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
Also on HuffPost UK:
Looking for a full-flavor lager that's still light on the calories? Search no further. Yuengling managed to cram the health benefits of a lager with a lower carb count at only 99 calories, this is definitely the best selection for a healthier classic brew. Type: Lager Alcohol Content: 3.8 percent Calories: 99 Carbs: 9 grams More from Greatist: How to Foam Roll Like a Pro Is Chocolate Actually Healthy? 19 Cool Ideas for Beating the Summer Heat Flickr photo by lynnfennell
This newer brew skips out on the gluten and uses sorghum, corn, and raspberry puree malty to create a not-too-sweet fruity brew with extra antioxidants (from the berries). Perfect for those looking to indulge and still stay away from gluten. Plus, New Planet donates a portion of sales from this beer to Colorado-based non-profits using the 3R philosophy -- reduce, reuse, recycle. Type: Ale Alcohol Content: 5 percent Calories: 160 Carbs: 17 grams Photo from New Planet Beer
Don't enjoy the bitter taste of beer but still want to reap the heart-health benefits? Have no fear! Abita infused this brew with real raspberries to deliver a fruity aroma and a sweet taste. Packed with so many berries, this brew even displays a purplish hue (hence the name)! Type: Lager Alcohol Content: 4.2 percent Calories: 145 Carbs: 11 grams Flickr photo by emilydickinsonridesabmx
Complete with a hint of fresh ginger (one of our favorite superfoods!), this unique ale combines unique herbs and spices to bring out a full flavor. This lighter-bodied brew is perfect for those that want full flavor without sacrificing an expanding waistline. Type: Ale Alcohol Content: 4.5 percent Calories: 131 Carbs: 12.1 grams Flickr photo by lynnfennell
This dark Irish blend -- famous for quenching thirsts on St. Paddy's Day -- makes the list as a classic with a creamy decadence and sneakily healthy twist! Packed with phenols, this super-dark staple brings the taste and feel of a stout with fewer carbohydrates and calories. Type: Stout Alcohol Content: 4 percent Calories: 126 Carbs: 10 grams Flickr photo by antanask CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this slide, St. Paddy's Day was misspelled.
Creating a light beer that still stands up to the Sam Adam's taste was no easy task. Brewers stuck to the basics and invented a lighter calorie beer that didn't sacrifice flavor making this beer perfect for those looking to stay health conscious without skimping on the taste. Type: Lager Alcohol Content: 4 percent Calories: 119 Carbs: 9.7 grams Flickr photo by PetroleumJelliffe
This brew packs the hops without expanding the waistline. Complete with a fruity/herbal aroma and a slightly bitter finish, this beer delivers a healthy wallop! Type: Pilsner (Lager) Alcohol Content: 4.8 percent Calories: 145 Carbs: 14 grams Photo from Amazon.com
Perhaps one of the most exotic beers on the list, this collaboration effort from several breweries packs a unique taste and higher alcohol content. Don't fall prey to sticker shock -- while this brew packs the highest calorie total on the list, the antioxidants from the green tea pack a huge health benefit. Plus, it's higher in alcohol, so just half of one 12-ounce bottle will surely suffice. And don't go overboard and kick back the whole six-pack. Still not convinced? Feel good about indulging, as all proceeds from this beer go to Japanese tsunami relief programs. Type: India Pale Ale Alcohol Content: 9.2 percent Calories: 276 Carbs: 19 grams
Looking for an organic pale ale that is made free of potentially hazardous pesticides and chemical fertilizers but still tastes great? Look no further! Butte Creek has managed just that with this Indian pale ale. Type: India Pale Ale Alcohol Content: 6.4 percent Calories: 201 (22 ounces) Carbs: 1.9 grams Flickr photo by dirvish
Combining a heap of hops with slight hints of orange blossom is no small task. Sierra Nevada pulls it off with this award-winning brew. Type: Pale Ale Alcohol Content: 5.6 percent Calories: 175 Carbs: 14.1 grams More from Greatist: How to Foam Roll Like a Pro Is Chocolate Actually Healthy? 19 Cool Ideas for Beating the Summer Heat Flickr photo by Sean Davis
Follow Ryan Cheti on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RyanCheti