According to Etymology Online, the term “symposium” came from the Greek for “drinking party” or “convivial gathering of the educated.” I expect that will be the case at this upcoming conference: Alcohol in the Atlantic World, at York University in Toronto, October 24-27, 2007.
Here’s a description from the event website:
Since humans discovered the effects that could be derived from alcohol there has been interest in its economic and social benefits as well as its negative effects on individuals and society. Yet the systematic study of alcohol in its varied historical and sociological manifestations is still in its infancy since it is usually relegated only to discussions of morality and sensational journalism.
Alcohol in the Atlantic World: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives is an international workshop aimed at exploring the ways in which alcohol provided a mechanism for integrating the Atlantic world, viz, Europe, Africa and the Americas.
What better place to hold this than Toronto, a town filled with local beer!