Have a Taste
September 3, 2022 2:31 PM   Subscribe

Origin of the (maybe Baltimore-specific) phrase "have a taste" to mean getting a drink/alcohol?

The phrase "have a taste" shows up in The Wire as slang for getting a drink, either at a bar or just sipping whiskey by the railroad tracks.

I didn't think about it much after that until rewatching the John Waters 1988 Hairspray last night, where a character uses the same phrase to mean the same thing. The commonalities here are that both were written by people from and take place in Baltimore. Also, in both cases a Black character uses the phrase.

Anyone know where this phrase comes from or how far back it goes? Is its usage racialized at all? Is there any wider usage of this phrase outside of Baltimore or is it an idiosyncratic regionalism like "yinz"?
posted by Ndwright to Society & Culture (6 answers total)
I have no insight but am very interested to follow. I'm a (20 yr) transplant to the DC area, and my husband grew up in Columbia, but Baltimore facing and we just had a very in depth conversation with visiting (sociology professor) friends other night about "Hun" Balmer culture v Black Baltimore culture.
posted by atomicstone at 4:29 PM on September 3

Best answer: I don't think it's limited to Baltimore but the only anecdata I have is that a good friend from Ireland frequently calls getting a drink "having a taste."
posted by CheeseLouise at 5:00 PM on September 3 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Pretty sure it's neither Baltimore or Black. I was offered my first taste of alcohol — Black Velvet Canadian Whisky — when I was 11 in 1979 with the phrase, "Have a taste," by a mid-30s white man who was dating my mother.

For the curious: I declined.
posted by dobbs at 6:29 PM on September 3

UVa 80s. Sort of near B'more. I heard that phrase not frequently in school. More asking if you want "the usual beverage".
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:42 PM on September 3

Best answer: I am not sure how old it is, but you can find a similar usage ('take a taste') in, eg, chapter 51 of Dickens's Nicholas Nickleby, ‘Will you—will you take a little drop of something—just a taste?’
posted by ch1x0r at 7:31 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here's a 1907 beer ad from Australia, so probably not B'more-specific.
posted by box at 5:02 AM on September 4

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