01 December 2008

Drink Up

Via Alex Massie, Roger Scruton reviews Everyday Drinking: The Distilled Kingsley Amis, which I'm thoroughly enjoying right now. I highly, highly recommend it. It's one of the few books that I plan on buying having already read a library copy.

Interspersed throughout the text Amis provides "General Principles," which are always enlightening. Consider General Principle 2:
Any drink traditionally accompanied by a bit of fruit or vegetable is worth trying with a spot of the juice thrown in as well.
Or General Principle 3:
It is more important that a cold drink should be as cold as possible than that it should be as concentrated as possible.
This last was a chief complaint of mine during college. Three ice cubes in a 16 oz solo cup aren't going to do it. A drink is more palatable with half as much mixer and added ice than it is weak but warm. Which brings me to advice for dastardly deans of students: if you want to stop your students from drinking remove the ice machines from dorms.

Also provided at the conclusion of chapters are valuable quotes such as
Wine cheers the sad, revives the old, inspires the yong, makes weariness forget his toil, and fear her danger, opens a new world when this, the present, palls.
— Lord Byron

The dipsomaniac and the abstainer are not only both mistaken, but they both make the same mistake. They both regard wine as a drug and not as a drink.
— GK Chesterton
The volume is composed of three books Amis previously wrote. The first (originally published as On Drink) is advice for drinkers, including recipes, a diet that does not require you to cut down on drink consumption, and tips for throwing a party on a shoestring budget. The second section is a collection of newspaper columns on various drinks, while the third is a collection of quizzes, the answers to which are a good compendium of drink trivia, including the origin of the word rum. (From "rumbullion," meaning a great commotion or uproar, perhaps with brawling involved.)

The second chapter of the first section leads off with:
One infallible mark of your true drink-man is that he reads everything on the subject that comes his way, from full-dress books to those tiny recipe-leaflets the makers tend to hang round the necks of their bottles.
That describes me pretty well, and if you recognize shades of yourself in the description I would commend you to seek out Everyday Drinking with celerity, as it will make a great Repeal Day gift.

1 comment:

  1. Which brings me to advice for dastardly deans of students: if you want to stop your students from drinking remove the ice machines from dorms.

    I see a two-fold benefit here. One is that brave and dedicated youngsters may grow an earlier appreciation for drinking bourbon the way it should be drunk:neat, no mixer. That alone should necessitate the purchasing of higher caliber booze as well--our second benefit.

    And I do recognize myself here and will be purchasing the book post haste. Thanks for the tip.