Not everyone drinks alcohol. Some folks are too young. Some do not care for it, and some have personal, medical, or religious reasons. Some are ill and concerned with drug interactions. These are all modern reasons to refrain from imbibing and are valid today.
However, our ancestors had different reasons, although there is some overlap. The most oft-cited reason is that one had signed a temperance pledge. The antebellum temperance movement began as a movement for the moderation of alcohol, but by the 1830s, it had enlarged its scope. Temperance societies called for total abstinence from all liquor. “Signing the Pledge,” became both a tactic and a symbol of the movement. Pledges were often elaborately printed on parchment, with many typefaces and artistic flourishes. Many folks believed that the drinking of alcohol was a threat to the success of America as well as immoral. There were many arguments in favor of temperance. Some were fact-based., but many played on the emotions of those who saw the harm in alcohol.
For those readers who prefer their drinks nonalcoholic, there are recipes aplenty. Most of them are fruit-based–lemon, lime, orange, etc. These citrus fruits are acidic and provide one of the necessary components for creating “fizz” in a drink. The recipes are based on that familiar reaction of effervescing or fizzing up that makes the construction of a paper mâché volcano such fun. The acidity of the fresh citrus juice combined with the base carbonate of soda makes it all succeed. Here is the recipe for Soda Nectar, which will work with any just-squeezed citrus juice:
Stonewall Jackson’s Favorite (one serving)
Juice of one lemon or other citrus fruit
3/4 tumblerful of water
Powdered white sugar to taste
1/2 teaspoon of carbonate of soda
Strain the juice of the lemon, and add it to the water, with sufficient white sugar to sweeten the whole nicely. When well mixed, put in the soda, stir well with ice, and drink while the mixture is in an effervescing state.
U.S. Zouave Cadet Punch (for twenty or so)
Take one quart of the juice of strawberry, raspberry, currant, or orange, filter it, and boil it into a syrup with one pound of powdered loaf sugar. To this, add 1 1/2 ounces of tartaric acid. When cold, put it into a bottle and keep it well-corked. When required for use, fill a punch bowl 3/5 full with fresh water. Add two tablespoons of syrup per guest. Briskly stir a teaspoonful of carbonate of soda per guest, and a delicious drink will be formed. If a deeper color is desired, add a small portion of cochineal to the syrup at the time of boiling. Seasonal fruits such as cranberries and oranges may be added for decoration.
I have never tried the recipe below, but I find it intriguing. Another way to “fizz” a drink is to use yeast, as in beer. Ginger-Lemonade is an example of several yeast recipes included in Terry Thomas’s 1862 Bartender’s Guide. Let us name it for a gallant group of young cadets.
VMI Cadets Ginger Lemonade
Boil 12 1/2 pounds of lump sugar for twenty minutes in ten gallons of water; clear it with the whites of 6 eggs. Bruise 1/2 pound of common ginger, boil with the liquor and then pour it upon 10 lemons pared. When quite cold, put it in a cask with 2 tablespoonfuls of yeast, the lemons sliced, and 1/2 an ounce of isinglass (still available!). Bung up the cask the next day; it will be ready in 2 weeks.
The recipes for this series are all from a book that should be on the shelf of every Civil War historian: Jerry Thomas’s 1862 Bartenders Guide. Tot op de bodem leegdrinken! (Dutch for Drink up!)