If you're into thinkin' and drinkin'

Episode 47: Out of Our Skulls – The Rattleskull

If someone handed you a drink and told you it was called a Rattleskull, it would probably make you pause for a second, right? How could you not assume that you are about to drink something with the sole function of delivering blackouts and hangovers. Rum, brandy, and porter is surely no light concoction, but the name might be scarier than it actually is.

Everything you find online about the Rattleskull lists this as an American colonial drink. Yay! History! Except there isn’t really any direct evidence that points to American colonists drinking anything by this name. So, why does everyone seem to state this as fact? A good amount of copypasta is at play, but there may in fact be some truth to this story.

Join us as we head in the way back machine to sort out this ominous sounding drink. We explore colonial drinks, how the ingredients help point to the origins, and why the name might not actually mean what we think it means.


This mixture was quite delightful.  The smell of the nutmeg hits your nose as you drink but then the drink itself is a complex interplay of bitter from the beer, sweet from the rum, and sour from the lime. For something so easily put together there was a whole lot going on.

The idea for the Rattleskull came from Kristen Burton, an alcohol historian I have connected with on Twitter.  She turned me on to all of these colonial drinks and the drinking culture for that time.  Check out her site at: http://kristendburton.com/ and follow her on Twitter @kristendburton. She’s a wealth of information and I hope to plumb the depths of her knowledge as we embark on more historical aspects of the project.

Transition music: Cephalopod by Kevin MacLeod
Closing Music: Rattle Your Bones by Black Whales

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