He led Britain, and Europe, through the ravages of World War II. He gave speeches that moved nations, stirred the faintest spirits into courage. He faced the Nazi threat head on, leader of an island empire not yet ready to sink. And he really, really liked his drink.
Winston, AKA “Winnie,” Churchill, liked a nip every now and then, and again and again. When he wasn’t writing “This was their finest hour” or coining the term “iron curtain,” or dealing with other matters of immediate national and continental welfare, Churchill could likely be found knocking back a brandy or two, no doubt the precise potion to remedy a day of statesmanship.
Unlike you and I, not only did Churchill not slur on alcohol, or have the opportunity to text old crushes, he actually spoke most eloquently on the subject. (Both on it, and when he was “on” it.) He was famous for his one- and two-liners, which were about many serious topics, courage and war not least among them. And many, inevitably, were about drink.
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As much as we love to celebrate the man who had no shame in his cups, it recently came out that at least a few famous Churchill sayings are incorrectly credited to him. (Our favorite: Nancy Astor, Britain’s first female MP, tells Churchill “If I were your wife I would put poison in your coffee.” Not to be outdone, Churchill replies “Nancy, if I were your husband, I would drink it.” The equivalent of a British Parliamentary mic drop, exit the room.) Except he didn’t say that, as author Boris Johnson recently discovered. Which means there’s a chance some of his famous drinking quotes are also incorrectly attributed. Damn.
With that in mind, we figured we’d put you to the test, intermixing the most famous Churchillian booze quips with total fakes (borrowed from our dreams, pop culture, a guy at the bus station). See if you can’t recognize the shimmer, or should we say sauciness, in Churchill’s quotes. Answers at bottom. Don’t peek. Seriously. Come on.
PS – Don’t worry if you don’t get them all right. Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm. (Guess who said that?)
1.) “I don’t drink anymore. I don’t drink any less, either.”
2.) “The water was not fit to drink. To make it palatable, we had to add whisky. By diligent effort, I learnt to like it.”
3.) “I only drink Champagne when in love. And when not.”
4.) “When I was younger I made it a rule never to take strong drink before lunch. It is now my rule never to do so before breakfast.”
5.) “I have taken more good from alcohol than alcohol has taken from me.”
6.) “Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”
7.) “My dear girl, there are some things that just aren’t done, such as drinking Dom Perignon ’53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit.”
8.) “I neither want it [brandy] nor need it, but I should think it pretty hazardous to interfere with the ineradicable habit of a lifetime.”
9.) “Actually, it only takes one drink to get me loaded. Trouble is, I can’t remember if it’s the thirteenth or fourteenth.”
10.) “Remember gentleman, it’s not just France we’re fighting for, it’s Champagne!”
11.) “Sir, you are drunk.” “And you, madam, are ugly. But in the morning, I shall be sober.”
12.) “To alcohol! The cause of—and solution to—all of life’s problems.”
1.) Not Churchill, but in fact the grandma from the Sandy Bullock classic “While You Were Sleeping” (Also W.C. Fields, but whatevs.)
2.) Winston Churchill! See, he cared about hydration, too.
3.) Christian Pol Roger, fourth generation successor of the Pol-Roger champagne family.
4.) Winnie C. again! We should all follow his lesson.
5.) Prime Minister Churchill, telling alcohol it’s been owned.
6.) Ernest Hemingway, author, hunter, drinker of these.
7.) Nope, that one’s Mr. Class himself, James Bond, as played by Sean Connery. AKA the James Bond until Daniel Craig. (And who’s next? Gillian Anderson?)
8.) Churchill. The man understood the importance of maintaining daily habits, liquid and otherwise.
9.) The inimitable, incomparable Mr. George Burns.
10.) Winston Churchill. He liked his bubbly, too.
11.) This is actually a real exchange between Bessie Braddock, Labour MP, and Winston Churchill. Clearly not friends.
12.) Homer Simpson. Possibly as much in love with alcohol as Churchill himself. Not quite the speaker.