Take one writer, matured in St Albans – home to CAMRA and more than 50 pubs, 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, and add a dash of wit and humour.

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

Tom Sandham and his booze buddy Ben McFarland are bringing their show The Thinking Drinkers’ Legends of Liquor to his home town this month.

The pair met while working as journalists in the food and drink industry and it was a match made in heaven, much like alcohol and writing really. In between writing for national publications such as Jamie Oliver’s magazine, they have come up with their guide to the greatest imbibers that ever lived.

“People don’t appreciate how much drink has been a part of that history, “ says Tom, a former Nicholas Breakspear School pupil.

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

“Alcohol tends to get a bad press, 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.”

He admits the duo ‘must have had a couple’ themselves before creating the show, as the idea of being on stage was “terrifying”, but they have gained confidence after selling out in Edinburgh earlier this year.

Describing what audiences can expect, Tom says: “At its 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.”

All this is a far cry from the weirdest thing he’s ever drunk – alcohol created in Zambia on a homemade 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. And they serve it with boiled rats as a dish.”

You can expect their stories to be just as colourful as the list of drinkers they divulge.

“One of the most surprising facts is that WWF wrestler Andre the Giant was driven to school by the Irish playwright Samuel 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.”

Harpenden Public Hall, Southdown Road, Harpenden, Friday, October 24, 7.30pm. Details: 01582 767525, harpendenpublichalls.co.ukthinkingdrinkers.com


We have teamed up with Harpdenden Public Halls 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, October 23.

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

Usual Newsquest rules apply.