Tuesday, 21 June 2011

How to Outdrink the AMERICANS

There can be no doubt that Americans are among the greatest drinkers in the world. Europeans like to act snobbish since these people don't have 'true' drinking cultures as you have in France, Italy, England or Germany, but anyone who has come in touch with the yanks will be able to report acts of savagery almost unparalleled in our countries. Americans don't give any sign of feeling pain, when they drink. Actually, they seem to think it's a good thing. From what I've seen, they tend to go out (or stay in) drinking under the assumption that the acts of vomiting, crawling on the floor and passing out are part of the fun, rather than the price you pay for it. No-one can question their courage. And they're genuinely democratic, too, in that all of this holds true for adolescents and adults, boys and girls, blacks and whites and Asians. Talk about the American dream.

The defining characteristic of the American drinking culture is its unsurpassed vulgarity. Americans will drink beer, rum and coke, vodka, Baileys, amaretto, punch, wine, all in one night. Hell, they'll drink it all from ONE GLASS. They have no discernment and no patience, and most of them are unable to distinguish not so much a barolo from a bordeaux, but a lager from an ale. They're also responsible for the invention of such frankly daft drinking games as beer pong. (Alessandro Baricco has a wonderful article on the American culture of wine. It's so good that it's worth running it through google translator just to get an inkling of what he says, but I already know that no-one is going to do that).

Partly all of this is the source of the American strength. From youth, these people are used to drinking anything. And perhaps it's natural courage. Who's to know.

How do you outdrink Americans? It must be kept in mind, when challenging them, that these people are the kings of mixing. There's normally no surer way of being sick than drinking wine, then beer, then sambuca, then wine again. The Americans can do that seamlessly. They can throw weed into the equation, too. However, I've found they don't hold so well under trials of discipline. Take them to a social occasion where only one type of drink is available, and they usually fold earlier than their norm. Wine in particular seems to hurt them considerably, when taken on its own. (Liquors, on the other hand, they can stand even on their own, so shots are best avoided when facing an American). I suspect that one of these yahoos wouldn't fare too well at the Oktoberfest, since this is one of the purest, most pristine drinking revivals you can find. There's beer, in a million varieties, and only beer - a true ceremony for puritans (and so typical of the Germans).

So the best way to handle an American is to demand that the contest be held under controlled conditions (exactly the opposite of how to beat the Germans or Russians, you may remark). Americans usually don't know their drinks well enough to understand what type of difference this will make, so you can play to your strengths and to the weaknesses of your fellow drinker. Make sure that only beer, or only wine, be served for the duration of the night. Then take a deep breath, and keep your head under control. Try not to move about too much, as Americans are quite used to partying and dancing while drinking, so this would work in their favour. A session of drinking Scrabble, or a drinking game involving watching a TV show and taking a shot every time a certain word is said, will do just fine. Otherwise, there's the tested method of finding a topic your particular American is passionate about (the health-care system, TS Eliot, fundamentalist Christians, whatever) and tease them a little about it. They'll start yapping and they're guaranteed to stick to their chair for a good two hours.

Make no mistake about it, this is still going to be a serious challenge. The most practiced Americans have tremendous drinking stamina and they will be hard to best no matter what drink is being poured. Still, as long as you're fighting, you might as well set up the ideal conditions for yourself, and razing the drinking differences is the best way to do that.

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