Sir Kingsley Amis: Drink Man, Dipsographer

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One of my favorite items here at the Merc is Kingsley Amis On Drink–a brief, delightful volume that exemplifies the commodious pairing of subject and author. So the discovery, in the New York Times, that On Drink is being re-released, with Everyday Drinking and How’s Your Glass? two more saucy books by the author of Lucky Jim (a smashing “angry young men” novel), met with my approbation. (Thanks everyone who emailed me links to the article. You know me well.) Christopher Hitchens introduces Everyday Drinking–the Distilled Kingsley Amis, and part of the value of this bound trinity of tipple lore is that you can measure Kingsley’s mounting ire in the gap between the 1970’s On Drink and the latter two, released in the early 80s. The state of the British Pub, already in decline at the time of the first writing, has become an institution so ruined by popular music and marketing that it is not worth passing beneath the lintel of. Scotch Whisky and gin have managed to increase in Kingsley’s estimation, while his improved 1980s epistemology relegates ex-topers, teetotalers, mean hosts and wine snobs to an even lower, more crowded and less air conditioned circle of hell. Compact, practical, very funny, and yes, fortified with recipes such as might come in handy for the warmer months. Here’s one of my favorites:

“Evelyn Waugh’s Noonday Reviver

1 hefty shot gin

1 (1/2 pint) bottle Guinness

Ginger Beer

Put the gin and Guinness into a pint silver tankard and fill to the brim with ginger beer. I cannot vouch for the authenticity of the attribution, which I heard in talk, but the mixture will certainly revive you, or something. I should think two doses is the limit.” (p. 30) -Ed Scripsi


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