The 18th century in England was an age notorious for the consumption – often to excess – of alcohol, in part due to the lack of clean drinking water. Hogarth famously illustrated the social problems of gin, and rum was a common drink on board ships, especially once they had figured out how to distil it so it didn’t taste like turpentine, but I was unaware of the popularity of brandy.
This is another snippet from the journal of Carl Philip Moritz:
“It is said that the insatiable lust for brandy, especially among the common people, goes to fantastic lengths, and there is a phrase used by everybody – ‘He is in liquor’ – when they mean that he is drunk. In the terrific Gordon Riots here – recent enough to bestill a current topic of conversation – more people were found dead beside the looted and emptied brandy casks than were killed by the musketry of the troops called in to quell the riot.”
(The Gordon Riots were a series of riots which destroyed Catholic property in England. They began as a peaceful protest against the slight easing of restrictions on Catholics in 1778 but exploded into violence in London and beyond)