Quotations about   drinking

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Drink, the social glue of the human race. Probably in the beginning we could explain ourselves to our close family members with grunts, muttered syllables, gestures, slaps, and punches. Then when the neighbors started dropping in to help harvest, stomp, stir, and drink the bounty of the land, after we’d softened our natural suspicious hostility with a few stiff ones, we had to think up some more nuanced communications, like words. From there it was a short step to grammar, civil law, religion, history, and “The Whiffenpoof Song.”

Barbara Holland (1933-2010) American author
The Joy of Drinking (2007)
    (Source)
Added on 22-Nov-21 | Last updated 22-Nov-21
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We two will keep to the shelter here, eat and drink
and take some joy in each other’s heartbreaking sorrows,
sharing each other’s memories. Over the years, you know,
a man finds solace even in old sorrows, true, a man
who’s weathered many blows and wandered many miles.

[νῶϊ δ᾽ ἐνὶ κλισίῃ πίνοντέ τε δαινυμένω τε
κήδεσιν ἀλλήλων τερπώμεθα λευγαλέοισι,
400μνωομένω: μετὰ γάρ τε καὶ ἄλγεσι τέρπεται ἀνήρ,
ὅς τις δὴ μάλα πολλὰ πάθῃ καὶ πόλλ᾽ ἐπαληθῇ.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 15, l. 397ff (15.397) [Eumæus] (c. 700 BC) [tr. Fagles (1996)]
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

We two, still in our tabernacle here
Drinking and eating, will our bosoms cheer
With memories and tales of our annoys.
Betwixt his sorrows ev’ry human joys,
He most, who most hath felt and furthest err’d.
[tr. Chapman (1616)]

Meanwhile let us sit here, and drink and chat,
And stories of our sad adventures tell;
For much contentment there is ev’n in that,
To them that suffer’d have and come off well.
[tr. Hobbes (1675), l. 357ff]

Here let us feast, and to the feast be joined
Discourse, the sweeter banquet of the mind;
Review the series of our lives, and taste
The melancholy joy of evils passed:
For he who much has suffered, much will know,
And pleased remembrance builds delight on woe.
[tr. Pope (1725)]

But we with wine and a well-furnish’d board
Supplied, will solace mutually derive
From recollection of our sufferings past;
For who hath much endured, and wander’d far,
Finds the recital ev’n of sorrow sweet.
[tr. Cowper (1792), l. 483ff]

But we two, drinking wine and eating bread,
Will charm our dear hearts each with other's pain.
Past sorrow, and the tears a man hath shed,
Who far hath wandered over earth and main,
Yield comfort.
[tr. Worsley (1861), st. 55]

We two in the hut a' drinking and a' feasting,
We'll soothe each other with our doleful cares
Recounting them! for even sorrows bring
An after pleasure to the wight, I ween, --
His many woes and many wandrings past.
[tr. Bigge-Wither (1869)]

But let us twain drink and feast within the steading, and each in his neighbour’s sorrows take delight, recalling them, for even the memory of griefs is a joy to a man who hath been sore tried and wandered far.
[tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]

But here in the booth we twain at the drink and the banqueting
Shall be merry with the memory of each other's weary woe.
For very grief shall gladden the man that to and fro
Hath wandered wide the world, and suffered sorrow sore.
[tr. Morris (1887)]

But let us drink and feast within the lodge, and please ourselves with telling one another tales of piteous ill; for afterwards a man finds pleasure in his pains, when he has suffered logn and wandered long.
[tr. Palmer (1891)]

We too will sit here eating and drinking in the hut, and telling one another stories about our misfortunes; for when a man has suffered much, and been buffeted about in the world, he takes pleasure in recalling the memory of sorrows that have long gone by.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

But we two will drink and feast in the hut, and will take delight each in the other's grievous woes, as we recall them to mind. For in after time a man finds joy even in woes, whosoever has suffered much, and wandered much.
[tr. Murray (1919)]

But we two snugly indoors here may drink and eat and revel in an interchange of sorrows-- sorrows that are memories, I mean; for when a man has endured deeply and strayed far from home he can cull solace from the rehearsal of old griefs.
[tr. Lawrence (1932)]

Meanwhile let us two, here in the hut, over our food and wine, regale ourselves with the unhappy memories that each can recall. For a man who has been through bitter experiences and travelled far can enjoy even his sufferings after a time.
[tr. Rieu (1946)]

Here's a tight roof; we'll drink on, you and I, and ease our hearts of hardships we remember, sharing old times. In later days a man can find a charm in old adversity, exile and pain.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]

We two will have our food and drink here in the hut and find pleasure in each other's sad troubles, as we call them to mind; for it is man's way to get enjoyment even from affliction, after the event, if he is a man who has suffered much and roamed far.
[tr. Verity (2016)]

Now let us dine and drink in my home
And take pleasure while we recall to one another
Our grievous pains. For a man may take pleasure even in pain,
Later, when he has suffered and come through so many things.
[tr. @sentantiq (2016)]

But let us, you and I, sit in my cottage over food and wine, and take some joy in hearing how much pain we each have suffered. After many years of agony and absence from one's home, a person can begin enjoying grief.
[tr. Wilson (2017)]

As we two drink and dine in this shelter
Let us take pleasure as we recall one another’s terrible pains.
For a man finds pleasure even in pains later on
After he has suffered so very many and survived many too.
[tr. @sentantiq [Joel] (2019)]

Let us take pleasure in calling to mind each other’s terrible pains
while we drink and dine in my home.
For someone may even find pleasure among pains
when they have suffered many and gone through much.
[tr. @sentantiq (2020)]

Added on 11-Aug-21 | Last updated 1-Dec-21
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Hear me now, Eumaeus, and the rest of you men,
While I boast a little. It must be the wine
Befuddling me, which gets even sensible men
Singing and laughing and up to dance,
And sometimes say things better left unsaid.

[κέκλυθι νῦν, Εὔμαιε καὶ ἄλλοι πάντες ἑταῖροι,
εὐξάμενός τι ἔπος ἐρέω: οἶνος γὰρ ἀνώγει
ἠλεός, ὅς τ᾽ ἐφέηκε πολύφρονά περ μάλ᾽ ἀεῖσαι
καί θ᾽ ἁπαλὸν γελάσαι, καί τ᾽ ὀρχήσασθαι ἀνῆκε,
καί τι ἔπος προέηκεν ὅ περ τ᾽ ἄρρητον ἄμεινον.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 14, l. 462ff (14.462) [Odysseus] (c. 700 BC) [tr. Lombardo (2000), l. 500ff]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Hear me, Eumæus, and my other friends,
I’ll use a speech that to my glory tends,
Since I have drunk wine past my usual guise.
Strong wine commands the fool and moves the wise,
Moves and impels him too to sing and dance,
And break in pleasant laughters, and, perchance,
Prefer a speech too that were better in.
[tr. Chapman (1616)]

Hear me, Eumæus, says he, and you folk,
I have a tale to tell. This foolish wine
To laugh and dance is able to provoke
Grave men sometimes that have no such design,
And to speak that which better were unspoke.
[tr. Hobbes (1675), l. 448ff]

Hear me, my friends! who this good banquet grace;
'Tis sweet to play the fool in time and place,
And wine can of their wits the wise beguile,
Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile,
The grave in merry measures frisk about,
And many a long-repented word bring out.
[tr. Pope (1725)]

Hear now, Eumæus, and ye other swains
His fellow-lab’rers! I shall somewhat boast,
By wine befool’d, which forces ev’n the wise
To carol loud, to titter and to dance,
And words to utter, oft, better suppress’d.
[tr. Cowper (1792), l. 567ff]

Hear now, Eumæus, and thy comrades all!
I speak for glory, since by wine made bold
Often to singing even the wise will fall,
Light laughter and the dance, nor can withhold
Words that in sooth were better far untold.
[tr. Worsley (1861), st. 59]

Now list! Eumæus! and ye comrades all!
I'll glory somewhat in the tale I'll tell you;
For crazy wine urges me on to speak,
Which e'en a sage hat set to noisy singing;
And urged the shy to laughter loud and dancing;
And uttered words far better left unsaid!
[tr. Bigge-Wither (1869)]

Listen now, Eumaeus, and all of you his companions, with a prayer will I utter my word; so bids me witless wine, which drives even the wisest to sing and to laugh softly, and rouses him to dance, yea and makes him to speak out a word which were better unspoken.
[tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]

Now hearken ye, Eumæus, and all our fellows here,
And a boasting word will I say; for befooling wine is strong
Within me: he who eggeth e'en the wise to raise the song
And laugh out softly, and dance for very lustihead,
And to say the word, it may be, that were better left unsaid.
[tr. Morris (1887)]

Hearken, Eumaeus, and all you other men, and I will boast a bit and tell a story; for crazy wine so bids, which sets a man, even if wise, to skinging loud and laughing lightly, and makes him dance and brings out stories really better left untold.
[tr. Palmer (1891)]

Listen to me, Eumæus and the rest of you; when I have said a prayer I will tell you something. It is the wine that makes me talk in this way; wine will make even a wise man fall to singing; it will make him chuckle and dance and say many a word that he had better leave unspoken
[tr. Butler (1898)]

Listen to me now, Eumaios and all you other companions [hetairoi]! Speaking proudly, I will tell you a wording [epos]. The wine, which sets me loose, is telling me to do so. Wine impels even the thinking man to sing and to laugh softly. And it urges him on to dance. It even prompts an epos that may be better left unsaid.
[tr. Butler (1898), rev. Kim/McCray/Nagy/Power (2018)]

Hear me now, Eumaeus and all the rest of you, his men, with a wish in my heart will I tell a tale; for the wine bids me, befooling wine, which sets one, even though he be right wise, to singing and laughing softly, and makes him stand up and dance, aye, and brings forth a word which were better unspoken.
[tr. Murray (1919)]

Hear me now, O Eumaeus and you others, while I let myself go as your wine's intoxication tempts me. Drink will set the most solid man singing or giggling with laughter; if indeed it does not push him forward to dance or make him blurt out something better left unsaid.
[tr. Lawrence (1932)]

Listen to me, Eumaeus and you men of his. I am going to put a wish of mine into the form of a story. This is the effect of your wine -- for wine is a crazy thing. It sets the wisest man singing and giggling like a girl; it lures him on to dance and it makes him blurt out what were better left unsaid.
[tr. Rieu (1946)]

Eumaios, and you others, here's a wishful
tale I shall tell. The wine's behind it,
vaporing wine, that makes a serious man
break down and sing, kick up his heels and clown,
or tell some story that were best untold.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]

Listen, Eumaeus, and all you comrades here,
allow me to sing my praises for a moment.
Say it's the wine that leads me on, the wild wine
that sets the wisest man to sing at the top of his lungs,
laugh like a fool -- it drives the man to dancing ... it even
tempts him to blurt out stories better never told.
[tr. Fagles (1996)]

Eumaeus and you others, all of you, I want to brag a little. I am dizzy, under the influence fo wine, which makes even the wisest people sing and giggle, and dance, and say things best not spoken.
[tr. Wilson (2017), l. 461ff]

Added on 14-Jul-21 | Last updated 1-Dec-21
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Life is too short to drink bad wine.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
(Misattributed)

Often attributed to him, but not found in Goethe's works. The attribution, though, may come from translators' commentary on Goethe's West–Eastern Diwan, "The Book of the Cup-Bearer" (1819/1827), that refers to a poetic passage as deriving from Diez's 1811 translation of the Book of Kabus (Qabus):

It comes to this, that it is a sin to drink wine. If though, then committest sin, commit it at least for the best wine, for otherwise wouldst though on one part commit sin, and on another drink bad wine. By God! that would be the most sorrowful among sorrowful things. [tr. Rogers (1890)]

It so happens that wine-drinking is a sin. Hence, if you do commit this sin, do it at least with the best wine; otherwise, you'll commit the sin, on the one hand, and on the other, you'll drink bad wine. By God! That would be the sorriest of all sorry things. [tr. Ormsby (2019)]


More information: The Big Apple: “Life is too short to drink cheap wine”
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His philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools — the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans — and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase, “You can’t trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there’s nothing you can do about it, so let’s have a drink.”

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Small Gods (1992)
Added on 12-Jan-21 | Last updated 12-Jan-21
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THERE ARE BETTER THINGS IN THE WORLD THAN ALCOHOL, ALBERT.

“Oh, yes, sir. But alcohol sort of compensates for not getting them.”

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Death’s Domain (1999)
    (Source)

Death speaking with his manservant, Albert.
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Always do sober what you said you would do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) American writer
(Attributed)
Added on 26-Aug-20 | Last updated 26-Aug-20
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DEMOSTHENES: And dare you rail at wine’s inventiveness?
I tell you nothing has such go as wine.
Why, look you now; ’tis when men drink, they thrive,
Grow wealthy, speed their business, win their suits,
Make themselves happy, benefit their friends.
Go, fetch me out a stoup of wine, and let me
Moisten my wits, and utter something bright.

Aristophanes (c. 450-c. 388 BC) Athenian comedic playwright
Knights, ll. 90-96 [tr. Rogers (1924)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.
  • [O'Neill (1938)]: "Do you dare to accuse wine of clouding the reason? Quote me more marvellous effects than those of wine. Look! when a man drinks, he is rich, everything he touches succeeds, he gains lawsuits, is happy and helps his friends. Come, bring hither quick a flagon of wine, that I may soak my brain and get an ingenious idea."
  • [Hickie (1853)]: "Have you the audacity to abuse wine for witlessness? Can you find anything more business-like than wine? Do you see? when men drink, then they are rich, they transact business, gain causes, are happy, assist their friends. Come, bring me out quickly a stoup of wine, that I may moisten my intellect, and say something clever."
Added on 20-May-20 | Last updated 20-May-20
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Well, between Scotch and nothin’, I suppose I’d take Scotch. It’s the nearest thing to good moonshine I can find.

William Faulkner (1897-1962) American novelist
Quoted in The National Observer (3 Feb 1964)

At least one source breaks this into two quotations, with the second sentence comparing bourbon to moonshine.
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There is something about a Martini,
A tingle remarkably pleasant;
A yellow, a mellow Martini;
I wish I had one at present.
There is something about a Martini,
Ere the dining and dancing begin,
And to tell you the truth,
It is not the vermouth —
I think that perhaps it’s the gin.

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) American poet
“A Drink with Something In It,” The Primrose Path (1935)
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Added on 17-Nov-17 | Last updated 17-Nov-17
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Well, with one martini ah feel bigger, wiser, taller, and with two it goes to the superlative, and ah feel biggest, wisest, tallest, and with three there ain’t no holdin’ me.

William Faulkner (1897-1962) American novelist
(Attributed)
    (Source)

As quoted in Lauren Bacall, By Myself (1978). Often paraphrased or rendered back into standard English, e.g., "When I have one martini, I feel bigger, wiser, taller. When I have a second, I feel superlative. When I have more, there's no holding me."
Added on 3-Nov-17 | Last updated 3-Nov-17
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The Martini is to middle- and upper-class American society what peyote is to the Yaqui Indians: a sacred rite that affirms tribal identity, encourages fanciful thought and —
let’s be honest here — delivers a whoppingly nice high.

Barnaby Conrad III (b. 1952) American author, artist, editor
“Martini Madness,” Cigar Aficionado (Spring 1996)
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Added on 16-Oct-17 | Last updated 16-Oct-17
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There are two reasons for drinking: one is, when you are thirsty, to cure it; the other, when you are not thirsty, to prevent it. The first is obvious, mechanical, and plebeian; the second is most refined, abstract, prospicient, and canonical. I drink by anticipation of thirst that may be. Prevention is better than cure.

Thomas Love Peacock (1785-1866) English novelist, satirist, poet, merchant
Melincourt, ch. 16 (1817)
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Alcohol: A liquid good for preserving almost everything except secrets.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Charles Wayland Towne, The Foolish Dictionary (1905)
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Almost anything can be preserved in alcohol, except health, happiness, and money.

No picture available
Mary Wilson Little (fl. c. 1905) American writer
A Paragrapher’s Reveries (1904)
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You’re trying to drown your sorrows in alcohol and it won’t work. Sorrows know how to swim.

Ann Landers (1918-2002) American advice columnist [pseud. for Eppie Lederer]
“Ask Ann Landers,” syndicated column (1958)

Landers used the phrase multiple times, e.g.,
  • "And now an added P.S. In these days of political unrest, financial crisis and emotional upheaval, a word to those of you who are trying to drown your sorrow. Please be aware that sorrow knows how to swim." [The Ann Landers Encyclopedia: A to Z (1978)]
  • "People who drink to drown their sorrow should be told that sorrow knows how to swim."
However, the phrase predates her in a variety of anonymous sources; see here for more discussion.
Added on 21-Jun-17 | Last updated 7-Jan-19
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I took a sip. It went surprisingly well with the veal. On the other hand, the fourth margarita goes surprisingly well with everything.

Robert B. Parker (1932-2010) American writer
Taming A Sea-Horse (1986)
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Show me the way to go home
I’m tired and I want to go to bed
I had a little drink about an hour ago
And it went right to my head.

No picture available
Irving King (fl. 1920s) British songwriter [pseud. of Jimmy Campbell (1903-1967) and Reg Connelly (c. 1895-1963)]
“Show Me the Way to Go Home” (1925)
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R-E-M-O-R-S-E!
Those dry Martinis did the work for me;
Last night at twelve I felt immense,
Today I feel like thirty cents.,
My eyes are bleared, my coppers hot,
I’ll try to eat, but I cannot.
It is no time for mirth and laughter,
The cold, gray down of the morning after.

George Ade (1866-1944) American writer, newspaper columnist, playwright
The Sultan of Sulu, Act 2 (1903)
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Of all the men embezzling from their employers with whom I have had contact, I can’t remember a dozen who smoked, drank or had any of the vices in which bonding companies are so interested.

Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) American author, screenwriter, political activist
Interview with Helen Herbert Foster, “House Burglary Poor Trade,” Brooklyn Eagle Magazine (Oct 1929)
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Besides, there are two things that will be believed of any man whatsoever, and one of them is that he has taken to drink.

Booth Tarkington (1869-1946) American novelist and dramatist
Penrod, ch. 10 (1914)
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New Year’s is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls, and humbug resolutions, and we wish you to enjoy it with a looseness suited to the greatness of the occasion.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“New Year’s Day,” Virginia City Territorial Enterprise (Jan 1864)
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SYDNEY: Even though a number of people have tried, no one has yet found a way to drink for a living.

Jean Kerr (1922-2003) American author and playwright [b. Bridget Jean Collins]
Poor Richard, Act 1 (1965)
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Liquor doesn’t make you feel better. Just makes you not so worried about feeling bad.

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James S. A. Corey (contemp.) American writer [pen name of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck]
Leviathan Wakes (2011)
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It is disgusting to notice the increase in the quantity of coffee used by my subjects. … If possible, this must be prevented. My people must drink beer.

Frederick II (1712-1786) King of Prussia (a.k.a. Frederick the Great)
Proclamation (13 Sep 1777)
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Wine gives a man nothing. It neither gives him knowledge nor wit; it only animates a man, and enables him to bring out what a dread of the company has repressed. It only puts in motion what had been locked up in frost.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (28 Apr 1778)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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It seems there is something spiritual in wine.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
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Wine has drowned more than the sea.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings]

Alt. trans.: "Wine drowns more than the sea."
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Alcohol is nicissary f’r a man so that now an’ thin he can have a good opinion iv himsilf, ondisturbed be th’ facts.

[Alcohol is necessary for a man so that now and then he can have a good opinion of himself, undisturbed by the facts.]

Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936) American humorist and journalist
“Mr. Dooley on Alcohol,” Chicago Tribune (26 Apr 1914)
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Whenever the devil harasses you, seek the company of men or drink more, or joke and talk nonsense, or do some other merry thing. Sometimes we must drink more, sport, recreate ourselves, aye, and even sin a little to spite the devil, so that we leave him no place for troubling our consciences with trifles. We are conquered if we try too conscientiously not to sin at all. So when the devil says to you: “Do not drink,” answer him: “I will drink, and right freely, just because you tell me not to.” One must always do what Satan forbids.

Martin Luther (1483-1546) German religious reformer
Letter to Jerome Weller (Jul 1530)
    (Source)

Alt. trans.: "We are soon defeated if we try too hard not to sin. So when the devil says ‘Do not drink’ answer him: ‘I shall drink, and right freely, just because you tell me not to!’"
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Wine hath drowned more Men than the Sea.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #5744 (1732)
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To suppose, as we all suppose, that we could be rich and not behave as the rich behave, is like supposing that we could drink all day and keep absolutely sober

Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946) American-English essayist, editor, anthologist
Afterthoughts, “In the World” (1931)
Added on 26-Nov-08 | Last updated 22-Dec-20
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Alcohol is like love: the first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you just take the girl’s clothes off.

Raymond Chandler (1888-1959) American novelist
The Long Good-bye, ch. 12 (1954)
Added on 16-May-08 | Last updated 5-Nov-15
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Love, with very young people, is a heartless business. We drink at that age from thirst, or to get drunk; it is only later in life that we occupy ourselves with the individuality of our wine.

Isak Dinesen (1885-1962) Danish writer [pseud. of Karen Christence, Countess Blixen]
“The Old Chevalier,” Seven Gothic Tales (1934)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 13-Mar-20
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“You’d better be prepared for the jump into hyperspace. It’s unpleasantly like being drunk.”

“What’s so unpleasant about being drunk?”

“You ask a glass of water.”

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) English writer
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, ch. 6 (1979)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 22-Aug-16
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