Ever Wondered Where the Word “Lobbyist” Came From?
I learned something interesting today. My education came entirely by accident. It was all due to a bottle of rye whiskey.
Here’s the story.
Lobbyist is a dirty word in politics, at least in how we understand how our government works. When we think of a lobbyist, we tend to look at them negatively. That’s because many lobbyists work to diminish popular public opinion. Many even say lobbyists corrupt our political system.
So, what does this all have to do with rye whiskey?
Today, I made a Facebook post. It wasn’t anything serious. I told the story that when I was in my 20s, I bartended. There was a brand of rye whiskey was on the shelf called Old Overholt. This was way back in the mid-1980s, before an explosion of vanity labels of every type of liquor.
I don’t know how many shifts I worked back then, but during the entire time I was bartending, I did not serve *one* shot of this whiskey. Nobody ordered it. Ever. It seemed like the bottle was always cloudy and the label was faded and it looked like something from the Civil War. It was like a movie prop in an Old West saloon.
Well then, at lunch today I saw this on the liquor shelf. I was stunned. I haven’t seen this brand in 30 years and just presumed they were out of business — but come to find out, they were bought out by Jim Beam back in 1987. Now, Old Overholt just sits there, as always, like before. I had to look up the history of this whiskey and I learned it was Ulysses S. Grant’s favorite brand. In fact, I think this is a bottle from his private stash, right here.
I asked — how in the hell does this stay on the shelf, and has anyone ever ordered Old Overholt?
Well, 70 comments later (and still counting), I read this reply in a comment:
So, thanks to Joe Parker, I now know the whole story, or at least more of the story.
Who knew that Old Overholt and its little-known history would be linked to one of the most controversial issues in politics today? Shots of rye whisky is apparently how we got to where we are.