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Legendary Drunks: The Queen Mother

the queen mother drinking Legendary Drunks: The Queen MotherThe Queen Mother Averaged More Than 70 Drinks a Week

By Carolynn Chapman

The Queen Mother and mother of Queen Elizabeth II, recently made famous by Helen Bonham Carter’s portrayal in the King’s Speech, thoroughly enjoyed her cocktails.  In fact, the Queen Mother enjoyed her cocktails so much that she would put the average beer guzzling frat boy to shame.  Even more impressive is that she lived to the ripe old age of 101!

The book “Behind Palace Doors,” by Major Colin Burgess who worked as a personal attendant to the Queen, details the Queen Mum’s typical daily consumption of alcohol.  “She would start her drinking day at noon with her favorite tipple, gin and Dubonnet: two parts Dubonnet – a pink vermouth – to one part gin.”  “Rarely went a day without having at least one of these and getting the mix right was crucial,” writes Burgess.  Then “Lunch with red wine followed, finished off with port.  If you found yourself lunching with the Queen Mum, don’t think you would ever have got away with drinking only tap water.”  How can you not have wine with your meal?” she would ask incredulously.” At 6pm every day, according to Burgess, she would ask, “’Colin, are we at the magic hour?’ I would then rather flamboyantly look at my watch, raise an eyebrow and say to her, ‘Yes, ma’am, I think it’s just about time,’ before popping off to mix her a martini.” At dinner, she would down two glasses of Veuve Cliquot pink champagne, leaving her staff to finish the bottle before settling down to watch repeats of Fawlty Towers.

queen mother 236x300 Legendary Drunks: The Queen MotherOther legendary stories of her love of the drink include her instructing her dressers to hide bottles of gin in her hatboxes when she travelled so she could get in a little nip when needed.  She was quoted as saying, “I couldn’t get through all my engagements without a little something.”  One time at an engagement at which she was supposed to be offered a cup of tea, her host blurted out instead “I hear you like gin.”  Without hesitation, the Queen Mum replied, “I hadn’t realized I enjoyed that reputation. But as I do, perhaps you could make it a large one.”

A conservative estimate puts the number of alcohol units she drank at 70 a week and the recommended limit for a woman is 14 drinks.  So much for alcohol consumption shortening your lifespan- in her case she was preserved by it from the inside out!

If you want to imbibe like a royal with a Dubonnet cocktail, formerly called a Zaza cocktail, its made by: stirring equal measures of gin (Gordon’s was the Queen Mum’s preference) and Dubonnet in ice, then straining them into a cocktail glass and topping it off with orange peel.  Cheers!



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