Modern Drunkard, June 2006.
Before I knew better than to trust my elders, one of them convinced me that Ireland and Russia had no rivals as destinations for a drinking holiday.
He said the subzero cold had forced the Russians to perfect the art of warming the gullet with hard alcohol, and that the Guinness-lubricated merriment of Irish pubs made American bars look like Christian Science Reading Rooms.
What he told me was the truth, but only part of it. Ireland has a pub for every 375 people, which means that on any given evening, once the kids have been put to bed, literally 75 percent of Irish males could be “at the pub” without violating fire codes. And neither medical nor political science can explain how the Russians managed to keep the Soviet Union from crumbling for 70 years, even though the average daily consumption of vodka appears to be (as P. J. O’Rourke once said of Australians and beer) about ten and three quarters Imperial gallons for children under the age of nine. At a good Moscow traktir, if you sit down and order a cheese sandwich, you get a cheese sandwich and a shot of ice-cold vodka. Read the rest of this entry »