March 13th 2013 | Comments

The Gentleman’s Guide To Drinking

“Fancy a drink, old man?”

BEWARE: These five words may sound innocent enough when you’re at a social event, but they are not. In the words of poor, dead Admiral Ackbar: “IT’S A TRAP!”

The world of drink is fraught with dangers, of which the trainee gentleman (ie, you) may not be fully aware. Many and legion are the dinner, reception or gathering that are spoiled by the incorrect choice of drink, spoiling the event for everybody.

Be warned: Once it is out that you are a poor judge of alcohol, with a preference for strong cider by the bucket, you might as well volunteer for a ten-year expedition up the Congo River because that’s how long your social diary will remain empty.

Mr Bill Murray gentleman drinker

Mr Bill Murray gentleman drinker

We may, at this stage, bow to the fine example of the comedic genius of Mr Alastair James Belshaw Hay Murray and his creation “The Pub Landlord”. In the words of the otherwise uncouth Mr Landord: “Pint of bitter for the gents, fruit-based drink for the ladies.” While we would never mix with Mr Landlord socially, he is quite correct.

Lesson 1: Bitter not Lager. Real Ale is the drink of choice of the English gentleman. A country pub at Sunday lunchtime, a pint of Old Scrotum in his hand, telling anybody who’d listen how he’d run the country. This is heaven. Lager, on the other hand, is imported either from the colonies, or countries we have roundly thrashed in open warfare and/or cricket. Avoid, for it is the Drink of Failure.

Lesson Two: Gin and Tonic. The Drink That Built The Empire. While Real Ale is for public houses, Gin and Tonic is the drink of choice for social events. Never mind the fact that it tastes like horse wee strained through month-worn underpants, drinking any other spirit during a social engagement will mark you down as a cad, a bounder, and somebody who’d relieve themselves in Her Ladyship’s airing cupboard given half the chance.

Lesson Three: Whisky/Whiskey. Perfectly acceptably if you’re of the Scottish or Irish persuasion and you can produce a note excusing you from Gin and Tonic. The only permissible addition should be water, and only in its liquid form. Ice cubes betray an American influence, and will have you marked out as a cad and a bounder (see above).

Lesson Four: Wine. This is tricky territory, and worthy of its own ‘How To’ guide. To avoid doubt, wine should only be taken with a meal, and even then in moderation. Choice of wine is such a minefield, it is always best to delegate the choice to another party, such as a trained Sommelier lest you mark yourself out as a cad and a bounder (see above). The words “Whatever you’ve got in a box” will have you up the Congo River before you know it.

Lesson Five: Babycham. No.

Lesson Six: Anything with an umbrella. Absolutely not.

The rules, therefore are simple: Pub = Real Ale. Elsewhere = G&T. Dinner = Wine of somebody else’s choice. Face down in the gutter like a cad and a bounder = Lager

Follow these guidelines, young sir, and you will go far. But not as far as next year’s Congo River Expedition.