One Step Of Queen Elizabeth's Former Nighttime Routine Might Surprise You

Beloved chef Julia Child once attributed her long life to "red meat and gin" (via CNN). As it turns out, another grand old dame made it to a ripe old age while regularly consuming a certain alcoholic drink as well. Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away on September 8, 2022, at the age of 96, enjoyed a glass of Champagne every night before bed. 

At least that's the account given by her cousin Margaret Rhodes, per The Independent. According to the outlet, Rhodes actually listed an entire menu of adult beverages enjoyed by the queen on a daily basis. Like Child, who lived to be 91, Queen Elizabeth liked her gin. Rhodes said she drank a gin and Dubonnet with lemon and ice before lunch, wine with lunch, and a dry martini at night. All of that before her Champagne nightcap.

In 2017, Vanity Fair reported a slightly different four-drink schedule. Royal chef Darren McGrady also mentioned the pre-lunch gin and Dubonnet with lemon and "a lot of ice." Then Vanity Fair said the queen had a wine with chocolate and a dry martini both — with lunch. However, the nighttime Champagne remained the same. And that Champagne? No one knows for sure, but as Cosmopolitan speculated, it's probably Bollinger, Lanson, Moet & Chandon, Veuve Cliquot, Laurent Perrier, or Krug. These are the eight varieties that have been honored with royal warrants.

Binge-drinking monarch?

The Independent calculated that Queen Elizabeth II's reported drink routine totaled 6 units of alcohol per day, which it said was also the UK government's definition of binge drinking. While the most recent UK government guidelines define binge drinking as imbibing 6 units or more in a single session, not a day, it also defines high-risk drinking as downing more than 35 units per week for a woman. (A unit is not the same as a single drink. It's equal to 0.3 U.S. fluid ounces of pure alcohol, according to the NHS, so the units per drink will depend on its strength and size.) The queen, if she really drank 42 units a week, would certainly have defied the odds to end up Britain's longest-reigning monarch as a high-risk drinker!

However, it turns out the story of the queen's alcohol consumption is not one of a long-lived woman's triumph over mountains of health studies. Instead, it's a story of a misunderstanding. Chef Darren McGrady told CNN in 2017 that he hadn't meant to imply the queen consumed four drinks daily. "She'd be pickled if she drank that much," he said. All he intended to say was that, when she did drink, she preferred a gin and Dubonnet. He speculated that some reporters had misunderstood "Dubonnet" as "in the morning" because of his accent and a bad phone connection. He also added that she liked a sweet German wine with dinner, but didn't indulge every night.

Health advice given ahead of her Platinum Jubilee

While Queen Elizabeth II didn't drink as much as initially reported, she was asked to cut back on one of her favorite beverages toward the end of her life. In October of 2021, Vanity Fair reported that the queen's doctors had advised her to stop drinking except during special occasions. They said that this would help her with her health. At the time, she had begun to use a cane, was recovering from the death of her husband Prince Philip, and was preparing for her Platinum Jubilee. "The alcohol has gone, her doctors want to make sure she is as fit and healthy as possible," a source familiar with the situation told Vanity Fair. 

A friend said the queen's favorite drink in the evening toward the end of her life was a martini. The friend also thought there wasn't much point in forcing her to give it up at the age of 95.  "[I]t seems a trifle unfair that at this stage in her life she's having to give up one of very few pleasures," they said. The article didn't mention anything about the fate of her nightly Champagne.