I started drinking like most of us. I would watch the adults around me. In a way I was lucky, my father was a regular drinker if not a heavy drinker. Some of my family would have wine at every meal and sometimes an after dinner drink. My father drinks gin and I and my brother now drink gin. Gin has a weird historical social stigma in America. To me, because it was normal in our house, gin was just gin.
As a young man in my late teens and early twenty’s, despite my early exposure to proper drinking habits, I drank a lot of crap. I like many others felt that I had to learn some painful lessons for my self. I drank whiskey from the bottle, trying to be cool. I also drank things like Kiwi Strawberry Snapple and Vodka, drinking just to get drunk. So sweet as to hide any hint of boozy burn or taste of the alcohol. I would make bottle cocktails, just drinking off enough “juice” to make room for the vodka. Then I would be good to go for walking a party, hanging in the parking lot of that 18 and up club, or just sitting in front of my TV. Looking back I drank a whole lot of awful stuff.
Slowly I began to reach out for better. I learned to appreciate the way alcohol burns. I explored savory flavors, and scotch and bourbon too. During this time craft beer exploded in southern California. I drank it all in.
This should not be an unfamiliar story. Most of us start out drinking sweet easy drinks or watery beer. Drinking for an easy social drunk. Delving into saccharine vodka drinks spiked with energy drinks and syrups. On the surface it is easy to say that “this is what I like and that I will spend my ducats on stuff I like.” I don’t intend to tell you that you can’t have what you like or to make the whole sugar addiction of america argument. Rather I want to suggest that we can grow in our drinking becoming more complex, introspective and dare I say respectable drinkers. I like a drink that makes me think. I no longer want an easy drunk. Instead I prefer that my drunkenness and my hangovers are hard-earned.
Learning to like the complex and unfamiliar takes work and repetition. When I sit and linger over a glass of whiskey, or I take the time to make a perfectly balanced martini I sip thoughtfully focusing on the flavors and mouthfeel. I make it a point to thoroughly and actively enjoy and explore each drink. I likely drink less this way and enjoy it more.
All that said, life still gets the better of me sometimes and I may yet have to learn some painful lessons. I only intend to drink well. Keeping in mind that the road to hell may indeed be paved with good intentions.