Top 10 revolutionary drinks

Anarchists and Bolsheviks

The Russian Revolution is one of the most famous in history but it was the threat from another revolutionary group that led to the creation of one of wine’s great names.

Cristal was created at the behest of Alexander II in 1867 to be the exclusive Champagne to the Russian court.

Its clear glass and solid base were supposedly designed to prevent bombs being smuggled into the court by anarchists who were out to assassinate him.

They came close on a number of occasions, notably when one named Alexander Soloviev got so close he was able to take five shots at the tsar as the latter was walking through a park to the Square of the Guards Staff.

The tsar escaped by running in a zigzag fashion and Soloviev was hanged. Alexander was eventually killed by a bomb hurled at his carriage in 1881.

His grandson was to be the last of the Romanovs however, deposed in 1917 in a revolution that would usher in the Soviet Union.

It is worth noting that from 1914 to 1925, Russia was in a state of prohibition that had been brought in with the advent of the First World War and did not end until after the death of Lenin.

The theory behind this apparently stemmed from Engels who noted that in the intoxication of the workers in the Manchester slums of 1845 was a result of the degradation they received at the hands of the capitalists.

Once they were emancipated, the idea went, this behaviour would stop. Stalin relaxed the ban in 1925 due to its unpopularity.

4 Responses to “Top 10 revolutionary drinks”

  1. Caryl Panman says:

    A footnote to Anarchists and Bolsheviks: According to Sebag Montefiori, when the Revolutionaries took over the Winter Palace, they were protected by a battalion of their own army – who promptly got drunk on the wonderful wine they found in its well-stocked cellars. Another battalion was brought in, and by the next day they were all drunk too. Lenin decided he couldn’t trust his army any more, and called in the Fire Brigade. Who also got drunk. So he decided the only solution was to smash all the bottles, and rivers of the best wine in the world flowed through the streets of St Petersburg, to the huge enjoyment of its populace.

  2. Margaret Rand says:

    Water, too: the Jacobite toast to the king was (supposedly) made holding the glass over a bowl of water – and was thus to ‘the king over the water’, rather than to King George.

  3. Loosely related to revolution, Napoleon’s army supposedly celebrated their Prussian victory in 1806 with a Berliner Weisse. A Berliner Weisse is a delicious tart wheat beer that was popular in the region at the time and often considered beers equivalent to Champagne.

  4. ken gargett says:

    One from Down Under, the Rum Rebellion of 1808 saw Governor Bligh (of Bounty fame), Governor of NSW, deposed by the NSW Corps, which were seen to be closely associated with wealthy landowner, John Macarthur. The Corps ruled NSW till the arrival of Lachlan Macquarie in 1810, at which time the Corps was sent home and replaced by the 73th Regiment of the Foot. Bligh had been the fourth Governor of NSW. It might well be apocryphal but I remember as a schoolkid how we were all told that Bligh was found cowering under his bed when the Corps came looking.
    Bligh had earnt the displeasure of the Corps shortly after arriving when he used the Colony’s stores as relief for farmers who had been affected by flooding. The Corps had been earning a nice profit by trading said stores prior to this.
    He was also determined to prevent spirits being used for barter (hence how the name, ‘Rum Rebellion’ came to be associated with this event in Australian history, though it was not so labelled until many years later). There were numerous other reasons also why he and the Corps fell out. Bligh prevented Macarthur from providing the Corps with extensive amounts of rum cheaply. And prevented the importation of illegal stills.
    Rum actually played only a small role in the Rebellion but the tag stuck.

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