Why do people glug fizz from footwear? Originally for good luck. Apparently this bizarre tradition dates back to the Middle Ages. Before battle some sort of alcohol would be drunk from the military commander’s boot to ensure courage and good luck. There was yet more drinking from boots to celebrate victories. A Prussian general promised his soldiers that – if they won – he’d drink his own bootful of beer, but then renaged and had a glass boot substitute made instead. Glass boots have amused tourists in Germany during the bierfests ever since.
Incidentally, drinking from boots has no association with the saying ‘putting on your drinking boots’. This comes from Ireland, and may refer to your actual recreational footwear, or to getting into the mindset for a drinking binge. As far as I know, no-one has ever worn their ‘drinking boots’ and their ‘thinking cap ‘at the same time.
Fizz has always had a bit of a racy image and legend has it another Prussian – Prince Henry – was at the Everleigh Club in Chicago in 1902 when a dancer’s slipper flew off. He retrieved it, filled it with Champagne and drank it. His companions quickly de-slippered the other girls and did the same. The idea caught on in the USA. Tallulah Bankhead was photographed sipping from a slipper at the Ritz in 1951. Many shoe designers and Champagne houses have now collaborated to produce limited addition Champagne slippers. Please be aware though that the term ‘champagne slipper’ refers to a particular sexual act – so its not a term to bandy about in public.
But Change is afoot. Racing drivers now celebrate a win with a ‘shoey’. Sometimes its champagne, sometimes its beer. Its almost always a little messy.
So next time you feel that these boots are made for drinking, don’t forget to raise a toe-st.