Arrack – booze was probably first formed in a gourd of palm sugar left out in the rain into which the right little speck of yeast landed, setting off a spontaneous fermentation. Whoever looked at it the next morning and wondered why their breakfast was bubbling should have stopped there. But they had a sniff . . . and then a sip – at which point all their instincts should have said, ‘Eeeuw!’ But the person who started it all (I suspect a direct ancestor of mine) thought, ‘Mmmm, you know, that’s really not bad,’ and then took a second sip – the first ever booze-up. Similar drinks are still made by primitive peoples in Java, Borneo, Sumatra, South London and Sweden, where it has evolved into what they call Punsch.

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