"Gin Was the Original Urban Drug"
"Time and time again men and women who might ordinarily have drunk a pint or two of beer drank a pint or two of gin instead, often with disastrous consequences." - Jessica Warner, from her book, Craze
I'm currently reading Warner's excellent account of the insanity caused by cheap-ass gin on British society between 1720 and 1751. During that period, the Brits drank more gin than they did beer. Anyone who's spent any time in England should be shocked by that statistic. For those thirty years, people were dying, puking and fucking in the shit-strewn streets, smashed on gin. And it wasn't the type of gin we sip from conical cocktail glasses with olives today. Oh no. The book describes a beverage akin to mixing up Mad Dog 20/20, cheap vodka, and spiking it with Pinesol. Now imagine 75% of your city's population wasted on that concoction on a daily basis. That was London way back when.
The often bloody chaos continued for decades, wreaking havoc on English society until Parliament passed the famous Gin Act of 1751 which completely outlawed the distillaion of gin, and things returned to some semblance of normalcy.
The book is a well-written historical narrative that never gets bogged down with facts and figures. It's worth purchasing. And it's even better if you mix together the aforementioned swill of Mad Dog and vodka while reading. It's like transporting yourself back to 18th century London ... Yea.