Headcanon Wednesday: Multispecies Drinking Vessels
Or: So Why Does Everyone Drink Out Of Those Tube Things?
Everyone knows that certain drinks are just made for certain drinking vessels. Under most circumstances Kaidan’s Canadian lager would be served in the bottle or, for preference, in a pint glass; Kasumi’s pink martini in a martini glass; Chakwas’ stiff morning tea in a mug—and her brandy in a snifter. This is no less true for nonhumans: Liara drinks shaline—the mildly stimulant beverage she developed a taste for while studying at the university of Serrice—from its traditional wide shallow bowl, and tiru, a sweet liqueur, from a narrow flower-shaped cup. And for preference Grunt drinks his ryncol from a ladle-shaped vessel traditionally made from the polished shoulderplate of the chitinous urmox (although, since the urmox is nearly extinct, most modern ryncol cups are made from plastics). (The fact that the ladle-cup’s design makes it impossible either to set it down or to pass it around without spilling means that a serving of ryncol must be tossed back in a single huge gulp… which, as anyone will tell you, is the only way to drink ryncol anyway.)
But if you go to a multispecies bar, pub, cafe, restaurant, or other watering hole, you’re unlikely to see this variety of drinkware. Instead, whether you buy water or beer or tea or a margarita or shaline or tiru or ryncol or something else entirely, it’ll probably come to you in the same container: a long, narrow, transparent cylinder, capped on both ends. This is true on multispecies settlements such as the Citadel, Omega, and Ilium, as well as in the business and tourist districts of single-species homeworlds and colonies—basically, anywhere that might have any appreciable multispecies traffic. In all these places, chances are good that your drink, whatever it is, will be served to you in a tube.
The short answer: because turians don’t have lips.
The longer answer:
Until turians joined the Citadel Council in the 700s CE, asari glassware tended to dominate multispecies eating places. Asari were culturally extremely inflential—still are, as far as that goes—and, more to the point, there was no reason their drinking vessels couldn’t be used by other species. Salarians have mouths compatible with asari glasses and bowls, as do batarians, quarians, and krogans; elcor can drink from asari drinkware as well with the simple addition of a straw. While there are culturally-specific bowls and glasses, anyone with lips can use an asari glass if that’s all that’s available, and so, due to the cultural influence of Citadel culture, asari drinkware became the default.
But then turians joined the Citadel races—and, in fairly short order thanks to the Krogan Rebellions, joined the Council. And turians don’t have lips; moreover, their facial plates don’t even close completely at the back. While their mandibles shield their teeth from view, they don’t actually create a watertight seal. If a turian attempts to drink out of the cups or bowls used by other species, the liquid will tend to spill out between their teeth—wasting the drink and making a giant mess. (A turian drinking very carefully indeed can drink out of a standard human, asari, or salarian glass or bowl… but who going to the bar for a pint is drinking that carefully?)
On their own homeworld, turians developed two types of drinking vessels. The most formal is a wide, deep bowl, almost a basin, in which a turian submerges their mouth deeply enough to be able to drink without worrying about spillage at the sides. (Since turian plates are water-resistant, a turian doesn’t have to worry about the drink staining their faces.) This is mostly used in ritual occasions and banquets. The more convenient daily-use turian drinking vessel is a narrow tube, which can be pushed back far enough in the mouth that liquid can’t splash out the edges or between their teeth. (Because the turian equivalents of trachea and esopahgus are more separated than in, say, humans, the risk of choking from drinking in this fashion are very low.) Most turian drinks, both mass-produced and drunk casually in homes and workplaces, are served in these long, narrow tubes. Commercial drinks are sold pre-packaged in the same tubes, capped and sealed on both ends.
During the Krogan Rebellions, turians swiftly (and with the enthusiastic blessing of asari and salarians) took over Citadel military and police forces; since turians can’t drink standard asari or salarian drinking bottles or other vessels, but asari and salarians can drink out of turian drink tubes, the standard water ration was quickly switched to mass-produced drink tubes for convenience.
When the turians became the third Council race, use of turian drinking tubes spread even farther. Being a Council race confers a certain status, and increasing numbers of places will try to accommodate species with that status. Bars and restaurants willing to keep multiple specialized types of drinkware for various species and types of drinks added turian drinking tubes to their inventories. Bars and restaurants that didn’t want to bother slowly began to outright replace their existing drinkware with the tubes. After all, other species could easily drink out of those tubes, and it was the only thing that turians could reliably drink out of, so the most efficient thing was to serve everything in the tubes. Over time, the turian drinking tubes became more and more common. By the present time, they are ubiquitous: unless a bar is the kind of place to keep dozens of kinds of glasses for each possible drink, chances are good you’ll get your drink in a tube.
(Matriarch Aethyta can wax eloquent on this topic if you ask her. She still keeps a small stock of specialized glassware for asari tiru and iaen, salarian din’dha and mel, batarian kha, and krogan ryncol… but she only uses them if someone asks, which almost never happens; otherwise she uses the tubes. Hell, somewhere in the back of her cabinet is the thin, elegant blown-glass flute used for quarian xaenor, and god knows no quarian could drink from that glass now even if they wanted to, what with the face mask and all. But she had a quarian friend back in the day, and she can’t quite bring herself to throw it out. She pours everything into the standard tubes now, unless asked, but she won’t pretend that there isn’t something lost.)
Prepackaged commercial beverages now generally come bottled directly in the tubes, stored in heating or cooling units to keep each tube at the exact proper serving temperature. Barristas brewing fresh shaline, tea, or coffee will pour it into a tube unless asked otherwise—and bartenders serving a cocktail will shake it up right in the tube in which they intend to serve it. Asari sip the tubes; salarians use their long tongues to slurp out the content; young krogans with something to prove crunch the whole thing up (the biodegradable shell might cause them mild digestive discomfort but won’t hurt them). Quarian sterilizers and suit intakes are standardized to accommodate the common sizes of turian drink tubes. Humans new to the galactic scene teach themselves to sip a drink tube as if it were natural, and feel very cosmopolitan when they manage. And turians—who invented the tubes by necessity—knock the drinks back with practiced ease.