DC Drinks

Reviews, rantlets and ribald on all things alcoholic.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Lime: The Bitch Sister That Won't Put Out

Answer this, margarita purists: if margarita premix is so evil, why is the process of squeezing enough limes for a decent-sized party so f'n hard?

On the invite for my last cocktail party I shunned premix like any good cocktail snob. Just like a "vodka martini" isn't a real Martini, a real margarita is not authentic unless freshly squeezed lime juice is the base. A no-brainer, right? But try doing it.

First off, I lack a proper electric juicer, so I'm stuck doing it by hand. And after the 8th lime squeezed, your arms feel wrenched and you want to give up. The taboo thought enters your head: maybe I should've just bought premix. NO, god dammit. You know fresh is better; it's axiomatic. So you slog on ...

At lime number 25, you look into your pitcher and realize there's only enough juice for fewer than three glasses. Christ. At some point you need help. In fact, it's a three person job if you're wanting more margaritas than for just you and your S.O.

You may not know it, but limes are small and dry. There's not much juice in them compared to lemons, and their innards are like green desert clay. A lemon is luscious---covered in thick, oily skin and full of wet fruit that keeps on giving. You only need a few lemons to get most cocktail jobs done. But the lime is the lemon's bitch sister that won't put out.

How god damn hard is it to make quality margarita premix? DC Drinks demands that the public should be able to obtain it. Just remember, there was once a time when we accepted coffee from a can as something drinkable.

Change is in the air ...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Ex·pec·to·rate, or Why I Spit

ex-pec-to-rate v.
To eject from the mouth by spitting.

Sorry for the radio silence. I've been building a wine list and have spent the last few weeks in a semi-permanent haze from the fumes of three hundred or so wines I've been sniffing, swirling, sipping and spitting out. That's right, I said "spitting out."

I freely admit that I spit.

Even so, some percentage of alcohol is still absorbed through the mouth walls. I've heard ten percent. Especially when you gargle something bad-ass (the "absorption" rate grows the better the wine). I can only imagine the rate of absorption for first-growths.

That ten percent haze you feel after drinking, say, eighty wines is comparable to the feeling of waking up sans hangover after a hard night of drinking. You feel a slight body numbness and react slowly and clumsily; you forget what you've just said and then remember what you were thinking right before you forgot what you said.

What was I saying? Forget about it. Another Pommard "mouth rinse," please.

Nevertheless, spitting is important. Otherwise, you'd be straight hammered and that wine you thought had the subtle taste of soap and some unknown bacteria might seem a little more pleasant while you're slurping down the bunch.

I know what you're thinking: Can you taste the wine if you don't swallow?

Think about it. There are no taste buds in your throat and stomach. Actually, most of what you taste is in your upper nasal cavity anyway. You smell it. On your tongue there are only four tastes (although the Japanese say there's a fifth as well, umami).

With that said, you could probably get most of the information you need about a wine from sight and smell alone, but mouth feel and the wine's "leave" are also important for pairing and overall evaluation. So you swish it around a bit.

I think I feel the "haze" wearing off. Time to start building my whiskey list.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

That Age-Old American Stereotype is Withering

Falsehood number one: America is prudish about drinking while the rest of the world finds it perfectly normal to get so blotto that they end up punching a fist through some drywall and waking up next to a trollop named Tammy who smokes menthols. This is the typical line that you hear from foreigners time and again. Ms. Mimi in New York, a British journalist-come-stripper, echoes that sentiment:
"America - It's OK to get drunk. It's OK to have casual sex with some arsehole you wouldn't even let lick your shoes in the morning. It's OK to get so fucked up you fall asleep on the toilet. That's living sweetie. It's fine to fall in a bush and laugh about it the next day. Tell your colleagues. It doesn't mean you can't do your job, you're less of a person, you're not 'marriageable' material. It means you need to get a fucking promotion. Anyone who can drink with me and make it into work at 9am deserves a better job. This country needs to loosen up a little."
But my anecdotal evidence tells me we have loosened up.

American culture shifted some time in the 1990s and 2000s. I meet more and more people that are interested in the Art of Drinking than I ever remember. That lurking taboo against going out and getting stanko is hanging on a thread, people. In fact, A & E's popular reality show, Intervention, a program that films real life substance abuse interventions, has yet---to my knowledge---to have a single episode about an alcoholic. That's because over-drinking in itself (without driving) is hardly considered a problem anymore.

The only drinking survey I could find online was this one from 1999, which says that, "The percentage of the American population drinking alcoholic beverages has fluctuated greatly over the past 60 years, ranging between 55% and 71%. In Gallup Poll's most recent survey on this issue ... 64% of the adult population said they had taken an opportunity to drink." I'd be willing to bet that in 2006 we're closer to the 75% range.

Folks, we can now declare that drinking is no longer bad. Fucking finally. Let the world be fair-warned that the USA is no longer a country of prudes and stuffed shirts. We've stepped into the fray to get wasted just as diligently as any Brit or German out there.