From the mind of Megan Arkenberg

May 15, 2010

You know what would be really useful?

Posted by Megan Arkenberg with No comments
I really need a writer's guide to alcohol.

By which I mean, a guide for writers who don't drink to the kinds of alcohol their characters would be drinking. Growing up, I only encountered wine at Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve. My parents had a single bottle of brandy in the cabinet for twenty years. I had vodka once as a kid by sneaking a sip from my grandmother's gimlet (ick). Despite the fact I was born in the homeland of Pabst and Miller, the smell of beer makes me so nauseous that I can't imagine actually putting that crap in my mouth, though I did wind up with a glass of Guinness at a restaurant when I was seventeen through a misunderstanding with the waitress. And that's pretty much my entire experience with alcohol.

This becomes a problem when I'm writing about characters who drink. I don't mean chronic drunks; it's just that sometimes my characters will crack open a bottle to celebrate something, and I have no idea what they should be drinking. What would be available in their location and approximate time period? What are the implications of different types of alcohol? I'm half-minded to walk around with a survey, asking random people on the streets: "What would you think of a woman who, after successfully overthrowing the Empereror of Ajksodjifji, cracks open a bottle of brandy as opposed to vodka?" Wikipedia is only so helpful for these types of things.

Time to see if the INTERNETS!!! can come to my rescue.


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