My Relationship With Alcohol

My Relationship With Alcohol

Until now, ethanol has not played a significant role in my life. I understand and appreciate what a huge problem it is for many people and the problems it poses for society, but otherwise it has been barely on my radar.

My father would drink a beer now and again, but with one exception, I never saw him tipsy. When I was seven he had a few brews while out with his friends. When my mother picked him up  at the bowling alley and saw he’d had a few too many, she lit into him, and I couldn’t figure out why. My father seemed a happy man.

No one else in my family drank, or at least not much. A quart bottle of blackberry brandy sat in a cabinet in my parents’ kitchen for more than twenty years. The last time I saw it it was still half full.

Blue Moon Beer Label

Blue Moon, a Belgian white ale, is the only beer I’ve ever actually liked. My father drank the King of Beers—yes, Budweiser.

When I was in my late teens younger friends asked me to be their designed driver. Why? Because I wasn’t interested in imbibing. They would pick up a couple of six packs or a bottle of wine or cheap liquor and drink too much too fast, and I would obligingly stop the car so they could get out and puke. After the throwing up they were subdued and ready for me to take them home so they could go to bed. If that was what alcohol did, I didn’t see the point.

Later, when I would go out with friends, they would be more interested in hitting the Burger King than in getting something to drink. So far as that goes, so was I.

I’ve never known anyone (more than peripherally, anyway) who was an alcoholic, no one who was even a frequent drinker. People at parties I attended would allow themselves to become lubricated, but there were no fights, no lampshades on heads or other drunken antics. Aside from cars weaving between lanes on the roads (police were lax in enforcing drunk driving laws in those days), and people drinking in bars and acting more-or-less normal, the people I saw consuming alcohol seemed to function reasonably well.

St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

What the hell is an elderflower? And my, isn’t that bottle lovely! Note to self: Add to list.

I’ve encountered a few drunk people over the years, but even at age 64 I’ve never seen anyone who was more than a distant acquaintance in a drunken state. Tipsy, yes. Inebriated, no. I suspect that’s unusual, but it’s the truth.

The closest I ever came to knowing an alcoholic was having a roommate who loved her vodka. I didn’t realize she had a problem, though, until she was gone. When I looked for the bottle of sherry cooking wine I had had for decades and which must have long since become vile, it was nowhere to be found. Only when I couldn’t find the bottle of Listerine I kept in the bathroom did it hit me: I had been living with an alcoholic and hadn’t even realized it.

I’ve taken drink since I was in my twenties, but rarely more than once or twice a month. In the past, oh, 35 years I’ve not had more than two beers or two glasses of spirits at any one time. I like champagne and will indulge in Mimosas on occasion, but a bottle will last me for days. Otherwise, I don’t drink wine.

I’ve told you all this to make this point: Until recently, alcohol played only a small role in my life.

Now, suddenly, I’m infatuated with spirits—not necessarily to drink. I find myself reading reviews of various liquors and descriptions of exotic liquors and wanting to own a bottle.

So now I have a bar at my house. It’s not a physical place, just a collection of liquor. No one ever has a drink there, although I will occasionally pour a little amaretto or blackberry brandy into a shot glass and drink it.

The Balvenie 21 Year-Old Single Malt ScotchOver the past five years I’ve purchased perhaps twenty bottles of liquor. I have brandies, vodka, gin three kinds of rum, two bottles of scotch, absinthe, a bottle of Jack Daniels, and assorted bourbons. For some reason I seem to concentrate on liqueurs. I have amaretto, Pisa nut liqueur, hazelnut liqueur, Kahlua, peppermint schnapps, Southern Comfort, and coconut rum. All of the bottle are full, or nearly so, for I do like to taste what I buy.

I’ve learned the distinction between types of liquor and have slowly come to appreciate the distinction between good and bad product. I think the turning point came when I poured a newly-opened bottle of cheap Amore amaretto down the drain because it didn’t taste at all like Di Saronno or Lazzaroni.

So there you have it: my relationship with alcohol: I find it pleasant to have around and enjoy purchasing the occasional bottle. As for actually drinking it, I rarely do.

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