Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Writer's Guide to Alcohol

There are an infinite number of combinations of spirits you can pour into your body to make yourself drunk. However, there are only a certain number of base alcohols that can be used to create those drinks.

There's gin. There's vodka. There's tequila. There's rum. There's whisky.

(You could argue for other delicious poisons to be added to the list, but those five are all I'm dealing with today.)

During my drinking career, I've poured a little bit of each of those spirits into my body. And I've figured out how each of them works. More or less.

Gin is slow. It lingers. You won't feel a buzz right away, but when it does kick in, it tends to kick with the ferocity of Chuck Norris. That is, if you've slurped down 10-15 glasses with some gin in them. Anything short of that will kick more like...your girlfriend's kickboxing instructor. Or maybe one of the women in the kickboxing class. The Chuck Norris happens once you hit double digits. Also, the way gin lingers, it has a very cathartic effect for the digestive system. One way or another, something is coming out of you if you drink enough gin. So plan on being near a bathroom the morning after. Or as soon as the Chuck Norris happens.

Vodka is a bit like gin. But not quite as violent. It also works more quickly than gin does. If it takes you two hours to get a good gin buzz, you'll arrive at tipsy in half that time with vodka as your driver. Vodka also tends to be pretty flat. When you're vodka drunk, it'll feel pleasant, but it won't feel pleasant-er or pleasant-est. It'll stay pleasant for as long as it can, then it'll turn almost immediately to pre-hangover or even hangover. There's a reason the Russians can be some mean sonsofbitches. It ain't the communism. And it ain't the weather. It's the vodka.

A lot of folks are scared of tequila. Probably for good reason. It acts fast. Which is good if you're trying to find that good feeling quickly. The trouble occurs when you don't realize you're in the good place and you continue to search for it. You really have to let the tequila work for you. Don't work for it. Inhale a shot. Or three. Breath it out. Let it wash over you. Soak up that buzz. Then manage it. For as long as you can. Eventually, the tequila will take over. And you won't be accountable for your actions. At least you shouldn't be. 'Cause tequila is a helluva drink. The upside, if you drink tequila right, is that it leaves your system the same way it came in. The buzz builds quickly and can wear off with the same speed. Assuming you don't drink all the tequila in Jalisco, that is.

Rum is the stuff good vacations in the tropics are made of. It's very leisurely. Both in how moves through you and what it does as it moves. Rum also works in whatever way you ask it to. If you insist on speeding through it--like you're trying to relax too hard an your vacation--it'll punch fast and hard. And you'll be worn out from it before you hit day four. Rather, round four. On the other hand, if you slither into the rum--like you're lazily unwinding at the beach--it'll treat you pretty nicely for a good long while. Until you get somewhere into the 20s. Which is kinda like forcing a second week of vacation. It sounds like it'd be a good idea. But it really isn't. The downside to rum--like the downside to any good vacation--is that it ends. When it does end, sometimes you need another vacation to recover from it.

Then, of course, there's whisky. The writer's nectar. There are a variety of processes that yield a variety of whiskies. But, whichever you're drinking...they all tend to deliver you to the same delicious destination. It happens almost instantly. For the uninitiated, the natural reaction is to screw one's face up as soon as the whiksy makes contact with the taste buds. For your friendly neighborhood writer, the whisky goes down like water. Or whatever is smoother than water. If you're not used to the whisky, I'm not sure what to tell you...other than...get used to it. Which is also the best way to describe how whisky works. The buzz can be aggressive. But it doesn't have to be. The hangover can be vicious. But it doesn't have to be. Drinking whisky is very much an acquired skill. Even after you acquire the skill, though, you'll probably not master the skill. Just like you won't completely master the whisky. You can make a habit of sipping it and enjoying it. But, every once in a while, it'll get away from you. And it won't be pretty.

Such is life, though. You can blame it on the alcohol if you need to. But you don't really have to.


Red said...

So where did you get all your research for this? Just wondering... Also, where was this 6 months ago for my 21st? And, I think you could turn this into a nice book idea. Just a huge collection of drinks and your thoughts on them. I am a willing research participant!

Red said...

P.S. Where was the wine and beer section? I think those should qualify. Remember some writers, like college students, are on the Natty Light beer budget or the box o' wine budget.

the_capital_t said...

This was a post-graduate research project I did. I got a grant for it. It was finally ready to publish. ;P