Tag Archives: Drinking Culture

To the Bottle

Can we have a moment of reflection to consider the glass bottle and all of its greatness?

I had this thought the other day when offered a beer along with a burritto that had been made by Tara. She asked if I needed a glass, which I considered for a moment. It was then that I came to the conclusion that there are some foods that are improved by drinking beer out of a bottle, rather than pouring it into a mug or glass.

This is more of an aesthetic, to be sure. I don’t believe it possible that a beer tastes any different out of a bottle as opposed to out of a glass. But my mind ran with the possibilities – What if the bottle keeps the beer colder? Does the much smaller opening of the bottle concentrate the flavor of the beverage upon the tongue? These are possible, but not so much of a variable that it’s noticable.

But the fact that drinking from a bottle changes the dynamic of a meal is something that’s difficult to ignore. I approach meals differently if drinking from a bottle as a opposed to drinking from a mug. There are some foods that are perfect for bottle drinking – mostly street foods. Tacos, Brautwurst that has been grilled and served on a bun, even fish and chips loaded with malt vinegar all seem better to me with beer from a bottle. On the other hand, there are some foods that it seems gauche to drink beer from a bottle, with a glass being the only polite alternative.

When it comes to taste, it’s not just beer that seemed improved by a bottle. Sodas take on a different aura when in a glass bottle. There are some people who swear by the old Coke bottles. If confronted by two bottles of Dr. Pepper, which one is more appealing – the one in a chilled plastic bottle, or the one a chilled glass bottle?

So let’s sing the praises of the glass bottle. Sometimes it’s the best way to drink a beverage.

Technorati Tags: drinks, glass bottles, bottles

Where have you gone, Dean Martin?

I come from a family of drinkers.

Not alcoholics mind you, but people who like various forms of alcohol and drink them in a responsible manner. This is a distinction that must be made. In fact, the mere fact that I have to make this distinction is why this post even exists.

My father was keen on scotch. My mother? She had a small bar in our double-wide trailer that consisted of vodka, rum and various schnapps. Both my parents had a taste for beer. These weren’t items that were consumed on a daily basis, but rather items that were saved for moments when they could be enjoyed.

I don’t necessarily mean enjoyed in the “taste” sense either, although my dad was known to mock lesser quality scotches and Budweiser was something that was brought into the house only by aunts and uncles. Rather, I mean enjoyed in the sense that adults would plan weekends together. At these weekends, cards and other board games were played, drinks were plied and fun was had by all. Everyone stayed the night, watched the football game the next day and then went home.

Do people still have nights like these?

American culture has changed over the past 50 years. Alcohol has been relegated to bars and beer ads. Alcohol for responsible home use is hardly spoken of any longer. My question is this: Does this reflect reality?

Consider this: The best resources for discovering data surrounding annual alcohol consumption are not the Food and Drug Administration or even the Bureau of Tobacco, Alchohol and Firearms. The best data comes from the Center for Disease Control and the National Institute on
Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The unintentional message sent by this is peculiar: the drinking of alcohol, responsible or otherwise, is a behavior that does not reflect that normal functioning adults, even if 55% of women and 61% of men drink in the United States.

Note that I don’t want to diminish the issue of alcoholism at all. People undoubtedly struggle with it, and the ramifications of this disease are far reaching. But for every one high-risk male drinker in the United States, there are five low-risk drinkers. In females, that ratio raises to 1:10 (data pulled from here). It is important to note that the a high-risk drinker is not an alcoholic or even a problem drinker, by the government’s definition. Rather their behavior may lend itself more easily to these diseases. (A high risk drinker is defined by the amount of a persons consumption. To be defined as a high-risk drinker, one must consume in a typical week, more than 14 drinks (men) or more than 7 drinks (women). Or on any day, more than 4 drinks (men) or more than 3 drinks (women))

But back to my main point for a moment – Alcohol is not a puritant product. We tend to drink alcoholic beverages not for the taste, but rather for (surprise, surprise) the alcohol. For proof of this, one needs only look at the sales of non-alcoholic beers and wines.

What I’m trying to say is this: I drink alcoholic beverages. I do so for a variety of reasons, including taste and for the slight buzz it may bring. I endeavor to drink responsibly, and I never drive after drinking, nor drink if I’m driving.

The question is: Is it socially acceptable simply to say “I drink alcoholic beverages” and leave it at that? Or must I add the qualifiers that I did in the previous paragraph in order to make my statement more socially acceptable?

Just wondering.

Technorati Tags: Food and Drink, Alcohol,

E.U.I – Eating under the Influence

It’s time for a bit of an admission.

I have not always been the food maven that I appear to be. Oh no. I have a darker, seamier side to my culinary history; A history that I am sure I share with thousands, if not millions of others.

Back in my college days, it was common for me to have blood content somewhere between a Carrie Bradshaw and a Keith Richards. Some weekends seemed like an evening at the Algonquin Round Table, others seemed like an early morning at Studio 54. In short, there have been many times where I have been, shall we say, unsober.

But where I differed from many is that when my inhibitions were lowered, it wasn’t sex that called my name.

No, for me the siren’s call came from the darker recesses of the foodie world. Brightly lit Seven Elevens and AM PM mini marts, Denny’s and Frisch’s Big Boys, and countless one night stands with anything and anyone who would deliver their wares to my door after midnight.

As I am now firmly in the third decade of existence, I look back upon these days with a great amount of fondness, especially in regard to the food. The death dogs and the Grand Slams may have been horrid food, but they and the bliss they induced were incredibly memorable.

Chief amongst these memories are moments where my friends and I sallied forth to the local convenience store to create what we called “Death Dogs”. Their moniker came about, not so much due to the freshness of the hot dogs, but rather due to the sheer number of items we would place on the poor poor hot dog. Chili, cheese, jalapeno peppers, catsup, two kinds of mustard, sauerkraut, onions and relish all were required in order to be considered a true “death dog”. Others in our group, not so brave, would remove one or several of the items, often followed by a fair amount of mocking.

The primary attraction to this dish was not so much the taste, but rather the cost. The hot dogs cost 2 for a dollar. The condiments? Free. One could easily triple the amount of food in one’s purchase by adding the free items.

Harder to explain are the nights spent at Denny’s. Here is a restaurant who has two major markets – Senior citizens in the morning, and drunks after bar closings. Their ties to alcohol are so readily apparent that many Denny’s now serve beer and mixed drinks.

Our crew would sit in the corner both and scour the menu as if we were on death row waiting for our last meal. Every night, each choice would be rationalized. “The salt in the fries will dilute the alcohol, ensuring I don’t get a hangover” or “Greasy foods help sober you up”. To this day I have no idea if there is any scientific evidence to back the claims made on those evenings. In the back of my mind, I believe that these were merely rationalizations for eating at places like Denny’s.

Possibly the scariest part of eating under the influence is when a person decides to invent a new meal, using whatever resources available. Cookie soup was a direct result of these sorts of shenanigans. Cookie soup, for the uninitiated, is almost exactly how it sounds. Place your favorite cookies in a cereal bowl. Cover with milk. Then you would either place the bowl in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes allowing the cookies to become a chilled soggy mess, or you would simply eat immediately.

Other discoveries included dunking Twinkies in chocolate syrup, Open faced Manwich sandwiches, and my personal favorite, Toritilla chips dusted with cinnamon, and then dunked in a melted ice cream of one’s own choosing.

As I sit here writing this, I am physically cringing at the horrors I have placed upon my body. But I cannot ignore the sheer pleasure that these moments gave, even if only for their inspired idiocy. While some people may say that one should be careful of what one eats when under the influence, I say that you should proudly stagger down the road less traveled. You may eat crap, but you’re sure to have a heck of a food story.

My guess is that some of you already do.