Now is not the time to get blind drunk. But tipsy? Yes please

Tipsy captures the brightening of spirits, the loosening of the tongue, the easy laughs

Two glasses of red wine
‘Tipsy is the golden hour.’ Photograph: Getty Images
‘Tipsy is the golden hour.’ Photograph: Getty Images
Hannah Jane Parkinson

Last modified on Fri 13 Nov 2020 16.19 EST

“Too much of a good thing” is a proverb that I generally disagree with. Alcohol is an exception – for many people and for different reasons, any alcohol is too much. When I went without it for a year, the most radical change was having much more time. The days expanded. Why? Because I was no longer spending half my weekends in bed wishing for a quick death. There are headaches, and then there are hangovers.

I will level with you: “drinking in moderation” sounds incredibly dull; or strained, when said in the voiceover of booze adverts. You can almost envision the gun to the head. And I am not saying there isn’t a time and a place for getting wasted. (I do not know the etymology of the British term “rat-arsed”, but I am fond of it – despite the fact that rats are not known to be drunks, and I do not understand what their bottoms would have to do with it if they were.)

The sweet spot is that wonderful word: tipsy. Tipsy captures the brightening of spirits and loosening of the tongue. The easy laughs, the growth in tactility. The bonhomie of good company lubricated by favourite beverages. The back-slaps at the bar, or the gathering orders for rounds. Good wine being poured across a dining table. Easily-struck-up rapport with strangers or mutual friends. Pints of beers being cheers’d, or cocktail glasses clinking. Shots as a team sport. I miss this very much, in these isolated times.

Tipsy is the golden hour. What lies ahead, sometimes, is the danger zone of unwise decision-making; the losing of personal effects; the blurring of eyesight; and, oh God, the potential lurching of the gut and vomiting into a loo bowl. Once we’re at that point, the sun has truly set. Dignity is nowhere to be found.

There are times when these unfortunate consequences are worth it for the bacchanalia preceding (my birthday springs to mind), but more often – and especially as one grows older – the true joy is cashing in on the evening at just the right time. This is a difficult skill to acquire because, as with all gambling, the lure of just one more is a strong one.

It is almost never just one more, and ending the night in disarray can bin the recollection of that wonderful warm feeling, two drinks in. Tipsy is what to aim for. Tipsy is the convivial character of an evening perfectly played. Tipsy is your friend. I will drink to Tipsy.

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