Saturday, January 14, 2017

So is this why Americans drink before meals

These are just four of the scores of different covers that Frederick Allen's "Only Yesterday" has had since it was first published in 1931, which gives you an idea of how it's maintained its popularity.

It was a massive best-seller back then, and that was richly deserved. It's a brilliantly written account of the America of prohibition, red scares, irrational economic boom, dramatic changes in the relationships within the family, the transforming power of the motor car and the advent of radio, all written while the decade's paint was still wet.

Now I understand why Americans would still rather have two or three strong cocktails before a meal than wine with it. This habit dates from Prohibition, when people would meet their friends in a hotel room where they could serve each other a few illicit drinks in seclusion before going down to eat in the hotel dining room.

Can't recommend this book too highly.


  1. Anonymous9:39 am

    This habit has returned for the younger partygoer for different reasons. Prinks (pre-drinks, natch) are SOP for a night out today, as I understand these things.

    1. The phrase we have heard is "pre-lash", as in drinks before going out on the lash. Which, given the price difference between a bottle of vodka from a supermarket, and a drink in a club, is completely understandable.