- The customs of a specific time and place surrounding the consumption of alcohol.
- The best etiquette and practices surrounding the consumption of alcohol.
Ti-punch is the backbone of the drinkskultur of the French Antilles, but it can also be found as far afield as Reunion island in the Indian ocean.
Johnny crushing that beer can on his forehead during his wedding was a glaring demonstration of his lack of drinkskultur.
Portmanteau of drink, which comes into Modern English from Old English drincan, which can be etymologically related to Old High German trinkan meaning to drink, and of the German kultur, ultimately derived from the Latin cultura. This witty neologism seems to have been coined by a rogue group of educated and worldly scuba divers sometimes early in the 21st century. It is interesting to notice that the word exists independently, and grammatically correctly in German, as trinkkultur.
It was voted new English word of the year in 2016.*
Insert sarcasm beers.
According to the Drunken Monkey hypothesis, our primate ancestors learned to eat fruits that had fermented naturally, finding them by the smell (apparently alcohol is a light molecule and disperses easily) in a context where food sources were scarce. Recognizing and following the smell of alcohol might have become an advantage in terms of survival and thus evolution, and in the process we were gifted, as a species, with a disposition to drink. The theory is explained in a 184 pages book, so I’m probably fudging the finer points, but you get the gist.
Be that as it may, today it remains your choice to drink or not. The devil doesn’t make you do it, the drunk ancestral monkeys don’t make you do it. As I’m fond of saying, you are the boss of you. I choose to drink, I choose to push back the darkness even if just for a while. My Heorot, my Camelot, steadfast, standing in the path of the great big night, erasing the little daily defeats or enlivening specs of triumphs. Perhaps I have a slight entheogenic/psychotherapeutic relation with alcohol, oh well.
So you’ve made the decision to throw one back once in a while and you want to do it properly, like a gentleperson and not a rude beast. Welcome to the drinksultur of the Diving & Chillin’ Club part one.
D&C drinkskultur rules:
1- Drink whatever you please as long as you truly truly enjoy it and screw the trends. Life is too short to drink mediocre stuff you feel lukewarm about. Don’t let anyone impose their dogmas on you, try stuff out for yourself, make up your own mind. You find bliss in drinking cola and red wine? Good on you mate. All the following guidelines are subservient to this one.
2- Don’t save money on ice. Booze is expensive, ice is cheap, if you try to save your ice for later and put less in your drinks or worse in your shaker, you will only end up with tepid overly diluted drinks. If you have a rented beach front villa for your vacation (because of course), get on the ice making right away, dump it in a bowl as soon as it is ready and keep on making more. As long as their is room in the freezer there isn’t too much ice. Treat it like you’re playing Ice-Tycoon.
3-Don’t save (too much) money on booze either. Quality over quantity. if your booze comes in a big plastic jug with a handle, toss it. Toss it really far or light the charcoal with it. You are worth quality liquor and your body will thank you for it. Drink less but drink tastier stuff, the idea is not to get blitzed and wake up with the taste of dead hamsters in your mouth and a scar over your lower back. The idea is to have a good time and elevate your life with wondrous flavours while alcohol does its temporary magic. Think of it as poetry made liquid. On the other hand, super premium alcohol is either not worth it or unsuitable for mixing, save your money for more scuba diving. You should not mix with a 20-year old rum or tequila, I would strongly recommend you rather savour something like that with a bit of water (like a teaspoon’s worth) to discover its complexities. Using it in a cocktail will obliterate the subtleties of flavour, so even if money is no object, show a little reverence. That too elevates the experience.
4-Shake or stir vigorously. If you’re making cocktail, which you will if you keep on reading this blog, the point of adding ice is to provide a slight dilution and a drastic drop in the liquid’s temperature. To that end the liquid must pass repeatedly and very quickly over the ice. If you’re using a shaker, this means going all paint mixer on that thing. If you prefer to stir you need a large receptacle and plenty of ice, impart a slight up and down motion as your stir quickly, not like a lazy circling shark. You know you’re done when the shaker is too cold to hold or your mixing glass is covered in condensation. For the more analytical of you that is an absolute minimum of seven steamboats.
A tip about shaking vigorously, it can be a little ungracious if done while holding the shaker in front of you. It will impart a lot of movement to your upper
booty body. Awesome if your playing truth or dare, a bit less so in other circumstances like church picnics or brunch with the in-laws. To avoid a fleshy tsunami shake over your shoulder, imagine you are about to throw the shaker like a football, a fully inflated one, clap your second hand on it, make sure all parts of the shaker are secured and have at it.
5-Limes, use them. We love lime, it perks up even the most pedestrian Cuba libre (aka mentiroso or just rum and coke) or depressed gin & tonic, and it’s a key component in many cocktails. The word lime used to refer exclusively to Key limes, but a hurricane in the 20’s wiped out the groves in Florida and the farmers replaced them with what we now call limes, but back then was called the Tahitian or Persian lime, thank you semantic drift. “Limes” were easier to harvest (didn’t grow on a tree of thorns like Key limes), more hardy but apparently not quite as tasty. My point, always use real limes and real fresh juice. Always. Always. Always. Bar mix, powders, commercial extracts and juices, syrups, all that belongs in the garbage. If you rent houses travel with a small handheld juicer, yes they sometimes look like buttplugs, deal with it. Applies to lemons also.
Bonus point: If you can have pre-chilled glasses, you bring the whole experience to another level, both for the mixer and the drinker. Also it looks so damn cool when tendrils of freezer fog coil around your glasses as you take them out in the tropical air.
Drinkskultur is more effort, but it is much more rewarding as well. If you can express or reach peace of mind arranging flowers or folding paper, you can certainly find your immovable center shaking and drinking.