We read in Luke 1:13-15 (NRSVCE) of the Angel foretelling the birth of John the Baptist:
“Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink.."
Of course, John as an adult, led an ascetic life and survived on locusts and wild honey (Mtt 3:4). He must also have abstained from drinking wine of the grape, as had been stipulated by the Angel. But a doubt remains as to what was referred to by ‘strong drink’ by the Angel. In ancient civilizations where grape was not cultivated, intoxicating drinks from other fruits, flowers or food grains used to be made. It is not clear if there were drinks (like coffee and tea) which were regarded as strong but not intoxicating.
My question, therefore, is: What is referred to as ‘strong drink’ which John the Baptist was restrained from drinking in Lk 1:15?