…that the late Georgians were notoriously heavy drinkers? But the upper classes inclined more toward wine than distilled spirits. In 1838, by one estimate, consumption of distilled spirits in England was a mere .53 gallon per capita annually. Contrast that with Scotland at 2.46 and Australia at 5.02.
While gentlemen might start their day with sherry and down a few bottles of wine of an evening, the top of the heap was port, which is wine fortified with brandy, a form of distilled wine. Consumption of port was downright patriotic, coming as it did from England’s ally, Portugal, and to be preferred to the wines of England’s enemy, France. As a result, the effects of drink were common.
- The father of George Cruikshank the cartoonist who often lampooned drunkenness died of alcohol poisoning after a drinking contest. (Which he won)
- George IV, or “Prinny” as he was during the Regency, was a notorious drunk.
- Members of parliament, including William Pitt the Younger, were known to conduct business when hung over.
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