A nice essay in the Speccie on gin. I particularly enjoyed this paragraph.
The English educated and political classes still fall into the categories of those who Know Best — and who want to impose their austere tastes on everyone else — and those who feel it is no business of theirs to boss and control smokers and drinkers and druggies. Tony Blair — long before the invasion of Iraq — showed himself in his true colours by making a public announcement that we should not give money to beggars in case they spent it on some substance of which he happened to disapprove. It was almost an exact echo of the prig who asked Dr Johnson, ‘What signifies giving halfpence to beggars? They only lay it out in gin or tobacco.’ Johnson spoke for Liberty and England when he trenchantly replied: ‘And why should they be denied such sweeteners of their existence? It is surely very savage to refuse them every possible avenue to pleasure reckoned too coarse for our own acceptance. Life is a pill which none of us can bear to swallow without gilding.’