07 January, 2011
Two schooners of Thing's Old Dog Fart if you please, mine host
I'm not sure what to make of the proposal to scrap mandatory measures for drinks sold by the glass. Certainly I welcome the idea of a beer glass intermediate in capacity between the pint and the half pint. There are times when the full pint is too much, but the half-pint is a ridiculous measure, a cupful, a mere sampler, a poofter's social accessory. One is tempted to cock one's little finger when holding such a glass, in imitation of a caricature lady of quality sipping demurely from a cup of tea. When ordering the odd half to fill that awkward but remarkably common gap between the train you're about to miss and making sure you are there on the platform ready for the next one, I try to retain the nearly empty pint glass and tip the poofter's half into it.
So a measure around the 35cl mark would be a welcome enhancement of the drinking experience™.
To suggest that the availability of smaller measures would counteract binge drinking, however, is ridiculous. A binge drinker will drink as many pints of binge, or half-pints of binge, or schooners of binge, or indeed thimbles of binge, as are necessary to achieve the desired state of inebriation. In fact reducing the size of the individual glass may have the unintended consequence of increasing the volume of drinking. If the glass in your hand is little more than a glorified mouthful, the tendency, certainly when session-drinking in convivial company, is to knock it back in one, leaving you awkwardly cradling the empty, necessitating an early revisit to the bar to plug this embarrassing social void.
The moderate drinker will generally welcome the availability of a wider range of sizes, but if the sanctimonious do-gooders and health Nazis expect such a change to impact 'positively' on 'problem drinking', they may well be disappointed.
Totally scrapping controls on glass sizes is another matter and would be a rip-off merchant's charter. If I pop into my local hostelry for a 50cl glass of Old Dog Fart at £3.00 and later on call in at another establishment for a 55cl hair of the same dog at a whopping £3.20, which is the better deal? Actually something like this already happens. I am quite partial to the Polish lager Lech. This is sold in your typical suburban or small-town 'Spoon at £2.40 per 500ml bottle. So how does that compare then? It works out at £1.60 per 33cl or £2.74 per pint. (Do it in your head, yer wimp. When I were at school, bloody calculating machines filled half a desk and cost a year's wages.) Maybe we need the equivalent of those supermarket shelf labels that inform you that the price of your 275g wodge of shrink-wrapped cheddar equates to so much per 100g so you can compare prices with "down the road".
Nothing's ever as simple as we fondly imagine, is it?
And, when, like here, two "halves cost more than one full?
Who has the vested interest?
It is important however to alternate between left and right arms when lifting the glass, otherwise you end up looking lopsided.
Better still order two at a time and drink from each alternately.