Why do we drink?
That is such a silly sounding question. Has a non-drinker ever asked you that? Just what is a "non-drinker" anyway? Drinking, as Maestro Webster would define it, is vital to human survival. So when did the act of swallowing life-giving, fresh, cool water become eponymous with quaffing an ethanol-laced liquid? More importantly, why has this happened? Anglophiles have words like imbibe which have strong, alcohol-specific associations, but drinking... in America... what a thing. Nobody says this word in a sentence like that when they talk about Mountain Dew: "Woohoo, let's party like the Beach Boys! Root beer's on the house!" Furthermore, I've never seen soda-pop "breweries" draw in fans waiting for the latest bourbon barrel release, because of course that's ridiculous. You owe it to yourself to ask why.
The world is full of people who take themselves very seriously. Odds are that you hang around one or two of them on a daily basis, and you can't help but notice how they often set the mood for the group. You leave work or school and you're like, "I seriously need to chill right now. I have wiled away the hours contemplating the complex and fundamental questions about the universe, and now I shall let my proverbial hair down [because if you spend very much of your time in places like this, you probably don't have much hair left]." So what do you do? You do what homo sapiens across generations and millennia have done: you come home and crack open a "cold one" (the one makes it sound more mysterious; you have to guess what the one is). People often remark to me - and after my travels I have to agree - that Americans don't know how to drink. Well, we know how, we just seem to have different goals. We get all silly about it. We start adding razzmatazz flavors to our neutral grain spirits, and we take these amazing wines and toss a bunch of fruit juice and sprite in them. We long for the effect, but we don't give a flying frack about the journey - some of us anyway. Then the yin to the yang, badda bing, badda bang, and we have a whole subset of the population that lives to judge the ones who are drinking stoopid. Because why? You don't even know. I bet you never even knew that stuff that we knew.
I can be a pretty snooty, high-minded person about my alcohol sometimes. It's not a mystery or even an apology; just read through this blog and you'll see. Maybe you even came here originally because you share my sensibilities and are looking for validation (you are not a Philistine). But even a scrooge as cold-hearted and critical as me can tell when I start to take a subject like alcohol too seriously. What, do you think I really worship this stuff? I can't even take any credit for it! Just one, single-celled organism is responsible for providing the human race with the most marvelous experience of all that we drink, and you think I'm really qualified to be the arbiter on what is right and wrong about the subject? Preposterous. I don't know where you come from, but I know that we can find some really fun stuff to drink together. Maybe I'll even write about it.
A toast! new friend. To second guessing!
To all who ever reached for their "default" sipper -
- Their standard bottle or brew -
And spied the bottle next to it and said, "Why not?"
Enjoy the roads untraveled.
To the home brewer or vintner,
Who starts with a kit and gets hooked,
And while following the recipe starts eyeing the spice cupboard.
Embrace the spirit of discovery.
To the ones who imbibe alone,
And then one day their spouse asks if they can stop by the liquor store,
And although they want to grab that noble, rare single malt,
They reach for that American Honey
In hopes of winning a convert.
Because don't you like honey?
May you relax and find love in letting go.
To the ones who look at that vodka in the cabinet,
Then look at that bag of peppers in the refrigerator,
Or perhaps they're eyeing their loose leaf tea,
And say, "What if..."
Unleash your inner mad scientist.
To the ones who are mixing up their whisky sour,
And - out of lemons - settle for grapefuit,
Who drink it anyway,
And give it a name.
The world is your grapefruit.
To the second guessers,
To the late impressors,
Kanpai! Salud! L'Chaim! Cheers!