One thing we’ve learned over the years is that hungry gamers are grumpy gamers. We’ve also learned that a good food experience makes for a better night than an utterly forgettable food experience.
Food for Thought is a series where we talk about food at the table.
Rotgut and Moonshine
After a hard day of dungeon delving, the party of adventurers gather a a nearby inn and raise tankards of ale in celebrate of their victory. A vampire sips at a glass of red wine, rolling the taste over his tongue while eyeing a new victim. A hard-bitten detective slumps into a bar and demands a bottle of whiskey to drown her sorrows.
Alcohol often makes its way into the game fiction to lubricate the storytelling. Of course, sometimes alcohol makes it’s way into the gamers as well. Let’s discuss libations, shall we?
Finaira: Barkeep! Another round!
Everyone does alcohol differently. Some people like to drink a lot, others like to have only a few drinks, some don’t drink at all. Sometimes people who like to drink just don’t feel like it. So the first rule of bringing drinks to game is to remember that everyone is different and if they don’t want to partake (or if you don’t want to partake), that’s fine and they should not be made to feel left out or unwelcome. So provide an alternative.
Plan in advance if you know there will be drinks at game. If you can, I’d always suggest trying to fit the alcohol to the theme of the game. If there isn’t a theme ask around if people have preferences. I know that my favorite drink right now is rum, so if you offer me rum, I’ll be much happier than if you drag out beers.
But also plan for how much drinking you want around the table. No one wants to get caught with that one person who has just had a few too many drinks and are now acting like a drunken lout. No one, usually, wants to be that person. One or two drinks per person is the norm in my group. If you have 6 games, 12 beers is plenty. If you bring hard liquor, this can quickly exceed whatever arbitrary maximum you want to set so be prepared to police the bottle if you want to keep the drinking to a minimum.
There are plenty of bizarre little rules that I’ve seen both implicitly and explicitly. Don’t start drinking at someone else’s place until the host either okays it or starts drinking themselves unless you know them very well. Don’t be the only person drinking. That usually ends badly. If someone else is mixing drinks, don’t impose on their time and keep them from the gaming table. Don’t drink all the expensive stuff without permission.
Know your limits and know the limits of those around you. Just like any other time that you go drinking with friends. Gaming is supposed to be fun and alcohol is good at making social situations fun. So let it be fun.
Kim: Bourbon and branch, please.
I am a lightweight. I can manage a drink or two in an evening, provided I nurse them and have something to eat. The unfortunate thing is that I like hard liquor. Rum is my favorite but I won’t say no to scotch or bourbon. That means that if I want to have a drink, I need to be picky. Drinking a mediocre drink isn’t in the cards because I only get one. For me, mixed drinks are the way to go because I can have something that’s pretty, that tastes good and that doesn’t make me want to fall asleep.1
Thankfully, geeky themed drink recipes abound on the internet. For instance, the Drunken Moogle is a blog with drink mixes inspired by geek media, including video games and movies. Alternatively, you can find a site that has mixed drinks (like Drinkmixer) and rename them to be appropriate for your game. To be fair, you might not even need to rename them. For instance, having a bowl of Ambassador’s Punch for the game when the party is trying to be diplomatic at court certainly wouldn’t be out of place. The nice thing about a lot of mixed drinks is that some can often taste good without alcohol, so if you have some who would rather not drink alcohol, you can leave the booze on the side and let people add as much as they’d prefer.
Of course, the recipe is just part of the equation. Ingredients matter. Ultimately, it depends on what tastes good to you. Just because something has a high price tag doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy it as much as something a little less pricey. If you can, sample. I have very indulgent friends who are willing to let me take a sip of their drinks when we’re out and about. I find that small, local liquor stores are the best places to find informed clerks who may have helpful advice on what to try.2 It can take time to discover which brands are the best for you but that can be part of the adventure.
Words from the Peanut Gallery
Do you sometimes bring alcohol to your gaming table? What are some of your favorite recipes or drinks?