Long before they ran out of happy-juice at the wedding, and you-know-who saved the day by converting a jug of water into wine, the fine art of getting plastered goes way back to Eve’s tempting Adam with a mug of her apple cider.

Since then people have experimented with fermenting various fruits/berries/veggies to concoct a hooch that’ll get you drunker quicker, while reducing the body’s natural tendency to throw up. With perseverance, people refined the art of pretending they’d got used to the taste. (Hooch, not vomit.)

So let’s look at the different types of drinks drunk by dinkum drinkers, dead-beat drunks and dedicated dabblers these days.

It’s after sunset in the little pub at the Duck ’n Fiddle, and a few regulars are gargling down their usual tipples. Druiwe duToit, the local Merlot producer sells his wine to The Duck at cost minus 5%, and is therefore allowed to drink as much of it as he likes for free. This he does with regularity and without hesitation.

Next to him sits Klippies Combrink, who is strictly a brandy and Coke type. He drinks it because of his stutter. After slamming four or five doubles down the hatch, the brain and the tongue click into synch, and he can safely complete a sentence without blurting out curses in frustration and getting into a brawl. (He’s also got used to the taste of Coke.)

This drink – double brandy ‘n Coke in a tall glass, ice optional – is known in bars throughout the Western Cape as a Kraaifontein Cocktail. It was originally christened 50 years ago in the string of MEN ONLY bars (remember them?) next to the railway line in Lower Woodstock, known as the Black River Wine Route. It is by far the most popular drink in the country, a refuge from reality for the shuffling masses, and it is sloshed back from bush-pubs and braais to bar mitzvahs and banquets. But back to The Duck…

Further down the bar counter slumps Sparky Snyman, local electrician and proud owner of a fresh Duck ’n Fiddle tattoo on his boep. He drinks only beer – and as much of it as possible. Being made from natural farm produce, he maintains that its medicinal and healing properties far outweigh any negatives. As a result, he pursues this ‘health kick’ with stoic determination, and remains pleasantly and permanently half-cut.

“Why does he drink so much?” a concerned newcomer once asked the barman.

“Helps him to get through the day,” he explained.

“But it’s 7:30 at night!”

“See? It works.”

So there you have it. More than whiskey, rum and the white spirits, The Duck is a microcosmic sample of the three most swallowed tipples countrywide… wine, beer and brandy. Proud producers of all three are always keen on ‘pairing’, to demonstrate how their different blends suit particular foods, as if we really care.

Well, after extensive research in The Explanation of Everything, we can reveal some ‘pairings’ of our own. What movies do the three categories of drinkers enjoy the most?

Beer quaffers are Top Gun/Mad Max types. Wine is usually sipped by folks who loved Les Misérables, and the brandy ’n Coke brigade… well, it’s Leon Schuster, so enough said.

I don’t drink much – what’s regarded as a social drinker. I stock very little booze at home, but am always willing to splash out on a 5-litre box of Late Harvest when friends pop round for sundowners. So they often bring their own booze. (There’s no accounting for taste.)

But here’s a tip: Create the sparkle of ‘champagne’, or the fruity effervescence of a ‘spritzer’ from regular white wine.

Half-fill a beer mug with wine, then add a teaspoon of Oros, and a squirt of lemon juice to disguise/improve the taste of the wine. Fill up the mug with cold water, allowing space for ice. Add a pinch of ENOs, stir vigorously, and voilà! A champagne spritzer to die for, and best drunk while it’s still alive and fizzing. Friends will sneer till they try one surreptitiously at home.

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