Any Old Excuse For a Drink…

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Any Old Excuse For a Drink…

Most of us don’t need much of an excuse to whet our whistles once in a while, but for those enthusiastic enough to plan ahead, here are some worldwide booze-fuelled happenings to ensure you
remain merry the whole year round. A Quaff of Beer… Saint Patrick’s Day falls on every March 17, the first of which was celebrated in 1727, not in Ireland, but Massachusetts. Although it’s claimed Paddy said everyone should enjoy a drop of the hard stuff (read whiskey) on his feast day, it’s Guinness that’s drunk the world over nowadays, and there’s no better place to get a pint of the black stuff than at the St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin. It’s estimated 13 million pints are seen off every March 17. The Holy Grail for hop worshipers is of course Munich’s Oktoberfest, with 6 million flocking here each year to let themselves loose and stretch out their beer guts. That said, Oktoberfest pales in comparison to the amount of beer drunk in honor of Saint Patrick; a measly 7 million liters. A Slug/Dram of Whiskey/Whisky… There are two types of whiskey drinkers in this world, and both are well catered for. If you’re more the bourbon-sluggin’, music-lovin’ kind, the Jack Daniel’s Birthday Sessions – held every September at the distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee – is probably your bag. If you can’t get tickets however, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail will quench your thirst: it allows access to six distilleries all year round. If you’re of the ‘sniff and savor’ breed, February’s Speyside Whisky Festival in Scotland offers single malt samplers from 12 distilleries in the area. What should you be able to taste? The organizers say: “The connoisseur can detect honey and fruit flavors blended with rich floral aromas that deepen the warmth of a classic malt whiskey. Nice. A Glug of Wine… Vino is often considered a drink that improves with age, but this isn’t always so. Awaited with great anticipation by any wine connoisseur is the introduction of the year’s Beaujolais nouveau. Released every third Thursday of November, there is a big rush to get bottles of Beaujolais nouveau shipped across the world, as it only stays fresh and fruity for a limited time. The Moravian burcak is a similar, yet rawer grape juice, which is said to continue fermenting in your stomach once drunk. It can only be purchased for a couple of weeks in the year, around October time. A Draft of Cider… The English yuletide tradition of wassailing harks back to a time when countryfolk would pray for a decent harvest of cider apples in the following year. Wassail itself is a delicious drink of hot, spiced cider passed around in what’s known as a ‘loving cup’. In the ancient ceremony – still performed in a number of communities today – a wassail king or queen (appropriately attired as an apple tree) hangs wassail-soaked toast on the branches of trees as gifts to the ‘tree spirits’, before performing an ancient incantation. Don’t worry, it all makes perfect sense after a few cups of wassail… And to Sober Up… Thankfully Coffee Fest is a traveling, year-round event, so whatever you’ve been imbibing, make sure to pop in to one of these after, and clear your head.

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