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38 replies to this topic

#31 Miss E

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 05:00 PM

I agree. If I could be a one-drink person, I would be. Alas, I can't seem to be one. I'm glad others can.
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#32 Chris Amirault

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Posted 30 August 2006 - 05:18 PM

Product acquisition update: for reasons that I cannot quite fathom, I found today a single bottle of Sazerac rye at a local liquor store. I've chosen to take this as a sign, and so, on this most sad first anniversary, I raise a toast:

Posted Image
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#33 eje

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Posted 30 August 2006 - 06:43 PM

Did you shake that Sazerac?

If so, BAD Chris!

I'm abivalent about the Sazerac Rye for Sazeracs. I think I prefer the Wild Turkey.

I do think it makes the world's best Manhattans, though.
Erik Ellestad
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#34 Chris Amirault

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Posted 30 August 2006 - 07:01 PM

I did shake it, stupidly. Consider it a metaphor: given the source of the drink and ingredients, my unconscious thought it appropriate to mark the one-year anniversary of Katrina.
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#35 Gardengal

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Posted 12 November 2009 - 07:24 AM

I enjoyed your post, Chris, and thank you for sharing your experience. You might say I have "been there, done that"... up to the point of being able to enjoy an occasional guilty pleasure cocktail. Without much hullabaloo, I will say that I discovered that I have a growth in the liver early this year. The GI specialist felt it was an adenoma, but after I confessed my drinking habits (largely from boredom), he admitted the possibility of it being a fatty deposit.

I had already taken the step to stop drinking liquor, with only an occasional glass of wine, but gladly abstained from all with his words. I look forward to my next scan, and hope to see that area diminished, if not completely gone.

Having thought a great deal about my drinking practices, I finally determined that the way to do it - if one must - is as you are doing, rather than as if one is being paid to imbibe!

I am so thankful that I was able to take this on, without having to seek treatment to curtail my 'habit'.


#36 anm

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 12:32 AM

That was nice ...

#37 Chris Amirault

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 07:42 AM


Two addenda to this topic.

Those interested in things Sazerac will want to check out the month of Sazeracs being savored by Society member (and staff emeritus) Erik Ellestad (eje) over at his Underhill Lounge blog.

Those interested in advising a middle-aged man who has decided it's time to start a career as a bartender (that would be me) at a new restaurant in town (that would be Cook & Brown Public House in Providence RI) can click here.
Chris Amirault
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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

#38 EvergreenDan

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 05:44 AM

Well-written. Excellent storytelling. Thanks.
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#39 TexasCocktailGeek

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 08:28 AM

Fantastic narrative, Chris. Thanks so much for sharing it.

My approach to alcohol has been a bit different. My first memory of alcohol is when I was about 7 or 8, and my best friend and I were playing at her house. Her father brewed his own beer, and he gave us each a sample of it (not more than a half-ounce each) to try. You can imagine our reactions - we spat out the bitter liquid, yelled "Yuck!" and immediately went off in search of Kool-Aid. I think that initial experience pretty much inoculated us against underage alcohol experimentation. In fact, thinking back on it, I wouldn't be surprised if my parents had put her father up to it!

Maybe as a result, unlike most of my friends, I never drank at all in high school, and I was introduced to beer and wine only in my senior year in college. I was an EMT/firefighter in a small town at the time, and if I'd had any alcohol at all, I was forbidden to respond to 911 calls. So, being the adrenaline junkie that I was, I mostly opted for the calls instead of a glass of wine or beer.

My then-girlfriend (now wife) and I enjoyed the occasional glass of wine with dinner after we graduated, and that was really the extent of it. We might have gone through a bottle of wine every couple of weeks - it seemed like the wine would often turn before we could finish it, so we made a lot of pasta sauce! I also enjoyed making my own six-packs with fairly obscure single beers at Cost Plus/World Market. Alcohol was an accessory for dinner or dessert. In fact, the only bottle of liquor we had for many years was a fifth of Arrow (yuck) kirsch, which we used for fondue a couple of times a year.

When we moved back to Texas, I was hired at a medical school to conduct grant-funded health promotion research. The first project I worked on was designed to train primary care resident physicians to identify patients with risky (i.e., binge) drinking behaviors. The residents could then perform a brief counseling intervention themselves, or refer the patient to a specialist for further management. While working on the project, I interviewed lots of patients, and lots of doctors, and I became very aware of how common risky drinking or binge drinking could be. The most interesting thing I learned (and something that Chris alluded to in his narrative) was that a 'standard' drink means different things for different people. For some, it's a shot of vodka; for others, it's a 6-oz glass of wine; and for others, it's a 40-oz of MD 20/20. Having 3 drinks at a sitting means something very different in each of those cases. (For those who'd like to see the 'official' drink definitions from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the NIH, click here.)

It's sort of strange to me that it was only after working in alcohol research that I became interested in cocktails and cocktail culture. My parents were mostly wine people when I was growing up, though I guess my father had a dusty bottle of Johnny Walker Black in some forgotten corner of the pantry. But 'hard' liquor was mostly foreign to me. I'm not sure what sparked my interest, but when I first walked into Spec's in Midtown here in Houston and looked at the sheer volume and variety of their products, I had that kid-in-a-candy-store feeling. Thinking back, I'm a little embarrassed, because the first bottles I bought were cloying, sicky-sweet liqueurs: Hiram Walker Creme de Menthe & Creme de Cacao, the requisite bottles of Bailey's and Kahlua, etc. My tastes ran to the dessert-y stuff, to the point that my sister (who was far more experienced in the realm of booze) refused to go out and have a drink with me for fear that I would order a chocolate martini or something ("bitch drinks," in her words).

A turning point came when my wife got me the Rob Chirico's Field Guide to Cocktails, and I finally read up on other spirits and some of their history. As time went on, I cautiously dipped my toe into brandy, then gin, then tequila. I found some other books (such as Ted Haigh's Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails), which were both more useful and appealed to my appreciation of historic customs. My collection of spirits grew, and the Hiram Walker went down the drain. My wife found a set of beautiful cocktail glasses, I got my first Boston shaker, and I fell in love with the Sidecar. I found eGullet, and read Erik's Savoy Stomping thread cover-to-cover. I took my first trip to Anvil (and had a Sazerac!), and I started keeping a journal, recording every cocktail I made (ingredients, proportions, and my thoughts).

Today, I have a variety of spirits, bitters, bar tools, glasses, and books, and I'm sure I seem a bit obsessive to my friends and family. I'm not sure if it's a result of my mostly (though not oppressively) dry upbringing, my research in alcohol abuse, or just that first bitter sip of beer, but I'm still a one-cocktail-a-night guy. Like a lot of people who have commented on this thread, I've come to really enjoy the ceremony and authenticity of cocktails. A cocktail once or twice a week can be really special - it's something I like forward to, since it's not part of daily routine for me. And yes, there are times that I worry about alcoholism and addiction. But for me, that sense of ceremony, coupled with my obsessive note-taking and journaling about each cocktail, seems to hold my drinking my drinking in check. The day that I wake up and realize that it has become routine is the day I will bid it adieu.

As Sandy and Blair mentioned upthread, there are lots of resources on alcoholism and addiction out there. Here are a few that I'd recommend, since there's a good bit of research and evidence to back them up:

Thanks again to Chris and to everyone else for keeping this interesting thread alive!
Jeff Fox
Aspiring Cocktailian