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High WASP Entertaining, What Do We Think About Alcohol?

We like it.

However we are not apt to be the people bowed in reverence over their collection of single malt Scotch. We are not apt to be the ones discussing merits of boutique gins, Junipero vs. Hendricks vs. Plymouth. Nor, surprisingly, are we much good at sophisticated discussions of wine. Unless of course we are foodies by choice, not by heritage. Then we can get really wound up. Me, I vote for Junipero gin, that faint flavor of juniper berries, bite of the gin…but where was I?

Oh yes. Beefeater’s is fine. $10 bottles of Sauvignon Blanc are fine, especially when they are sustainably produced. Scotch is great. Just needs to be brown.

I am somewhat loath to venture a guess on why High WASPs, on the whole, like alcohol. However, my brother the Harvard graduate, Ph.D., psychoanalyst who’s job involves many people lying on a couch in his office and telling him things, has a theory. He says it’s because we come from Scotland originally. That anxiety is cross-cultural, and the High WASP version of Prozac is a nice, peaty glass of Scotch. Neat. Could be. Anecdotally, peoples from cold climates do seem more apt to drink, Scandinavians, Scots, Koreans, Northern Chinese, than those from warmer regions.

On the other hand all that early colonization seems to have encouraged alcohol consumption. First there was the rum required for sailors to make it across the oceans. Then there was malaria. Clearly gin was necessary to make the quinine water, now known as tonic and made much sweeter, drinkable. Right? And so on. But maybe it’s just the same force that has the birds squawking and fluttering around my pyracantha bush. Mild inebriation can be fun. Unless of course it causes you to fly into the garage door and lie stunned on the driveway. Let’s all avoid that, shall we?
So cheers. I like the Swedish style of toasting. “The proposer of the toast engages the eye of the person being toasted, and “skoal” is said. A slight bow of the head, and a twinkle of the eye—and the aquavit is drained in one gulp (if the drink is wine, a sip is taken). Just before the glass is put back on the table, the eyes meet again and there is another friendly nod.” In the version I learned, you also gesture with the glass towards your heart when you make the final nod. Drink responsibly. Have a lovely weekend.

13 Responses

  1. Eye contact when toasting is a must for me…, why toast otherwise, but most Americans don't. I'd say it's a European tradition.

  2. I like your brother's theory. Both of my grandmothers are of Scots-Irish descent, and I love my single malt libations – I can hold a reasonably intelligent discussion about single malt scotch. Wine is another matter; I love the stuff, and prefer dry red wines, but that's about where my wine sophistication ends.

    I am also definitely a foodie by choice, even if I do post recipes for fried chicken. :)

  3. I LOVE alcohol…champagne cocktails, (sugar cube, bitters, champ), manhattans, scotch and sodas, French 75's, all wine…the list goes on and on. Just none of those sweet girly drinks and nothing with accessories, ie, umbrellas, etc.

  4. Reading your post makes me want to open that bottle I've been saving for a special occasion…

    …a quiet house for change sounds like just the thing to be deemed 'special'! So cheers, my friend (holding glass to my heart, nodding my head, SIPPING my wine) YOU have a lovely weekend yourself.

    ? Does having just the dogs here constitute drinking alone? Can they witness the toast thus making eye contact? Just a thought….

  5. This was interesting and fun. We too, nod toward the heart. How apropos.

  6. Eye contact it is. I say if the dogs love you, they count. Yeah, I go for the manly stuff myself too. What is a French 75 I wonder?

  7. Being a Scot & Finn, I've been know to enjoy a gin & tonic w/lime, not so much the scotch, although the grandparents did every night.

  8. What a fabulous post. I concur with brother. Seems like he knows best, dealing with the crazies and all. But what do I know. My Dad drank scotch and sodas and did yard work in a lacoste and dock siders.

  9. Oo, I don't like that spelling of skål, reminds me of that other vile/unhealthy Scandinavian habit commercialized here in the States.

    But anyway…I have long theorized that I might hold my liquor quite well because of my various northern European ancestors (one sector being Swedish)…pretty much all of them are thought of as drinkers. I can handle a lot more than I "ought" as a petite gal. (I hasten to add, I am a moderate drinker and don't have any taste for overdoing it.)

    And I knew what I'd find as the answer to your rhetorical question. The…"appreciation"…for drink I remember noting among the pink-shirted, whale-wearing, Pappagallo-purchasing segment well before legal drinking age. Really hadn't thought about the lack of snobbery regarding it though. Hey, I never had a problem with the wonderful 1982 & '83 E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône I used to drink back in the day when I could get it for…$2.50 a bottle! (That was after I was drinking age however.)

    Note to "The Mrs." because I am a language geek: I always found it interesting that the shoe styles "top-sider" (a Sperry model) and "dockside" (Sebago) got blended more often than not into the technically portmanteau "docksider" and used for either (and their imitators).

    (Why yes, some people DO still talk to me at parties, thanks for your concern! ;) )

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