Cocktail hour

20 Jul

I will inquire into no man’s reasons for taking a drink at any hour except 6:00 PM. They are his affair and he has a rich variety of liquors to choose from according to his whim or need; may they reward him according to his deserts and well beyond. But when evening  quickens in the street, comes a pause in the day’s occupation that is known as cocktail hour. It marks the lifeward turn. The heart wakens from coma and its dyspnea ends. Its strengthening pulse is to cross over into campground, to believe that the world has not altogether been lost or, if lost, then not altogether in vain. But it cannot make the grade alone. It needs help; it needs, my brethren, all the help it can get. It needs a wife (or some other charming woman) of attuned impulse and equal impatience and maybe two or three friends, but no more than two or three. These gathered together in a softly lighted room and, with them what it needs most of all, the bounty of alcohol. Hence the cocktail.

— Bernard DeVoto, The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto (Portland, OR: Tin House Books, 2010 [1948]), pp. 48-9.


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