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A 150-year-old glass vial containing the "Elixer of Life" was found in New York City on a hotel construction site in the Lower East Side. Once the location of a German beer garden and music hall, many liquor bottles dating back to the 1850s have been unearthed, but none as interesting as the concoction believed to help people cheat death. After analyzing the contents, archaeologists tracked down the recipe in a 19th century German medical guide:
Aloe - 13 gramsRhubarb - 2.3 gramsGentian - 2.3 gramsZedoary (white turmeric) - 2.3 gramsSpanish saffron - 2.3 gramsWater - 4 ouncesGrain alcohol (vodka, gin) - 12 ounces
Squeeze out the liquid from the aloe and set aside. Crush the rhubarb, gentian, zedoary and Spanish saffron (for a modern twist, use a blender for this part), and mix them with the aloe liquid, water and alcohol. Let the mixture sit for three days, shaking frequently. Then filter it using a cheesecloth or coffee filter, and serve. Be careful with the liquid — the saffron can dye your hands or other kitchen items.
Many of the ingredients are still used in herbal medicines and natural remedies today. Aloe has an anti-inflammatory effect, Gentian root and powdered rhubarb help digestion, white turmeric is said to purify blood and help cell regeneration, and Spanish saffron is used to treat many health conditions, including depression.
The bottle held less than one ounce and it is likely the product was taken one drop at a time. The team that unearthed the elixir is planning on brewing the concoction within the next few weeks to discover the taste and effects. I'm thinking disgusting and not much.