Booze is bad for you, right? Well, I'm quick to defend our humble drinks but I'm also certainly wary to describe them as good for you. The problem is, having dedicated myself to a life revolving around food and drink, I'm also quick to challenge the position posited by the British Government that alcohol is the source of all society's ills.
I come from a medical family where both my father (clinical director of oncology) and brother (a therapeutic radiographer) devote a huge percentage of their lives to making people live longer, and have a happy and meaningful life after cancer. I often joke (with melancholy) that neither of us will ever be out of a job; People will always get ill, and people will always want a drink.
But, I do think alcohol has a beneficial impact on society. One aspect is simply in a revenue sense. Unlike smoking (which skews the balance with its massive burden on the NHS), there is a huge amount of money ploughed into the economy from alcohol. Scotch Whisky alone is worth over £4bn! However, the other fact is that alcohol is a key point in many people's lives in making them happy. I don't mean this in a depressing sense that they need alcohol to be happy, but that it forms the cultural lubricant for many of society's gatherings (especially in the UK).
It has held this role for millennia. It's certainly the point I love about my job the most; the ability to add a dimension to someone's experience that means they feel happier. And although I'm definitely not putting it on a par with what my family and many others do, it's certainly worth something. My dad frequently tells his patients how important it is to keep positive and remain happy. Simply, happy people live longer. This is where I focus the correlation that moderate drinker live longer than teetotalers.
However, it's even better when you see the community of food and drink (which seems to encompass the broadest spectrum of talents and backgrounds I've encountered) use their wide range of influences to bring people together for a good cause. Of course there are many industries and organisations that raise money and awareness for a plethora of charities and people in need, but it's great to see some within the industry use the considerable reach available through drinking and its social gatherings to spread the good word.
For all those that do drink in moderation and reap the potential health benefits, there are certainly many more who are subject to alcohol's more sinister side. Direct influence or not, it's great to see that many of the drinks industry's finest are raising money and helping educate.
Recently, Speed Rack came to the UK. An American export, it does well to promote female figures in the industry (itself something very worthy) and also raise money for, and awareness of, breast cancer. With the extra benefit of making people happy in the process (it's a hell of a party).
Support where you can, and enjoy the following from one of their biggest supporters (it'll make you happy, and you'll fell good about yourself; double win)
St Germain White Sangria
Build in a punch bowl or pot over block of flavoured ice, and share with friends (pour into a glass full of cubed ice, and add a splash of soda and a mint sprig):
The night before:
Put an ice cream tub in the freezer with a sliced lemon and orange and fill 3/4 full of water
Put ice in a big enough bowl, then add:
2 cups St Germain
1 cup Amontillado Sherry
3 cups crisp, dry white wine
1 sliced peach
1 sliced nectarine
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