How much did Churchill drink?
Andy Klein asks whether William Manchester was being factual or just cute when he wrote that Churchill was not a heavy drinker, despite the quantities Manchester enumerated:
…the legend that he is a heavy drinker is quite untrue. Churchill is a sensible if unorthodox drinker. There is always some alcohol in his bloodstream and it reaches its peak in the evening after he has had two or three scotches, several glasses of champagne, at least two brandies, and a highball.
Manchester was right in the sense but wrong in the details. Churchill had an impressive capacity for alcohol, but nobody saw him put that much away of an evening. Except for one bodyguard who helped him and Eden totter home after a night of toasts with the Russians at Teheran, no one close to him who ever saw him the worse for drink. (Field Marshal Alanbrooke several times wrote that the boss was plastered, but he wrote a lot of things in his diary late at night when he was exhausted from arguing over strategy.)
Churchill’s intake was exaggerated, not least by himself. Whatever the amount, it was not enough to affect him. He learned to “purify” drinking water with a dribble of whisky as a young war correspondent in South Africa, and would nurse a drink like that for hours. One of his private secretaries referred to it as “scotch-flavoured mouthwash.”
In his autobiography WSC was more candid on his drinking:
I had been brought up and trained to have the utmost contempt for people who got drunk— except on very exceptional occasions and a few anniversaries.…
—My Early Life (London: Butteworth, 1930), 141
5 thoughts on “How much did Churchill drink?”
Pure invention. What someone thought he believed. Churchillian Drift: https://richardlangworth.com/drift
Someone sent me this alleged quote of Sir Winston.
I have not found anything to authenticate it. Do you know the source?
“If you mean whisky, the devil’s brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yes, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean that evil drink that topples men and women from the pinnacles of righteous and gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, shame, despair, helplessness, and hopelessness, then, my friend, I am opposed to it with every fibre of my being.”
“However, if by whisky you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the elixir of life, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean good cheer, the stimulating sip that puts a little spring in the step of an elderly gentleman on a frosty morning; if you mean that drink that enables man to magnify his joy, and to forget life’s great tragedies and heartbreaks and sorrow; if you mean that drink the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars each year, that provides tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitifully aged and infirm, to build the finest highways, hospitals, universities, and community colleges in this nation, then my friend, I am absolutely, unequivocally in favor of it.”
“This is my position and, as always, I refuse to compromise on matters of principle.”
Everybody is different, and he did have a high capacity!
yet sir winston seemed to drink more than the average person . how is it possible to drink champagne that often …