For those who do not like the taste of tea or coffee, there are alternatives.
More milk is drunk in Britain than in any other European country. Britain produces enough milk for its needs. Other hot drinks are those made with milk, e.g. cocoa, hot chocolate. They are often drunk as a non-alcoholic 'nightcap', especially in winter.
Children often drink milk when adults drink tea or coffee. Milk used to be provided free in all schools as a mid-morning drink. It has been advertised with the slogan 'Drinka pinta milka day' (Drink a pint of milk a day) and a pint of milk is often called a 'pinta'. Fruit drinks of all kinds are also popular with children. They include fruit juice, squash and fizzy drinks, often sold in cans.
The trend towards healthier eating and drinking has brought an increase in the sales of mineral water, and water from many springs in Britain is now sold as well as imported brands.
Among alcoholic drinks, beer is traditionally the most popular in Britain, especially with men. Most beer drinking is done in pubs. Traditionally, beer is drawn from the cellar up to the bar of the pub to be served to the customer. It is the main drink served in pubs, in pints or half-pints and is associated with leisure and cheerfulness. There are a number of different types, from the weakest, known as 'mild' to the strongest, called 'bitter'. 'A pint of best bitter' is a common order in a pub. Traditional draught beer is served from the barrel by means of a pump. Draught beer is 'still', which means that it is not fizzy. British beer is noted for being warm—that is, it is not iced or deliberately kept cool. During the last twenty years many of the breweries have manufactured keg beer. Keg beer is more modern type of beer, artificially fizzy and kept in special metal barrels or kegs. It is usually served colder than draught beer, using carbon dioxide so that it is also more fizzy. Stout, a dark type of beer, is also popular, especially in Ireland. Shandy, beer mixed with lemonade or ginger beer, is also served. Another type of beer, lager, was originally only imported from the European Continent. It has become so popular that it is now brewed in Britain. Lager is a light-coloured, fizzy beer.
Cider, made from apples, is another traditionally popular drink, especially in Devon, Somerset and Herefordshire, where it is made. Cider is the English apple wine. It has been a favourite drink in England for more than a thousand years. The special kind of apples which are best for making cider have unusual names Slack, Cluster, Yarlington Hill. They grow in the west of England especially in Somerset. The apple harvest is from September to December, when the fruit is crushed (like grapes are, to make wine). The juice ferments and next spring, the cider-makers mix juices from different kinds of apples, to make exactly the right taste. The new cider stays in huge barrels from between one and five years. The cider barrels are to made of oak, to give the right taste. Nowadays, cider is made in factories. But some farmers still do some cider to be drunk at home.
Wine has for centuries been imported to Britain from France, but it is only in recent years that wine drinking has become common. Wine is now imported from many other countries, including Spain, Italy, France, and is also produced in small quantities in the south of England. Sherry, imported from Spain, is commonly drunk before a meal, and port, imported from Portugal, is often drunk at the end of a meal, especially a formal one, and at Christmas-time.
Whisky is not only a popular drink in Britain. It is one of the country's major exports. There are over a hundred distilleries in Scotland and more than 80 per cent of what they produce is exported. Whisky is often drunk diluted with water or soda water and is more often drunk by men than women. A glass of whisky and soda is a traditional 'nightcap'.
Gin is often mixed with tonic water or with fruit drinks such as lime or orange. Less traditional but popular mixtures are rum and Coca Cola or vodka and orange juice.
Brandy and fruit-flavoured liqueurs are sometimes drunk at the end of a meal with coffee.
There are high taxes on alcoholic drinks in Britain. People who make their own wine and beer can avoid paying these taxes, but it is illegal to sell homemade alcoholic drinks. Shops need a special licence to sell alcoholic drinks and there are laws that restrict the hours when alcohol may be sold. It is illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under the age of 18, either in a shop or in a bar or restaurant.
In the USA there are also legal restrictions on the sale of spirits, but not of wine or beer, which is by far the most popular alcoholic drink. In many states it is illegal to sell spirits to people under the age of 21. As in Britain, there are high taxes on alcohol.
With the trend towards healthier living, cocktails, i.e. mixtures such as gin and dry vermouth (called a Martini) or whisky and dry vermouth (called a Manhattan) have become less fashionable, and long drinks like spritzers (a mixture of white wine and soda water) are becoming more popular. These are also called wine coolers.
Soft drinks are as popular in the USA as in Britain and Coca Cola is regarded throughout the world as a typically American drink. Drinks made with milk, especially milk shakes, are also popular. Flavoured drinks like orangeade, lemonade, (non-alcoholic) ginger ale, lime juice. Soft drinks are either 'fizzy' (with bubbles in them), or non-fizzy.
TEXT 5. Eating Out
There is a wide variety of places to go when you want to eat out in Britain. In the most expensive restaurants and hotels, the style of cooking is often French and the menu is usually written in French, often with an English translation. Almost all hotels have a restaurant where non-residents can have lunch or dinner, and a lounge where they can have tea coffee or a drink before their meal.
There are so many restaurants serving continental and non-European dishes that it can be difficult to find one serving only typical British food. The immigrant populations have brought their own cooking to Britain—Asian, Caribbean, Greek, for example—so there are restaurants specializing in various foreign cooking in addition to the many Italian and French ones.
For the really cheap places it is very interesting to explore the little French or Italian restaurants of Soho. The visitors who are feeling homesick can imagine they have gone back to their countries. Most towns have a variety of restaurants offering the cuisine of several different countries, with Indian, Chinese and Italian restaurants the most popular In London especially it is possible to eat the food of most countries in the world. Most of these ethnic restaurants are owned and run as small family businesses.
If you want real old English food you must go to the Strand. Here a joint of roast beef-cooked at open roasting fires is wheeled to your table and carved before your eyes. Most visitors like to go to the "Old Cheshire Cheese", or Fleet Street, an old chophouse where famous writers used to go. It is an old-fashioned room. Doctor Johnson sat at the head of the table in the eighteenth century, with Goldsmith by his side. Dickens and Thackerey went there in the nineteenth century, and many modem writers, journalists and lawyers. The speciality was the huge rumpsteak, kidney and oyster puddings. A plate of this with a pint of beer in a long glass, followed by a pancake or the toasted cheese and special "punch" in a China bowl is a meal you don't easily forget.
In Britain you can get table d'hote and a la carte dinners in every restaurant. Table d'hote dinners are cheaper then a la carte ones. When you dine a la carte you order course by course, as you desire. But a table d'hote dinner consists of several courses, a choice is limited, and it is served in a canteen or a restaurant at a fixed price.
Almost all pubs now offer food, which may be snacks bought at the bar or meals in a separate dining area. Certain pubs have gained a reputation for their excellent food and service.
Fast food restaurants serving American style pizzas and hamburgers are very popular, especially with children and young people.
There are fewer cafes than there once were, but they can still be found in most towns. They provide a cheap place to have a cup of tea or a meal and are usually open all day.
Another feature of British life that is found less frequently nowadays is the 'fish and chip' bar or shop, where you can buy fried fish and chips to eat at home.
Other kinds of 'take away' meals are provided by Chinese, Indian or pizza restaurants.
Many towns, especially those in popular tourist areas, have teashops. Although they mainly provide afternoon tea, with scones, buns and cakes, many also serve morning coffee and lunch. Teashops are often in old buildings and the atmosphere is old fashioned. There are also coffee shops open throughout the day, which serve food as well, mainly cake and biscuits rather than full meals.
One of the cheapest places to eat is a snack bar, a type of cafe. It may not serve meals at all but only tea and coffee, with food such as rolls soup and sandwiches. The buffets at railway stations are often similar, although many serve alcoholic drinks as well. There are eating places for the motorist on main roads and motorways. They are usually large fast food restaurants.
The range of restaurants available in the USA is in many ways similar to that in Britain. Many fast food chains found in Britain such as McDonald's, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut, are American companies. The variety of ethnic restaurants is even greater in the USA than in Britain.