Try the ‘plague water’: Twin Cities distillers are locating new beverages in historical recipes

Try the 'plague water': Twin Cities distillers are locating new beverages in historical recipes 1

Twin Cities blend masters are reintroducing antique liquors to offer a fresh flavor of the past. At the top of a handwritten recipe for the herbal spirit cherries water, there’s a observe about an non-compulsory element. “And a grain of Ambergreece with it in case you Like it,” writes Ann Ward in her circa 1724 “Book of Receipts.” She turned into referring to ambergris, a waxy secretion from a whale’s intestines. Sourcing that ingredient posed a task for the team at Tattersall Distilling in Minneapolis, which spent the past 12 months experimenting with vintage alcohol recipes.


This deep-dive into ancient spirit-making — a collaboration between Tattersall, the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine at the University of Minnesota — ended in “Alcohol’s Empire,” an online exhibition and recipe ebook. The offbeat collaboration befell when Nicole LaBouff, partner curator of textiles at Mia, created an installation of a party in a 1700s French grand salon in one of the museum’s length rooms.

“As I changed into visiting the space, people might inquire from me what form of alcohol they might have consumed at these parties,” LaBouff stated. She didn’t realize the answers, so she determined to delve into the records of “the alcoholic landscape” to discover. She contacted Emily E. Beck, assistant curator at the U’s ancient medical library, who exposed troves of rare cookbooks, family manuals and pharmaceutical books packed with distillation recipes from that technology.

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