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].

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).