It's the time of year when we were looking for some pre-Christmas entertainment with friends, when an email from the Wyvern Theatre advertising The Thinking Drinkers pub quiz popped into the inbox. I confess I'd not come across the Thinking Drinkers before (despite the fact they have been doing the rounds since 2009), but the concept appealed to our love of drinks, thirst for knowledge and desperation for a good laugh.
The Thinking Drinkers - Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham - are award-winning alcohol experts, writers, comedians, and, according to The Times, “pioneers of alcohol-based comedy”. On arrival at the theatre we were given a goody bag containing a can of beer, and sachets containing rum, gin, bourbon and whiskey.
The show is arranged in five sections, each segment based around one of the drinks in the goody bag and a quiz theme. With engaging humour (and the help of costumes and props) Ben and Tom give background information about the drink, and seamlessly wander into the quiz themes, including animals, geography, words and film.
For a taste of their comedic talents, the YouTube clip below is from a previous (pre Covid) show:
The drinks on offer were quality samples, no doubt designed to tempt the crowd into signing up to their subscription service.
Starting off with Brixton Coldharbour lager, a fresh Bohemian inspired brew, that was refreshing and vegan.
Next there was Warner's Rhubarb gin, made without artificial flavours and sweetness, and letting the fresh rhubarb do the talking.
My favourite of the night was the Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva rum, made in Venezuela in the foothills of the Andes. You wouldn't want to mix this with coke, it was perfectly smooth on its own as a sipping rum with warming fruit cake flavours.
The Bourbon was also an excellent example. Elijah Craig small batch Kentucky bourbon oozed warm spices and a smoky nature, the charred barrels turning it a copper colour.
There was a whisky to end the evening's final chapter, but I'm ashamed to say my brain cells were getting as erratic as my writing on the quiz sheets, and I have no recollection of what it was. Except tasty.
Our quiz sheets were handed in on exit, but we're not holding our breath about winning a prize. It was a great evening and one of the things that impressed me most was the slick presentation. It takes skill and focus to carry off a ninety minute double headed script without a hiccup.
I'm not sure the Swindon Arts Centre (with its theatre seating) was the best venue for an audience to be trying to write, pour, drink, and watch. I'm sure Covid restrictions were also a factor, but it does feel like that show that would be better suited to a caberet-style set-up, such as the upper room of the Wyvern, or the MECA. Let's hope the Thinking Drinkers return to Swindon and take note! They reported that the Swindon crowd were great!
In the meantime the lucky residents of Farnham, Havant, Cheltenham, Epsom, Wellingborough, Southampton, Southend, Maidstone, Warrington, Salford, Northampton,Crewe, Brighton, Wigan and Newcastle (and central London) can all look forward to shows between now and May 2022. Further details available on their website - https://www.thinkingdrinkers.com/events/