Tuesday, August 02, 2005

This New Yorker Book Review of “A History of the World in 6 Glasses” discusses the historical and social significance of what we drink:

"You don’t just drink, you drink to: to life (l’chaim) and health (santé, salud, prosit, na zdorovie, gezondheid, slainte, zum Wohl), to the monarch (“Gentlemen, the Queen”), to absent friends (the Sunday toast in the Royal Navy), to general good humor, well-being, and luck (cheers, noroc), to the company here assembled (“Here’s to us. And those like us. Damn few and they’re all dead”). Bogart’s “Here’s looking at you, kid” to Ingrid Bergman is a vestige of the Scandinavian obligation to honor your drinking partner by catching his or her eyes over the rim of your glass—much nicer than skøl, a reference to the use of enemies’ skulls as drinking vessels: “Heads up,” so to speak, rather than “Bottoms up.”