Unlimited expatriate enthusiasm


Dining room at the Westin Beijing.

I have recently taken up residence in a country where drinking is neither prolific, nor genetically advisable due to the incredibly unfortunate absence of an all-important enzyme. Yes—this British Enthusiast is in China, the land where even a waft of alcohol sends most locals into a flush, rendering true enthusiasm near impossible.

So when an establishment such as the Westin Beijing, with its many stars and respectable patrons, invited an Enthusiast such as myself to get “bubbalicious” on a Sunday, “any time from 11am,” I doubt they understood the chaos that was likely to ensue.
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An Enthusiast’s guide to tying the knot

—Christian and Josey

Full disclosure: two of us here at Alcohol Enthusiast headquarters are married—to each other. Ok, ok—we get it. Stop making that fake gagging noise. Just hurry up and get drunker so you can be happy for us already.

When two Enthusiasts meet, blackout and forget that they met, then meet again and attribute their deja vu-esque recollection of one another to some sort of important past life connection, get wasted, fall in love, and decide at some point to make this most unholy and booze-soaked of unions legit—there are certain rules that must be followed in the planning of the wedding. Just as a Catholic wedding requires readings from both Testaments and a Psalm song, and Jewish grooms break glasses—a wedding between two (or more) Enthusiasts must also follow certain tenets of faith.
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It’s for charity


There is one call to arms (and I am by no means implying there is ONLY one … but I am sure you will agree that this one has earned a particular gravitas over the years) that no Enthusiast can resist, regardless of their age, social standing, and even their level of comprehension of the greater cause. This reason for revelry, this justification for joviality—dare I say it, this Excuse for Enthusiasm (not that one needs an excuse)—has all but dragged people from their deathbeds.

So what is it? Only that inherent belief in the simple phrase: “it’s for charity.”

Sometimes there is the prerequisite of a small investment in the “charity of choice,” but sometimes there is not. All that is required of you is to show up, drink up and try not to throw up.

The traditional staging of these affairs opens with the arrival of a hoard of glamorous, young whipper-snappers, and a dappling of elegant, seasoned antiques at a venue quite unsuitable for those at either end of the age spectrum. This provokes a chorus of “oohs,” “aaahs,” and “wows” accompanied by a wave of theatrical expressions of surprise, wonderment and humble gratitude. Niceties over with, the focus turns to the proximity of the bar, and an enthusiastic urgency ensues. The hardened drinkers on the circuit hit the scotch, those tortured by an inner conflict between wanting to appear cultured while secretly wishing for an intravenous delivery system head for the gin mixers, and the floozies who skipped dinner giggle their way towards the champagne (or the closest thing on offer).

Some of these occasions even call for dancing in honor of charitable giving and this will inevitably be to a soundtrack of covers of the shockers your parents used to get their funk on to, and take place on a waxed wooden surface that is just aching to get its revenge on your stilettos; simultaneously offering you a view of the ceiling—while giving everyone else a view of your nether regions.

But dare you complain? No, it is for charity, and if that charity is asking you to party and imbibe, and party and imbibe … then a dedicated Enthusiast will follow that gospel.

As the evening wears on, however, and the open bar begins to claim it first victims; the illusion wears off, things disintegrate. Come home-time, the rag-bag crowd that stumbles out bears an uncanny resemblance to the crumpled, disheveled, sartorially oblivious exhibitionists seen ejected from an underage gathering on New Years.

This slithering descent from glittering superiority to infantile subservience can be blamed entirely on that simple phrase, “it’s for charity.”

I mean, if someone offers you a beverage in the name of Breast Cancer Research, who are you to turn down libations so loaded with altruism and generosity? If your very presence at the bar is going to lead to a breakthrough in genetic science, is it your decision as to how long to stay? Has vodka ever tasted better than when it is laced with pure, organic self-satisfaction?

And the best thing about benevolent drinking has to be the fact that no matter how late you show up to work the next day, how much like a distillery you may smell and how green a complexion you may have … a simple utterance of that invaluable phrase—the pained whisper of just four harmless little words, “it was for charity”—will instantly relieve you of any guilt, any remorse and any strenuous activities.


Bottles photo courtesy of  de la Ronde, flickr.
Bucket photo courtesy of tray, flickr.



The best way to open champagne

Opening a bottle of champagne can be frustrating and time consuming. That’s why we’ve provided this handy DIY guide to getting your bottle open FAST.

Of course you need to remove the decorative foil and cork wire.

Then procure a large blade–the heavier the better (ideally you should use a French Army saber, but a big chef’s knife will suffice).

Now the fun part. You hold the bottle facing away from you (and anyone else you consider a friend), tilted up slightly. Bear in mind that this is going to make a mess, so positioning yourself over shag carpet or a bearskin rug is not recommended.
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