun booze words that have fallen out of favor but should totally be brought back. Here are five words I hope to see used in conversation and cocktail lists forthwith.

5. Giggle Water: Prohibition-era word for alcohol. This phrase still shows up in places like Urban Dictionary, but it's so awesome it should be the name of at least a few pretentious cocktail bars and even more Champagne-topped cocktails.

4. Drekk: This word means a drinking horn, and because no one uses a drinking horn any more, first we have to bring back the drinking horn. Which is a total win -- you can say, for instance, "And then I drank deeply of my horn." Also, it can be used as a weapon. So, step one: Buy a drinking horn (you may have to go to a Renn-fest, sorry). Step two: Call it a drekk.

Drinketh of the drekk!!
Drinketh of the drekk!!

3. Banjanxed: An old Irish word that means drunk or ruined. There are thousands of words that mean drunk, but I especially like this one, and I think it has a lot of cocktail-naming potential. The Banjanxer? Yes, please. For lots more drunk words, check out the Drunktionary, which has terms like "admiral of the narrow seas," which means a drunk who throws up in his neighbor's lap.

2. Dipsomaniac: A person with an insatiable craving for alcohol. In other words, a drunk. Or, you know, me. This word is great because it can be shortened (dipso) and also has an adjectival version: dipsomaniacal.

1. Nectarian: Forgive me, for I am about to dork out ... This is a word I found in the foreword to the 1862 edition of Jerry Thomas' book How to Mix Drinks, or The Bon-Vivant's Companion, which was the first cocktail book published in the U.S. The writing in general in this foreword establishes what has become a long and rich tradition of bartenders making up florid words to describe stuff -- Nectarian's literal meaning has to do with the lunar geological timescale. There also are references to Nectarian in Eastern religion. In the foreword to Thomas' book, which was written by one Herbert Asbury, it seems to mean the pleasurable nature of cocktails. I'll let you read the passage yourself:

We very well remember seeing one day in London, in the rear of the Bank of England, a small drinking saloon that had been set up by a peripatetic American, at the door of which was placed a board covered with the unique titles of the American mixed drinks supposed to be prepared within that limited establishment. The "Connecticut eye-openers" and "Alabama fog cutters," together with the "lightning-smashes" and the "thunderbolt-cocktails," created a profound sensation in the crown assembled to peruse the Nectarian bill of fare, if they did not produce custom.

Anyway, I like it. Nectarian. Friends, let us come together around these nectarian delights and partake of the drinkie-poos!!


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