As a man who loves to drink, I have spent quite some time at different bars, restaurants, clubs and homes exploring the world of liquor. It’s not so much that I’m an alcoholic (although I know many who would refute that) but over time I have come to realize that it’s not the effects of liquor I enjoy, but the actual taste of the liquor itself that I love. There is a whole world to booze that I find fascinating and captivating, but it is a world that takes effort to enter. The differences between Jack Daniels and Wild Turkey are very subtle until you get your tongue tuned to them, at which point the differences are glaring and obvious. I have come up with not so much a guide, but ideas to keep in mind if you want to become a connoisseur.
Know Your Limits
It’s important to know how your body reacts to liquor: how fast it metabolizes in your system, how long it takes for alcohol to hit you, which ones will leave you with a worse hangover. Everybody is different, and until you know your exact limits all you’re doing is drinking blindly. To appreciate liquor you must be able to keep yourself from going over the edge, or even getting to the “A Little Tipsy” stage. You have to be able to keep yourself in the “Warmed Up” area for a prolonged period of time, and that takes not just knowing the liquor but also yourself.
We All Have Bad Experiences
That being said, to know your limits you have to go past them, and you can’t be scared to do so. It’s one of those times where you’ll only know where the line is once you’ve crossed it. And once you know where that line is you can’t be afraid to walk up to it. I’ve heard many people who have had a bad night with tequila and then sworn it off for the rest of time. We’ve all had a bad experience with tequila. It’s fine if you’re not interested in becoming a connoisseur, but if you claim to “love drinking” then this line is just an excuse. For this purpose, drinking is about not being afraid, and in learning hobbies the failures teach you as much as your successes.
That Rule of “Liquor before beer, In the clear, Beer before liquor, Never sicker” is Bullshit
I have mixed all kinds of liquor in all sorts of combinations and the reason I got sick is because I just drank too much too quickly, not because I started with beer. This doesn’t really come into play with the hobby of drinking, I just hate this rule. I drink what I want, when I want.
Find out how the individual liquors are made. Research how liquor actually impacts the human body. Find out why real martinis are stirred not shaken. Know what taking it “old fashioned” means. Understand how temperature changes the viscosity and taste of alcohol. Learn all the basic cocktails by taste alone, and learn how they are made. The more you know the deeper the experience. But . . .
Cocktails Do Not An Experienced Drinker Make
Drinking is not like juggling, where the more experienced you become the more things you can juggle. The more you mix with your liquor, the easier it is to drink. This is great if you want to get plastered, as a drink with a ton of alcohols will do the trick in no time (for example, Long Island Iced Tea, a name I’ve never really understood since there’s 0% tea in it). But you also don’t taste any of the liquor, and taste is the name of the game in this respect. It’s okay to start off trying different cocktails, but at some point you will have to progress to simple cocktails, and then after that you will have to go to taking the liquor straight. Don’t be scared. And I’m not saying you have to give up cocktails. My favorite drink of all time is a Gin & Tonic and it’s primarily the thing I order every single time. But if you want that connoisseur title, you got to put down the margarita and take that tequila on the rocks.
Be A Person With Standards, Not a Snob
A person with standards will never order cheap stuff or drinks that are more sugar than liquor. A snob is someone who judges others for not ordering drinks how they order them. The first one is the tao of drinking, the second will leave you drinking alone.
Scotch is the Pinnacle
No one starts off liking scotch, but scotch doesn’t care if you like it. Scotch is like a Magic-Eye puzzle; until you learn how to taste it, until you know the method, you’ll never get it. But once you do, an entire world of magical shapes and colors appears.
Don’t Give in to Peer Pressure
Don’t let your friends push you faster than you are willing to go. If you’re not interested in getting plastered and you really want to enjoy your drink, then fuck ‘em. If they don’t understand that you’re not trying to get drunk, or you would rather pay more money for one drink than getting twice as much for the cheaper stuff, let them go sit on a tack. In a few years you’ll be able to sit back and really enjoy a glass of 60 year old Morlach and be an example of class and experience while they are throwing up in the bar toilet. That might seem silly now, but the older you get the more you realize drinking until you’re sick is one of the stupidest ways to spend your time and money.
That being said . . .
Take the fucking shot, you sissy. Remove the stick from out of your butt for a second and remember that drinking is also about friendship and fun. The fine liquor is too expensive and it takes a long time to develop your tongue to them to be drinking it all the time. You’re at a dive bar, not visiting some castle in the barony of Westmorland. Kick off your shoes, take a shot of Jack, and get hammered until screaming “Come On Eileen” at the top of your lungs is not only the best idea you’ve ever had, it’s the best idea anyone has ever had.