Do not get confused: the consumption of alcohol is glorified here. But not in the way an adolescent ends up peeing on himself before being admitted to hospital for alcoholic coma, and after having wet his whistle with foul drinks, typical of every awful watering hole. No, nothing like that. What is celebrated here is a substance whose numerous varieties, flavors and preparations are as old as our civilization. Kingsley Amis, a master of English satire, loved his booze but also its context. Between 1971 and 1984 he wrote, in addition to several novels, the texts collected here, translated into Spanish by Ramón de España and Miguel Izquierdo and published by an editor that, in doing so, does nothing to honor its name.
It is precisely in the context that the humor of it all resides. The texts compiled in the chapter On Drink form an extremely amusing satire about customs. With his ever mocking irony and gentleman‘s honor, the author of Lucky Jim offers a purposefully humorous setting about the world of alcohol consumption, where you find everything, from advice on how to be a good host – or how to be a crafty host; a hilarious chapter this one – to diatribes about the decline of the English pub or advice on how to fight off a hangover – the physical and the metaphysical –, as well as diets for drunk people and general thoughts on the use of cocktails at dinners and celebrations. If you are virtuoso readers, you are already familiar with the immortal work of P.G. Wodehouse. Well, the Amis you will encounter here has the appearance of Bertie Wooster but Jeeve’s intelligence. It really could not be a nicer and more cheerful read.
If, on the other hand, you are looking for something more practical, know that Everyday Drinking also includes a chapter dedicated to the preparation of cocktails, where Amis gives us his list of personal concoctions. And for the most frothy and learned public there is another chapter, wittily entitled How’s Your Glass, where this demanding and exquisite public is urged to face the final questionnaire about the world of wine, liquors and the like. On the other hand, Everyday Drinking compiles all the articles about cocktails and drinks in general that Amis wrote for the magazine he collaborated with for years. It is Amis in all his skill, but two things happen: first, if you devour the articles, as you undoubtedly will, it can be rather hard to digest, given that they are very short and were meant to be read weekly, and not like a round of shots; and second, given the unifying intention of the book, there is a lot of repetition. You can put up with it though, just like you put up with some friends who have had three glasses too many.
Now you know: if you want to increase your knowledge about the world of concoctions that enable you to mix with people at weddings and family engagements, or to become a wise guy in restaurants and dinners with friends at home (Let’s have a Brandy before happy hour, shall we?) or if you want to be able to prepare amazing cocktails and let go of that rustic and boring rum and coke once and for all, stop playing Candy Crush or whatever you are doing and read this book. Drinking is fascinating.