Have you ever wondered how long has alcohol been present in the lives of us Homo-sapiens? Whether it was before or after Queen Elizabeth? (Just a joke, people!) Whether alcohol has always been this important for humans — to socialize, chill out or just enjoy its effects?
If not imperative, alcohol has still been important, and has existed for thousands of years. You could say that alcohol has been part of human life since the beginning years, where we were nomads, had to hunt for food, had to fight for our survival, had to build shelters; and at the end of a long tiring day, would still wind down with some alcohol. Interesting, huh? Imagine, late Stone Age jugs have been discovered, suggesting intentionally fermented beverages have existed in the Neolithic period at least. Civilizations’ love affair with alcohol dates back to a time that was even before farming! A time before us even! Fun fact, alcohol doesn’t only reflect chilling and making memories, but the purposeful production of alcohol also reflects cultural and religious peculiarities, geographical conditions as well as sociological conditions.
From the Egyptians and the Chinese in 7000 B.C, to the Indians in 3000 B.C, to the Babylonians worshiping a wine Goddess in years as early as the 2700 B.C and the Greek literature being full of alcohol and excessive drinking — alcohol has been common throughout the years, all across the globe and has been held as an important part of our lives.
Alcohol, called ‘Spirits’ in the sixteenth century, was largely used for medical purposes! Imagine being sick and your doctor prescribing you 6 shots a day, 2 after each meal! Haha! But with this, alcoholism spread far and wide, and in the eighteenth century, consumption of alcohol was moderated.
All alcohols have one common ingredient that is made by yeasts; single — celled organisms that eat sugar and excrete carbon dioxide and ethanol, the only potable alcohol. This is a kind of fermentation. There are various different types of yeasts that alcohol makers and producers use to make and produce all different kinds of alcohol — from beer and wine, to gin, vodka, whiskey or even tequilas! Yeasts are unique and diverse, and have been most likely fermenting ripe wild fruit ever since the first fruits came to be on the planet — for about 120 million years!! Bamboozling, isn’t it??
Not to get all science-ey on you, but let us tell you what alcohol does to make you feel the way you do after downing some drinks. Ethanol has a supremely compelling property, that is — it makes one feel GOOD. Ethanol helps our brains to release dopamine, serotonin and endorphins — the chemicals that basically make us feel happier and a little less anxious. No doubt we like drinking, huh? Especially in 2020!
Now when our fruit -consuming, primate ancestors must have eaten all this ripened, yeast laden fruit, they must have absolutely loved its effect on them! And us being curious cats, had to obviously do something about it to make more of it!
“Our ape ancestors started eating fermented fruits on the forest floor, and that made all the difference,” says Nathaniel Dominy, a biological anthropologist at Dartmouth College. “We’re pre-adapted for consuming alcohol.”