How to Drink: A Classical Guide to the Art of Imbibing

A New Translation of a Forgotten Classic

How to Drink: A Classical Guide to the Art of Imbibing | Credit: Courtesy

Binge drinking, hazing, and beer pong aren’t American inventions. (Well, maybe beer pong.)

Competitive guzzling and slamming liquor quickly to get wasted were also quite big in Germany back in the 1500s, so much so that a neoclassical poet named Vincent Obsopoeus decided that lessons needed to be learned. So, in 1536, he wrote How to Drink: A Classical Guide to the Art of Imbibing, pleading for moderation as a means of keeping alcoholic imbibement a virtuous affair.

Cornell University’s Michael Fontaine decided to dust off the text and translate a new version, in which he also explains the somewhat tragic tale of Obsopoeus, the controversy surrounding the book’s publication, and the era’s alcoholic obsession — hospital patients, for instance, were allotted seven liters of wine daily; same for doctors. As it did then, the translated text serves as relevant social commentary for today, railing, with wit and humor, against toxic masculinity and overindulgence while providing advice on how to win drinking games. It’s a great addition to your bartending library.

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