Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Conspicuous Consumption 101

Every type of alcohol that I have encountered in my years of drinking has had a unique effect on me. Tequila makes me aggressive and fearless, and shows me a good time before it takes me out back and sodomizes me; sake makes me stupid; vodka and gin are good for the long nights on the town and are relatively forgiving the next morning; and beer -- sweet, beautiful, refreshing beer -- has been there from the beginning and has never let me down.

My favorite distilled spirit, however, has got to be whiskey. Crown Royal, to be precise. While I enjoy a quality bourbon, and some nights a Bushmills Irish whiskey hits the spot, for me it was love at first sip with the regal Canadian in her purple bag when I was 19. I drink my Crown on the rocks, and refuse to dilute her with anything more than the water melting from the ice keeping her cool. Colas insult her royal majesty. My friends know my tastes, and on my last birthday, one buddy gave me a 1.5L bottle of Crown, and my former boss, who still loves me, gave me a 1.5L bottle of Crown Special Reserve. I keep a 375 mL bottle of Crown in my office . . . just in case. When I stood best man in a wedding back in 2005, I had a half-pint of Crown in my inside tuxedo pocket in case the groom got nervous. Instead of the groom, I got the maid of honor, the bride’s brother, who was also standing in the wedding, and two of the bridesmaids soused. Because a swig of Crown takes the edge off like nothing else. Before I walked into the interview for my current job, I pounded a miniature bottle of Crown and popped a breath-mint. Gave the best interview of my life. Yes, Crown and I go back a long, long way. My dream girl is like a bottle of Crown Royal: elegant on the outside, smooth and refreshing, and a damned good time when you get to know her. If you take that metaphor a step further, there’s not many ladies out there as comfortable at a NASCAR race as in a five-star restaurant.

On Sunday, I happened to hear Things to do in Denver when you’re dead, by Warren Zevon. There’s a line in the song: “Dressed in black, tossing back a shot of rye . . .” and it occured to me that to my recollection, I’d never had rye whiskey. As a matter of fact, I can’t think of any bar where I’ve heard anybody order rye, and it’s never been at any party I’ve attended. And I thought about Don McLean’s American Pie, with its “good ole boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye” line. And so I determined that I needed to give the rye a try. (As an aside, I’m pretty sure it’s in these songs because it’s so easy to rhyme, rather than anything else). I went to the “fancy” liquor store to pick up a bottle, since I figured they’d have the best selection. Turns out there are a few brands out there. Distillers you’ve actually heard of make rye whiskeys, though, again, I’ve never seen these bottles outside of the liquor shelves. I recognized the yellow-labeled Jim Beam, for instance. I settled on a bottle of Wild Turkey rye, since it proudly set forth its 101 proof strength on the label, and it was a nice, round $20 for the bottle. I believe in doing things right, but dropping the ducat on “premium” rye whiskey seemed a little excessive, given my dearth of rye knowledge.

I was at the counter ringing up the dirty bird, when I looked at the shelf behind the cashier . . . the shelf with the super-premium alcohols (Johnnie Walker Blue Label, etc.). Sitting in all her majestic beauty was a bottle of Crown Royal XR (extra rare). I didn’t even know such a libation existed. I asked the sales guy about it. He wasn’t a very good salesman, but I did get this out of him (and the box the bottle was in after I asked to see it): XR is a limited-release blend of Crown Royal sold in serial-numbered bottles, and is made from the last batch of whiskey distilled at the Waterloo distillery, and there would be no further whiskies of that blend, since the distillery burned down. I’m a total sucker for marketing, and how could I resist the lovely lady to whom I owed so much? I cringed at the price tag when I first looked at it. I called the Kaiser so that he could talk me into it. It didn’t take much. I decided to buy the bottle and save it for a special occasion, to be determined. I passed the cashier my Discover card, since nobody takes Discover anymore, and I’ve had that card since I was 18, and it symbolically linked me to my drinking past. I’ve come a long way, and yet I haven’t. I hope I have something worth celebrating soon!


Anonymous said...

I agree on most of your points about the effects of the differet types of booze. Not so much on tequila, but maybe I've just been lucky that way!

Any crazy and/or illegal vodka martinis stories to report? That's been my drink of choice lately.

Jack Gordon said...

I don't drink anything calling itself a martini unless it's got gin at its core, Mike. A few vodka stories, but by and large vodka's been a pretty humble drink in my experience.

Jamm-o-rama said...

Ahh, gin martini's are a weakness for me. It's been quite sometime since I've even had one.