Sunday, 14 August 2016

Popping out for a drink

In one of my local retailers, I chance across a new vodka brand (well, new to me, at least) - Parkowa. The name leaves no room for doubt - it is intended to be drunk in the park. Au plein air. This is Feldalkohol. Not for consumption indoors.  A brand name like this was devised with the Heniek and Ziutek market in mind. No doubt convenience retailers will be selling this stuff chilled. At 7.99 złotys for one-fifth of a litre (£1.62 in post-referendum money), an incredibly cheap way of getting wazzed. The 200ml of 36% alcohol by volume vodka represents 7.2 units; more than half one's new weekly allowance [see below].

And talking of au plein air - the al fresco drinking message is promoted in the name of this shop next door to Radom railway station. Plener (the Polish pronunciation of plein air) 24h, alcohol shop. Calling things by what they are.

I'm not writing this post to get sanctimonious. There's something about a casual drink outside, especially in summer. This evening, I packed a chilled bottle of King of Hop American Pale Ale by Ale Browar in my rucksack, to drink atop my beloved, but soon-to-be removed, mountain of ballast. A great place to watch the trains, the planes and the evening sun setting low across the fields towards Dawidy.

A single bottle of hoppy ale helps with the feelings of transcendence, elevating my consciousness to a higher level. Enhanced appreciation to the phenomena all around me; the sun, the wind, the ever-changing cloudscape; I contemplate the relevance of matter.

How much does it take? 500ml at 5% abv = 2.5 units. Peak effect wears off in around half an hour.

And once emptied, the bottle returns to my rucksack, to be taken home for recycling with the glass.

Drinking outdoors: Warsaw's suburbs lack pubs. In their place, informal drinking dens such as this abandoned building between Biedronka and the bus loop; hundreds of beer cans and bottles litter the area. Why can't the open-air drinkers deposit their empties in a bin (there's one by the bus stop, another outside Biedronka) or take it home?

Perła Mocna, Żubr, Żywiec, Łomża... a close look at the photo will also reveal a scrap of English newspaper. Yes, this is London. The towpath of the Grand Union Canal, between Greenford and Southall. Old habits die hard.

Is drinking outdoors a peculiarly Polish or Slavic thing? Is is born out of poverty (no pub culture, or else pub prices)? Don't know. But I certainly enjoy feldalkohol on my walks. Lidl's 250ml bottles of wine will accompany from time to time, as the 187ml bottles of J.P. Chenet's Colombard-Sauvignon (from Auchan or Biedronka) are ideal. I've occasionally indulged in a małpka - a 100ml bottle of vodka - most recently in midwinter, when the ponds froze over, knocked back with a small portion of śledż z cebulką (herring with onion); just perfect at -10C as the sun sets.

[The important thing is to keep alcohol intake under control. Since the beginning of 2014, along with paces walked, diet and exercise, I keep a day-by-day log of how much I drink. The UK Government keeps lowering the recommended guidelines for alcohol consumption (from 28 units a week for men to 21 units and most recently to 14); I'm striving to get down from the old limit to the 21 units, and consider the current 14 units to be a bit exaggerated. Ah - and two consecutive days each week without any alcohol at all.]

This time six years ago:
In search of happiness

This time seven years ago:
Mercenaries and missionaries

This time eight years ago:
Spectacular sunrise, Jeziorki


Anonymous said...

Street drinking does not go down well with the locals. See #OpBottletop on twitter.

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Anonymous:

"Your freedom ends where mine begins."

My freedom to enjoy a litter-free environment, my freedom not to be offended by boorish, drunken behaviour.


My freedom to enjoy a drink sensibly outdoors.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it actually illegal to consume alcohol in public places in Poland? (With the exception of "walled-in" terraces.) In Berlin, you see people on the street, on the U-Bahn, etc. with open beers--no problem. Here in Poland the city guards will be waiting in the shadows to write you a "mandat".

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Anonymous -

'Don't know' is the answer - I guess that in Poland there is a law to that effect, but it is deployed by police and the Straż Miejska proportionately and with discretion - anyone threatening public order is likely to get a mandat (fine), while someone having a responsible slurp will get off with a pouczenie (caution).