In Heian times, Japanese cuisine had not become as spectacular as it is today. Though there was already emphasis on presentation and simplicity, Heian aristocrats had not yet developed the level of cuisine they would in the future, as their neighbors, the Chinese, had already done.
“His Majesty summoned the officials of ceremonial and bade them bring fruit, sake, and food, saying, ‘Make everyone drunk.’ And truly the courtiers got drunk. They exchanged words with the ladies behind the screen, and everyone found each other quite fascinating.” Sake can do that.
What makes these Heian parties resemble modern times is the post-imbibement hypocrisy. Though pretty much everyone liked to tipple, they still gossiped about and judged others. “Oh I may indulge once in a while, but Lady Sarashina was quite sauced at the Emperor’s last banquet.” How close we are to Heian times already!