"bamboo", some kind of drink?

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Mar 3 06:39:11 UTC 2012

Interestingly, this is not the only contemporary source that resorts to
such liquor. I don't know the book, but perhaps much of it is
authentic--in which case, it may serve as an antedating (if you can
figure out the exact dates from the book itself--the electronic copy is
missing much f the information).

The infortunate: the voyage and adventures of William Moraley, an
indentured servant. By William Moraley, Susan E. Klepp, Billy Gordon
Smith. 1992
p. 47
> We had a next Door Neighbour, called /William Cullum/ a /Lincolnshire/
> Man, and a Baker: He came to us one Day, as my master and myself were
> making Nails for a Bellows for a Forge; and laying down upon the
> Bellows Board Three-pence and Sugar, writ the following Words in
> Chalk, and left the Place, we not knowing from whence the money came.
>     Here's Money, Sugar, fetch some Rum,
>     And when the Liquors made, I come.
> My Master perceiving it, said, Well, this is /William Cullum/'s, in
> order to shew his Wit, and order'd me to answer in Extempore. I first
> fetched the Rum, then made the Liquor, which was /Bombo/, and writ
> under the foregoing Lines.
>     The Liquor's made, besure to come,
>     Or send more Sugar, and more Rum.
> Which my Friend perceived, laughed, and gave me a Shilling, with which
> I merrily quaffed.
p. 59
> On /Sundays/ in the evening they converse with their Wives, and drink
> Rum, or Bumbo, and smoak Tobacco, and the next Morning return to their
> Master's Labour.
p. 69
> Cyder is the most plentiful here of all Liquors; besides which they
> have Mead, Methlegin, Perry, and Peach Drink. The Beer [is] not good.
> /Madeira Wine/ is the only WIne us'd here. Rum is sold for Three-pence
> the Half-pint, or Ten-pence a Quart. Half a Pint of Rum being mix'd
> with three Half-pints of Water or Small Beer, makes /Bombo/; but mix'd
> with Cyder, makes /Sampson/, an intoxicating Liquor.

Judging from the last entry, and figuring about 35-40% Rum (now
standard, but then quite variable), we can figure Bomboe to be roughly
10% alcohol or only slightly more than a strong beer or cider and
somewhat weaker than normal strength of wine (10-14%). Substitution of
small beer for water would have had little effect. The proportions for
"Sampson" are not given, but they likely were not 1:3, as with Bombo.
But, even at these proportions, the result would be 14-15% alcohol,
approaching the currently standard alcohol content for the weaker of
fortified wines (16-20%). Given a strong cider, this would have been
comparable in intoxicating power, though not in quality, to sherry or
Madeira. It seems reasonably, especially with low-quality beer, that
there would be at least two strengths of non-distilled alcoholic
beverages, even though they'd be mixed from other beverages, cider and
Bombo being one level and Sampson being the other, together
corresponding to the standard alcohol range of non-distilled alcoholic
beverages today.


On 3/2/2012 7:48 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
> At 3/2/2012 03:31 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>> He's a cat in a contemporary novel. What makes you think he knows what he's talking about, or if he does, that his transcriber does (or, more to the point, cares)?
> Well, not so contemporary -- 1956.  From the age of hepcats.  Would
> you question the veracity of a hep cat?

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