A Little Dry, But…


Who has not been in this position; you visit a friend, they tell you that they have recently started making their own beer. Or wine. Or raki. Or toluene. Whatever – they are determined to get you to drink a glass. They wish you to praise it, and them.

You wish desperately to avoid the stuff. But they are closer to the door than you are and it is likely they would catch you if you dodged sideways and bolted. Short of falling to the floor and faking a heart attack*, there are few options open to you. Let is review the dismal prospects:

  1. Let the glass slip carelessly through your fingers as they hand it to you. Try not to let any of it splash upon you. This works one, two, maybe three times before they start to become hostile.
  2. Pretend to sip it and look around for a potted palm into which to empty the rest of the glass. If there are no palms an aspidistra will do. Or a velour sofa.
  3. Thank them firmly but say that your religion forbids alcohol. Or nitric acid. If you are trying to do this while eating a pulled pork BBQ roll it may get you a funny look.
  4. Sneeze. A good sneeze will empty a glass in an outward direction. Don’t sneeze toward an open flame in case they have been distilling the stuff for a month and it is just about to spontaneously combust anyway.
  5. Drink a good slug. You can live for years with half your stomach removed and if you are over 40 it doesn’t matter so much.

Be particularly wary of beverages to which a pre-drink warning has been applied; ” You may find this a little tart” ( If I wanted to find a little tart I’d go to a bakery or a cheap night club…). Or ” This takes some time to become accustomed to” ( So do old wounds from mortar fragments – and at least they help to predict wet weather…).

If you are at all suspicious of the drinks on offer, observe the bottles and stoppers. Fine old wines will have a sediment at the side of the bottle where it has lain at rest for decades. So will used motor oil. Corks are the traditional closer for traditional wines. Followed by screw lids or crown stoppers. If the neck of the bottle is sealed with a wadded rag it may still make a fine cocktail but you’ll have to light it and throw it against a Soviet tank to find out…

Remember that pocket hip flask that someone gave you as a novelty last birthday? Looks like a good idea now, doesn’t it? Even if it is filled with Wipeout**or lemonade it is still a better bet.


  • * Risky. They might apply their home-made spirits to your bloodless lips.
  • ** Ask an Australian who was alive in the 80’s and 90’s. Beware – they spit.

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