Against Moderation

From The New York Times:


THE JOY OF DRINKING by Barbara Holland:

Holland slowly savors what E. B. White called, in that genteel New Yorker way, “the golden companionship of the tavern.” She notes that “in a proper pub everyone there is potentially, if not a lifelong friend, at least someone to lure into an argument about foreign policy or,” God help us all, “the Red Sox.” And she knows that “to extract the fullest flavor of our drinking house, we needed to spend serious evening time there, slowly coming to know the bartender and the regulars, their joys and sorrows.” But becoming a “regular” isn’t as easy as “Cheers” may have made it seem; a decent bar’s culture is tough to crack.

Coffeehouses, it must be admitted, have often vied with bars for our affections. In Shakespeare’s day, Holland writes, “coffeehouses sprang up to challenge the taverns. The authorities were suspicious of the whole thing and sent spies to eavesdrop. In the taverns all was amiable and easy, but the coffeehouses were cauldrons of edgy malcontents.

More here.