The name alcohol comes of the Arab "al'khol" and designates originally from antimony prepared eye make-up. It meant actually "something fine" in the sense of an excerpt of something larger one, i.e., the raw material for distillation. However, the name can also come out from the suffix "-kaly", which meant something like "roast", and thus likewise to distillation refers.
Meals containing alcohol might be as old as mankind. By consumption of overripe fruits, which had already gone into fermentation, - rather coincidentally - alcohol was consumed. The purposeful production of alcoholic beverages is common in all cultures and reflects their cultural and religious peculiarities just as the geographical and sociological conditions.
Already in the Middle Stone-Age, 10000 to 5000 before Chr., the production of alcoholic beverages begins with the development of the soil farmers and cattle breeders. In Tibet beer was brewed from barley, the Teutons fermented honey to met and nomadic cattle breeder fermented milc from stutes.
With the development of the agriculture, alcoholic beverages were available to larger extent. Alcohol was used as important food, however also as the probably oldest drug for religious rites.From the 4. Millenium before Chr. existed the "monument bleu" of the Summerian, showing the goddess Nina with the preparation of an victim beer. From the 3. Millenium before Chr. originate vouchers from Egypt, which represent the wine and the beer production. Osiris is to have taught the Egyptians cultivation of wine and beer production. The beers of this time were of sweetly taste, peppered with Safran, Myrthe and anise and of small durability.
In forest-rich areas plenty of honey was available as raw material for Met production. Already the Teutons knew and estimated Met as "gift of the Gods", just like in the cultures of the Mayas. For ritual causes it was provided with halluzinogenic additives. The "Edda" describes different sorts of Met: for the ecstatic effect, for the reinforcement of rage and force, as aphrodisiac. At the present of Karl the Great Met was used as cure in the the monastery. With the arising of the beer and the wines the Met came nearly into oblivion.
Already the Greek philosopher Homer describes carousals and ecstatic celebrations in the "odyssey" in honours of the Greek God of Wine, Dionysos. Also the Romans honoured their God of Wine, Bacchus, with extensive carousals, the Bacchanalies. For the Romans the wine was not only sacral beverage, food or luxury. It was also used because of its medical effect applied internally and outwardly (to the disinfection). Cäsar's soldiers had to drink daily a litre wine for prevention of infections.
In the Middle Ages the cultivation of wine experienced its bloom time under the regency of Karl of the Great, but, in addition, first alcohol problems occured. Likewiset it was forbidden both to judges, plaintiffs and witnesses appearing in drunken condition before court.
In the cooler regions of Northern Europe, in which no cultivation of wine was possible, instead a forerunner of the today's beer was made by malted barley, water and yeast. The first beers were only short durable. As stabilising agents ox gall and henbane were added. Latter additive probably gave its name to the German Pilsener (from the german "Bilsenkraut"). Durable beer was only received with the additive from hop: It was introduced in 15. Century by dealers from Flanders and Holland. These harsh-bitter beer replaced up to 18. Century the unhoped sorts nearly completely. The monks of the monastery breweries refined the brewing art up to perfection.
By fermentation only alcohol contents of approx. 14 Vol% are attainable, since the yeast cells die with higher alcohol concentrations. High-percentage or pure alcohol was only possible with the invention of distillation, which represents an enrichment of alcohol by utilization boiling point differences of alcohol and water by evaporation and followed condensing.
Already 300 before Chr. Aristoteles describes the distillation, which served, however, primarily for the demineralization of sea water. The technology of wine distillation is delivered from the 11. Century (University of Salerno). Considerable quantities of high-percentage spirit were manufactured later in the monasteries. Prescriptions developed for the production of Fruit Brandy, Brandy, Whisky as well as Liquors.
First medical applications are based on the desinifective effects of the alcohol by outward application, already occupied in 13. Century by Arnaud de Villeneuve.