Alcohol of New-Francy
After breaking off relation with mainland France, New Francy was forced to find ways to achieve self-sufficiency in various economical sectors. Without any local vineyard (due to unsuitable weather conditions), the working class quickly abandoned imported wines (which only the rich could afford) in favour of beer and cidre. In addition, some producers experimented with local ingredients which lead to some unusual products being devised.
Only a few grape wines are localy produced and can usualy only be bought directly from the producer itself. Most of the wines that can be found in restaurants and market and usualy imported (mainly from Louisianne) or for the most part belong to one of the following categories:
- Bleuetine: A sort of wine produced in the Saganay region with blueberries. Its taste as been compared to some sweet wines such as those made in the Portuguese region of Porto. While it is localy consumed with one's meal, most outsiders would consider it (due to its alcohol content and taste) to be a digestive.
- Vin des champs ["Field Wine"]: Wine made with a combination of various small fruits such as strawberry, rasberries, blackberries, etc... The wine produced then to have a sweet but slightly tart taste.
- Vin engelé ["Frostbitten Wine"]: This type represent the largest percentage of localy produced grape wine although it has been developped for less then a century. The wine is made with grape which have been left on the vines until autumn at which time they would freeze up. They are then collected and pressed to create an extremely sweet wine. For this reason, a Vin Engelé is normaly only served as a dessert wine or outside a meal.
Most of the cidre production is in the Monterégie region of the Intendance. Because of its importance, measures were taken during the 20th century to protect and valourise this sector. Among other things, the name "Rougemont" was declared an Appelation Controlée that could only be used by cidre makers who used a specific breed of apple, the traditional method and whose orchards were located on Rougemont Mountain or within the limits of one of its surrounding municipality. One side effect of this policy was to force a well known apple juice producer to rebrand itself (although located in Rougemont, its juice contain apples from various regions).
Recently some orchards have developt a new product called "Cidre Engelé" inspired by the popularity of Frostbitten Wine.
Beer production in the Intendancy arch back to the begining of the colony. One of the first Intendant had helped set up a brewery to compensate for the difficulty in obtaining wine and as a safer alternative to some of the home made "robine".
Beer made in the Intendancy comes in 2 variety "Little Beer" which has no alcohol content and "Strong Beer" which does. The first type include various brand of the widely popular Spruce Beer drank during summer. The later come in a variety of taste divided into Blonde, Redhead and Brunette types. Of note is the fact that the average alcohol content is slightly higher then in most countries which often tend to come as a surprise to tourist (especialy after a few had been consumed). This and fact that they are unfiltered (making them cloudy with a lee deposit at the bottom) have lead them to be described as "mealy" by some.
Apart from the brands available year long, Some brewery produce "ephemeral" beers that are offered only during one seasons. These are fruit flavoured light beers during summer and strong beers meant to be drank hot during winter.
Regarding the various brands available, while most of their names and labels tend to come from a religious background, few of the breweries are still own by the monastery which founded them.
While those who are well off then to favour imported liquor such as Louisiannan Montignac, the majority of the population prefer:
- Tsicaribou: made by mixing grain alcohol, grape moult and maple syrup. This is often considered a "poor man's drink" although its association with some famous Quebec social clubs in the last few decades is slowly giving it a certain respectability.
- Acerinette: made with maple syrup, it is often decribed as having a taste similar to whiskey tough sweeter and with a strong smoky nose. Thanks to its popularity with the patricians and noblemen of the Intendancy (who would often serve it to their foreign guests), it is one of the few local products to enjoy a certain level of distribution outside New Francy.
- Crème d'érable: Another maple product, it is a creamy drink which is often served for dessert either chilled or mixed in coffee. The larger producers of this type of drink have on many occasion asked the government to somehow protect the name Crème d'érable as some smaller producers have taken to use some corn syrup (a much cheaper substitute) while still refering to it as a maple product.
Of note also is the legendary Cartusine, an herbal drink made by some Carthusian who had resettled in New Francy during the Republican-imposed exile. They originaly wanted to continue making Chartreuse but the absence of many of the 130 herbs needed to make it forced them to experiment. The end product was named after the latin name of their order (unlike their original product which was named after their french name).
They eventualy made their way back to France but allowed a local company to continue making the product. Bad management and production value eventualy led to bankrupcy. In the early 20th century another company tried to produce some Cartusine of its own however more stringent quality control by the government forced them to close shop after a few years when it was discovered that Cartusine could induce hallucinations in some peoples. Over the years, a few other companies have tried to produce version of Cartusine with the dangerous products removed but so far none have managed to gain a following.
Within the Intendancy, the only legally sanctioned distributor is the government. This goes back to prohibition era when New Francy was one of the few countries in North America to allow production, sales and consumption of alcohol within its territory. As both tourists and gangsters converge on the Intendancy, the demand for alcohol quickly overwhelmed production. After a few deaths and hospitalizations were attributed to "bad batches", the government took control of distribution between producers and consumers to ensure quality control. While the prohibition era has long passed, the government has maintained its monopoly.
The sale of alcohol is based on the category in which a given product fits. "Category A" (locally produced beer, cidre & wine) can be sold directly to the consumer by the producer on its premises. Then can also sell their products to the government which are then resold to convenience stores (or restaurant).
"Category B" (hard liquor and imported products) can only be purchased from one of the government owned Compagnie des Alcools stores. Products bought at one of the "Cayes" (as they are often called due to their CAI initials) are considered a tad pricy although its status as a government agency means a greater quality (and access to more products) then most bottle shops of comparable size in other countries.