The Thinking Drinkers: An Insight

Ever wondered the history of gin or vodka? Ever wanted to know what makes the British Pub so iconic? Look no further. The Thinking Drinkers duo, Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham, are full of boozy knowledge; so you can impress your friends when you next take a trip to your local.

We had a chat with Ben McFarland before they head to Gloucester Guildhall later on this year, so you can get a sneak peek into what to expect from their show.

Can you tell us a little about The Thinking Drinkers for those who may be unfamiliar?

What do you mean? Everyone knows the Thinking Drinkers. Eh? Oh. Ok, so we are a couple of comedians and award-winning drinks experts who transferred our expertise from the page to the stage a few years ago – and where we differ from other comedy acts and theatre shows is that we give each and every audience member five free drinks.

What is the concept of your tour ‘Pub Crawl’?

We are on a mission to save the British pub. These iconic elbow-bending institutions, that have been the cornerstone of our culture for centuries, are closing down at an acutely alarming rate - every day, 3 pubs are closing for good in the UK and this simply cannot continue.

In this bar-hop through history we explore all the ingredients and elements that make the pub such a wonderful place to be.  We prove that without the pub, society as we know it would crumble. Peered through the prism of a pint glass, we argue that the western world is built on boozy bars from the oldest building in the world (which was a pub) to Ancient Greek symposiums, Victorian gin palaces, Wild West Saloons, taverns, inns, speakeasies, beach bars and Irish boozers.

Pubs, in whatever form, have been cradles of creativity for centuries. Plato, Socrates and other Greek clever-clogs flexed their cerebral muscles with every pour of the wine jug; some of Britain’s greatest literary minds sought inspiration in the pub; William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Geoffrey Chaucer and Samuel Johnson all regularly propped up the bar, soaking up the speech and the characters that surrounded them, before decanting them into dictionaries, plays, poems and novels.

In an age where soulless coffee shops are hijacking our high streets alongside Bookies and nail bars, we are here to breathe life back into the beleaguered British pub while having a whole lot of fun on the way. 

What made you decide to add in the 5 free drinks?

We do it because we’re really nice guys and our audience deserves it. It’s not an excuse to get daft drunk, it’s all about exploring what’s in the glass a bit more. Our motto, our message and mantra throughout our shows is “drink less, Drink Better” and the drinks we give the audience are discerning drinks that they may not have had before.

We’ve purposely cherry-picked some amazing drinks to help tell our story: Lagunitas 12th of Never Pale Ale from California, Ketel One vodka from Holland, Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin from Australia, Jameson Irish Whiskey and Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva Rum from Venezuela.

Because, let’s face it, put ten people in a coffee shop with some skinny lattes and you’ve got yourself a small gathering. Put them in a pub with some delicious drink and you’ve got yourself a flipping party.

What can people expect from this show?

You’ll learn a lot, you’ll laugh a lot and you’ll get five free drinks. There’s some great jokes and some less great ones, there are loads of alcohol-related anecdotes and drinking did-you-knows to impress your mates with; there’s some wrestling, a bit of cricket, some Hollywood moments and some singing and dancing. It’s brilliant. Seriously. Check out the reviews on the interweb. Did we mention the free drinks?

Have you got any tips for making cocktails at home?

Keep it simple. Never shake anything with bubbles in it. 

What’s your favourite bar that you would recommend for people to definitely visit?

There’s a bar in San Francisco where a big dog would sit on a stool drinking out of a Martini glass. That was pretty good. Otherwise, everyone should get down their local - even if it could be better. These places need our support, you’ll miss them when they’re gone. 

What’s your favourite cocktail and why?

The Gin Martini. It’s a timeless classic – and a bit like breasts. One isn’t enough, two is just about right and three means you’re having a helluva party. Albeit a weird one.

If you were to create a cocktail based on yourself – what would you put in it and what would it be called?

It would be a big punch bowl called “Please Come To Our Show – You’ll Have a Really Good Time” and the ingredients would be laughter and learning along with all the drinks in the show. Drunk through an eco-friendly paper straw obviously. 

If you want to learn more about some of the most popular alcohol and to try some delicious free drinks, then make sure to grab your tickets for this tasty show!

Sat 20th Oct