Prime Minister Churchill having dinner on one of his many visits to meet with President Franklin Roosevelt. Although Churchill certainly drank more alcohol than FDR, the President was a man who liked two or three or martinis before dinner.
(photo courtesy of US National Archives and Records Administration)
Winston Churchill liked to drink, of that there is no doubt. His dozens and dozens of biographers disagree on how much he alcohol he consumed each day but they agree it was a lot. In a series on lectures on Churchill by Professor J. Rufus Fears delivered for the teaching company, Dr. Fears says Churchill drank at least a dozen strong scotches a day. Plus assorted champagne, sherry, brandy, port and French wines.
Another source, his historical research assistant of many years, Dr. Maurice Ashley, described evening meals at the many times he spent at Chartwell, Churchill’s much beloved country home.
“Before dinner we had sherry, then Champagne, brandy and port…” Note the words “before dinner.” During dinner Churchill drank various wines and afterwards more port, brandy and often champagne (which he also enjoyed many times at breakfast).
Many times, Dr. Ashley met Churchill at the great man’s flat in London:
“When I used to visit him in the morning at a flat… he always greeted me with a glass of sherry. He could not stand cocktails. For lunch there was beer, at tea he had whisky.”
What is amazing is that Churchill drank this much alcohol on a daily basis through his entire adult life. Nor did he stop when he grew quite old.
“Near the end of his life, a new MP asked the former prime minister if he would like some tea. Churchill replied, “No. Don’t be a bloody fool. I want a large glass of whisky!”
Churchill died in 1965, age 90. During these 90 years, he served more than 60 years in Parliament.
Churchill by Professor J. Rufus Fears, PhD Harvard University. Professor Emeritus of History, University of Oklahoma
Available from the Teaching Company at the link below: (I highly recommend this course. I have no financial interest in this company, nor commission arrangement and I don’t know anyone who works there).
As I Knew Him: Churchill in the Wilderness:
A paper presented by Dr. Maurice Ashley, C.B.E., who served as Churchill’s historical research assistant for many years. Given at the Churchill Society International Convention London, England, on 19 August 1989.
You can download and read the entire paper here which is quite fascinating.
Churchill in the Wilderness A Biography