Let’s wet your whistle, and keep you coming back for more.
If getting a refill was as easy as blowing into your mug, then alcoholics would never be able to stop drinking. THEN tourists would be making huge bucks selling these random historical mugs and an incoherent drunk man could blow air through the whistle to get more alcohol. The following quote is fabricated: “Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim, or handle, of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. "Wet your whistle" is the phrase inspired by this practice.” (Robinsweb) Nonetheless there are two noticeable things here. First, your lips are used to both whistle and drink with. Second, the mugs’ whistle is likely “wetted” upon use. So the concept of wetting your whistle makes literal sense if this story was true.
"To "wet your whistle," meaning "to take a drink," dates back to at least 1386, but it never referred to an actual whistle. The noun "whistle" has long been used as a jocular term for the mouth or throat, especially in regard to speaking or singing. The phrase "wet your whistle" probably has persisted for two reasons: it's attractively alliterative (a popular equivalent back in the 17th century was the even catchier "wet your weasand," "weasand" being a now-obsolete term for "throat"), and it is indeed easier to whistle with your mouth if your lips are moist. "Wet your whistle" is thus just a jocular way of making taking a drink sound like a necessity.
Two other points worth mentioning: Occasionally you'll hear (or at least I do) that the original phrase was "whet your whistle," as if one's whistle needed sharpening by drink, but that form seems to have been rooted in a mishearing of "wet" a few centuries ago. And secondly, while tourist shops in various locales do sell "historic replica" mugs with whistles cast into their handles, these are evidence of nothing but the proprietor's desire to make a buck." (Word Detective)
Additionally, most references to the term are considered alcoholic references, if you “wet your whistle” you most likely had an alcoholic beverage. Occasionally, you will hear something like, “Wet your whistle by seeing this movie,” “Did you… Wet your whistle?” (Sexual reference), etc. Although some tourist shops sell replicas of these olden day drinking mugs, the whistle-mugs are no longer used today in common practice. They probably make a good table decoration though.
"Wet your whistle" predates "wet your appetite" by some centuries, and was first recorded in the 1386 Towneley Mysteries:
"Had She oones Wett Hyr Whystyll She couth Syng full clere Hyr pater noster."
Whistle here means throat or voice and the phrase just means 'take a drink'. (Phrases
) The word “wett
” in this context in today’s meaning is equivalent to stimulate, to make keen or eager. Noticeably while the two words “whet” and “wet” are used in the same fashion they are NOT essentially the same word (wett being the olden form
). “Whet your whistle
” does not mean “wet your whistle.” Whet is in the sense of sharpening. Even though the phrase whet is used to this day – and it likely will be continued to be used.
“There's no shortage of watering holes hoping to wet your whistle this St. Patrick's Day. So to aid you in your tavern tour, here's a sampling of old favorites and special events you shouldn't miss today.” (Example)