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History of Bathing

History of Bathing

Bathing has always been about much more than getting clean. The act of slowing down for a soak is synonymous with self-care, and that’s been true since humans first had the thought, what if we sat in some hot water?

The history of tub time starts in ancient India, where the daily ritual of bathing first began. In Ayurveda, the Indian system of medicine, water is a purifying force thought to cleanse not only the body, but the mind and the soul. That’s why the vedas and puranas recommend bathing not once, but three times a day, an elaborate hygiene practice that was first recorded in the Grihya Sutra, a Hindu text detailing the samskaras, or ceremonies, that guide a person’s life.

While the ritual or regular bathing was first devised in India, the bathtub itself dates back to around 1500 BCE in Crete. Alabaster bathtubs excavated in Santorini and the frequent appearance of the Greek word for bathtub in Homer’s literature suggests that bathing was not just a hygienic practice for the Greeks, but a way of life.

The same was true in ancient Rome, where a network of aqueducts was developed to supply water to all large towns. The advent of the aqueduct brought with it thermae, or Roman public baths. What was once a private affair very quickly became a public spectacle, and these cathedrals of cleansing became a place to converse, learn, and quite literally blow off some steam. Within their walls stretched lecture halls, Greek and Latin libraries, and baths at every temperature.

Public bathing quickly became a part of life in other parts of the world as well. Dating back to 1266, the earliest iterations of Japanese bathhouses were built into natural caves or stone vaults, which were heated by burning wood before seawater was poured over the rocks to create steam. The entryways to these bathhouses were made intentionally small so as to slow the escape of heat. Because of this small opening and a lack of windows, the inside of these bathhouses was pitch dark, meaning users would have to clear their throats to announce their arrival. The combination of nudity and dim lighting meant that sexual shenanigans often arose, and in time these public bathhouses would come into disrepute on moral grounds.

Morality wasn’t the only thing to bring an end to public bathing. Disease, unsurprisingly, ran rampant in these bathhouses, which without soap or other germ-killing agents became cesspools of sorts. With health concerns looming, private baths grew in popularity and became increasingly accessible to the working class. As cleanliness became more and more correlated with social standing, soap became all the rage, too.

The rise of the private bath has brought with it new bathing rituals. Complete with bath salts and bubbles, the tub has become a place to take care of yourself and indulge in some alone time. It’s a decidedly different approach to bathing than the Romans had with their amphitheatre-like bathhouses, but the principle still stands: bathing has always and will always be about much more than getting clean.

We Miss Bars

We Miss Bars

Do you remember the last bar you went to?

Maybe it was small, cramped, dim with the warm glow of tea lights on tables. Tucked away in some hidden alleyway in Los Feliz. The kind of bar that feels like a secret, until 9pm rolls around and you realize the rest of the neighborhood is already in on it.

Or maybe it was a cathedral of cocktails, all high ceilings and echoing conversation and some serious R&D going on behind the bar. Rooms leading into rooms, staircases unfolding into unknown worlds.

Or maybe it was a tiki type of joint, with heavy pours of rum and banana leaf wallpaper. An institution of celebratory cocktails you wouldn’t dare make at home; piña coladas and daiquiris and drinks that require a heavy shake.

Since bars closed last March, we’ve thought a lot about the simple pleasures that come with a night out on the town. The pre-game playlist, the squeak of vinyl seats when you sidle up to the bar, the dizzying array of bottles on the back bar. The glimmering ruby hue of a perfect Negroni.

It’s a sensory experience we find ourselves craving even more now that our sights and sounds have been relegated to the same four walls for nearly a year.

And perhaps the part we miss most? Chatting with our local bartenders, the friendly faces behind the bar that dole out advice like the hospitality industry’s unofficial therapists and churn out drinks at a clip that any at-home cocktail shaker could never match.

Over the past year, bars have taken on many forms: cocktail outposts serving martinis in mason jars, sidewalk patio spectacles, even indoor shells of what they once were, set at 10% max capacity with distanced tables. Through all this shapeshifting, the bartenders and bar backs that make up the industry have remained committed to upholding what has always kept hospitality together at the seams: a sense of community.

Now it’s our turn to take care of them. Here’s how you can continue to help:

1. Order takeout straight from the source.

You’ve probably heard by now that the big delivery apps like Grubhub, UberEats, and Doordash are predatory to independent bars and restaurants. Instead of ordering through them, call up your local haunts and place your order directly, or order through a more ethical platform like ChowNow.

2. Donate to community organizations.

We love Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, a nonprofit created by and for restaurant workers dedicated to making the hospitality industry more hospitable to everyone.

3. Stay safe and tip big.

We’re itching to get back to bars, but the best way to keep our hospitality community safe is by staying home when you can, ordering often, and continuing to tip at least 20%.

Behind the Bottle: How We Made a Non-Alc Spirit

Behind the Bottle: How We Made a Non-Alc Spirit

When AMASS Master Distiller Morgan McLachlan set out to design our latest spirit, Riverine, the process began with botanicals, just as it always does. Then she went rogue, ditching the alcohol in favor of something a little lighter: water vapor.

Traditional spirits, like our Gin and Vodka, undergo a distillation process in which alcohol is used to extract oils from a blend of botanicals. With our Gin, that process begins with brighter botanicals, like citrus and California bay leaf, which go into our botanical basket. Meanwhile, earthier, richer botanicals, like Reishi mushroom and juniper, are macerated in alcohol for 18 hours.

From there, we place our spirit base in the kettle of a hybrid Carl pot still, and then run a long, lower-heat distillation where alcohol vapor is passed through a rectification column to soften flavors before joining the remaining botanicals in the botanical basket.

With Riverine, we did things differently. Each of our 14 botanicals is individually distilled in a proprietary hydrosteam distillation process. There, water vapor, instead of alcohol, is used to extract essential oils for a crisp, evergreen flavor profile. The result is a spirit that captures the freshness of the Pacific Northwest, the region where Morgan first forged her passion for plants.

Without the addition of alcohol, all the flavor comes directly from plants. Vibrant botanicals like sumac, sorrel, lemon, and apple are carefully layered along with earthy juniper and parsley. What you get is a complex spirit that is devoid of the dizzying effects that come with drinking a high-proof spirit. There’s none of the harsh burn you’d get from cheap alcohol, either. Instead, it’s smooth, nuanced, herbaceous, and endlessly mixable.

Basically, we took the best of booze and brought it to a non-alcoholic bottle.

Before you dive in, put our tasting tips to good use and learn a bit about the British Columbia island that inspired our first non-alcoholic spirit.

A Brief History of Vancouver Island

A Brief History of Vancouver Island

When AMASS Co-Founder and Master Distiller Morgan McLachlan was a child, she spent summers deep in the coniferous forests and alongside the rushing rivers of Vancouver Island.

“It was like Avalon,” she describes the terrain now, alive with flora and fauna such as elk, black bears, and mountain goats.

In that picturesque stretch of land plopped in the Pacific, Morgan became enamored with plants and the unique microclimates of the region she called home.

Vancouver Island, unlike the mainland of British Columbia with its harsh winters and frequent snow, has a mild climate. It's one of the warmest areas in Canada, and Mediterranean crops like olives and lemons thrive there because of it, as do sun-loving botanicals like sumac and sorrel.

The island’s rich, plentiful natural resources are why indigineous peoples have lived there for thousands and thousands of years. The Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw, Nuu-chah-nulth, and various Coast Salish peoples all still reside on the island, and their cultures are deeply entwined with the bountiful nature the region has to offer.

Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw oral history says their ancestors came in the forms of animals. Origin myths tell the tale of seagulls, grizzly bears, and orcas emerging from the sea and forest before transforming into their human form. The Coast Salish peoples, too, have their own stories of shapeshifting between animal and human spirits. This profound connection to the natural appears in their cultures in other ways, too, like fishing, which historically was central to both the Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw and Nuu-chah-nulth economy.

Today, nature remains at the forefront of social, spiritual, and commercial life on Vancouver Island. The 12,407 square miles of terrain that make up the island is broken up into seven regions, each with their own unique microclimate. South Island, which sits at the southernmost point of Vancouver Island, is a commercial hub home to British Columbia’s vibrant capital, Victoria. Other regions offer more quiet respite, like North Central Island with its alpine mountains and running rivers.

The Pacific Rim, which sits on the central western coast of Vancouver Island, is home to a temperate rainforest and boasts the largest rainfall in North America. The tallest recorded Douglas firs were found in this stretch of forest, swaying in the canopy alongside dozens of other species of coniferous “big trees” like western hemlock, Sitka spruce, and yellow cedar.

It was this particular microclimate that inspired our Co-Founder Morgan to develop Forest Bath. Craving the sensory comforts of her home province, she sought to capture the essence of Vancouver Island in a bath salt blend. The crisp salt of the Pacific pairs with the soothing scent of rain drizzling on the treetops of the island’s coastal forests for an immersive soak that transports you to the Pacific Northwest’s lush landscape.

Read more about how Morgan self-soothes with a long soak here, and then take a trip to Vancouver Island from your tub.

P.S. Stay tuned for another PNW-inspired product, dropping later this month.

Origins of the Poinsettia

Origins of the Poinsettia

Aside from the Christmas tree, the poinsettia – a red and green plant belonging to the Euphorbiaceae family – is December’s star botanical. And it looks like a star too, with its pointed crimson bracts that fan out in a distinct celestial shape.

The poinsettia is rooted, like most other botanicals, in lore and legend. The story goes like this: in 16th-century Mexico, a girl by the name of Pepita was too poor to afford a gift for the yearly Christmas celebration. Inspired by an angel, she gathered weeds from the roadside and placed them in front of the church altar. Poinsettias blossomed, and from the 17th century onward the plant was prized in Mexican Christmas festivities, its star-shaped foliage said to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem and its crimson color the blood of Christ.

It took several centuries for the plant to be officially recognized as a new species, until 1834 when it was listed by German scientist Johann Friedrich Klotzsch as the “Mexican flame flower” or “painted leaf.” It wasn’t until Joel Roberts Poinsett, a botanist and the first US Minister to Mexico, began shipping the plant back from Mexico to his greenhouses in South Carolina that it earned its lasting name: the poinsettia.

Since the early 19th century when cultivation of the poinsettia first began in the US, the industry has blossomed. That’s been in large part because of the marketing efforts led by Albert Ecke. In 1900, Ecke opened a dairy and orchard in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles and began selling poinsettias from street stands. His son, Paul Ecke, developed a technique in which two varieties of poinsettias are grafted together to produce a denser, fuller plant. Things really took off when Paul Ecke Jr., the third generation of the Ecke family, led an extensive marketing campaign to promote poinsettias during the holiday season.

He sent poinsettias to television stations to display on air from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and appeared on programs like The Tonight Show and Bob Hope’s Christmas specials. These publicity efforts coupled with the Ecke’s proprietary production methods allowed the Ecke family to effectively monopolize the plant and turn it into something that looks, well, very little like a naturally-occurring poinsettia.

In the ‘80s, university researcher John Dole discovered Ecke’s unique production methods and published them, allowing competitors to stand a fighting chance and adopt the same money-making practices. Despite this leveling of the playing field, the Eckes still serve 70 percent of the domestic market and 50 percent internationally, accounting for a large portion of the some 70 million poinsettias sold in the US alone every year.

These days, poinsettia production is a $25 million industry, a staggering number for a plant that’s only sold six weeks out of the year.

Plant curiosity piqued? Learn about the history of the Los Angeles Flower District here, or get to know the bad boy of botany Nicholas Culpeper.

History of the LA Flower District

History of the LA Flower District

At the corner of Wall and 8th streets in Downtown LA sits the heart of the Los Angeles Flower District. The perennial institution has been the standard supplier of fresh-cut stems for Angelenos everywhere since the early 20th century.

Available only to those up and awake in the sunrise hours between 5am and noon, this botanical cornucopia offers every commercially available cut flower under the sun, from snapdragons to marigolds. That, coupled with the low cost of admission ($2 on weekdays, $1 on weekends) spurs everyone from earnest lovers seeking Valentine’s Day roses to Instagram influencers in pursuit of anything deemed aesthetic to flock here in droves.

Like most Los Angeles stories, the LA Flower District has a young yet rich history, one that starts –  and truthfully, ends – with immigrants seeking to bring something beautiful, human, true to this desert city by the sea.

In the early 20th century, LA-area flower farmers drove their horse-drawn wagons into DTLA every morning to sell their flowers. The scene was starkly different than what it looks like now: the blaring horns and headlights that fill the 101 replaced with dirt and dust. There was no Eastern Columbia Building gilded and glimmering in the aquamarine light, telling time. And the Flower District that is now a sprawling mecca of buds and blossoms was just a couple wagons lined up along the side of the road.

A prominent carnation grower based out of Santa Monica named James Vaweter established the first dedicated flower market in 1905. It was on Spring Street, the west side. It would take a few years for the floral business to make its way East into the derelict streets of downtown, where it would stay and flourish for the next century.

The Southern California Flower Market, organized by local Japanese-American farmers, was the first to settle there. In a few years, European immigrants would set up their own shop down the street, called the Los Angeles Flower Market. In due time, both markets would relocate to the 700 block of South Wall Street, where they would expand and modernize.

Over time and out of simple necessity, these two standalone shops that were seemingly at odds came to be part of a mosaic of florists and nurseries that called DTLA home. Through the ‘90s, dozens of smaller flower shops migrated downtown to do business near the historic Los Angeles Flower District, blooming alongside these towering cathedrals of chrysanthemums. A ragtag community quickly formed, and today more than 50 vendors make up the largest wholesale flower district in the US.

Regardless of whether you’re outfitting an entire wedding reception or simply looking for a single pink peony to sit on your kitchen counter, the Los Angeles Flower District is the kind of place special enough to set your alarm for. Carve out a few hours to aimlessly stroll through its stalls, bargaining with vendors and getting lost in the sea of blossoms. Just a PSA: don’t forget to bring cash.

History of Aperitivo Culture

History of Aperitivo Culture

Conjure up an image in your head of Rome or Paris and it will likely look something like this: impossibly chic women wearing large hats, dining al fresco at sidewalk cafes, smoking cigarettes and sipping candy-colored tipples out of shrunken glasses.

What are they drinking, you ask? Allow us to explain.

The aperitivo – a bittersweet alcoholic beverage thought to stimulate your appetite pre-dinner – is, in many countries and cultures, a way of life. Known as aperitif in French, the word comes from the Latin amperire, meaning “to open up.” And that’s exactly what these low-ABV beverages do; they warm up your taste buds and prep your digestive system for a decadent meal.

Digestivi fall in the same camp, the after-dinner counterpart to aperitivi purported to settle your stomach after an especially indulgent feast. Much of this effect comes down to alcohol. As anyone who has ever had a drunken hankering for a late night bite can tell you, alcohol stimulates the appetite, meaning when you’re full and you drink, you will begin to crave food again. 

Aperitivi and digestivi couple that power of booze with good old fashioned herbal medicine. Most spirits, whether labelled as a digestivo or otherwise, began as elixirs. Stomach-soothing botanicals like ginger and cardamom were added to drinks to aid in digestion, and tavern keepers kept up with the tradition by lacing liquor with flowers and herbs to ease any adverse effects from a stiff drink.

The prevalence of these spirits has now stretched so far that it’s seeped into European drinking culture. Entire books, like Marissa Huff’s Aperitivo: The Cocktail Culture of Italy have been dedicated to the subject, and for good reason. Peruse any given sidestreet in Milan around golden hour and you’ll see cafes lined with people gathering for the liquid precursor to dinner. Come by a little later and you’ll see a similar scene, but with plates cleaned and votives and moonlight dappling the digestivi.

And that’s not even getting started on the sheer amount of varieties that abound in the dizzying world of aperitivi. There are the brands you know and love, like Aperol, Campari, and Lillet. These are the classic bottles that make their way into your summer spritzes and winter negronis, adding a delightful dose of something bitter, something sweet. And then there are others, like Fernet and Port, best taken neat as a post-meal potation.

The process of picking your poison, so to speak, is one that should not be rushed. It’s a deeply personal choice, and we’re not here to complicate matters by offering our opinions. So instead we’ll just sit here, sipping our AMASS negroni in peace. Cin cin.

Meet Lucy Rose Mallory, The Greatest Woman In America

Meet Lucy Rose Mallory, The Greatest Woman In America

At AMASS, we have a bit of a preoccupation with the occult. After all, our Chief Product Officer and Master Distiller is a practicing witch with a penchant for herbal remedies. So, when we heard about the Progressive Era witchy weirdos that were hanging around Portland in the 19th century, we needed to know more.

There are certain characters that the history books forget, women whose stories are buried under centuries and centuries of men in suits. Lucy Rose Mallory was one of those women.

Born in 1843, Lucy Rose Mallory was a psychic, a suffragist, a vegetarian, a devotee of metaphysical experiences – the kind of woman Portland Monthly once called “an internationally respected good vibes factory.” She was, in a word, an icon, and was born in Michigan before moving west with her father into the unbroken wilderness of mid-19th century Oregon. The Roses settled in a city in the Umpqua River Valley that would later be named Roseburg in honor of them.

As an adult, Lucy was probably known best as the wife of Oregon congressman Rufus Mallory. But her work – as a writer and editor, namely – has endured. For 30 years, she ran two periodicals printed under one cover – The World’s Advanced Thought and the Universal Republic. She wrote passionately on a myriad of topics: a small spider she had befriended, the power of collective positive thinking, her experience with astral projection as a child. Of the spider, Lucy wrote upon feeding it a dead fly,


“It soon became very friendly, and it would eat from my hand, and run all over my head and face, and it appeared to love me.” Life, it seemed, Lucy experienced as one big out-of-body experience.

Leo Tolstoy was such an ardent admirer of Lucy’s monthly magazine that he swiftly declared her the “greatest woman in America.” This was not an unpopular opinion. Across Portland, Lucy attracted the attention of advanced thinkers and workers, who were devoted readers of her magazine and attendees of her twice-weekly parlor meetings in which she led séances. What Lucy spoke became gospel, her musings on New Thought – the simple belief of mind over matter – championed by her league of loyal followers. She was the psychic friend to the city’s social elite, and the first to establish and maintain a free reading room in the city. For 30 years, she opened its doors to anyone and everyone who wanted to enjoy the rare books on spiritualism and philosophy that lined its shelves.

Her commitment to her community did not stop there. Back in 1874, the old slavery prejudice ran so strong in Oregon that 45 Black children were forbidden from attending the Salem public schools, as no white teachers would teach them. Lucy volunteered to instruct them for the three years it took for the opposition to end and for the children to be admitted into the public school system. The money she made sat in the bank, as she had no use for it.

In her free time, Lucy sat on the boards of associations and clubs like the Oregon Vegetarian Society and the Association of Artists and Authors. She was, perhaps most importantly, a lifelong member of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and fought for the right to vote just as she fought for the right to education. She died in September of 1920, just one week after the ratification of the 19th amendment and two months before eight million women would rush to the polls for the very first time.

100 years later, the story of Lucy Rose Mallory, an otherwise forgotten figure, is important to remember and retell. She  was a woman of the people, an active advocate and celebrated psychic, a friend to both Tolstoy and spiders. If there’s a moral to her story, it’s this: be more like Lucy (and don’t forget to cast your vote tomorrow).

Why We Say Cheers

Why We Say Cheers

Traditional rules of etiquette have, for the most part, been retired. It’s difficult to imagine anyone other than my grandmother caring which fork I use, how I fold a napkin, whether or not I excuse myself from the table after dinner. But when it comes to drinking, there are certain rites and rituals that never faded out of style. Raise a glass. Share a toast. Clink. Maintain eye contact. Say cheers, and do it with feeling.

These are the things we do and have done for centuries, millenia, forever. But why? What is their cultural significance?

While the ritual of clinking glasses has evolved to become a means of connection among friends, it started, like most things do, as an act of self-preservation. The custom of touching glasses arose from concerns about poisoning, as clinking coupes and steins together jubilantly would cause each drink to slosh and spill over into the others’. Over time, as fears of contaminated cocktails waned, the ritual took on a new meaning.

According to the International Handbook of Alcohol and Culture, toasting “is probably a secular vestige of ancient sacrificial libations in which a sacred liquid was offered to the gods: blood or wine in exchange for a wish, a prayer summarized in the words 'long life!' or 'to your health!'"

So the next time you’re at a wedding and some drunken groomsmen stumbles up to the microphone to toast to the bride and groom, think of it this way: it’s not about how your cousin Steve was a total legend in college as much as it is a sacrificial libation to the gods.

Saying “cheers,” similarly, holds a deeper meaning. The phrase originates from the old French word chiere meaning “face” or “head.” By the 18th century, it was used as a way to express happiness and encouragement. Today, the phrase is entirely symbolic, a practice of camaraderie that is so routine it’s almost second nature. As the round of drinks hits the table, it’s expected before taking your first sip that you raise your glass, lock eyes, and clink clink clink.

It’s a tradition that transcends language and culture. Salute in Italian, skol in Danish, sante in French, cheers in English all mean roughly the same thing: I’m happy to be here, in this moment, with you. And even when our meeting places are digitized and we can’t share a drink IRL, these small acts of communion remain.

Cheers to that.

Dirty or With a Twist: Why We Put Olives In Martinis

Dirty or With a Twist: Why We Put Olives In Martinis

When you think of martinis, chances are you think of olives. With the exception of the lemon twist, olives are the quintessential garnish for the booziest of classic gin cocktails. And varieties abound. Manzanillas and Spanish Queens are the standard fare, though I’m personally partial to the neon green Castelvetrano variety with its mild sweetness and buttery texture.

But when it comes to martinis, perhaps the more interesting question isn’t “how,” but “why?”

Why, dear reader, do we put olives in our martinis? Who was the first salt-crazed scoundrel to splash some OJ (olive juice, baby) into a glass of gin and take a swig? How — and again, why — does it somehow work?

We don’t add olives to our martinis for the aesthetics alone, though the glimmering green orbs do invite a sense of reverie when bobbing up and down in a vermouth-washed coupe.

Rather, the savory olives act as a pleasant foil for the bright botanicals in our gin and vodka and help settle the drink’s intense booziness. They add a certain je ne sais quoi, a briny oceanic bite of salinity that mixes and melds nicely with botanicals like lemon, angelica, ginger, cardamom, and yes, juniper. And of course: they offer a built-in snack, too.

While the dirty martini has become a standard iteration, the OG martini skewed more sweet than savory. Cherries, among other fruits, were added to the drink alongside syrups and bitters, and often with a heavy pour of sweet vermouth.

These days, the modern martini is served very, very dry, but that wasn’t the norm at their advent. In the 19th century, martinis were served either upside down with more vermouth than gin, or as a 50/50 with equal parts of both. Sometimes absinthe got in the mix, other times not. But gin and dry vermouth – the major players in the martinis we stir, sip, and love today – were often an afterthought. Olives had not yet made their way to the party.

That all changed at the turn of the 20th century, when James Bond sipped a shaken, not stirred martini on screen and FDR brought the dirty tini to the masses. At a dinner party, President Franklin D. Roosevelt infamously shook up a dirty martini for martini aficionado Winston Churchill, who later described FDR as “an enthusiastic but sloppy mixer.” Later, in 1943, FDR insisted on shaking up his signature drink for none other than Joseph Stalin, who remarked that “it was cold on the stomach,” but not unpleasant. And with two out of two less than rave reviews, one by a Soviet dictator, the dirty martini entered into the popular imagination.

Unlike FDR, there are a lot of bartenders and at-home mixologists these days getting the martini right. From EVOO washed vespers to versions spiked with pickled veggie juice, there’s a martini out there for the dirtiest among us.

And if you made it to the end of this article while having an aversion to olives? Bravo to you. Here’s a 50/50 for your troubles.


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