DC Drinks

Reviews, rantlets and ribald on all things alcoholic.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Drinker's Block

You walk up to a bar and order, "Jim Beam, rocks." You pause, the bartender pauses. She replies, "We have Jack."

"Jack? Jack isn't Jim Beam."

For the love of Christ, how can they be out of Jim? You pause, search and collect your thoughts. "No problem, I'll order again." But what? Then the terror hits. But what!

Insert your own drink, but the phenomena is the same. The slightest change of plans can throw the habitual drinker in to gibbering idiot searching through the vast reservoir of drinks you drank before you knew what you drink covering everything from your first vodka tonic to goofy shit like a Campari and soda.

You even consider rum drinks before you remember that what distinguishes a Rum Punch from a Planters Punch from a Mai Tai to most bartenders is if they put three different kind of fruit wedges, four different kind of fruit wedges and/or a cherry on top.

Welcome to drinker's block. Fortunately, we can help. We've been through this enough times to know the stages of drinker's block and how to beat it.

It starts with denial. You stand with your jaw open for about five minutes (that's approximately ten drinks time to a bartender) as if it'll just come to you. The bartender politely starts polishing a glass. That's when you know time is ticking down. You hastily order a Pale Ale and then take it back. Really, when's the last time you enjoyed a Pale Ale? The bartender, disgusted, turns away.

Next comes anger. It's the bar's fault, right? They have 100 different kinds of liquor but they're out of one so "f--- them." Sounds fair. Maybe you should call ahead next time and they can special order a bottle for you, princess.

Then there's sorrow. You stare forlorn at the foot rail. You wish you went to the pool hall instead. Too late, you can't walk out now. Besides the bartender is hot.

Finally, there's acceptance. The bartender comes back, mocks you as rightly she should, and you just have to bite the bullet. Order something. Anything.

"I'll have Knob Creek instead."

There, you did it. Glad we could help.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Ubiquitous International Lager

Imagine a world in which the only wines were "dry" whites, distant, dumbed-down, derivations of a French Chardonnay. With the exception of Guinness (a stout) and Bass (an ale), all the widely known international beers are of the same type (very distant, dumbed down, derivatives of Pilsener lager, with little to distinguish one from another). - Michael Jackson

From Canada to China, India to Australia, every country short of Saudi Arabia seem to have their own home brew. The temptation to travel around the world in a pint glass is great. (I often wonder how many international beers I could put back in a day's worth of drinking.) The only problem is that as distinct as these countries are, with their great heritages, unique cultures and political differences, Molson and Tsing Dao, Kingfisher and Fosters all taste the f-ing same.

The BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) lists
this style as the "Standard American Lager," with "little to no malt aroma... light, spicy or floral hop presence... low levels of yeast character... very pale straw to medium yellow color... crisp and dry flavor with some low levels of sweetness... no fruitiness... [and a] slight carbonic bite on the tongue."

Don't get me wrong, these beers are easy drinking. They're also an excellent pairing to spicy ethnic cuisine, especially Chinese carry-out. But why the disguise of nationality? They should all have a plain brown label and read: The Ubiquitous International Lager.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

"Gin Was the Original Urban Drug"

"Time and time again men and women who might ordinarily have drunk a pint or two of beer drank a pint or two of gin instead, often with disastrous consequences." - Jessica Warner, from her book, Craze

I'm currently reading Warner's excellent account of the insanity caused by cheap-ass gin on British society between 1720 and 1751. During that period, the Brits drank more gin than they did beer. Anyone who's spent any time in England should be shocked by that statistic. For those thirty years, people were dying, puking and fucking in the shit-strewn streets, smashed on gin. And it wasn't the type of gin we sip from conical cocktail glasses with olives today. Oh no. The book describes a beverage akin to mixing up Mad Dog 20/20, cheap vodka, and spiking it with Pinesol. Now imagine 75% of your city's population wasted on that concoction on a daily basis. That was London way back when.

The often bloody chaos continued for decades, wreaking havoc on English society until Parliament passed the famous Gin Act of 1751 which completely outlawed the distillaion of gin, and things returned to some semblance of normalcy.

The book is a well-written historical narrative that never gets bogged down with facts and figures. It's worth purchasing. And it's even better if you mix together the aforementioned swill of Mad Dog and vodka while reading. It's like transporting yourself back to 18th century London ... Yea.