Booze, Hair of the Dog & Hooch

Today, the Aloha Bears set sail from Waikiki Beach on their monthly Second Sunday Catamaran Cruise. Before and after, the group will convene at Bacchus to meet up and enjoy cocktails and beer. Come on by and say hello....and order up a drink....

There's a lot of slang associated with drinking. We all know some, we all use them, but most of us don't know where they came from or what they really mean. Read on, and you'll be the smartest person at the bar.


Booze first appeared in Middle Dutch, way back in the 1300s, as bûsen, which meant "to drink to excess." There was also the Old High German word bausen, which meant "to bulge or billow." These may have been born out of buise (Dutch), meaning a large drinking vessel. The word made its way over to Middle English in the 1500s as both a verb (to booze) and a noun (to drink some booze). It wasn't until the 1700s that it was spelled phonetically, as we do today.

Some people think the word derived from a Philadelphia distiller in the 1800s named E.G. Booz. These people are wrong, and now you can shame them. Try to be nice about it.

Hair of the Dog

This one makes more sense in the context of the full version: "hair of the dog that bit you." It refers to drinking a bit of booze in the morning to relieve the withdrawal symptoms associated with a hangover. We've certainly seen weirder cures. First documented usage seems to be from John Heywood's 1546 text A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the proverbes in the Englishe tongue:

I pray thee let me and my fellow have
A hair of the dog that bit us last night -
And bitten were we both to the brain aright.
We saw each other drunk in the good ale glass.

It's a nod to a trivial practice that dates back to Medieval times, when a person bit by a rabid dog was advised to treat the wound by cutting off a piece of the dog's hair applying some of that dog's hair to the wound. Side note: A lot of people died of rabies.


Meaning a strong, cheap, and usually vile spirit, the word hooch can be traced back to Alaska. Following the U.S. purchase in 1867, American soldiers were dispatched to the area, and booze wasn't readily available. There was a native tribe up there called the Hoochinoo. While it's not exactly clear who taught what to whom, the Hoochinoo began distilling a sort of rum made primarily from molasses. It's said the still was an old five gallon oil can and the piping was a barrel of an old musket.

It was, as you might have guessed, extremely nasty, but also cheap and extremely potent. The Hoochinoos became famous for it, and the product became known among Americans as "hooch." The term came back into vogue amongst illegal distillers during prohibition in the 1920s and remains in circulation to this day.

So whatever your needs are: booze, hair of the dog or hooch, order it up at Bacchus today or tonight. :-)