Answers to 2016 Bastille Day quiz on Money and Booze

Bastille 1789 whiskey at Itto's Tapas Bar West Seattle

Here are the answers to yesterday’s quiz!
1. b. Bastille 1789 whiskey is distilled in Angoulême. We discovered this intriguing brand recently at Itto’s Tapas Bar in West Seattle. With thanks to bartender Anthony Cantrell, seen behind the bottle in the photo.
2. a. Châtelet is the name of the financier ridiculed in print by Lucien Chardon [aka “de Rubempré”] in Balzac’s novel Illusions perdues (first published in serial form, 1837-43). The baron Sixte du Châtelet nevertheless triumphs over the low-born Lucien in the end, by marrying his first love, Mme de Bargeton.
3. d. Giscard bonds. As Michael Lewis explains, the Giscard was so dubbed because it had been the brainchild of the government of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. The French had raised about a billion dollars by 1978 with the bond. The problem was that the bond was exchangeable into gold. Once it became convertible, and the price of gold rose from the issue price of $32 an ounce to the eventual price of $500 an ounce, the government lost a lot of money. (Liar’s Poker, pp. 70-71).
4. c. The award-winning writer and politician, Françoise Giroud, in Journal d’une Parisienne (1994), wrote “Quels drôles de métiers que les métiers d’argent” [What a strange profession, to work with money.]
5. c. May 1, 1791 marked the end of indirect taxation on many consumer goods, including wine, meat and tobacco, thus making them much cheaper to buy. According to Noelle Plack, “On this day there were prolonged and exuberant celebrations in Paris and throughout France … 431 wagons filled with wine and over 270,000 livres worth of brandy (eaux-de-vie) entered Paris.” See Plack, “Liberty, Equality and Taxation: Wine in the French Revolution,” Social History of Alcohol and Drugs (2012), available on
6. b. St-Germain is the name of this award-winning liqueur, of course!
7. b. This financial instrument was based on the lives of the bankers’ own family members. As Rebecca Spang writes, since rentes viagères (lifetime annuities) paid at least 6% or 7% a year in interest, the sum paid out could easily be regained in 16 years. And if the rente had been issued on the “head” of a healthy female teenager, many further years of payments could be anticipated. “Very good money could be made by finding the right heads” (Stuff and Money in the Time of the French Revolution, p. 22).
8. d. The French think that maintaining a government with a strong welfare system is a better way to address inequality than relying on the altruism of individual citizens. See Michèle Lamont, Money, Morals, and Manners, p. 58-59.
9. a. The Ventôse Decrees laid out a radical plan for wealth redistribution. As Saint-Just said, “Eliminate the poverty that dishonors a free state; the property of patriots is sacred but the goods of conspirators are there for the wretched. The wretched are the powerful of the earth; they have the right to speak as masters to the governments who neglect them.”
10. e. All of these terms designate alcoholic beverages. Une fillette (or little girl) designates a half-bottle of wine, especially wines from the Anjou region. La zeti signifies alcohol; it is verlan (backwards slang) for la tise which means alcohol in regular slang. Le pif is red wine. Une marie-salope (or bitch Marie) is a vodka-tomato juice cocktail, known in the USA as a Bloody Mary.

Cheers!  and good luck.  À votre santé ! et bon courage à nous tous.

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