I would like to know what "bottles" means in the following sentences:

We followed him through a wood-panelled corridor into a large room filled with smoke and people. Music blasted throughout the place, hot and loud, rockingly hypnotic. Couples danced in the middle of the room or lay spread out on a white yeti carpet. The only light came from lamps on the floor, one by a large television, another behind a pair of giant palm trees in pots. Maksio led us to the end of the room, where grand bay windows looked out on to the dark and seemingly infinite treetops of the park.

‘Help yourself,’ he said, pointing to a table covered in bottles and plates. ‘I need to check on somebody.’ He winked at us and disappeared in the crowd.

There were vodkas and whiskies and gins and vermouths, and bottles I had never seen before, and colourful plates of aspic meats and pineapple rings and cheese cubes. I wanted to taste everything. I ate some grapes and downed some whisky, feeling the liquid’s journey through my body, earthy and sweet and unburdening. The music and the laughter of the people all merged in my mind, spinning me into its net. I didn’t recognise anyone in the dim light of the room, every silhouette seemed equally important and glamorous: girls in dresses and clogs and hair piled high, boys in high-waisted blue jeans and tight shirts and jackets.

In this novel which is set in the 1980's in Poland under the socialist regime, where homosexuality was socially unacceptable, the protagonist Ludwik (a university graduate) left Poland in 1981 to live in the United States of America. And he remembers what it was like back then in Poland, where he went to the birthday party of his rich friend Hania. When they rang the doorbell, Hania's brother Maksio came out of the house and led them into the party room. After Maksio left, they enjoyed the drinks and food on the tables.

In this part, I wonder whether these "bottles" merely mean bottled drinks such as coke, or alcoholic drinks.

I am an English learner from South Korea, so thank you for your patience in advance as I may not know obvious things. I would very much appreciate your help. :)

  • 1
    Knowing English better wouldn't help you here; what might help you is knowing more about the culture in socialist Poland in the 1970s.
    – Peter Shor
    Dec 19, 2020 at 12:50

1 Answer 1


As you guessed, "bottles I had never seen before" refers to bottled drinks with which the narrator had not been familiar until that moment. It is not obvious whether those bottles contain alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks. However, whisky, gin and vermouth are all alcoholic drinks, so some of the other ones might be as well.

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