If a person eats a meal with bread, and thus had recited the Beracha of "Ha'mosi" over bread at the beginning of the meal, does he recite the Beracha of "She'hakol" over beverages such as beer and whiskey drunk during the meal?
The Beracha of "Ha'mosi" recited at the beginning of a bread meal generally covers all foods and drinks eaten or drunk as an integral part of the meal, and thus, for example, during a bread meal one does not recite a Beracha over water or juice. The question therefore becomes whether the aforementioned alcoholic beverages are drunk as part of the meal, in which case they would not require a Beracha, or are deemed extraneous to the meal and thus require a separate Beracha.
The Ben Ish Hai (Rabbi Yosef Haim of Baghdad, 1833-1909) addresses this question in Parashat Naso (6), and raises the possibility that these beverages perhaps serve to help a person digest his meal, rather than constituting part of the meal itself. Given the uncertainty surrounding the issue, the Ben Ish Hai advises that one avoid this question by first eating a bit of sugar before drinking one of these beverages. When he recites the Beracha of "She'hakol" over the sugar, he should intend for the Beracha to cover the beverage, as well, and he may then drink the beverage without a Beracha according to all views.
Hacham Ovadia Yosef, however, in his work Hazon Ovadia (Laws of Berachot), disapproves of this solution. In his view, one should not escape the question of whether to recite a Beracha over beer by reciting "She'hakol" over sugar, because the status of sugar is itself subject to considerable controversy. Although the accepted practice is to recite the Beracha of "She'hakol" over sugar, there are views who maintain that one should recite "Ha'etz" or "Ha'adama." Hence, Hacham Ovadia argues, nothing is gained by eating sugar before drinking the beer, as thereby one merely avoids one Halachic quandary by entangling himself in another Halachic quandary.
Hacham Ovadia therefore recommends two other solutions to avoid this question, of whether the Beracha of "She'hakol" is required when drinking beer and the like during a bread meal. Firstly, one can first drink some wine before drinking the beer or whiskey. Wine drunk during a meal requires a Beracha according to all views, and the Beracha of "Bore Peri Ha'gefen" covers all beverages drunk subsequently during the meal. Thus, one can drink some wine and have in mind as he recites "Bore Peri Ha'gefen" that the Beracha covers the beer or other beverage that he wishes to drink. Secondly, Hacham Ovadia suggests, one who intends to drink one of the aforementioned beverages during a meal can drink a sip just before beginning the meal. If he recites "She'hakol" and drinks a sip of the beverage just prior to the beginning of the meal, then according to all views he does not recite a Beracha when he drinks during the meal, and he thereby satisfies all opinions.
Summary: It is uncertain whether the Beracha of "Ha'mosi" recited at the beginning of a meal exempts one from reciting "She'hakol" over beer or whiskey drunk during the meal. To avoid this question, preferably one should either first drink some wine and recite "Bore Peri Ha'gefen," which covers all beverages drunk subsequently, or drink a sip of the beverage in question with a Beracha just before beginning the meal. If he did not do any of the options, he does not make a "She'hakol" on the beverage.