Drink trivia

Here is some trivia that I have found in books and on the internet. I hope that most of it is true:

In AD 988 Prince Vladimir of Kiev, whose kingdom formed the nucleus of modern Russia, decided that his subjects should be united under a single religion. He sent to the Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims, requesting details of their faiths. The Muslims told him that they believed in one God, were circumcised, ate no pork, drank no wine, and would enjoy the carnal embraces of over seventy women each in paradise. According to the Russian Primary Chronicle, “Vladimirlistened to them, for he was fond of women and indulgence, regarding which he heard with pleasure. But circumcision and abstinence from pork and wine were disagreeable to him. ‘Drinking,’ said he ‘is the joy of the [Russians]. We cannot exist without that pleasure.’”Vladimirchose Christianity, and Islam lost a potentially useful ally.

Speed drinking or competitive drinking is drinking small or moderate quantities of beer or ale over the shortest period of time, without the intention of getting heavily intoxicated. Unlike binge drinking the focus is on the competition, or establishment of a record. Typically speed drinkers consume lighter beers such as lagers and allow their beer to go warm and lose its carbonation to shorten the drinking time. The Guinness Book of World Records (1990 edition, p. 464) lists several records for speed drinking. The first is for 2 litres(3.5 imperial pints, or about 68U.S.fluid ounces) set by Peter G. Dowdeswell (born London, July 29 1940) of Earls Barton,Northants,England. Mr. Dowdeswell consumed 2 litres in 6 seconds on February 7, 1975. Steven Petrosino of New Cumberland, Pennsylvania (born November 1951) consumed 1 litter (33 ounces) of beer in 1.3 seconds to set a world drinking record at the Gingerbreadman Pub in Carlisle,PA on June 22, 1977. Neither of these records had been defeated when Guinness retired all drinking records from their compendium in 1991. Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke held a record for the fastest consumption of beer; he consumed1.7 litresin 11 seconds.

The Empress Catherine I of Russia banned women from getting drunk. This law has been cited as the main reason for the large numbers of female transvestites who attended Moscow balls, where wine ran freely.

Tom Arnold, Sandra Bullock,Chevy Chase, Bill Cosby, Kris Kristofferson, and Bruce Willis are all former bartenders.

The etymology of alcohol is as unsteady as one would have suspected. For starters the word alcohol is Arabic. This may seem odd, given that Islam is a teetotal religion, but when the Arabs used the word alcohol they didn’t mean the same stuff that we do. Alcohol comes from al (the) kuhul, which was a kind of make-up. Indeed, some ladies still use kohl to line their eyes. As kohl is an extract and a dye, alcohol started to mean the pure essence of anything (there’s a 1661 reference to the alcohol of an ass’s spleen), but it wasn’t until 1672 that somebody at the Royal Society had the bright idea of finding the pure essence of wine. What was it in wine that made you drunk? What was the alcohol of wine? Soon wine-alcohol (or essence of wine) became the only alcohol anybody could remember, and then in 1753 everybody got so drunk that wine-alcohol was shortened to alcohol.

The menu of Pench’s Cocktail Bar in Varna,Bulgaria, listed 1,244 separate cocktails as of September 23, 2010. Also on the list, but not included in the record count, are 44 non-alcoholic cocktails.

Research on both humans and goldfish has shown that anything learned in a state of mild inebriation is liable to be forgotten when sobriety is restored. But a subsequent return to the inebriated state may be accompanied by a return of the forgotten memories. In other words, if you have forgotten something important that you learned when you were drunk, your best policy may well be to get drunk again. If you drank so much that you blacked out, however, all memories of what you said, did, or learned while intoxicated are liable to vanish forever, whether you are human or goldfish. (For further information, the reader should consult the article “The Use of Goldfish as a Model for Alcohol Amnesia in Man,” by R. S. Ryback. There are fewer reliable studies indicating any possible beneficial effects of alcohol, though mildly inebriated goldfish have been shown to learn simple tasks more quickly than sober goldfish.

Around the world the commonest drinking toast is to good health: Na zdravje (Slovenian), Salud (Spanish), Saúde (Brazilian Portuguese), Kia Ora (Maori), Egészségedre (Hungarian), Gezondheid (Flemish). The Ukrainians take this to the next level with Budmo!, which means ‘let us live forever!’ In contrast, the Scandinavian drinking toast Skål! (pronounced ‘skoal’) has a much more macabre background, as it originally meant ‘skull’. The word is alleged to have come down from a custom practised by the warlike Vikings who used the dried-out skulls of their enemies as drinking mugs.

By the sixth century BC, Greeks had discovered that poisoning wine was an excellent way to get rid of their enemies, and so to reassure guests at a social function, it became necessary for the host to take the first drink. The Romans added a piece of burnt bread, or “tostus,” to the custom because it absorbed acid, making the wine more pleasant to drink. Flattering words were spoken during the toasting ceremony to reassure the guests of their safety.

On February 14, 2010, Andrew Duminy (South Africa) sabered 27 champagne bottles in one minute at the Bull Run Restaurant,Sandton,South Africa. The practice of using a sabre to open a champagne bottle became popular during the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte.

National Prohibition led to a boom in the cruise industry. By taking what were advertised as “cruises to nowhere,” people could legally consume alcohol as soon as the ship entered international waters where they would typically cruise in circles. The cruises quickly became known as “booze cruises.

A painstaking study at http://www.atomicmartinis.com of Fleming’s complete oeuvre has shown that James Bond consumed a drink, on average, every seven pages. Of the 317 drinks consumed in total, his preferred tipple was whisky by a long margin – he drinks 101 in all, among them fifty-eight bourbons and thirty-eight Scotches. He’s pretty fond of champagne (thirty glasses) and in one book, You Only Live Twice (1964), which is mostly set in Japan, Bond tries sake. He likes it: he has thirty-five of them. Bond only opts for his supposed favourite, vodka martini, nineteen times, and he drinks almost as many gin martinis (sixteen – though most of these are bought for him by other people). The famous ‘shaken, not stirred’ line appears for the first time in Diamonds are Forever (1956) but isn’t used by Bond himself until Dr No (1959). Sean Connery was the first screen Bond to utter ‘shaken, not shtirred’, in Goldfinger (1964), and it occurs in most of the films thereafter. In 2005, the American Film Institute voted it the 90th greatest movie quote of all time.

The Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon (1638–1715) did not invent champagne: in fact he spent most of his time trying to remove the bubbles. His famous exclamation: ‘Come quickly, I am drinking the stars’, was devised for an advertisement in the late nineteenth century. Pérignon’s real legacy to champagne was in the skilful blending of grape varieties from different vineyards and the use of a wire or hempen cage for the cork.

A popular history suggests that the Manhattan originated at the Manhattan Club in New York City in the early 1870s, where it was invented by Dr. Iain Marshall for a banquet hosted by Jennie Jerome (Lady Randolph Churchill, Winston’s mother) in honour of presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden. The success of the banquet made the drink fashionable, later prompting several people to request the drink by referring to the name of the club where it originated—”the Manhattan cocktail”. However, Lady Randolph was in France at the time and pregnant, so the story is likely a fiction.

Luuk Broos (Netherlands) and his team created a 63-story champagne fountain using 43,680 glasses at the Wijnegem shopping mall,Belgium, on January 25, 2008.

The idea that alcohol ‘stops antibiotics working’ was first put about in the venereal disease clinics set up after the Second World War. Penicillin, identified by Alexander Fleming in 1928, had proved particularly effective at clearing up sexually transmitted infections. It was prescribed with the strict instruction not to drink while taking it. The reason for this was psychological rather than pharmaceutical. Drunken people are more likely to jump at the chance of casual sex. By scaring their patients into not drinking, doctors and nurses were giving the drug a chance to work before the infection could be passed on.

President Lincoln, when informed that General Grant drank whiskey while leading his troops, reportedly replied “Find out the name of the brand so I can give it to my other generals.”

All drinking cultures have inventive expressions for the horrors of the morning after:

avoir la gueule de bois (French) to have a wooden mouth

babalasi (Venda,South Africa) a trembling hangover

futsukayoi (Japanese) a hangover (literally, second day drunk)

winderdgriep (Afrikaans) a hangover (literally, vineyard flu)

einen Kater haben (German) to have a hangover (literally, to have a tomcat)

scimmia (Italian) to have a hangover (literally, a monkey)

One Response to Drink trivia

  1. Alberto says:

    When in Russia, we also heard the anecdote about alcohol and religion, though suggesting it was an exaggeration.

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