November 27, 2008

Cocktail Talk: Wise and Unwise Drinking

I have two quotes from John Betjeman’s jolly essay, “Unwise and Wise Drinking,” printed in The Complete Imbiber #1 (a collection any drinker should invest in, if they can find it. I pulled my copy from the basement shelves of a bookstore in York, England). These two seem ideal quotes to have at hand for the holidays. The first just in case you have a really vocal TT (teetotaler) at your holiday feast:


“I expect you know that story of the ancient and reverend head of an Oxford college, a man of few words and those remarkable. Someone had brought a guest to the high table who was a confirmed teetotaler. At the end of dinner he was offered a glass of port, and proclaimed in a loud voice ‘I would rather commit adultery than drink a glass of port.’ Then, that ancient and reverend head of the house broke the silence by saying ‘And who wouldn’t?’”


and the second to remind us not to forget the important “drink” part of the feast (though he doesn’t mention cocktails specifically, they should recognized as an “essential” part of any holiday meal along with the wine family):


“And there we are all ranged round the tables, how essential a part of the feast is the drink: sherry, the wines, and the port and brandy. What a beautiful procession they make, often so much better and more digestible than the food! How dull the feast would be without them. And how the tongues are loosed, the hearts warmed, the better qualities brought out . . .”


— John Betjeman, “Unwise and Wise Drinking”

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