|IN CELEBRATION OF THIS FINE, FINE DAY, FIVE WOMEN WEIGH IN ON WHAT THEY REALLY WANT FOR VALENTINE'S DAY -- HARD LIQUOR.|
|By Amy Blair, Aileen Gallagher, Theresa O'Rourke, Tracy Weiss & Claire Zulkey||
My girlfriends and I always cause a riot at the bar. We're the cast of any red-blooded American boy's masturbatory fantasy -- a perky blond sorority queen, a pixie faced brunette, a blue eyed beauty with a statuesque body, a Drew Barrymore look-alike and me. But it's not my flaming red hair, ample rack and dirty mouth that call attention down at the pub. My popularity comes from my man. His name?
Men assume their women drink white wine, fruity vodkas or perhaps the Carrie Bradshaw-endorsed cosmo. Whiskey's not supposed to be on our short list -- let alone by the fifth, like I drink it. And that's my charm. No one expects a nice Midwestern girl to drink like a war veteran and curse like a trucker, which means I have these unsuspecting saps by the short and curlies until I decide to reel 'em in. The old platitude "you are what you eat" is a bit off. You are what you drink. And a woman who digs the real "hard stuff" becomes a walking, talking bad girl cliché.
I wasn't always this tough. As high school freshmen, my friends and I experimented with booze the hard way. Seriously, it was difficult -- and not only from a ethical standpoint. We spent hours using a corkscrew to bludgeon open a bottle of Manischewitz wine. And the worst part is the stuff is fucking terrible. We keep it on a shelf until the annual "dysfunctional family Seder showtime spectacular" and elderly relatives demand to know why you don't have a boyfriend. It was all we had available.
So for a while, I didn't really enjoy drinking. Shitty wine just didn't do it for me. I flirted with Jell-O shots. Had a brief encounter with vodka soaked watermelon. But my alcohol cherry remained intact when it came to the hot sauce.
Then I met Jack. He was a cool drink of charcoal-mellowed whiskey with a slow drawl. His Tennessee heat warmed me inside and out. "Oh, Jack" I moaned as I sucked down another one. I felt intoxicated as Jack lifted my -- HEY! Wait, a minute! I was intoxicated! I was wasted!
Jack Daniels awakened me to the World of Real Men. I met his friends: Jim Beam, Johnnie Walker, Ben Nevis, Glenn Livit. Exhilarated, I left Jack for a while and dated different types of guys. Ah, that torrid summer with the Mexican immigrant farmer, Senor Cuervo. The chilly affair with that mysterious traveler named Comrade Stolichnaya. But you never forget your first love.
Jack knows me. He knows I am equally comfortable at a hockey game as I am at a black tie affair. He knows I like leather and loud classic rock and French fries and my steak rare. And if you're that guy in the bar who spies me ordering "bourbon, rocks, lime" with a wicked smile, you do too.
Tracy Weiss, New York City newbie and consummate bar star, can be found trolling bars downtown searching for weak men to buy her excessive amounts of booze.
It was January and I was living in Minnesota, that godforsaken arctic tundra of a state. To make matters worse, I was enrolled in a daily month-long English class about the Bronte sisters. I was expected to read every single book written by Charlotte, Emily, and Anne in four weeks, the daily temperature was about sixty degrees below zero, and three feet of snow was a permanent institution.
Charlotte Bronte wrote in Jane Eyre, "It is vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it."
I turned to vodka.
This is when "The Bo' Fish" came to be. While browsing through a thrift store, I found a colossal glass goblet that soon became part of my daily routine. It was originally christened "The Fish Bowl," but it was abruptly transformed into "The Bo' Fish" by some unfortunate drunk's slurring slip of the tongue.
By 12:30 each and every January afternoon, it was filled with vodka and orange juice. Class began at 1:00. And night after night an ensemble of various friends and neighbors would show up to wade through bottle after bottle of vodka and other assorted beverages in an attempt to ignore the impossible weather conditions outside. We were warm, and free to stay drunk for thirty-one days straight.
Well, free from everything but those damn Bronte bitches.
Every night, I would slip in and out of the loop of conversation, slugging screwdrivers and trying to plow through Wuthering Heights while an assemblage of carefree cold weather refugees raged around me. They were enrolled in classes with names like "Introduction to Ceramics" or "The History of Sexuality." Their prime focus, in other words, was month-long inebriation and avoiding any reason to actually go outside.
What continues to amaze me to this day is that I actually read those books. They're on my shelves, underlined, with notes in the margins. I wrote papers on the Brontes. I have the evidence to prove it. I feel as though I somehow defied the laws of the universe. I cheated the boundaries of possibility. I beat the Brontes.
Even now, six years later, friends continue to inquire after "The Bo' Fish." I keep it on the shelf, unused, a testament and reminder of the heroic acts of binge drinking the human spirit is capable of in Minnesota, in January, with pages and pages of Brontes to conquer.
I'm saving "The Bo' Fish," I tell them, for the next storm of the century.
Amy Blair is a freelance writer based in New York. She plays football.
I've always been impressed with people who have "the usual." My mom's a Gibson on the rocks, with onion. There's something classy about having a signature drink. It shows you know what you want, no messing around. It's a statement of who you are.
I decided that I wanted a signature drink, too. I mean, I like beer and wine, but I wanted a cocktail involving hard liquor to show I was serious. No slippery nipples or sex on the beach or mango-ritas for me. Something that I could order in a fancy restaurant that wouldn't make the waiter snicker. A drink I could sip at a bar like a real alcoholic broad and not some conniving college student who snuck in. And it couldn't be too seasonal (daiquiri) or too ethnic (capirinha).
Finding it wasn't easy. I wanted something that I'd actually enjoy, too. I remembered back to my friend Brooke, who, halfway through college, decided that she wanted a signature drink. Her pick: Whiskey and soda.
"Why whiskey and soda?" I asked her.
"I dunno," she shrugged. "My stepfather always orders it and it sounds cool."
A few weeks later, I asked her how she found the whiskey and soda. Her reply: Something along the lines of: "It tasted like shit" and "I'm sticking with red wine from now on."
So what kind of liquor? Rum makes me want to puke. Vodka tastes like rubbing alcohol smells. Whiskey is punishment. I went with gin. I like gin. It's a little fruity-smelling, mysteriously clear and comes in beautiful blue Bombay Sapphire bottles. Plus, I could tolerate it with just soda, so that had to mean something. If you can drink it without diluting it too much, then you're in business.
And that's what led me to the gimlet, although I don't know why I ordered it the first time. I think that I had heard the word "gimlet," liked it, and figured out what it meant. Gin and lime juice! So simple! So easy. It's clear and cold, just sweet enough that I can truly enjoy it, yet just straight enough that it's still a relatively manly for a girl like me.
So if you're looking for me in a bar, I'll be the girl enjoying her gimlet. With rail gin. I'm not made of money, you know.
Claire Zulkey is of legal drinking age, don't you worry. Visit her daily at www.zulkey.com.
A friend pointed out that I always date completely different guys for completely different reasons. My drinks are completely different, too. Though I take alcohol more seriously than men, the friend had a point. I sought separate qualities from each, the men and the drinks. These are the drinks I dated.
Cider. I spent long fall days on the front porch with Cider, playing Scrabble. Hanging on to the last shards of sun. I didn't know what I was doing and wasn't quire sure if I wanted it, but I drank it anyway. Cider didn't last long, but it was good. A little bubbly. Pretty sweet. Nothing to be taken seriously.
Beer. My relationship with Beer didn't start properly till I moved to the big city, but there were prior, forbidden tastes. Lagers. Steady and realistic. There's comfort in the familiar, reassurances in a shared past. Somewhat regrettably, I always go back. Long after I know nothing good will ever come of it, I accept the next pint with relish. But you know, there's a reason they never run out of Beer.
Gin. Of the pale liquors, not too many people choose Gin. Gin gives them headaches, they say. Never bothered me. At first, the G&T with a lime. Simple and classy. Timeless. Later, in a vain attempt to move things along, the gimlet. When done right -- not with stand-in, half-assed ingredients, but with an actual freshly squeezed lime and powdered sugar -- the gimlet makes you nostalgic for times you never actually had. Gin happened when I wanted to be older than I was. That's why it couldn't last.
Whiskey. This is where I have settled, in Whiskey's warm amber and translucent versatility. So many ways to drink it, but I am always left with the same lingering taste on my tongue. It's hard to disguise Whiskey's flavor, the true sense of it. Whiskey burns sometimes. But so does the pursuit of all things that are inherently risky and ultimately worthwhile. There is stability in this drink. The future will change. The bottle won't.
Aileen Gallagher, author of three children's books, writes The Black Table's "Weekly Rundown."
Since hard liquor oozes that "I'm a hard-core drunk" vibe, I try my best to steer clear of it, especially after one horrible night in 1998. I was a features editor at Playgirl, and my staff and I took the beefcake models from our annual "College Hunks" issue out for dinner and drinks. We went to Lucky Cheng's, an Asian-themed restaurant with transsexual waiters (don't even ask) in New York's East Village.
The publisher was incredibly cheap and decided that the only thing we could drink were Cosmopolitans. (There must have been a special on them that night.) I pondered drinking water for the evening, but when you have a six-foot-three inch dude in drag insisting that you "imbibe or else" you don't play teetotaler.
The night wore on and my inhibitions lowered. My colleague and I decided to take advantage of the two dumb-as-rock Playgirl models sitting across from us. She opted for the stud who snared "best smile." I ponied up to the real prize -- the co-ed we honored with "best erection."
The drinks kept coming, and I kept guzzling. Hell, Cosmos are about as sweet as Hawaiian Punch, so I downed them with reckless abandon. As the restaurant was getting ready to close and the last bit of sugary vodka dissolved on my tongue, I escorted the Weiner Wonder of The World back to his hotel. We wasted no time getting busy once we reached his room.
I unzipped his Levi's and went down on him. Bad move. My stomach already felt queasy, and I'm not sure if you've ever had a dick between your lips -- but it's not exactly the perfect way to cure an aching belly. Plus, he was really big. (We don't hand out "best erection" to just any random motherfucker.)
"I'm about to come," he cried. "Fuck, I'm about to come!"
Unfortunately, I erupted first. Gagging, I barfed all over his most prized possession.
"Oh. My. God," he bellowed. "You sick bitch."
My sentiments exactly.
Theresa O'Rourke avoids vodka like the plague. Cock, however, is a totally different story.