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ONE COMFORTABLE fact gleaned from travel in far countries was that regardless of race, creed or inner metabolisms, mankind has always created varying forms of stimulant liquid-each after his own kind. Prohibitions and nations and kings depart, but origin of such pleasant fluid finds constant source. Fermentation and the art of distilling liquors over heat became good form about the time our hairy forefathers began sketching mastodon and sabretooth tiger on their cave foyers. Elixir of fruit juice, crushed root and golden honey date back to the dawn of time and far beyond the written word, to when the old gods were young and stalked abroad upon business with goddesses, when Pan piped the dark forest aisles and Centaurs pawed belly deep in fern. The Phoenicians, the Pharaohs, the first agrarian Chinese, all ancient races on earth buried jars of wine or spirits with their dead alongside the money and food and weapons and wives, so the departed might find reasonable comfort and happiness in the hereafter. Go to Africa and the poorest Kaffir cheers life with-and for all of us he can have it-warm millet beer. We just returned from Mexico and can affirm that our Yucatecan most certainly ripped the bud out of his Agave Americana and drank the fermented pulque-a fluid which tastes faintly like mildewed donkeys-centuries before Montezuma's parents journeyed southward to the Valley of Cortez. We found additional evidence after three voyages to Zamboanga in Philippine Mindanao-where the monkeys have no tails-that the more agile Moro shinnied up his cocopalm and slashed the flower bud with his bolo; caught the saccharine drip-and an astounding menagerie of assorted squirt-ants-in a fermentation joint of bamboo, long before the Spanish Inquisition or Admiral Dewey steamed into Manila Bay. In Samoa the loveliest tribal virgin chews the kava root for the ceremonial bowl when your yacht sails into her lagoon, and the resultant fluid furnishes a sure ticket to amiable paralysis of the lower limbs. China and Japan have for centuries had their rice wine and saki. The Russian made his vodka from cereals, the blond Saxon his honey mead, the Hawaiian his okolehao from roots or fruits. We've been often to the Holy Land and have flown across to Transjordania and the rose-red city of Petra, and can bear witness that those grapes Moses the Lawgiver found in the Promised Land weren't all of a type suitable for raisins. To any reasonable mind this past and present testimony of mankind through the ages would indicate that some sort of fluid routine will continue for many centuries to come. With adventurers like Marco Polo, Columbus, Tavernier and Magellan, there was a vast national introduction and interchange of beverages. For better or worse both conquistador and native sampled, discarded or adapted an incredible addition of liquid blends and formulae. Through rigour or amiability of climate, through physical, racial and psychological characteristics of the individuals themselves, from the cocoon of this pristine field work there emerged an equally incredible list of drinks-mixed or otherwise-which for one reason or another have stood the test of time and taste and gradually have become set in form. They have become traditional, accepted in ethical social intercourse. And it is with the more civilized family of these that we are concerned in this volume; not the pulques and warm mealie beer or fermented Thibetan yak milk.


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