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The Bar Stool Historian Podcast

Filtering by Category: History

Welcome Back, Blame-O-Meter

John Miller


The Bar Stool Historian returns, along with their blame-assigning technological marvel, the Blame-O-Meter 5000!

In this episode. we measure how much the phrase "Read my lips, no new taxes..." was to blame for George H. W. Bush's re-election failure.

Plus, Tim recalls his personal experiences of growing up in the bad-old days of crime-ridden NYC.


MacKinlay’s Shackleton Blended Malt Scotch Whisky

MacKinlay’s Shackleton Blended Malt Scotch Whisky

Sierra Nevada Hop Bullet Double IPA

Sierra Nevada Hop Bullet Double IPA


To get a sense of the grime, grit, and pervasive dread of 1991 NYC that Tim grew up within, check out this fascinating documentary gem about the freelance photo and video journalists who prowled the nighttime crime scene.

From 1985 until 2003 former New York Daily News photographer Joseph DeMaria ran V&P News Service. Armed with high quality video cameras, former Daily News photographers, police radios and "arrangements" with New York's finest, V&P New Service were often the first responders to many of the city's most lurid, grizzly and important news stories.

Getting Into the Colonial Spirit(s)

John Miller

Ed, John (suffering from a miserable cold), and Tim (hobbled by influenza), dive into the instructive and wildly entertaining book, Colonial Spirits: A Toast to Our Drunken History, and chat to its equally instructive and entertaining creators, author Steven Grasse and illustrator Michael Allen.

Colonial Spirits: A Toast to Our Drunken History

Other highlights include:

- A dizzying treatment of Ben Franklin's "Drinker's Dictionary."

- How to make Cock Ale in the original 18th century way. 

- Taste tests of Cranberry Shrub, Milk Punch, the Hot Flip, and Ginger Liqueur.

Plus, a reflection on the end of the Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey Circus after nearly 150 years. (And do you remember that unicorn?)



Old Dutch, by QC Malt

Lemon Shrub, by QC Malt

Alesmith Brewing Company's Nut Brown Ale

Brooklyn Brewery's Brooklyn Brown Ale

The Balvenie, Double Wood 12-Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky

"Pretium Iustum Est!"

John Miller



Welcome to a Bar Stool Historian time travel road trip, as we visit the bucolic fictional village of Crittling Stubbs-On-Skirdenback about 600 years ago. What transpired was a full-fledged live game show where contestants guess the price of everyday medieval objects in modern-day dollars: Pretium Iustum Est! (Google-translate that title here!)

How we got here is really due to Ed having a little too much time on his hands: a couple months ago, Ed discovered a list of medieval prices compiled by a then-grad student (now professor) named Kenneth Hodges had pieced together by consulting medieval literature. These prices ranged from the cost of a ceramic cooking pot to the Transept of Gloucester Abbey in 1370, and everything else in-between.  Ed then decided to take these wildly varying prices and dates and plug them into website that compares the value of English money from the past to present day using both the Consumer Price Index and the Value of Labor. He then converted that to 2013 dollars. The result is a pretty nifty spreadsheet that you can download here.

Finally, the answer to whether or not you can afford to hire a Welsh infantryman for the day!

Ep. #2: "Wouldn't It Be Lice?"

John Miller

Albrecht Durer's illustration of a syphilitic man in a 1496 broadsheet.

Albrecht Durer's illustration of a syphilitic man in a 1496 broadsheet.

Diseases that changed the course of history.

After weeks of Ebola dominating the headlines, we thought it appropriate to look at some of history's most civilization-altering diseases. John spins a yarn about how wild fornication in the streets of Naples just might have foiled a French king's plans to launch a crusade to the Holy Land in 1495. Tim tells the nightmarish tale of when the "Grandaddy of all Diseases" arrived in Europe, and explains the medicinal value of chickens. Finally, Ed recounts how Napoleon's 500,000 troops couldn't manage to conquer Russia (hint: it wasn't just the cold!), and gives a new meaning to "bad hair day."


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Brooklyn Brewery's East India Pale Ale

Brooklyn Brewery's East India Pale Ale

Midas Touch from  Dogfish Head's Ancient Ales Collection

Midas Touch from Dogfish Head's Ancient Ales Collection

Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch Whisky

Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch Whisky

Ep. #1: "Hooked on a Schlieffen"

John Miller

John, Tim, and Ed travel back in time to the fateful days of 1914, with the help of Barbara Tuchman's masterful The Guns of August.  How well does this book fare a half-century after its publication? Does it retain the power to surprise (or even shock) the modern reader? What lessons can we apply to our own times? And why does the very mention of Erich Ludendorff make Tim burst out in song? For the answers to these and other burning questions, pour yourself a glass of Bell's Mars, Bringer of War and listen in!

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