The Thinking Drinkers: Around the World in 80 Drinks at Gilded Balloon at the Underbelly Med QuadCultureTheatreEd Fringe
With a vibrant party scene surrounding the Edinburgh Fringe, the promise of five free alcoholic drinks during a show might be interpreted as a cynical ploy aimed at exploiting thirsty festival-goers. The idea of an opportunistic booze binge runs contrary to everything the Thinking Drinkers themselves (veteran drinks industry writers Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham) stand for, but that is exactly what’s offered by Around the World in 80 Drinks.
The pair have added regular appearances at the Fringe to their tour around the country in recent years, building a collaborative creative partnership (initially focussed on publishing) around the mantra “drink less, but drink better”. One part lecture, one part taste test and one part sketch comedy, their hour-long show offers something for everyone, apart from perhaps the teetotal.
Charting a Phileas Fogg-esque course to the home of each beverage – from London to the Venezuelan Andes – aboard a bar that is ingeniously transformed into various modes of transport (with help from volunteers plucked from the front row), the format is akin to that of an old-fashioned music hall gang show. The writing is (knowingly) a little hackneyed, leaning heavily on puns of a Christmas cracker standard and lip-syncing song-and-dance numbers in drag, but – accompanied by relevant and interesting booze facts and expert instruction in tasting – it all adds up to a heady cocktail of fun.
This unique Fringe experience is one to be savoured, leaving one with a new appreciation for some drinks cabinet standards as well as a taste for some lesser-known and deliciously exotic tipples.
The Thinking Drinkers: Around the World in 80 Drinks is on at Gilded Balloon at the Underbelly Med Quad from 3rd August until 28th August 2016, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch The Thinking Drinkers’ guide to alcohol here: