I got true enjoyment reading this chapter, and felt I actually got some useful tips from this one! I suppose because The Rituals of Drinking are everlasting.
But wait! Don’t toast yet! You gotta know how to do it properly!
First, when to do it.
At a small, private dinner, a toast can be informally proposed by anyone as soon as the first glass of wine has been poured for everyone.
At a public dinner however, they are to be held off until the end of the meal, right before any of the speaking begins.
The person being toasted, if they are present and not the President of the U.S. or other high dignitary, usually returns a toast.
Even for something like this, you KNOW there has to be some low-key sexism!
“A woman, except when she is a bride, usually accepts the compliment of a toast simply with a smile and lowered eyes…”
Be demure and grateful, dammit!
But, there’s a little shade thrown at the men-folk, too.
“…where men, in particular, may wish to propose a toast. While it is nice to be able to extemporize gracefully on such occasions as the rare man can…”
And if you’re the person being toasted, don’t even think about even touching the glass to your own lips until the toast has been drunk by the others! Otherwise it would be as though you’re drinking to yourself, which would be hella immodest. However, being made to wait to take a drink doesn’t seem like much of an honor, in my opinion.
If it’s a very important toast – to a ruler, President, or bride – it is drunk to the last drop. And then the glass is thrown in the fireplace, or at least the stem snapped.
Yeah, apparently that used to be a thing.
“But today no dishonor to the toasted one occurs when the glasses are, sensibly, left intact.”
Cool, because I bet that shit got expensive.
“If you can’t master a toast in a foreign language so it sounds the way it should, don’t attempt it”
“Never try, at least not in public,” should be Amy V’s motto, I think.
“The subject of wines is a fascinating one – so fascinating that mountains of material have been written on it, thus frightening more than instructing, I sometimes think.”
Amy V breaks wines down quite well, I think, to be more instructional. I’ve attempted to make it even less frightening. Bring on the infographic!
All info is derived straight from “The Complete Guide” I am certain much more information from other sources could be included!
When pouring a decanted wine, always pour for the lady to the right of the host first. However, for undecanted wine, things could get a bit tricky, as there may be little bits of cork in it. It would never do to present that to a guest.
The host, or hostess if there is no host, gets that first bit poured into their glass, then everyone else gets some. If there is a servant present, they pour off the bit with the cork. If not, it’s fine for the host/ess to use a knife or something to carefully lift out the offending bits. Or they can even just take the glass to the kitchen an pour it out. That seems outlandishly sensible.
It’s all so complicated. You could just get adult juice boxes. Decidedly unclassy, but so much easier, trust.
Huzzah! Happy New Year!
So how about some of that celebratory bubbly? Of course there are particular rules for that, as well!
First, it must be chilled in the bottom of the refrigerator (not the coldest part! And never freeze it!) for one and a half to two hours before you wish to use it. So if you’re hosting a New Year’s Eve bash, here’s your heads-up to pop it in there at about 10/10:30.
If you’re new to opening champagne, it’s totes fine to open it in the kitchen, away from your guests, so you don’t get nervous.
If you are doing it in front of your guests, handle that bottle gently!
“…otherwise you’ll cause an explosion, which, although anticipated by people, is not good.”
Well you’re no fun, Amy V.
Don’t be a wuss about it though!
“Although the timid hold a napkin over the cork, this is not necessary if you feel you have command of the situation.”
Amy V. I never feel as though I have command of a situation.
Drinks by the Season
Rules, rules, rules.
“Generally, gin and tonic, vodka and tonic, and rum cocktails are preferred in hot weather to whisky cocktails.”
“Eggnog is a cold weather specialty and is not served before dinner. It is an afternoon drink, always served with fruitcake and sweet biscuits, usually on New Year’s Day.”
I had no idea about the food requirements.
“Such drinks as hot buttered rum, glög, hot spiced wine are winter between-meal drinks often served after outdoor sports. They do not properly precede dinner.”
Damn, some hot spiced wine sounds good right now. But alas, it is before dinner.
Because yeah, of course that’s a thing.
And it seems fitting that the main bit should be about Bond’s drink.
Let’s back up bit. If you’re having your friends to dinner, you should only mix and offer one type of cocktail, while having what you need for on-the-rocks drinks, and vegetable or fruit juice for possible teetotalers. I assume sodas would be ok, too.
The safest choice for a cocktail seems to be a martini. Which, fun fact,
“..may be bottled and stored full-strength for a week of more in the refrigerator.”
Bringing the now clichéd phrase back
Apparently some experts insist that the ingredients be stirred all in one direction with cracked ice, never shaken. However
“I have seen a very knowledgeable gentleman of the old school shake his martinis vigorously, with a loud snort at all the talk that they must be stirred.”
But most importantly
“…but as I, with many another woman, am unenthusiastic about martinis, I cannot say whether this is really vital.”
I, as a woman, am VERY enthusiastic about martinis. So there.
But again, it goes both ways in Amy V’s bar.
“An Alexander, for example, would be a poor choice, especially with men present.”
Why? Do Alexanders talk about getting their periods or something?