About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks at the Spirits, Sugar, Water, Bitters: How the Cocktail Conquered the World

McGowan Theater, National Archives Building, Washington, DC
June 15, 2019 

Good afternoon. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives or as I like to call it “My House.”

We are pleased to have Derek Brown as a friend to the National Archives. He served as our Chief Spirits Advisor in 2015 when we launched Spirited Republic: Alcohol’s Evolving Role in U.S. History, an exhibit that explored the role the Federal Government has played in regulating, promoting, investigating, prohibiting, and warning about alcohol. In a series of extremely popular associated seminars, Derek brought the cocktail out of the dark ages to delighted audiences.

Spirits, Sugar, Water, Bitters: How the Cocktail Conquered the World is the book that came out of this series of 10 panel discussions at the National Archives. The book begins long before the arrival of Europeans to the Americas with an Aztec alcoholic beverage with the rinds of pineapples and spices and brings you all the way to present day with “cocktail nerds.” There are ten chapters covering such themes as the Founding Drinkers, the importance of ice, the Temperance Movement and Prohibition’s influence, the Dark Ages of the 70s, and the resurgence of the cocktail in the 80s and 90s.

One of the drinks to come out of our “Spirited Republic” partnership with Derek is the General’s Order. It references Gen. George Washington’s ration of spirits to the troops at Valley Forge. This tasty concoction consists of rum, rye, and cherry. All common ingredients in Revolutionary War times. The recipe is one of 45 recipes featured in the book.

Thanks to the National Archives Foundation for this fun, delectable event and for sharing our passion for educating citizens about the important work of the National Archives in preserving our history and making it accessible to the people.

Get ready to celebrate and explore the purely American invention––the cocktail––with your panelists and hosts, Derek Brown, Robert Mule, and Rose Previte. Cheers!