Drinks of Faerun - Напитки Фаэруна

On a daily basis, most Faerunians drink water, grass broth (a salty soup made by boiling water with local greenery in it, sometimes augmented with dumplings to make it a meal), teas, cider, and small beer (household brewed ale). When people dine out, or visit the local tavern of an eve¬ning, stronger drinks are usually consumed.  


  Known as kaeth or kaethae in the Realms, coffee is rare north of Calimshan and the southern Vil- hon shores, except in the most cosmopolitan ports such as Waterdeep, Athkatla, and Westgate.   Its major sources are located south and east of Durpar, about halfway up the east side of Anau- roch, and overseas to the west in Maztica.   Sacks of beans from overseas are brought in to Baldur’s Gate and from there shipped elsewhere, mainly south to Calimshan and the Tashalar.     ' -    These beans are large, soft (crumbly), and red¬dish brown.   The Bedine of Anauroch call coffee “qahwa” or just “qaw,” and they trade little in it. Since the reappearance of Shade, the surviving Bedine con¬sume almost all of their qaw themselves. Through the machinations of the D’tarig, a tiny trickle of Bedine beans formerly reached Zhentil Keep, and thence Hillsfar and Sembia. This source is now extremely unreliable and paltry, though wealthy Sembian coffee-drinkers have bid the price up high. Anaurian beans are small, hard, and are so dark a brown that they look black.   . The beans from beyond Durpar are usually known as Thondur’s, after a now-deceased trader who for a time controlled the entire trade in cof¬fee reaching Calimshan, the Tashalar, and the Vilhon. Thondur amassed a staggering fortune, much of which has never been found because     of his habit of establishing hundreds of secret caches, all over Faerun. After he was publicly torn apart by a “pet” dragon some sixty years ago, his fortune was entirely lost. Thondur’s beans are now more plentiful and cheaper, thanks to the shattering of his monopoly, and they form the bulk of the supply enjoyed in southern lands of the Realms. Thondur’s beans are large, have a pronounced cleft or depressed line running their length (making them somewhat like cowrie shells in shape), and have a bluish tint to their chestnut brown color.   Although the coffee beverages of the Realms vary from place to place, they’re all derived the same way: the stunted mountainside coffee trees yield beans that are dried in the sun, put into sacks, and shipped long distances to consumers who grind the beans just before brewing. Sacks of beans are put into coffin-like, battered, reused   HEARTH AND HOME      crates for wagon travel or barge trips, but they are tossed loose into ship hulls, so they can be ar¬ranged evenly as stable ballast.   Coffee is drunk black in Calimshan and the Tashalar, its taste often altered with dried, ground nuts and roots and even sprinklings as strong as ginger. In Sembia, on the other hand, it is usually mixed with melted chocolate or liqueurs.   Tankards are usually used for coffee drink¬ing in northerly places, but in southern places, small palm-sized bowls with out-flaring tops and drinking spouts are favored. These are known formally as kavvar or colloquially as just cups, and coffee is formally called kaeth and colloqui¬ally known as fireswallow. Bad coffee is described with any handy oath in northern lands, but in the South it’s ortulag (or-tu-lag), derived from a now-defunct dialect word meaning “warmed-over chamber pot rinse.”   Coffee is prepared and consumed in a variety of ways in Faerun, from a thick black near-syrup stirred into sweet liqueur in Sembia and Ches- senta, to roasted beans eaten whole, to the more familiar brew drunk black, sometimes with medi¬cines or mint leaves sprinkled over the surface. This black coffee is made by stewing the beans in a pot over a fire or a hearth, and is hence much stronger than what most of us in the real world are accustomed to. Brewed coffee is the most popular form of consumption in Calimshan, the Tashalar, the Heartlands, and the North, but ped¬dlers, explorers, and adventurers often chew the beans as they travel.   rpi   lea   Unlike with coffee, few teas in the Realms are shipped far, or sold for high prices. However, clubs of tea-fanciers in Athkatla, Calimport, and other rich cities are filled with wealthy connois¬seurs who’ll pay much for favorite blends.   This limited commerce in tea doesn’t occur because tea isn’t popular or well thought of. It’s because the majority of teas in the Realms are tisanes, or infusions, or herbal teas—made from leaves of various plants other than “tea” plants. Moreover, the vast majority of tea beverages are made from local wild plants, and travelers in the Realms expect teas to vary in taste from place to place—so not a lot of long-distance shipping (from one realm to another) goes on.   Most crofters and other country folk view tea as something they (or their children) glean from the leaves of wild bushes that they pluck as oppor¬tunity and need arise. The leaves are usually kept in metal coffers with “sticky-rim” lids (coated with an edible oil or gum to keep air out). Un¬like in the real world, the container is worth a lot more than the tea!   Most teas are made by pouring boiling water onto a container full of leaves, and then strain¬ing the leaves out. In the poorest households, the leaves are often reused; people dry them on a shield in the sun, then put them back in the pot (perhaps along with a few fresh leaves) before brewing again.   Tea is always drunk clear, never with milk. However, murky brews from powdered leaves whisked in a bowl are the norm in the Shining South, and in ports where travelers from many places mix, all sorts of tea-making habits and techniques are used and copied. Tea in most din¬ing houses (restaurants) replaces the real-world “dusty glass of water on the table.”   Except for places that have docking or gate- entry fees levied by the conveyance (a wagon or a ship), no one levies import or export duties on tea. (“Tea? Tea? Pass, merchant, and may you know better fortune within than to have to trade in tea!”) Even someone with a caravan-full wouldn’t be charged duty, though he or she might thereaf¬ter be watched, as if a madman or a liar who must actually be up to something else.  


  Like teas, beer is made locally all over the Realms, and the flavor and appearance of brews vary widely. Beer is a cheap, daily drink often en¬joyed with gusto.   In beer making and drinking, the Heartlands city of Berdusk is typical of many locales, and so can serve as a model. Made-in-every-kitchen “small beer” is generally sneered at in Berdusk, as so much good beer is made locally. The alehouses serve “red,” an orange-red, fiery (peppery) hard cider; a fiery, black, almost licorice-tasting smoky stout known as Old Dark; and a lot of light ales.   These ales, called goldens, are wheat beers sweetened with honey and flavored with all man¬ner of local berries. Five of them are detailed below.       Annasker: Named for the family who first made it, annasker is a sparkling, pinkish pale ale that tastes sweet but tart, like lemonade mixed with several berry juices.   Belbuck: A halfling-brewed beer, and by far the most popular, belbuck is sweet and a translu¬cent green thanks to fermented herbs that make it both strong and minty. Like spearmint, it clears other tastes, and it chills the throat like menthol. It’s deceptive; many a traveler has drunk deeply before feeling the effects, and afterward been un¬able to rise and walk across a taproom unaided.   Darndarr: A sandy or nutty flavored beer, darndarr goes silkily well with both seared meats and fish. This ale keeps well, even out in the sun. The small earthenware jugs it is served in collapse into powder if flung or swung against something hard, making them into preferred “drench peo¬ple” missiles in pranks. Many locals have crocks and kegs of darndarr around the house for casual drinking and for use as a marinade or to “jug” perishables in, for longer keeping.   Helmatoss: A sweet, oily, clear pale ale, hel- matoss sits heavily on the stomach. Some say it was named for the long-dead tavernkeeper Alanra Helmatoss, and others say it’s named for the vio¬lent retching it induces in those who overimbibe. In smaller doses, it’s known to neutralize many poisons and settle raging acidic stomachs—Harp¬ers have tested both contentions and proven them true—and is definitely an acquired taste. Those who have acquired that taste often drink great amounts and swear by it, whereas one large tan¬kard will leave a first-timer spewing. Warning: highly flammable!   Zeskorr: A dark brown pale ale, zeskorr tastes of salt and, some say, fish; others just say it tastes strange. Apt to upset the stomachs of the unwary, zeskorr is deeply enjoyed by those who have ac¬quired a taste for it.  


  More popular than beer in many places, cider can be sweet and nonalcoholic or hard (alcoholic), and anything from semi-sweet to bitter. Cider is cheap and easy to make in apple-growing country (the mid- to southern Heartlands), and if it “goes off,” it can be used as vinegar in both cooking and preserving (pickling). The strong reek of cider vinegar is used by some folk to confuse creatures that track by scent, such as the war dogs used for perimeter defense by some nobles, and track¬ing dogs used by authorities everywhere. Though many children and women prefer the taste of cider over more bitter beers, cider is not gener¬ally considered a lesser drink than beer. It doesn’t travel as well or keep as long as beer does when handling and conditions aren’t optimum, and so it is less available in locations not near to apple country.  


  Faerunian wines range from opaque, glossy black to clear and nigh-colorless, from sugary sweet to “wrinklemouth” bitter, and from local “tath” (poor or very ordinary) to expensive, far-traveled “dance in your glass” vintages sought after by collectors, argued over by snobs, and unobtain¬able by the ordinary “jack in the street.” Literally thousands of vintages exist, from the little-known and the local to those whose volume fills hun¬dreds of casks that are shipped far across Faerun for local bottling. In particular, the production of Tethyr’s coastal vineyards has climbed steadily throughout the 1300s DR and 1400s DR.   Elves, and to a lesser extent half-elves, can consume large amounts of wine without becom¬ing inebriated, whereas red wines contain some substance not yet identified that leaves gnomes reelingly imbalanced—or puts them rapidly to sleep—after they imbibe only a small amount.   Whereas beer kegs are intended to be tapped with a bung or a spigot and slowly emptied tan¬kard by tankard, wine kegs are more often stood on end and opened (the upper end removed) to fill many bottles or skins—or both—in one ses¬sion, leaving the keg empty. This custom has led many sly persons to entertain notions of using wine kegs as smuggling containers, usually by float¬ing sealed containers in the kegs seemingly full of wine. These containers are usually animal-bladder bags sewn shut and waterproofed with some sort of grease or better, an elven-devised concoction that won’t taint the wine. This means of smug¬gling has become so prevalent that authorities in some places, such as Baldur’s Gate and Athkatla, routinely stop wine shipments to open a random keg or two. This generates the expected complaints from shippers that the law keepers spoil and spill or even drink much of the wine when doing such   inspections—but a lot of contraband has been found and seized, and such seizures are increas¬ing, not petering out, as the popularity of the tried and true “float it in” method of smuggling soars to ever-greater heights.  

Stronger Drink

  All hard liquor is known in the Realms, and fa¬vored by dwarves, gnomes, and goblinkin over all other drinks. As the very old dwarf joke goes, about a “stalwart” served tea: “Water? I’m thirsty, not dirty!”   Increasingly, among humans, spirits aren’t drunk straight, but are mixed with other drinks to increase the potency of the secondary drink.   Generally, in the warmer climes, and as far north as Amn, intoxicating drinks are blended for taste reasons, sometimes mixed with fresh fruit juices. However, they are almost never deliber¬ately made stronger by combining one alcoholic drinkable with another.   That said, from Westgate northward, and Beregost northward on the Sword Coast, most inns and taverns serve fortified drinkables. These are of two sorts: the booze that the house waters down habitually and every patron knows about, and the mixed drinks that are done on the spot, at the request of a patron or when a patron accepts an offer to “warm” his or her drink.   The first group of warmed drinks includes zzar (Waterdhavian fortified wine) and what’s called deep ale or fire ale (beer to which a grain-based spirit has been added). These beverages might be watered to make them go farther if the taste is harsh (and to save some coins), and are often fortified with distilled spirits. These spirits are usually potato-based, akin to real-world vodka: essentially clear, colorless, and tasteless.   The second group of warmed drinks includes those that approach the elaborate recipes of real- world cocktails, but such beverages are found only in places like Waterdeep, Silverymoon, Luskan, Neverwinter, Sembia, Westgate, and the coastal ports of the Dragon Reach. Usually this kind of warmed drink is a simple “Warm your wine by stirring in a little throatslake, goodsir?” concoc¬tion (“throatslake” here meaning an unspecified distilled spirit). If the throatslake’s strong taste clashes with the wine, the result can be horrible.

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