"Applejack? Really?" Amethyst Star stared incredulously at Berry. “Applejack of all ponies got you started?”
“Look me in my eyes and tell me again.”
Berry Punch turned her gaze away from the bottle she was holding over her gaping mouth, waiting for the last drops to fall away to ‘properly finish the glass.’
“Since when have you two even been on speaking terms?” asked Sea Swirl.
“Eh. Long time ago.”
Amethyst Star scoffed.
“Yeah, right. I call bull.”
“It’s the truth.” Berry Punch lowered the bottle, eying it with some sense of loss. “But it’s so hard to remember…” She looked to Sea Swirl expectantly.
“Honestly, Berry,” chided Sea Swirl, “you started back before I invited you two here, how many does that make this evening alone?”
“Who’s keeping count?”
“I am,” chimed Amethyst. “That’s seven glasses and two bottles you’re holding now.”
“Putting the bottle on the table changes nothing. You know what I meant.”
Berry Punch shrugged. Sea Swirl giggled.
“Applejack - of all ponies - got you into booze? What happen, she break your heart?”
“It’s so foggy… I can’t…”
“Ugh, fine. Si-Si, do you mind?”
“No, not at all. You know where I keep them.”
Amethyst levitated over another bottle from the cabinet in the adjoining room.
“Next one you’re getting yourself. Now, spill.”
“You sure that’s a good idea? Si-Si’s carpet is so cle-“
“Berry…” Amethyst growled in a playful threat.
Berry shrugged and, with a sleight of hoof, popped the cork from the bottle. Sea Swirl just grinned bemusedly.
“I still have no idea how you do that, Berry.”
“Magic, Si-Si,” said Berry between swigs. “Earth Pony magic.”
“Don’t you distract her. Berry, talk.”
“Ah, right. It’s coming back to me now…”
“And so help me if this is another ‘no, I’m turned around, actually’ stories, you’re paying for our next five get-togethers, and Si-Si and I get to choose where.”
“Right, so, waaaaay back, before I’d gotten my cutie mark, I was still living with my folks, out on the north edges, and the Acres asked around for some seasonal help. I had some experience, with my family and their berry business and all.”
“Berries? Not grapes?”
Berry Punch gave Amethyst a flat look.
“Okay, okay, go on.”
“So there I was, getting a tour of the Acres, their orchard, their garden, their fields, and there, along a lonely fence row, there was this vine, right? All the other plants I knew pretty well, or at least something about, but that was something new. So I asked Applejack, she was the one walking me around, even with her granny and brother there, what it was, and she said it was grape. I’d not heard of a grape, so I asked what a grape was, what it was for, and so on.”
“Hard to imagine her without knowing about the existence of grapes, isn’t it, Ammie?”
“ANYway, Applejack goes on about jellies, juice, and all that I knew about from the berries I knew - I’d like to see her to know half as much about currants alone as I do, I’ll have you know - but then she said ‘wine.’”
“And then she gets all distracted about fermentation and how they make their Apple Cider - yes, I said that capitalized - and I asked what’s cider?”
“No, my family was completely dry, I’d never had or even heard of the stuff!”
“Oh, you should meet them, Ammie. Calling them dry is like calling the ocean wet.”
“So at the end of the day, they showed me their stocks, and got out some mugs and let me have a taste.”
“Best. Thing. Ever. Naturally I went back home and immediately set aside some of the early stock aside and began… well. One thing lead to another, and now here I am, all but disowned from my family, and are you sure this bottle was full when I started?”
“No, no no no no,” said Amethyst. “No jumping over the in-between. So you became an alcoholic, what else is new. But what about Applejack?”
“Oh, yeah. Well, I couldn’t exactly wait for my own stuff to ferment, so I may have taken a barrel or eight from the Apple’s cellar one afternoon. In hindsight, showing up to work drunk probably tipped them off pretty quickly.”
Sea Swirl had her hooves pressed tightly over her mouth in a futile attempt to cease her sudden fit of sniggering. Amethyst Star just gaped, unsure whether to believe her friend.
“Hm, what time is it… Seven? Yeah, I’ll have another. Hey, you two want anything since I’m up?”