Take one writer, matured in the hometown of CAMRA, age him with a job at The Publican, mix him with an equal measure of a tipple-loving Londoner, muddle them with facts about famous drinkers from our past and add a dash of wit and humour.

Pour the result slowly into a theatre in Edmonton and top off with a generous measure of free booze and you have a night to remember (but hopefully without the hangover).

Writers and drinking is a double act as old as pen and paper, so when Tom Sandham and Ben McFarland met while working as journalists in the drinks industry it was only a matter of time before they combined their talents.

The result is Kings Cross-based double act The Thinking Drinkers, who in between writing for numerous national publications have come up with their guide to the Legends of Liquor, which explores history’s most extraordinary elbowbenders including Alexander the Great, Humphrey Bogart, Dorothy Parker, Frank Sinatra and Winston Churchill.

“People don’t appreciate how much drink has been a part of that history, “ says Tom, who grew up in St Albans and lives in Harpenden.

“We wanted to celebrate the people who enjoyed a drink.

“Alcohol tends to get a bad press if it does make the news, but many people have used it in the right way over the years, drinking in a responsible fashion and still achieving great things.

“If you follow our motto, drink less, but drink better, alcohol can be a force for good.“ Ben started his career on a newspaper in Brighton, dubbed by poet Horace Smith “The Queen of Watering Places“, and met Tom when they worked on pub newspaper The Publican and they were soon toasting the start of a beautiful partnership.

In 2007 the lucky duo spent two months travelling around America drinking to research book Good Beer Guide West Coast USA and when it proved a success they started website www.thinkingdrinkers.com and have even gone on to launch their own beer Hobo.

Tom admits the duo ’must have had a couple’ before creating their first show, Guide to Alcohol, but they have gained confidence after selling out at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe twice and performing at London’s Soho Theatre.

“The idea of getting on stage was completely alien to us, and terrifying, so that was an idea that initially seemed stupid, but seems to be working out. A lot of creative people have been inspired by a drink.“ Describing what audiences can expect with their latest show, Tom says: “At it’s heart is a tasting, so expect some free drinks and they’re great drinks – Ciroc Vodka, Tanqueray No.Ten gin, Bulleit Bourbon and Don Julio tequila, so all luxury spirits and a beer.

“Then we’re revealing the greatest drinkers of all time, and doing it with comedy, some pretty groan-worthy gags, and some fairly surreal sketches.“

Tom, the former editor of spirits and cocktail magazine CLASS and author of the award-winning World’s Best Cocktails, says he and Ben, a Barons Court resident and triple-crowned British Beer Writer of the Year, don’t compete over who can drink more as that is the opposite of what they are trying to achieve.

“It’s not a badge of honour in the drinks industry any more. That’s to say, it’s not really cool to drink too much. We spend our time telling people to drink less, but drink better.“ That said, he has poured a few suspect liquids down his throat during his time, the weirdest being alcohol created in Zambia on a home-made still made from car parts and drunk from a petrol cap.

“It was almost pure alcohol, so very dangerous, they thought it was hilarious I tried it and admitted they watered it down. They did serve it with boiled rats as a dish though.“

Expect the stories to be just as colourful when they take the audience through their list of greatest drinkers.

“One of the most surprising facts is that the WWF wrestler Andre the Giant was driven to school by the Irish playwright Sammuel Beckett, “ says Tom. “Hard to believe, but true. They talked about cricket apparently.“

So will everybody be going home sozzled?

“We give out free drinks in the show, but the measures are responsible and while people will enjoy a drink for sure, it’s not our aim to get them wasted, the point is, don’t be ashamed to enjoy a drink, if you drink in the right way you can enjoy it.“

But what does he recommend if the hated hangover goblin does bite?

“Water, fresh food and exercise – if you can get out of bed.“

Millfield Theatre, Silver Street, Edmonton, Saturday, November 8, 8pm. Details: 020 8807 6680, millfieldtheatre.co.uk, thinkingdrinkers.co.uk


We have teamed up with Millfield to give away three copies of the Thinking Drinkers new book. To be in with a chance of winning simply answer this question: What are the names of the Thinking Drinkers?

Email your answer to laura.enfield@london.newsquest.co.uk by 5pm on Thursday, November 6.

Winners will be chosen at random and can pick up their prize at the show in Millfield Theatre.

Usual Newsquest rules apply.

*Entry is open to residents aged 18 years and over. The prize is as specified. It is not exchangeable, transferable and cannot be redeemed for cash.