How The French Drink | United Nations of Booze


Salut, les amis. Come with us on a boozy tour of France
where wine flows like the waters of the Rhine, people guzzle pastis
like it’s Gatorade at halftime, and the president drinks
14 glasses of vin per week. But hey, no judgment here. Needless to say, the French
are big fans of spirits. After all, they’ve been
in the booze game for centuries. From the wily absinthe to the volcano
inspired Avèze, there’s a lot to explore in their proverbial liquor cabinet. Let’s start with some numbers. Over 67 million people live in France. And for most of that population,
the thirst is real. It’s not unusual to enjoy a splash of
calvados in your breakfast coffee, sip a glass of wine for lunch,
pair your afternoon goûter with aperitif, and top off
your workday with a beer or two. And that’s all before dinner,
which is typically followed by, you guessed it, more booze. And there’s a long history
of that kind of boozing. At the turn of the 20th century,
there was so much cheap Plonqes swilling around France that
bars sold wine by the hour. Bar patrons could pay a flat rate for the
privilege of chugging as much wine as their liver could handle in an hour. Fast forward to today,
and among developed countries, France ranks fourth in the amount
of alcohol consumed per person, clocking in at around 11.8 liters. In fact, the heaviest drinking 20%
of the population in France drink about 50% of all alcohol, which puts
a tipsy twist on the old 80/20 rule. And while 11.8 liters might sound like a
lot, especially compared to the U.S.’s paltry 8.7, that doesn’t even come
close to their boozy heyday. In 1973, the country reached its
peak with drinkers knocking back 20.8 liters per person. But even with those impressive numbers
very little of that actually includes one of France’s homegrown spirits, Cognac. This high-quality brandy, using wine from
the ugni blanc grape, can only be produced in a Cognac region of France. And as it turns out,
the French aren’t huge fans. They export 95% of what they produce. In the words of the great Canadian poet,
Drake, “I need a one dance. Got a Hennessy in my hand. One more time ‘fore I go. Higher powers taking a hold on me.” When it comes to France,
wine gets all the press, and with good reason. The French have basically
mastered the vine. But if you’re too busy sticking your nose
in a wine glass, you’re bound to miss one of the most popular
local spirits in France, pastis. This anise-flavored spirit was
invented after absinthe was made illegal during World War I
to satisfy the French’s penchant for licorice flavored drinks. Clearly, Good and Plenty
wasn’t cutting it. On a warm summer day,
you’ll typically find locals diluting this liqueur with cool water
before consuming it as an aperitif. This gives the drink a cloudy
and almost milky hue. So, no, you’re not seeing things. Yeah, just kidding. Because you won’t find any
grand wormwood in this bottle. If you’re looking for some trippy
hallucinations, your best bet is still Burning Man. Sorry. Once upon a time, absinthe would have
probably ruled France as the country’s most interesting drink,
but the present lack of wormwood makes Jack a very dull boy. That’s why you should
take a closer look at Aveze. Why? Because you’re basically ingesting the
power of volcanic fury with every sip. Well, sort of. See, Aveze is a liqueur made exclusively
using a wild yellow mountain plant that’s collected from the historic
National Park of Volcans D’Auvergne. That’s a park that encompasses
three volcanic mountains, Puy de Dôme, Lemptégy, and Vulcania. The drink itself falls in the bitter
category, but people say it helps reduce fever and helps with digestion. So bring on that third round of raclette. If you find yourself in France,
or drinking with a mostly French crew, keep this in mind. It’s all about the eye contact. So while you’re toasting to the occasion,
mesmerize them with your best blue steel before tossing back your booze. Speaking of toasts, you don’t need
to be Barack Obama to win everyone over with your words. Just repeat after us,
“A votre santé.” That means “To your health.” Or just shorten it to santé,
and get on with the drinking already. Oh, and in France, it’s legal to drink
wine, beer, or cider while at work. So, pass the keggerator, will you? Much like their spirits,
the French are smooth drinkers. They’re kind of like the Robert Redford of
the booze world, an old-school class act that’s damn good at what they do. And to that we say, “Santé.” ♪ [music] ♪

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