Category: Food and Drink

Do You Have a Totalitarian Impulse?

Drinking with friends and the Diocletian Test

Do you have a totalitarian impulse?

Ask yourself: “Do I think the government’s goals or aims should take priority over human nature?” Put another way: “Do I think the government’s noble end justifies a bad means?”

The Diocletian Test

In the fourth century, the Roman Emperor Diocletian faced a serious problem: lack of food. One of the reasons: farmers were abandoning agriculture and moving to the cities. The farmers were abandoning the farms because economic prospects in the city were far better and, in many cases, farming couldn’t sustain them and their families.

Diocletian’s solution? Serfdom. Require the farmers, and their kids, and their kids’ kids, and their kids’ kids’ kids, and so on for a millennium to stay on that specific parcel of land and farm it. If you abandon the farm for something better, you die.

The government had a goal (better food production) so it overrode a natural human trait (seeking economic improvement).

Diocletian’s solution, combined with a lot of other reforms, worked, incidentally. It saved the Empire at a time when contemporaries thought the whole thing was falling apart.

Do you applaud Diocletian’s establishment of the institution of serfdom (which, most people agree, was merely a better form of slavery, but still slavery)?

If so, then you can probably assume you have the totalitarian impulse. You, in other words, flunk the “Diocletian Test.”


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Drinking with Children

The first Christmas card

Tis the season . . . to get kids drunk.

The very first Christmas card showed a young child drinking mulled wine. It was 1843, the year Dickens’ Christmas Carol came out.

One of the works of art proved very popular, selling out its first edition in six days (from December 19th to Christmas Eve).

The other work of art wasn’t quite so popular, producing such a backlash of outrage that no one even tried to produce another Christmas card for three years.

My only question is, how do they know the kid was drinking mulled wine? It looks like an ordinary glass of wine to me.

I’m guessing they just assumed it, since mulled wine is a traditional Christmas drink.

I’m not sure I’ve ever had it. I’ve been looking at recipes, though, and am thinking I’ll have to make some this holiday season. I’ve kind of been on the wagon lately for health reasons, so this might be a nice bridge into drinking this holiday season.

If anyone has recommended recipes, please email them to me.… Read the rest

Black Wednesday Arriveth

You can pick up that nifty shirt at this site.

Of course, it’s too late to get the shirt this year, but heck, everything is too late this year. We should’ve had Black Wednesday in October, before the newest wave of lockdowns occurred.

Me? I thought about defying Michigan’s order, but I’m not. I’m having a handful of people stop by, but due to the various times they’re stopping by, I should be in compliance with the order at all times. My goal is to have a drink with as many different friends and family without doing so irresponsibly.

For good measure, though, I’ll have the windows open and air purifiers cranking.

I was going to play my Spotify “Garage Rock Elite” playlist, but it promises to be a more laid-back affair, so I might go with my “Mellow” list. We’ll see.

My “Garage Rock Elite” playlist has a bunch of songs I’d never heard. A partial list:

“Demolicion,” by Los Saicos (for fans of Peru punk garage rock from the 1960s),

“Don’t Ring,” Come on In, by The Ding-Dongs,

“Tall Cool One,” by the Kingsmen,

“Chicken Half,” by the Sugarman 3,

“Older Guys,” by the Flying Burrito Brothers,

“Rudie Can’t Fail,” by the Clash,

“Brand New Cadillac,” by the Clash,

“Subterranean Homesick Blues,” by Harry Nilsson

“I’m No Count,” by Ty Wagner,

“Voodoo Cadillac,” by Southern Culture on the Skids

If your … Read the rest

How We Can Still Celebrate Holiday Drinking in These Troubling Days?

Black Wednesday looms, though I’m not sure I should refer to it as “Black Wednesday.”

The decadents think it’s a shortened version of “Black-out Wednesday,” but it’s not. It’s a play off “Black Friday,” which is “black” because retailers turn huge profits that day. “Black Wednesday” is black because it turns huge profits for bars.

But not this year.

One of my bar clients told me this week that he had been eking along, breaking even over the course of the year, hanging on for Black Wednesday and the following three weeks, which are his biggest weeks of the year.

And Whitmer has shut him down.

“For the public good” you say?

I don’t want to turn this week’s “Drinking Matters” column into a screed (this column is supposed to be a celebration—joyful—not a critical jeremiad), but if you believe these shutdowns are a good idea, please consider the other side and the impressive mound of counter-facts.

A great place to start is The Tom Woods Show. Tom has pretty much destroyed the notion that these lockdowns are a good idea. He doesn’t deny COVID is a risk (though he disagrees it’s as dangerous as the Whitmers of the world want us to believe). He just denies that the lockdowns make any difference . . . and presents the facts to prove it.

If you don’t listen to podcasts, you can try his free Read the rest

I Don’t Love the Nightlife and I Don’t Got to Boogie

But I miss the bars

“There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.” Samuel Johnson

Like Samuel Johnson and Alicia Bridges (see title), I like a good bar.

Heck, I like many bars. I love a good bar.

COVID, of course, has crippled the bar scene, which has hit me pretty hard.

You see, I’m a religious guy. I like to worship.

I’m pantheistic in my approach. God, for me, isn’t found only in the brick-and-mortar church sanctuary. God is everywhere.

Oh yeah, to be sure, he’s found in some places better than others. I believe He is present in every church. I also think He’s present in other people and acutely present in the poor.

I also believe he’s present in quiet places. It’s a belief that goes back almost 3,000 years, to the time of Elijah:

A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord — but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake — but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire — but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound,” a “still and small” breeze, and then the Lord spoke, “Elijah, why are you here?”

I’m a silence … Read the rest

1,800 Pumpkin Beers Can’t be Wrong

The poor man’s beer that hipsters drink today

orange pumpkins on table
Photo by Valeriia Miller on

I knew pumpkin beer had become “a thing.” I didn’t realize it had become a huge thing: Beer Advocate lists 1,800 brands.

That’s quite a growth from 1985, when the first modern pumpkin beer was brewed in California and greeted with bemused condescension.

I say “modern” beer because pumpkin beer in America goes back a long way. That 1985 pumpkin beer? It was apparently crafted from a recipe used by George Washington himself . . . he of the deathbed conversion to Catholicism (a legend that will never be proven or disproven).

Pumpkins were easy to grow in America and kept well, so they were a mainstay of the diet. They also became a mainstay in beer among the poor who couldn’t afford more traditional ingredients.

But as evidenced by George Washington’s use of beer (George was hardly poor), pumpkins were used by many brewers. A lot of traditional ingredients simply weren’t available in the New World, so brewers had to get creative, as evidenced by this verse from the 1630s:

If barley be wanting to make into malt,

We must be content and think it no fault,

For we can make liquor to sweeten our lips,

Of pumpkins, and parsnips, and walnut-tree chips.

Lender and Martin, Drinking in America, p. 5.

Degenerates and Cows

I miss beer.

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P.G. Wodehouse Referenced Booze . . . A Lot

Brews you can use

“Studs,” by E. Studs Mulligan

Ah, yes. Three of my sons, post-wedding Mass last Saturday. It was, after all the struggles and cost, a glorious day. That’s Alex, the groom, to the far left, then Michael and Jack to the far right. The other three guys are school chums.

Yes, “chums.” I’ve been thinking a lot about P.G. Wodehouse lately after Econtalk’s Russ Roberts jokingly said he considers himself learned because he knows the “G” stands for “Grenville.”

For awhile, I read a lot of P.G. If memory serves, my editors at Touchstone recommended him as one of the finest prose stylists of the 20th century. He was also a younger contemporary of GKC. It seems a lot of people involved in “the Chesterton game” (Gilbert Magazine, the American Chesterton Society, etc.) were PGW fans as well.

I don’t recall ever hearing that Wodehouse and GKC hung out, but I suspect they would’ve gotten along well. Both were funny and both liked to drink. Isn’t that always a good match?

Wodehouse referenced GKC a few times in his fiction, including this one which is pretty funny:

At that moment, however, the drowsy stillness of the summer afternoon was shattered by what sounded to his strained senses like G.K. Chesterton falling on a sheet of tin.

If you’re acquainted with GKC’s huge girth, you realize that must’ve been one really … Read the rest

Brews You Can Use, Philosophy Corner, and a Short Story for Halloween

“The Necessities,” E. Studs Mulligan

Booze Coke

I don’t know if I’m surprised because it’s Coke or because it’s the first Coke product with alcohol: Coca-Cola launching its first alcoholic beverage next year.

It’s going to be an alcoholic version of its Topo Chico sparkling water.

I’d love to comment more, but I don’t listen to Judy Garland or drink sparkling water.

I’m content with rum and Coke or vodka and Coke. If I’m feeling randy, I add a lime wedge.

Pot Booze

Cannabis beverages are getting rolled out next year.

I tried one (stripped of its hallucinogenic properties) while at the 2018 marijuana convention. I wasn’t impressed by the taste.

But I am intrigued by this development. I have long maintained that marijuana is substantively different than booze because you can’t “dial in” the buzz. You go from 0 to 60. So you never slide from sober, to enjoyable relaxation, to venial sin, to mortal sin. It’s just, wham, mortal sin.

If there were a way to slide into the buzz more, then maybe it would be alright.

Cannabis beverages might be the ticket. When I spoke to that one vendor back in 2018, he said that was exactly the market they were looking for.… Read the rest