|Welcome to the “My Place” page
My name is Scott
I run the Rope and Wire website.
My original idea for this page was to give those living in the country the opportunity to tell others about the things that made their farm or ranch so special.
Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that either no one likes to brag or no one lives on a farm or a ranch. Whatever the case, no one submitted an article so I felt it was high time to try something different.
So for now this will be literally “My Place.” I’ll use this page to post a western blog or short articles. They will either be mine, or possibly one from a contributing R&W community member.
The theme will remain Western but the content will change weekly, or there about.
If you click on any of the links to past blog's, you can return to this page by clicking on the My Place button across from my picture.
I hope you enjoy it but if not, might I suggest you “stroll the grounds.” Read a story or watch a movie.
Thanks for visiting.
Whiskey, and make it the "good stuff"
A cowboy walks into a saloon and moseys up to the bar. “I’ll take a whiskey,” he orders, “and make it the good stuff.” The bartender slaps a small glass onto the bar, pulls a bottle off the back shelf, and pours him a shot. The ol’ cowboy grabs it up and gulps it down. He pounds on his chest a couple of times and lets out a whoop. “That’s some powerful tanglefoot you got their barkeep. I’ll take another.”
This was a classic scene from the Old West played out in countless mining camps and cow town saloons of the 1800’s. Question is… what did the cowboy really get? What exactly was he drinking?
I can guarantee you it wasn’t anything like the distilled and aged beverage we get these days. There was no such thing as “quality control”, and “Standards and Practices” didn’t yet exist.
In fact, mixing up a batch of whiskey was really not much of an art or a science. The whiskey served in many of the saloons back then was a fairly nasty concoction, which more than likely was put together in a back room by the bartender himself.
The basic ingredient was usually raw alcohol, and to that, any number of strange ingredients may have been added to the batch including, but not limited to creosote, burnt sugar and chewing tobacco.
If the bartender purchased his Whiskey “ready made” it was usually 100 proof, but he didn’t necessarily serve it that way. He would usually cut it with such things as turpentine or ammonia to make it go further, and quite possibly he added a few ingredients of his own such as gunpowder or cayenne.
Back then gunpowder was made from a mixture of sulfur, saltpeter and carbon…all edible.
Can you imagine drinking a mixture of raw alcohol, chewing tobacco, creosote and cayenne pepper…and possibly even a little gunpowder?
I can fully understand why it was served in a shot glass and drank down in one gulp. Proof enough for me that the whole idea behind drinking this swill was nothing more than to either get drunk or show how tuff you were. After all, lets not forget the fact that the saloon was a man’s world, and bravado was definitely part of the scene.
The cowboys and miners who frequented these saloons had names for this stuff. Here are just a few. Tanglefoot, rot gut, red eye, coffin varnish, ditch water, firewater, bug juice, pine top and forty rod.
The name “Forty rod” has to do with the fact that it was so powerful, it could kill a man before he could walk that far after drinking the stuff.
For those of you who don’t know, forty rods is 660 feet, or the distance along one side of a square ten acre parcel of land.
“Firewater” is said to have originated with the Indians who were sold whiskey by the white man. They would spit the first mouthful into the fire and if it flared up, it was good.
The term “proof” originated back when whiskey dealers would test the strength of a product by soaking gunpowder in it and then trying to ignite it. If it lit up, it was considered 100 proof. The idea being that this proved the strength of the product and that it was not watered down.
Considering what I’ve learned about whiskey in the old West, I wonder what that ol’ cowboy at the top of this article meant by the “good stuff?”
I for one don’t think there was such a thing.