Make no mistake—
Captain Kirk and his crew were cowboys and they treated the universe like the Wild West. There was always a lot of solemn talk about the Prime Directive and not interfering with native cultures, but that went right out the window the moment Kirk laid eyes on the first attractive female of whatever species they came across. Sure, they solved a lot of problems, but half the time they were solving problems they created. The crew of the original Enterprise wasn’t trying to unite the universe, they weren’t trying to right the universe’s many and sundry wrongs—they were looking for kicks.
And alcohol played an essential role in that quest. It was a beautiful situation—you not only got to drink, you got to drink ales, wines and liquors the human race couldn’t even imagine. And they always seemed stronger than our silly earthling libations, every alien race bragged their booze would floor a human if he so much as looked in the bottle’s direction. Klingon Blood Wine, Romulan Ale, Saurian Brandy—they came on harder than a photon torpedo barrage and when you woke up, if you woke up, you’d be nursing a nebula-sized hangover the fastest warp drive in the universe couldn’t outrun. Humans were considered the lightweights of the universe, a bunch of Bartle-and-James swilling high school punks among whiskey-chugging dilithium-crystal miners.
Then Kirk and his boys came along. Kirk could not only hold his own with the extraterrestrial hooch, he was backed up by a hard-pounding crew. Spock wasn’t much help (Vulcans are the designated drivers of the Universe), but Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy thought so little of the potent alien liquors he administered them as cough syrup. And he had skills too, when he wasn’t wiping out planetary epidemics and pronouncing any number of security crewmen dead, he was concocting cocktails that that would become infamous from one end of the galaxy to the other. And Scotty, don’t get me started on that beautiful son of a bitch. Born and bred to it like a bird dog, this Aberdeen son could drink a transporter room full of aliens under the table then whistle Tura-lura-lura all the way back to his private stash of scotch. These three walk in a Klingon pub and half an hour later Klingon heads are hitting tables like Bacchus’s own drum roll.
And why shouldn’t they have been boozy philanderers? Their creator, Gene Rodenberry certainly was. So was the inventor of the Warp Drive, Zefram Cochrane. Zeph refused to pilot a starship sober, under any circumstances, and was even able to coerce that super-PC empath Counselor Troi into getting hammered on shots of tequila.
It was because of the hard (yet somehow enjoyable) work of the original crew that earthlings soon enjoyed a universal reputation as being the hardest drinking wild-asses who ever rode a rocket into space. Then everything went to hell.
The Synthehol Boondoggle
Synthehol. It sounds like aftershave without the kick, which is sadly close to the truth. After Kirk finished ripping up (and repopulating) the universe, a bunch of Earl Grey-sipping sissies followed in his wake. Star Trek: The Next Generation absorbed the political correctness of its era and came up with sinister synthehol. Instead of chugging their hooch from bottles liberated from burning Romulan Birds of Prey, on-board replicators create the libations swilled on the latter-day Federation starships. An obvious bow to MADD, these artificial liquors are supposed to taste and smell exactly like alcohol but mete out no hangovers and here’s the kicker—its effects can be easily disregarded. In other words, the current writers are attempting to take advantage of the inherent drama of the ship’s lounge and its booze while being able to say to the network censors, “It doesn’t really get them drunk.”
Problem is, people (and aliens) keep getting loaded on the stuff. Real alcohol-based hooch is available for the right price — even that tea-sipping, starship-surrendering ponce Picard has the bartender keep a bottle of real-deal Aldeberan Whiskey behind the bar for his own private use. Make no mistake though, just because his family owns a vineyard on Earth and he stashed some good stuff doesn’t mean he’s a latter-day Kirk. Examine this exchange with the young Wesley Crusher after the lad had tucked into a little hooch.
Wesley: So you mean I’m drunk! I feel strange, but also good.
Picard: (huffily putting aside his knitting) Because you have lost the capacity for self-judgment. Alcohol does this, Wesley!
Kirk would have challenged the upstart whelp to a Romulan Ale drinking contest, then hooked him up with an Orion slave girl.
The only latter-day crew member who might be cool enough to hang with Kirk’s crew is Worf, who keeps getting the Klingon slogan, “It’s a good day to die” mixed up with “It’s a good day to drink.” He also likes dishing out the threats when Picard and his gang of lightweights invite him to have spritzers with them. “You would be so drunk you would not be able to stand,” he tells Riker after he asks for a taste of Klingon hooch. And he expresses the universal drunkard sentiment to Picard: “Don’t get between me and my blood wine!” An alien after my own heart.
The hardest drinking human is probably Chief O’Brien down in Engineering. There’s something about the engineering room that seems to either attract drunks or drive men to drink. Maybe it’s that weird low hum that’s always coming off the dilithium crystals, or the lingering, hard-to-shake realization that if a single molecule of matter gets into the antimatter chamber the whole shebang explodes into a black hole the size of Pluto. Wouldn’t you be getting hammered any chance you got?
As far as synthehol tasting exactly like alcohol—well, it didn’t pass the Scotty test. He tasted the swill during an appearance on the new Star Trek and was ready to start cracking some heads, old-Trek style, when Data hastily came up with a dusty bottle of Aldeberan Whiskey (probably Picard’s bottle). From that point on that smarmy android was aces in my Captain’s Log.
But enough of the new, let’s get back to the old, where the Saurian Brandy flowed like Klingon blood wine and Yeomen wore miniskirts so short they’d make a Ferengi blush.
The Enemy Within
Due to a transporter malfunction, Kirk is split into two separate captains—one wildass, one mild mannered. Which, coincidentally, is the exact same excuse I use after my fifth shot of tequila.
The wild-ass Kirk wastes no time getting the party started, storming into sick bay and demanding a bottle of Saurian Brandy, which McCoy apparently keeps around for medicinal purposes. When McCoy demurs, Kirk goes last-call crazy: “I said give me the brandy!” he snarls, then chokes the doctor a little bit to get his point across. McCoy, rethinking his previous selfishness, coughs it up. Kirk snatches it away and starts hitting the hooch the moment he steps into the hallway, managing to almost finish it off before he decides to pay a visit to the quarters of Yeoman Rand, the leggy blonde who’d been giving him the eye. It doesn’t go so well from there and Kirk gets a nasty facial scratch for his troubles. Hey, all he wanted to do was party.
The Tholian Web
The crew is going crazy from space waves and Dr. McCoy instructs everyone to slam a diluted shot of Klingon nerve poison to deaden certain nerve impulses. Scott refuses until McCoy tells him he used alcohol as the diluting agent and that, after drinking it, a man could be hit with phaser stun without feeling a thing. “Any good scotch will do that,” Scottie says and drinks it down.
By Any Other Name
When a gang of super beings who’ve taken human form hijack the Enterprise, Kirk decides to undo them by appealing to their new-found human sensations. Kirk goes for the seduction (natch), McCoy employs his powers of irritation and Scotty brings into play his own special strength—he tries to drink one of them under the table.
“Lad, you’re gonna need something to wash that down with,” Scotty says, strolling over to where the alien Tomar eats. “Have you ever tried any Saurian brandy?” Tomar shakes his head no and they repair to Scotty’s quarters for an interspecies drink-off. They drink every bottle of brandy Scotty has on hand, which is saying something because Scotty was apparently stocked up for a very long drought. Tomar is hanging in there like an Irish uncle and Scotty decides it’s time to go for the big guns, dragging out his treasured bottle of Ganymede Scotch. Talk about self-sacrifice. Tomar inquires, “What is it?” All Scotty can squeeze out is, “Well, it’s . . . um . . . it’s green.” (Data would repeat the exact same line when he produced the bottle in the aforementioned encounter with Scotty.)
They tuck into the scotch and just before they polish it off Tomar takes a dive. Scotty, his job done, takes a little nap himself seconds later. Humans: 1 Super Aliens: 0.
Requiem for Methuselah
Detained by yet another super-powered alien, Kirk and his away team are forced to hang around and drink one hundred-year-old Saurian Brandy. No one is more surprised than Kirk and Bones when Spock opts to join them in a drink. So perhaps Spock isn’t a teetotaler at all, merely a snob.
Soon a much looser Spock is playing the piano and making rare confessions: “I am close to experiencing an unaccustomed emotion.” “What emotion is that?” McCoy wants to know. “Envy,” Spock replies. Drinking someone else’s hundred-year-old Saurian brandy tends to induce that emotion. Later Spock has to wipe Kirk’s brain so he forgets the chick he gets hooked on. Spock uses a mind probe, not the brandy.
Spock approaches McCoy, asking a rare favor indeed. He tells Bones, “I need your advice.”
“Then I need a drink,” McCoy answers, then, while “having a drop,” offers some to the Vulcan, who refuses, snidely firing back: “My father’s race was spared the dubious benefits of alcohol.” McCoy comes right back at him with: “Oh. Now I know why they were conquered.” Game, set and match, baby.
The Ultimate Computer
After Kirk gets replaced by a new super-computer (they call Kirk Captain Dunsel, for crissakes), the good Doctor McCoy soothes Kirk’s bruised ego with his own special concoction: Finagle’s Folly, a cocktail which he brags is famous from “here to Orion.” Now that’s a doctor I’d trust my life with.
If you plan to planet-hop, you better know what they’re shoving across the bar. They tend to be stronger, more colorful, occasionally radioactive, and some can leave you with a permanent hangover. Here’s a taste:
A potent green liquor that Scotty was particularly fond of. Then again, he’d be fond of tribbles if he could suck hooch out of them. The prop bottle used in the series is actually a modified bottle of Cuervo Gold 1800 Tequila.
A variety of super-fortified Klingon vino, Worf programmed the replicators aboard the latter-day Enterprise to produce a close approximation. Served warm, it is traditionally pounded by Klingon warriors being inducted into the elite Order of the Bat’lesth. If you fancy yourself a more sophisticated intergalactic marauder, you can add a splash to gin and vermouth and you got yourself a Klingon Martini. The prop bottle was a bottle of Cuervo Margarita Mix with a coat of white paint.
A fine wine produced at the Picard family vineyards in Labarre, France. Probably about 2% alcohol, it hits you like the slap of a silk glove. As opposed to Kirk Ripple which is 25% and comes on like a flying two-legged kick.
Perfected by Kirk’s personal physician/mixologist Dr. Leonard McCoy, he bragged to Kirk he was famous “from here to Orion” for this cocktail. By the expression on Kirk’s face after he tasted it, he was thinking, “You mean, infamous, don’t ya, Bones?”
The Glennfiddich of Cardassia, this viscous brown liquid apparently takes some getting used to. But, as the Cardassians like to say, “If you can drink three bottles in a single setting you won’t get a hangover. Because you’ll be dead.”
A potent Klingon booze that is traditionally guzzled as part of a traditional observance of the Klingon Day of Honor. The observance includes the Ritual of Twenty Painsticks, combat with a bat’leth master, and a traverse of the sulfur lagoons of Gorath. Makes St. Patty’s Day look like an AA meeting.
This real ale (as in real fucking strong) brewed by the Romulan Empire is illegal to possess in Federation territory, although the crew of the Enterprise never seemed to have any problem getting their hands on it. Light blue in color, it is responsible for at least one war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire (Kirk thought it was a bright idea to serve it during a diplomatic conference.) While the quality of their booze is beyond reproach, the uptight Romulans make for poor party guests. They’re so un-hip even their glassware is square.
A cocktail sometimes prepared by Commander Data. It initially appears clear, but develops a multicolored hue when the rim of the glass is tapped sharply. Don’t know what it tastes like, but I’ll wager it’s a little fruity.
The intergalactic version of Thunderbird. Enjoyed by Captain Kirk, and sometimes the crew when he wasn’t hogging it all. This liquor seems readily available on even the most backwater of planets and was responsible for Kirk landing in the brig at least once. The prop bottle was actually a George Dickel Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey carafe.
This is the infamous alcohol-substitute served up by the Ferengi on the latter-day Star Trek spin-offs. It’s designed to supply the taste and odor of alcohol, without the hangover and kick. Check, please!
Specialty beverage served by Guinan in the Enterprise-D’s Ten Forward lounge. The drink is adjusted so its vapor point is one half degree below the body temperature of the patron, causing it to immediately evaporate upon contact with the drinker’s tongue. You know, like Bud Light.
Sweet drink served in Ten-Forward Lounge, this one is strictly for yeomen and androids.
A drink prized by the surviving colonists on the planet Turkana IV, the beverage was scarce enough to become a commodity worth stealing from opposing cadres. Sounds to me like the writers like to take ski vacations in Colorado.
Very intoxicating to alien races, the Vulcans claimed this insanely strong liquor merely served to clear their minds and palettes. Uh huh. My dad used to say the same thing about Jim Beam. Reportedly tasting like crap until it’s been aged at least two-hundred years, it is not recommended for the casual homebrewer.
The Klingons claim warnog is a ferocious ale with more bite than a Kazakian Saber Shark, but it sounds to me like they’re trying to toughen up the local version of eggnog.
Wee Bairns Scotch Whiskey
Chief O’Brien and Dr Bashir got loaded on this stuff then proceeded to launch into an off-key rendition of “Chariots of Fire.” You know, the same effect Zima has on theater majors. Suddenly Klingon Blood Wine doesn’t sound so bad.
Top Ten Signs Your Starship Captain is a Drunkard
10.) When Spock mind probes him, Spock gets hammered.
8.) Starts the ship’s self-destruct sequence just to fuck with the yeoman who blew him off in the officer’s lounge.
7.) Each time you discover a new planet he tells Spock to scan the surface for cheap scotch and loose females.
6.) The first thing he says when negotiating with Romulans is, “So, what’s the ale situation?”
5.) McCoy tells him, “I’m a doctor, Jim, not a bartender!”
4.) He keeps slipping down to the engineering room to “discuss ancient Scottish traditions” with Scotty.
3.) Giggles every time Spock says they should launch a “deep space probe.”
2.) Whenever a female yeoman brings him a clipboard he tries to open a tab.
1.) Is willing to make beer runs into the neutral zone.