We live in a world of pretty endless choice when it comes to drink – these days, just going into the milk aisle of a supermarket is enough to cause a panic attack (Cow? Soya? Goat?), while anyone who asks in a café for a plain coffee would probably be met with a blank stare.
But the drinks cabinet is far bigger, and more delightful, in literature – a world where wizards drink butterscotch-flavoured beer, and instead of mojitos, people sip “gargle blasters”. Here, to mark World Book Day, are six of the best beverages in books.
Top tipple: a butterbeer barrel at the Harry Potter theme park in Orlando, Florida (ALAMY)
After a long day fighting He Who Must Not Be Named, most of us would probably crave a stiff drink. Being a conscientious young student, however, Harry Potter takes comfort in a foaming tankard of butterbeer: a sweet concoction that tastes “a little bit like less-sickly butterscotch” and which is so low in alcohol that it’s only really elves who get drunk on it. What a role model.
Roald Dahl loved inventing ridiculous new words, especially when it came to food and drink. One of his best-loved characters, the BFG, lives on what sounds like a far-from nutritionally balanced diet of “snozzcumbers” and “frobscottle” – a fizzy drink in which the bubbles travel downwards, rather than up. This, young heroine Sophie soon learns, means lots of “whizzpops” – a concept that causes uncontrollable laughter in any child enjoying the book, and a sneaky grin on the face of any adult who remembers reading it.
Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster
At the opposite end of the spectrum to butterbeer is this alarmingly potent cocktail, which features in Douglas Adam’s The Hitchhiker’s’s Guide to the Galaxy. Invented by Zaphod Beeblebrox, it contains such eyebrow-raising ingredients as “Arcturan Mega-gin” and the tooth of an “Algolian Suntiger”, and tastes “like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon, wrapped round a large gold brick”. Sounds like something students might like.
There’s no comestible that seems as innocent as milk, but in the grim world of Anthony Burgess‘s A Clockwork Orange, a glass of the white stuff tends to come spiked with drugs. This is what anti-hero Alex and his comrades drink before they embark on the spree of “ultraviolence” which lands him in prison.