24th August 2022

Winston Churchill & Johnnie Walker

 

 

 

 

 

Whether you regard him as a national hero or a war-mongering wrong’un, it’d be daft not to have a drink in honour of Winston Churchill – a Johnnie Walker fan.

After all, it wasn’t Churchill’s war cabinet that won World War Two, it was his copiously stocked drinks cabinet.

Churchill cherished champagne, his favourite being Pol Roger who gave him his own personal stash in return for liberating France. Did he drink 42,000 bottles over his lifetime, as one academic claimed? Not sure, but he certainly liked a bit of Bubbly, famously admitting “I could not live without champagne. In victory I deserve it. In defeat I need it.”

He had a weakness for whisky too, kick-starting the day with just the one glass of Johnnie Walker that would be topped up with water throughout the morning. Called the “Papa Cocktail”, it was inspired by Churchill’s time in South Africa covering the Boer War. “The water being unfit to drink, one had to add whisky and, by dint of careful application I learned to like it.”

Churchill was dismayed by those who whisky neat, “you are not likely to live a long life,” he quipped, “if you drink it like that.”

He also had an insatiable appetite for exquisite and exotic brandies too – not just Cognac (Hine was his favourite) but also cases of Armenian brandy sent to him every year by Stalin.

Lord Richard Butler, a contemporary of Churchill, wrote: “I had no less than eight gargantuan dinners with him alone…the dinners being followed by libations of brandy so ample that I felt it prudent on more than one occasion to tip the liquid into the side of my shoe.”

Lord Richard Butler was a massive lightweight.

Churchill would sip a snifter at lunch and it was also his preferred after-dinner digestif, a muse for some of his most vital military decisions. In 1945, with the war won, Churchill admitted he’d consumed enough brandy ‘to fill three railway carriages”.

Not that he ever came off the rails though, his secret being the watering down of his spirits. A speech impediment, which slurred his S’s, saw him often and unfairly accused of over-intoxication but that was very rarely the case.

Indeed, Churchill had very little time for wanton drunkenness, once writing “I have been brought up and trained to have the utmost contempt for people who get drunk.”

As he approached his eighties, doctors requested he calm his drinking down – which he did by dropping brandy from his repertoire and replacing it with Cointreau.

As he lay on his deathbed, he rightly exclaimed that “I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.”

And one thing people don’t tend to know is that the Danes brewed a brandy-toned beer in his honour – and that beer is Carlsberg Special Brew (CSB). True story. So, bring together some Johnnie Walker and CSB for the ultimate Boilermaker  –  ideally enjoyed while chomping on cigars and pushing little soldiers about a map with a windscreen wiper.

 

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