What Is Happiness But A Futile Salve In A Grim And Ashen Landscape?
When Hannibal asked for a volunteer to fill in for Happy Hour, I said I’d do it, with the warning that “I can’t promise they won’t be morose, Bergmanesque takes on nihilistic subjects.”
Well, last week’s subject was T.S Eliot, his grim masterpiece The Waste Land, April is the Cruelest Month, a strange encounter with Groucho Marx, and his heavy indulgence in gin.
This week, let’s cheer up with Mr. Sunshine himself, Ingmar Bergman!
To be fair, despite his dour reputation, Bergman could be sunny, and was capable of comedy like Smiles of a Summer Night. But let’s pretend we didn’t know that, and focus on the November in Stockholm aspect instead.
Here’s a funny parody of Bergman, imagining what if he directed a commercial for Coke.
It appears that Bergman wasn’t much of a drinker, or really indulged in much in the physical world. Well, unless you count his five marriages and multiple affairs. But according to this profile, he ate simply, with nothing but sour milk (yogurt?) strawberry jam and cornflakes for lunch. He only occasionally had so much as a glass of wine.
So what to do for a Bergman-inspired Unhappy Hour? Well, inspired by the video above and this article, let’s go with Aquavit and Coke. A Sweden Libre, if you will.
Or maybe not. That sounds pretty disgusting. Just the thing to choke down mixed with the spiteful tears of your miserable family. Or maybe what you drink when you’re a teen raiding the back of the family liquor cabinet and looking for a pale liquor you can water down to hide your tracks.
But straight ice cold Aquavit is good! It’s bracing, basically gin except with caraway instead of juniper. Sort of like liquid rye bread.
Here’s a post on the 1967 Time/Life book The Cooking of Scandanavia and Max Von Sydow, one of Bergman’s favorite actors, who demonstrates how to launch a proper Swedish Skoal with a shot of straight Aquavit. And from that same source, more people showing off their Skoal, including luminaries such as The Roots, Paula Wolfert, Masaharu Morimoto, Regis Philbin, Dick Cavett, and Merle Haggard.
Anyway, Deadsplintermopers, is there a drink that puts you in a grim Scandanavian mood? Pretend it’s not spring and the flowers aren’t blooming, and you’re trapped in a snowbound cabin with a person you despise. What are you drinking to survive?