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History and Origin of Hip flask

2019-07-15

Since the 18th Century, men and women have carried flasks—discreetly tucked into a hip pocket, purse or boot leg—always sure to have their favorite spirit close at hand. While the origins of today's flasks date well back to the Stone Age, only in its modern form has the flask been elevated from vessel to status symbol as a true gentleman's or lady's accessory. In the days before 24-hour liquor stores and hotel mini-bars dotted every nook and cranny of our modern world—travelers, adventurers, soldiers and rebel rousers were sure to never be without a flask as their constant companion. Today, it's as much for its usefulness as it is for the mystique that shrouds a world long since past when liquor wasn't always easily (or legally) available, that we still collect, carry and swig from our own trusted flasks.

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The origins of the flask can be traced to Paleolithic humans living in the Stone Age who may have filled animal skin pouches with fermented wild grapes. Later, during the early Middle Ages, flasks were mass produced from molds for pilgrims to carry water and oil to and from pilgrimage sites. These early flasks often included decorative elements which represented the saints of the holy sites they visited. 

However, it wasn't until the 18th century that we begin to see the emergence of the flask as we know it today. This is due in large part to advancements in the distillation process, which made it possible to produce the sort of alcohol that could withstand long journeys without spoiling. Whereas wine and fermented ale require an airtight seal to keep its freshness, distilled spirits could last for some time in a flask without affecting its taste or alcohol content making it ideal for transporting in small quantities within a glass or metal container.

The flask played a significant role during the 1920's when America enacted prohibition laws preventing the production, distribution or consumption of alcohol throughout the country. Not surprisingly, along with the speakeasy, the popularity of the flask surged as men and women flouted laws, carrying flasks of whiskey and rum beneath their clothes to nip at, share and sell. 

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Between 1810-1830, the expansion of the Masons ushered the rise in popularity of the Masonic flask. Traditionally a glass blown flask made primarily in the Northeast by Masons themselves for the Lodge meetings where attendees were expected to bring their own liquor. These flasks can be identified by the Masonic symbols embossed onto the glass during the production process.

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