The Thinking Drinkers: History of Alcohol

I know what you’re thinking: Love alcohol? You’ll love this show. Hate alcohol? You'll hate this show. Thankfully, this is not the case. Join Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham as they bring you on a liquid journey that is as thirst-inducing as it is thirst-quenching, as entertaining as it is informative, and as appealing for teetotallers as it is alcohol connoisseurs.

A fascinating insight into the historical narrative of alcohol

The two men refuse to take themselves too seriously, and the audience is introduced to a pair donning flowery shirts, spacious shorts and, naturally, flip flops. Nevertheless, this a duo who know what they’re talking about: McFarland has three times been named ‘British Beer Writer of the Year’, and is the author of the award-winning ‘Boutique Beer: 500 of the World’s Finest Craft Brews’. Sandham, on the other hand, was formerly editor of the leading industry spirits and cocktail magazine, CLASS, and continues to educate on spirits for the Wine Spirit and Education Trust. Together, the men have enjoyed sell-out Edinburgh shows from 2011-2016, and maintained this success with a run at Soho Theatre in London.

The show is centred around the five drink samples the pair give to the audience – beer, vodka, gin, whiskey and rum – with this alone compensating for the price of a ticket. Again however, even if one is a non-drinker, they will enjoy the spectacle on show. The actual consumption of these samples are only a by-product of the performance’s narrative, as the pair expertly recount the history behind the drinks, describe the ingredients that make them what they are, offer amusing anecdotes that are associated with them and, finally, depict the best way to maximise the enjoyment and flavour from each drink.

The duo have a mantra of “Drink less, but drink better”, and this is truly reflected by the show. It is clear their enjoyment of alcohol is not a means to an end (drunkenness). They want to enjoy, appreciate and understand the various forms of alcoholic beverage. They repeatedly encourage the audience to consider spending that bit more on alcohol, in order to enjoy its quality, over paying less for an inferior, and less healthy, substance.

While perhaps appearing exclusive by its title, The Thinking Drinkers: History of Alcohol is a show for everyone. It will give both drinkers and nondrinkers alike a fascinating insight into the historical narrative of alcohol, while ensuring most will have at least the semblance of a smile on their face throughout. Most importantly, the show leaves the audience in no doubt that when it comes to the booze, quality over quantity is best.

Reviews by Rory O'Regan

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★★★★
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Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
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Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Sell-out 2011-2016. They're back with a new show. Enjoy five free drinks as these award-winning professional drink experts definitively prove that alcohol has influenced everything that has ever happened. Ever. An intoxicating, hilarious, time-travelling journey through our drink-drenched past, pouring the entire history of human civilisation into a shot glass. You'll laugh a lot, you'll learn a lot and, if that's not enough, did we mention the free drinks? ‘An erudite, liquor-loving duo’ (Metro). ‘Pioneers of alcohol based comedy’ (Sunday Times). ‘There's no more discerning way to fall off the wagon' (Time Out[/i).

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