Hear ye, hear ye.
We would like to propose a toast . . . to toasting! This ancient practice is not only one of mankind’s all-time greatest excuses for drinking, it’s also the subject of our newest book, Toasted: The Civilized (and Uncivilized) Guide to Raising Your Glass.
I absolutely loved working on this book. Not only did it reaffirm my faith in drinking, it actually confirmed my love of humanity. (It’s notable how intertwined these are for me.)
There are already several good toasting books on the market. But we knew we wanted to do something different, something Knock Knocky. Yes, we planned to provide etiquette, classic toasts, and guidelines for toasting structure. But the abiding sentiments behind the book’s creation were pro-drinking, pro-funny, and pro-messy humanity. The idea was to make people laugh even as we imparted the do’s, don’ts, and I-dare-you’s of toasting. I think we accomplished this goal—and then some.
We did a good deal of brainstorming to devise the book’s sections. We planned a section of toasts for life’s more awkward occasions, such as job losses, breakups, completion of 12-step programs, etc. We also decided to include tips on how to fake a great toast if you’re shy or lazy. And we got really excited about a “Mad Libs”-style section of fill-in-the-blank instant toasts. (They’re even perforated, so you can tear them out.) We also chose the fourteen most important occasions for toasting (wedding, funeral, dinner party, etc.) and devoted a whole spread to each one.
I suspected (correctly) that all this material would be fun to research and write. But we also felt it was important to briefly cover the history of toasting—a task that seemed comparatively dry, so to speak, at the outset. You can imagine my shock and delight to learn that the history of toasting is beyond fascinating. The truth is, toasting goes back nearly as far as drinking itself, and it has mystical, esoteric roots. (Even now, you can see this aspect at play in such sacraments as the Holy Eucharist.) I discovered the works of numerous academics who study the history or alcohol and toasting, including biomolecular archaeologist Patrick E. McGovern. (His book Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages is so beautiful in parts, it brought tears to my eyes.) I learned about toasting’s integral role in the American Revolution. The book also includes a poem/toast composed by an American prisoner in the “Hanoi Hilton” which has become a traditional toast to POW/MIA soldiers used at Air Force dinners. (Its writer, Navy Captain Gerald Coffee, gave us his blessing and made sure we got the wording exactly right, since many bastardized versions are floating around on the Internet.)
To continue the historical fun, we also researched how to make authentic versions of old-timey drinks such as wassail and 1775 rum punch, and amusing international customs and regional drinks. We also found loads of funny real-life historical toasts, and witty toasts from the silver screen.
In sum, Toasted embraces toasting in all its awkward, human glory—because it’s about much more than knowing when to raise your glass. And heaven knows, a “bad” toast can be damned memorable (as many toasters may attest, including some US presidents). We hope this knowledge will free you, the reader, from stage fright, and even help you enjoy this most essential of human rituals. After all, since toasting has a long, rich, and incredibly drunken history, what’s one more messed-up toast on the historic pile?
Terrible Toast Giveaway: Win Your Own Copy of “Toasted”!
This contest is now closed.
It’s wedding season—a time when levels of blissfulness and schadenfreude peak simultaneously. Have you witnessed any tips-the-awkward-scale toasts lately? Or have you delivered any yourself? Well, we want to read them (out of sheer enjoyment).
We’re giving away a copy of our brand new Toasted book and $25 worth of Knock Knock stuff to one lucky Knock Knock fan, who submits the best god-awful toast! (Note: it doesn’t have to be a wedding toast.)
1. Read this contest’s Official Rules page.
2. Submit one story of a terrible toast you witnessed or recited personally to firstname.lastname@example.org. The submission must be a minimum of 100 words and not exceed 200 words. Also, please include your first name, age, hometown, and email address with your entry.
This contest ends Friday, July 20 at 11:59 p.m. PST. Submit before then, peeps!
. . . Cheers!