Distilled History

A Drinking Blog with a History Problem

About This Site

Me & the Campbell House

Welcome to Distilled History! If you know me, you know I’m a big fan of two things: history and drinking. Specifically, St. Louis history and specifically, drinking well-made cocktails.

I’m from upstate New York and I have lived in St. Louis for about eighteen years. I’ve always enjoyed living in this town, but I never thought I’d be here long. Recently, I’ve started to realize that my stay in St. Louis is a bit more than temporary. I have a great little house in south city and I have a ton of great friends here. I’ll always consider myself an upstate New Yorker, but I’m comfortable here for now. I’ve also started to become really interested in the history of my new city. I have started reading books, articles, and blogs about the history of St. Louis and what life was like here over the past few hundred years. It’s turned into a great new hobby.

The history in St. Louis is deep and rich. It abounds with tales, monuments, and landmarks that rival the oldest and largest cities in America. The more I read, the more I realize much of the history of St. Louis is unknown, hidden, or even lost. I want to point some of this stuff out to my pals.

Ruby

So, I started heading out on my bike to find some of the places I was reading about. In January of 2012, I also started volunteering at the Campbell House Museum in downtown St. Louis. This place is like a window into the past. Great people with similar interests work there. Each time I walk through the door, I learn something new and fascinating. I’ve had a great time there.

As all of this came together, I started sending emails to friends and posting facts on Facebook describing the bits of history I was uncovering. I included square format photographs with pretty photo filters applied (some of the places I find need something to add to the allure). I was simply having fun, but the feedback was very positive. People suggested it could be a blog. That’s where this whole idea started, but I needed to make it a bit more fun.

So, I decided to add a bit of alcohol to it. As I stated earlier, I love to make and drink cocktails. My favorite drink is the Manhattan cocktail, and I have often struggled finding a great Manhattan in St. Louis. Still, I have had fun walking into bars and ordering one just to see what I get. As I did this, I started becoming interested in the history of the drink. I learned just a few years ago that the original Manhattan was made with rye whiskey and used bitters. This lead me to researching other drinks like the Old Fashioned, the Sidecar, and the martini. Where did these drinks originate? How did they evolve? And most importantly, where can I get well-made versions of them in St. Louis?

Manhattan Cocktail

Wrap it all up, and that is what I’m doing here. I plan to scour St. Louis for its bits of history and post it here. As I go after a topic, I’m going to stop and get a drink or two. I hope to learn more about my drink and write about the places that serve them well.  I’ll invite friends to join me and add to the fun. I will certainly post about topics that are well-known, but my focus is the stuff that goes a bit under the radar. I want to find things that native St. Louisans may not even be aware of.

Please bear with me as I do this. I am no academic. I’ll eventually start citing sources and give credit where it’s due. I hope my research skills improve along with my blogging skills. For now, I’m going to focus on what I find and I’ll try to mention how I got the idea or give credit to the people who pointed me in a certain direction. My guess is I have much to learn about all aspects of this endeavor.  I think I’ll simply get better as I go.

Update:  Eight months after starting this blog, I’m proud to report that the Riverfront Times voted Distilled History as the “Best Personal Blog in St. Louis” at the 2013 RFT Web Awards. They also wrote a great article about this blog and how it came to be.  The article was printed in the January 23, 2013 issue that announced all of the 2013 RFT Web Award winners. Thanks RFT!

Thanks and have fun reading this. I look forward to any comments or suggestions you may have.

-Cameron
cameron@distilledhistory.com

Comments

26 Responses to “About This Site”
  1. Steve Wald says

    Simply, awesome.

  2. Jen Lavris says

    Fantastic idea! if you need help with anything archaeological, let me know!

    • Nancy J. Hendershott says

      I was recently given this picture of my Great Grandfathers tavern,Welkener’s place. He is the man in the doorway with the bow tie. William “Buc” Welkener. How can I obtain more information on his tavern? Can you recommend a research source that could help? Unfortunately my mother was a “late in life baby” and all relatives are deceased. Only cousins left who know very little, other than that was Grandpa’s place.

  3. I’m also a displaced New Yorker living in St. Louis for a while. I also like history and drinking. Can I come with one day?

  4. Tiffany Mercurio says

    What a great idea!! Love the name too! I’m so impressed!

    • Thanks Tiff! You should come on a history hunt with me someday. We’d have fun… and then we’d get drinks after :)

      • Bill Tappmeyer says

        U going on Charlie Brennan’s Bellfountain Cemetery walk Friday? My partner Dr. Jim Schmittel was telling me about it.

  5. Great intro. You have a great voice. You’ve inspired me to want to write something similar on my various sites.

  6. Ann Newman says

    I am really enjoying your blog! I think I’m going to add these sites to my St. Louis bucket list! Your writing style flows well, and gives the reader the sense of being at these sites with you. You should write a book!

    ~Ann

    • Thanks so much for the nice feedback! It’s been really fun so far. I don’t know about a book… I have to master this blogging thing first!

  7. Jen Lavris says

    I’m totally making Roman Punch for my next party and maybe I’ll even have it at my wedding! YUM!! Nicely done, Cam!

  8. C,

    You have picked up a few readers in KC buddy as I am passing the good word on to my more scholarly friends…all 3 of them. This seems a truly worthy endeavor, please stick with! Good on you.

  9. Darby Scott says

    I love your blog! I am a recent transplant to St. Louis, and have been enamoured by the history everywhere around me. Thanks for sharing your fascinating finds and I look forward to your updates!

  10. kerstin says

    I am looking for pictures of the old times in America. I’m especially interested in black and white photographs of motor bikes and bikers. I came across your blog entry on the Thomas Kampland Collection. Since I’m looking for exactly those pictures in high resolution for poster printing I hope that you can help me. It seems like you contacted Mr Kempland directly. I don’t seem to find an Email address or any other way to contact him myself regarding the pictures. That is why I would like to ask you whether you can give me any contact details or connect me with Mr Kempland? I would be very grateful for that!

    greetings from berlin, germany

  11. Hi! Not sure if this is the best place to show this but seeing if you have any research or are planning to do anything about the Hyde Park Brewery. Looks like it was operated in north st. louis until the 40′s. I ask because there’s a new building in Tower Grove South on Morganford that says Hyde Park Beer on it. Sorry if you’ve already covered this, I did a search and didn’t find it on the site. Love the site!

  12. Hey there cousin! Lisa here in NY. Your Trek 470 reminds me a bit of my husband Brian’s old Trek:
    harmonias.com/bikes/ Hope you are enjoying riding around in this gorgeous Spring weather! :)

  13. Good Stuff — thanks for shring Cameron! I’m got some reading to do while I’m in town!

  14. I came across this website on FB and am extremely impressed! I am close to one of the former owners of the Beecher house, near Quarry Farm, and we’ve had numerous conversations on the history of those homes, as well as the Gleason sanitarium. Very interesting!

  15. Monte W. Gusewelle says

    Hi Cameron, Whoooooops. First comment was too long & I have tried to edit the article but cannot. I am retired from Lutheran pastoral ministry. Attended Concordia Seminary, St. Louis & graduated in 1973. I live in Durango, CO. Now, my mother’s family name is Roussin. Nicholas Roussin, a great how many times father (maternal side) of myself, lived in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri in 1778. May I share on my Facebook page the article that you wrote about Fort San Carlos on May 26, 1780 from your Blog – Distilled History. Your historical work is superb and Facebook’s programming will direct any reader on my page to your Blog – Distilled History. Suddenly, I am becoming excited about the 250th Anniversary of St. Louis. Please let me know if I can share your article about Fort San Carlos on my Facebook page. Best regards, Monte p.s. I am abstaining from mixed drinks, beer and wine for Lent. It is REALLY difficult to accomplish this spiritual task. Haaa

    • Hello Mr. Guswelle, thanks for the nice note! Please feel free to share anything on fb. I do it all for fun, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Share away!

      • Monte W. Gusewelle says

        Hi Cameron, Keep up the excellent historical work. Herzlichen Dank, Merci beaucoup & Gracias.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: