Green’s Dictionary of Slang

rotgut adj.

[rotgut n.]

of alcoholic drinks, inferior; whether beer, wine, whisky or any other cheap liquor.

[UK]J. Tatham Rump I i: Not in Rot-gut Beer, I assure you, or Muddy Ale.
[UK]T. Baker Tunbridge Walks III i: Dam Rotgut Rhenish, we’ll have Mrs. Motion’s health in a Bumper of Barcelona.
[UK]G. Parker Life’s Painter 40: That [...] is better than all the rot-gut wine that ever came from Popish grounds .
[UK]‘Peter Pindar’ ‘The Sick Lady and the Almanack’ Works (1835) 68: A poor old woman, with diarrhoea, Brought on by slip-slop tea and rot-gut beer, Went to Sangrado with a woeful face.
[UK]W. Perry London Guide 202: One who more obsequiously draws their rot-gut stuff.
[UK]Marryat King’s Own II 216: The master requested a glass of grog, as the rot-gut French wines had given him a pain in the bowels.
[UK]T. Hughes Tom Brown’s School-Days (1896) 107: Then there’s fuddling about in the public-house, and drinking bad spirits, and punch, and such rot-gut stuff.
[UK]Sporting Times 2 June 10/2: ‘Will you take a liqueur with your coffee?’ [...] ‘No thanks; never touch ’em. Rot-gut stuff!’.
[US]H. Hapgood Autobiog. of a Thief 259: These latter usually wind up with rot-gut booze and are sometimes seen selling songs on Bowery.
Truth (Syney) 10 July 1/2: In the land of lousy liars, / Rot gut bribes & tickey beer.
[US] (ref. to 1900s) N. Kimball Amer. Madam (1981) 175: Whores [...] peddling their quim and quiff for a thumbnail of cocaine or a tot of rot-gut whisky.
[UK]P. Cheyney Don’t Get Me Wrong (1956) 11: Suckin’ in Mexican dust, frijoles an’ rot-gut tequila.
[US]J. Thompson Savage Night (1991) 41: Goofballs [...] A few of those in that rotgut wine and . .
[Aus]Mirror (Perth) 8 May 1/1: [headline] Scandal of Illicit Rot-Gut Liquor.
[US]L. Block ‘Burning Fury’ in One Night Stands (2008) 51: He tossed off the shot of rot-gut rye.
[SA]L.F. Freed Crime in S. Afr. 83: The place was dimly lit and the air reeked of rot-gut whisky, male sweat, and cheap perfume.
[US]H. Rhodes Chosen Few (1966) 50: She called it rotgut poison.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Mama Black Widow 148: That rot gut gin he guzzles has him seeing what is not.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 39: A pint of ‘rot gut’ whiskey brought from seven and a half to ten dollars.
[US]O. Hawkins Ghetto Sketches 86: Gimme some of that rotgut pluck!
[US]L. Heinemann Paco’s Story (1987) 38: Swilling that rotgut vodka and bouncing in their seats.
[US]S. King It (1987) 454: The stuff you could get in town was ten times as good as the rotgut whiskey and bathtub gin you could get at the white boys’ NCO.
[US]G. Sikes 8 Ball Chicks (1998) 13: If freebasing pure cocaine was the equivalent of an expensive champagne, crack was a cheap rotgut wine.
[UK]Indep. on Sun. 30 Jan. 26: Once disparaged outside Mexico as rot-gut ‘cactus juice’, tequila now is a runaway success.
[UK]K. Richards Life 280: Bad red wine. Thunderbird and Ripple, the worst fucking rotgut wines there are.