Drinking doesn't make you smarter. We don't need a scientific study to tell us that calculus doesn't become any easier a few G&Ts in. But smart people do drink – and there are even various theories saying smart people may have a tendency to drink more than those of lower intellect.
Evolutionary psychologists hypothesise that more intelligent people drink more alcohol than less intelligent people, as drinking is 'evolutionary novel' behaviour. And as your above-average-grade scorers are more likely to engage in this sort of behaviour they are in turn more likely to drink.
Ancient Greek philosophers such as Socrates and Plato help hold up this theory. If Plato is to be believed, any matter worth debating was done so at a symposium - or drinking party. Plato's Symposium is a philosophical text about the concept of love (from whence we get Platonic love) written in a dramatic dialogue set at one such boozy bash.
What I find myself wondering is, what were these guys drinking? What can I drink that will at least make me look the part of being smart?
We know that the Ancient Greeks had a love of all things vinous: grapes and winemaking even had their own god, Dionysus. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, included wine in every one of his recorded remedies. Hippocrates is even considered to be the creator of vermouth in as much that his remedy for menstrual pain was a wine soaked with wormwood flowers that is still used in the creation of modern vermouths.
By the time we get to William Shakespeare's time, smart people had a few more drinking options – and drinking alcoholic beverages was most definitely the smart thing to do. Water, full of bacteria, was sure to make you ill so everyone drank ale, from the most arrant knave to the most favoured of bards. Apart from this staple, Shakespeare's works show us he was familiar with other potent potables like sack (sherry), malmsey (madeira), metheglin (mead) and more. Posset was one of the more unusual mixes at the time – it was a popular fortifying drink made of hot milk, curdled with wine or ale and spices. Lady Macbeth uses a poisoned posset to knock out the guards outside Duncan's quarters in Shakespeare's Macbeth.
I'd like to think that George Washington was a smart guy. What we do know is that he was a distiller. From his estate in Mount Vernon, Virginia, he produced rye whiskey in commercial quantities. In 1789, Washington's whiskey made him profits of $1032 – a considerable sum at the time.
It seems that rum punch was Washington's real preference, however. Washington ordered a hogshead of the finest aged Barbados rum to put into a punch for his inauguration party. Washington reportedly first developed a taste for Barbadan rum in 1751 when he visited the Caribbean island.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Great political minds and alcohol seem to have a simpatico relationship. We demand sobriety from our government representatives these days, but politicians openly enjoyed both an alcoholic drink and popular support during the 20th century. Hello Bob Hawke.
Franklin D. Roosevelt's election campaign was built on the platform that he'd repeal prohibition should he be elected president. Five days after his inauguration, the former New York governor had Congress convene in a special session to re-legalise beer. Roosevelt delivered on his promise and ratified the 21st Amendment ending prohibition on December 5, 1933. To celebrate, FDR reportedly mixed himself a martini. The olive brine-laced mix that Roosevelt concocted became known as the 'FDR Martini' or Dirty Martini that is still popular to this day.
Thatcher is a controversial figure – she's either loved or abhorred. What can't be argued is that she was one smart cookie. She also enjoyed a drink.
In 1975, the Iron Lady became the first female leader of a major political party in the United Kingdom and four years later she was Prime Minister. She survived three terms in power and introduced a massive series of initiatives that changed the British political and economic landscape for good. But what saw Thatcher through the turbulent waters of politics wasn't just her iron will, it might have also been a stiff drink or two.
Thatcher's former personal assistant, Cynthia Crawford, revealed a decade ago that her employer - whose energy and little need for sleep is legendary – was often fortified by a glass of Scotch. Crawford also quoted Thatcher as saying: "Dear, you cannot drink gin and tonic in the middle of the night. You must have whisky to give you energy."
What's your smart drink of choice?