Curmudgeon's "Opening Times" Column - October 2006
Diluting your drink is the latest nonsensical fad to hit the bar
From time to time, there are fads in the drinks market that defy rational understanding, and looking back a few years appear utterly ridiculous. In the 1980s we had the absurd sight of people drinking lager from the bottle with a slice of lime wedged in the neck. Now the latest nonsense is serving bottled cider with a pint glass half full of ice.
This originated with the Irish cider brand Magners, a product which I assume is manufactured from apple concentrate as Iím not aware that Ireland has any great tradition of cider making. To launch this in the UK its producers decided it needed a gimmick, and serving it ďover iceĒ was the answer. So swiftly has this caught on that you now find some of the established British cider makers suggesting that their products should also be served in the same way.
With the cooling facilities now available in pubs, there is no need to put ice in any drinks just to cool them down. You never hear of people asking for a pint of lager with ice. And, if what youíre drinking has any quality or integrity, the last thing you want to do is to dilute it with tap water. With luck, before too long drinkers will realise that this fad has nothing to commend it and consign it to the dustbin of history along with the slices of lime.
However, itís an ill wind that blows nobody any good, and this Irish invasion has had the effect of increasing ciderís market share and sparking a new interest in the sector. Supermarkets and off-licences are now stocking a far wider variety of quality ciders from independent producers than they did a few years ago, and hopefully drinkers will begin to realise there is far more to cider than just some fake fizz in a glassful of ice.
All too often people standing up in pubs block others' path
I've never been a fan of perpendicular drinking, although I suppose I can understand the attraction of staying at the bar close to the source of supply. But a phenomenon I've seen more and more recently is large groups of people standing around in the middle of pubs, even when there are plenty of seats available nearby. Even worse is where they obstruct through passageways.
I was recently in a pub where four people were standing in a narrow doorway between the two sides of the building. Three or four times every minute, someone needed to get through, with multiple "excuse mes". Yet none of them grasped the simple fact that they were blocking the way, and ought to move. There's something about stand-up drinking, whether by Hooray Henries or tattooed yobs, that seems to breed this kind of selfish, thoughtless behaviour.