Pimm’s No.1, and I wasn’t even still at school. Got transferred as a trainee meat salesman from Nottingham to Bedford and, not knowing anyone there at first was very pleased another ‘old boy’, though a year senior to me, walked past my workplace. He was an estate agent and had a car so we would drive out of town to different country pubs, and that is what I bought. It may not have been my first, but it was the only one I remember.
Reminds me too, that my friend, though English, had an Italian surname, and, although (or rather because) Bedford had a large Italian community (brought over after the war to work in the brickworks) he changed it to a very English and rather upper class one.
When I first recognised him across the street, I called out his surname and the alarm and surprise on his face was something to behold. He quickly hushed me up and re-introduced himself.
Before I had ever drunk anything alcoholic i was a Serviertochter (waitress) and barmaid in a very nice hotel in Switzerland, aged 18.
Whilst cleaning all the bottles on the shelves in the bar very regularly - this was Switzerland after all - after a while I decided not to waste the opportunity -and eventually worked my way round trying a tiny amount of everything.
I quite liked Weisflog, a herbal liqueur not sold for years, and Troubadour, a rather fine peppermint liqueur.
I thought I might as well, because in my own country I would never have been allowed to serve in a bar at that time under age 25.
Yes, as kids we were allowed “rosé wine” with weekend evening meals, which was heavily diluted red wine. And at school in the 6th form there was a bar for over 16 year olds, but the girls were only allowed sherry. You can get very drunk on sweet sherry!
My parents introduced alcoholic drinks from an early age, and my first drink was probably woodpecker cider. They also made lots of wine at home and in my early teens I’d have a glass. I did also take a bottle of whisky to school and was was caught, aged 14 or 15.
But drunkenness has never been my thing, and although I enjoy a drink, apart from a couple of stupid teenage occasions (never drink on an empty stomach!) I’m always moderate.
Aged about 9, I lived with my English Gran for 6 happy months.
She enrolled me into Brownies and really made a fuss of me…
For a treat we’d sometimes share a bottle of cider… I’d never had anything so exotic before… (at home, we would have water, milk or tea…)
She was absolutely mortified when she read the label and discovered the cider contained alcohol (albeit a small percentage)…
To me… it was just a delicious and refreshing drink…
Good grief… you’d think we’d been drinking bleach…
My grandfather took the pledge as a young man, and was vehemently opposed to alcohol, having seen the harm it caused in his era. However when he had a cold he would dose up with ‘NightNurse’ and my parents didn’t have the heart to tell him that the main active ingredient was alcohol.
My son, while still pretty young still at college so say 13, was fascinated by fermentation. As part of this he made ginger beer which he took to a party of school friends. A few days later he suggested he and I (as the only people in the house at that time), finish it up. As I took my first sip I asked if it was alcoholic. No, he assured me. Of course fermentation doesn’t stop and we both ended up pretty tipsy. Definitely the first time he’d been drunk though I can’t say the same for me!!