What is the source or reason that a l'chaim is often said over a drink of alcohol instead of any other beverage, or over other foods, or even over no food at all?
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A primary source would be the מדרש תנחומה in פרשת פקודי at סימן ב
After the witnesses were cross-examined, the judges would return and would be asked "סברי מרנן" - "what do you think, Sirs?"
If he was innocent they would answer לחיים...
Which is why the Shliach Tzibbur says on the cup of Kiddush or Havdala [if he is worried about the poison in his cup] סברי מרנן and the congregation answers לחיים.
Nitei Gavriel Nesuin 2 - 80:21:38 says that the source for saying L'Chaim on wine is Sefer Hapardes L'Rashi, Ravia Brachos 120, Tanya Rabsi 24, Bach Orach Chaim 174. The reason is that since wine brought a curse on the world when Noach drank and cursed Canaan therefore we say L'Chaim when we drink it. He also mentions in the name of the Baal Shem Tov not to say L'Chaim on whiskey, only to say it on wine.
I heard the following:
Wine and frankincense were administered to a person condemned to the death penalty Sanhedrin 43a
This is an association between wine and death. So we say when we drink wine, L'chaim "to Life."
I have no sources, but it seems very pashut to me. Every culture I know of that alcohol has a default thing to say when drinking for pleasure with friends. In England, "Cheers!" The English toast to happiness. In Spain, "¡Salud!" The Spaniards toast to health. In China, "干杯！ (gān bēi!)" The Chinese toast to the bottom of the glass. Jews say "L'chaim!" We toast to life.
I don't know why that is, but it seems to be part of human drinking culture. Perhaps people are in good spirits when consuming good spirits, and they want to connect the two. Is this from bringing libations to gods as some in the comments below claim? Maybe, but we can likely find that most things that we all do are rooted in that. It was the way of the world for a long time. As I'm not a sociologist or anthropologist, anything I say here is conjecture.