Christopher Hitchens' Rules of Drinking

Categories: News
Catherine Karnow
"Writing is what's important to me, and anything that helps me do that -- or enhances and prolongs and deepens and sometimes intensifies argument and conversation -- is worth it to me," Christopher Hitchens said in a 2010 interview with Charlie Rose.  

Hitchens, master essayist and famed iconoclast, died yesterday from complications of esophageal cancer. He was 62.   

He made no secret of his love affair with alcohol, unapologetic in his profession that it gave him inspiration. But while the bottle was a constant companion, he was no drunk. Last year, Outside the Beltway uncovered the late writer's rules of drinking from his memoir, Hitch-22.

On his drinking schedule:

I work at home, where there is indeed a bar-room, and can suit myself. But I don't. At about half past midday, a decent slug of Mr. Walker's amber restorative, cut with Perrier water (an ideal delivery system) and no ice. At luncheon, perhaps half a bottle of red wine: not always more but never less. Then back to the desk, and ready to repeat the treatment at the evening meal. No "after dinner drinks" -- ​most especially nothing sweet and never, ever any brandy. "Nightcaps" depend on how well the day went, but always the mixture as before. No mixing: no messing around with a gin here and a vodka there.

His advice on drinking:   

Of course, watching the clock for the start time is probably a bad sign, but here are some simple pieces of advice for the young. Don't drink on an empty stomach: The main point of the refreshment is the enhancement of food. Don't drink if you have the blues: It's a junk cure. Drink when you are in a good mood. Cheap booze is a false economy. It's not true that you shouldn't drink alone: These can be the happiest glasses you ever drain. Hangovers are another bad sign, and you should not expect to be believed if you take refuge in saying you can't properly remember last night. (If you really don't remember, that's an even worse sign.) Avoid all narcotics: These make you more boring rather than less and are not designed -- ​as are the grape and the grain -- ​to enliven company. Be careful about upgrading too far to single-malt Scotch: When you are voyaging in rough countries, it won't be easily available. Never even think about driving a car if you have taken a drop.

Rest in peace, Christopher. At half past midday, we'll raise a glass of Mr. Walker in your honor.

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