Why is alcohol called spirits?
But just why is alcohol called spirits?
Here is a good question: why do we refer to alcohol and certain liquors as “spirits?” We know what you’re thinking: it gets you so good that it makes you see fairies. Or spirits. Or it gets you so drunk that you become a spirit yourself. Well, yes, and not quite.
Both the Oxford Dictionary and the Merriam-Webster dictionary refer to “spirit” as a type of liquor that has been strongly distilled. In other words, beer or wine might not be labeled as spirit, but whiskey, brandy, rum, or gin is.
It’s quite hard to pinpoint exactly the moment or reason when alcohol received this name. Some say that it goes back to the early chemistry days when alcohol was originally discovered. Alchemists believed they were extracting the “spirit” of the substance in the process – the essence, so to speak.
The vapor given off as a result of an alchemy process was also commonly referred to as the spirit of the material. Since the distillation of alcohol gave off the same kind of vapors, “spirit” became associated with that as well.
That being said, the most popular (and believable) opinion is that alcohol can raise a person’s spirits. The alcohol seemingly plays with your mind, just like a spirit would grasp onto your consciousness – your “right mind,” if we were to say it like that.
This idea was also found in Aristotle. The research suggested that Aristotle would also distill spirits around 327BC. There’s little evidence, but certain writings such as the BarSmarts Advance of Dale DeGrodd pin this term to Aristotle. According to the book, he was the one to name alcohol as “spirit,” since anyone who drank it would have their own “spirit” invigorated.
There are many theories – some more believable than others. It’s not clear where it’s started, but one thing that is certain is this: humans have such a long history with alcohol that its “spirit” could have started anywhere. Needless to say, this makes a good cocktail party debate.