Sunday, June 3, 2007

Barbara Holland on The Joy of Drinking

Folks, we may be taking things too seriously with our beverages. Barbara Holland would heartily agree with my previous sentence and offer a toast to that.

I just read a provocative article in The Washington Post by Peter Carlson about his interview with the author of the recently released The Joy of Drinking (which she thinks should be sold as a package with The Joy of Cooking and The Joy of Sex). Strangely and twistedly, I think she gets it. By it I meant joie de vivre.

Alcohol, she writes, is "the social glue of the human race." Other interesting quotes:

There's a local restaurant where, when I show up, they get me a glass of merlot," she says, "and everybody keeps telling me that nobody is drinking merlot any more; everybody is drinking pinot noir. Well, frankly, darling, I'm not sure I could tell the difference."

Everybody is horrified that I don't insist on a single malt and I don't have an opinion on Glenfiddich and all that," she says. "People want to impress me and they serve me Cutty Sark, which tastes like white wine to me. I like ice cubes in my Scotch, but apparently it's illegal to put ice cubes in a single malt. You are allowed to put in a teaspoon of water to bring out the nose."

Her book is going into my shopping cart. It's probably going to be a guilty-pleasure kind of summer reading.

The full article at and The New York Times. Registration may be required.


Anonymous said...

What a character!

"I spent most of my adult life in Philadelphia, and in Pennsylvania a man would as soon go out in public wearing a tutu as drink iced tea."

I think I might follow suit and get this too. Sounds delightfully iconoclastic. Thanks for the tip!

~ Phyll said...

If you've never worn a tutu in public before, Nikhil, then come to our yearly LA Halloween parade on Santa Monica Blvd...and bring your iced tea. You'll blend in and then some. (The SF gay parade is a great time to do that, too).

The beverage industry needs people like Barbara Holland to transform the "Nectar of the Gods" into a potable liquid for mere mortals.

Anonymous said...

I only wear my tutu indoors, thank you ;)

MarshalN said...

I have heard that it is actually quite a blasphemy to drink scotch of any kind with no additional water/ice, to a Scot. The whole "no added stuff" is just a myth, or an American macho thing.

David Lesseps said...

nikhil, where do you drink your iced-tea?

Unknown said...

MarshalN: Yep. Scotsmen prefer their whisky with a little bit of water. But they usually have no strong opinions about people who do not add anything. OTOH ice cubes are simply wrong :) [These are my observations after four years in Edinburgh, but I can't rule out there are Scots with a completely different view of drinking whisky.]

Anonymous said...

davelcorp: By where, do you mean location, or which vendor do I buy from? I usually drink my iced tea at home from our own inventory. I always prepare my iced tea using the cold-infusion method (seems to give the liquor much better clarity and flavor) rather than making hot tea first and then chilling it.

Full disclosure: I run a tea business.

obda / marshaln: I must admit that I add ice cubes to my scotch sometimes (how utterly blasphemous of me!) I think I just like the chilled sensation as it enters the mouth, followed by a warming sensation as the liquor travels down the throat.