Sometimes, I am simply mesmerized when I’m sitting at a bar and there’s a hundred bottles of not-beer on the wall, a dizzying assortment of gins and whiskies and vodkas and tequilas and aperitifs and digestives and fancy hooch in magical bottles that Aladdin would covet.
And I marvel at all the delivery systems on display for one active ingredient.
Alcohol is one of the most intriguing substances on earth, beginning with its beginnings. We can only imagine the excitement as Caveman Grunk ran to his friends and announced, “Look. That bird just ate those rotten berries and he fell on the ground and a snake ate him. We should eat those berries, too.”
Being an early humanoid required constant vigilance and anything that reduced your ability to focus could be pretty deadly, but that didn’t stop our fearless forebears from finding new ways to make and guzzle hooch. Since our earliest pre-history, alcohol consumption has been a driving force of—and against—civilization.
Through the millennia, moms have cautioned their children not to let food go to waste, while the truly visionary alchemists let the food rot until it turned into something much more interesting. Whether they focused on honey or rice or wheat or barley or grapes, they found a way to build the buzz around their buzz.
Wine makes the most sense, I suspect, since it is basically the archetype of rotten berries and it has enough sugar in it to taste okay. And once those wily monks of the Middle Ages found a way to insert wine into their religious rituals…Ka-Ching!…all of us were hooked. “Yes, we make the wine and, yes, you will burn in hell if you don’t drink it as we instruct. Was there a question?”
Outside of religious practices, wine has evolved into a religion of its own, with all kinds of rules and rituals and taboos and hierarchies. And, to be frank, a lot of it is both pretentious and weird. I would never bite into a piece of chalk or oak bark or peat, and I definitely don’t chew tobacco, but I’m supposed to taste all of that in my wine and go, “Yummmmm?” If you close your eyes, you can hear Dom Perignon chuckling in his grave.
While wine is usually tolerable for almost everyone, most other kinds of alcohol are what we call, um, an “acquired taste,” the stuff that makes you wanna holler hi-de-ho. I drink bourbon, and scotch, and an occasional Slivovitz, but I promise I am not doing it for the taste.
No, I’m doing it for the sophistication. If I drink enough bourbon and I can tell the difference between Swampmash, Swampmash Barrel Strength, Swampmash Reserve and Swampmash 62, I will have a “sophisticated palate.” And, outside of curing cancer and inventing sliced bread, there’s nothing more admirable than having a sophisticated palate.
So I have been trying, almost every day, sometimes three or four or fourteen times a day, striving to discern the difference between Malbec and Malpeque, between Pinot Grigio and Topo Gigio, maybe even between Claret and Claritin. Perhaps, one day, I will look at the magic wall behind the bar and I’ll know whether to order my martini shaken or stirred.
In the meantime, I will silently envy the sophisticates who can find the perfect wine for veal Prince Orloff or the best beer to match with beef jerky. Someday, somehow, I will win my seat at their table.
It’s likely to be a long time before I am a true sophisticate, but it takes no time to become a subscriber just by clicking here.
Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.