Idiot-Proof: My Layman’s Guide to Liquor

People who know me are familiar with my fondness of whiskies, with my more recent obsession being single malt scotch. People have accused me of being somewhat knowledgeable on the topic of liquor. I’ve been asked for advise–no, guidance even–on what to purchase when it comes to different boozes. Quite a few people have had me wave a glass of something in their general direction accompanied by a demand they try it.

This idea has been, dare I say, brewing for a while now, and I’ve decided I might as well just let it happen.

Here’s the thing about scotch (and liquor in general). I enjoy it, but I can’t say I typically find myself using the same descriptors the boxes and bottles provide. It’s easy enough to say I lack the sophisticated palate and training needed to fully appreciate a truly great drink, and I’ll respond by laughing the smug, awful laughter of someone who has made a Blood & Sand with The Glenlivet 21 Years of Age (because it’s my bottle and I’ll enjoy it however I please, thank you very much).

My solution to the loftiness and aloof descriptions favored by these mighty fine spirits (not to say they aren’t deserving of such praise and descriptions) is to put my own spin on the experience that each of my selections has to offer. This is Idiot-Proof, in which I dumb things down to my level in hopes of helping sway any of you who may be on the fence about trying something new. Tonight’s post–the inaugural post–starts off with a real doozy, too, which only seems appropriate. Continue reading

Hello, Old Friend

It’s that time again. Time to dust off Misadventures In Fiction, evicting spiders and so forth, and return to giving it the attention it intermittently deserves. While I certainly can’t claim to have forgotten this site–quite the contrary, in fact, as I think about what I could be writing almost daily–I must admit I haven’t done the best job of keeping it alive. Or the most mediocre job, really.

However, I am moved back to Carnegie as of a couple months ago (living partially out of boxes and bags is moved back in, right?). Life has gone on, and in ways I couldn’t have necessarily predicted but I’m entirely okay with (and no, I am not suggesting I won the lottery, so don’t start asking for yachts or anything). Tonight, when I have an overnight shift to work tomorrow and relatively unlimited time to stay up, I find myself frustrated. I am, as often is the case, in the throes of a creative funk. Continue reading

Something alliterative involving Tuesday

I haven’t even written a Tuesday post and I already changed my mind on what Tuesday’s posts are going to involve. That sounds like a strong indication of how quickly this misadventure is going to devolve into shenanigans.

To settle this problem, while giving myself enough room to turn Tuesday into a blend of whatever-I-want posts, I’m going to call Tuesday posts Topical Humor Tuesdays for now. Make a note of that for when I invariably change it to something different next week. And the week after. Moving on.

A note added after the post was finished: it turned out more like Tirade Tuesday, but I’m not admitting defeat just yet because there is some topical humor involved (damn it).

Any of you who follow me on Twitter (Anyone? No? Ah well.) are familiar with my tendency to live-tweet things. Sometimes while also some degree of intoxicated. There’s nothing, I’ve found, more enjoyable to drunk live-tweet along with than awards shows, and there’s no award show more fun to drunkenly live-tweet alongside than The Academy Awards (aka The Oscars aka The Awards Show for People Who Can’t Pronounce Names). It’s a huge night for the who’s who of Hollywood, presumably after many weeks of actors and actresses practicing their best I-can’t-believe-I-won faces in the mirror.

No offense meant to Kristen Wiig, a comedy treasure. This just happened to be one of the first results for "surprised celebrity".

No offense meant to Kristen Wiig, a comedy treasure (who, thankfully, will never see this post). This just happened to be one of the first results for “surprised celebrity”.

Continue reading

Seasonally-appropriate boozy hijinks


I’ve seen a million billion people (clearly in no way an exaggeration) talking, at some point or another, about Pumpking and Warlock. As someone who likes trying new things, a person who isn’t entirely against the occasional beer, and a Warlock fanatic on WoW…Well, I had to eventually give these a chance. I’ve not yet tried the Warlock.

Pumpking has a pleasant taste, with perhaps a touch of bitterness at the end. The bright orange coloration makes it a fun drink, and it smells like a freshly-baked pumpkin pie. I can see why this receives such rave reviews.

However, I now also feel compelled to think up spooky drinks involving stronger manners of spirits. Suggestions?

Exploring the bourbon part of @SnarkAndBourbon

It all started one Easter weekend at a family gathering. The poison in question? An ancient, perhaps somewhat dodgy bottle of Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 that has been residing in the garage. After some coercing from my cousin, I did a shot of the stuff (on the basis that my sister’s boyfriend also did the same). I had no idea what to expect, but I still remember the vaguely smoke-flavored inferno that followed. My stomach didn’t seem particularly keen at first, but it accepted the odd intruder as it settled with the odd blend of various dishes I’d enjoyed for dinner. It was that Easter I swore I would never drink Jack Daniel’s again. Just wasn’t for me, I thought.

Anyone who knows my drinking habits, which have shifted and changed from my choosing to not really drink until after I’d turned twenty-two to my occasional drink (and my social drinking among friends, as witnessed during my last hoorah in Chicago recently), probably can vouch that a number of Jack Daniel’s products have become staples in my collection. I’m still not particularly fond of Old No. 7, but when I’m in the mood to celebrate I have no problem shelling out the necessary moolah for a bottle of Single Barrel Select.

Or social drinking before vacation, complete with best friend screwing around on his phone.

Or social drinking before vacation, complete with best friend screwing around on his phone.

Before I go on, I should point out how I really wanted to try Jack Daniel’s thanks to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. For those of you who haven’t read it, correct that immediately. However, it was the enigmatic Mr. Wednesday’s drink of choice. When I pictured Mr. Wednesday drinking it, however, it was a full pint glass of the stuff. I can’t quite imagine anyone consuming the stuff that way now; to each their own, though.

My non-drinking gradually shifted after I had arrived in Edinboro. People wanted to hang out with me, and bars were a pretty ideal location. I, however, had very limited knowledge of mixed drinks at the time. I spent more time than I probably should have wondering about what the hell people ordered at bars. The good news: I had enough sense to keep it simple. This wasn’t going out clubbing; it was a college town bar (I mean no offense to The Empty Keg, of course, as it became my local haunt before I graduated), and that meant keeping things relatively simple. Not the sort of place that ordering a Manhattan would go over well. After a bit of thinking back to drinks I’d heard of, I blurted out an order for a whiskey sour. Since then I’ve been told how that’s an old-person’s drink, but I have no problem with that. Terrific stuff.

Eventually, and gradually, I started to try new whiskies and bourbons. At first they were purely used as mixers. It was usually whiskey and Coke or Pepsi. At one point I ended up trying Seagram’s 7 Dark Honey mixed with sweet tea. I can’t remember exactly when (insert joke about booze and memory here), but I started trying whiskeys and boubons on the rocks or straight up. I lack a sophisticated sense of taste in that I don’t necessarily pick up on all of the hints and notes of different tastes (sorry, Tullamore DEW, but your product is about the same as most others and I enjoy it all the same). My sister eventually bought me whiskey stones so I could enjoy chilled, undiluted whiskey and bourbon. The rest is just sort of history from there.

I like to make sure I branch out and try more than the few that I know I like, even if it can be a bit risky. Now…I could do a whole post on the Snark part of @SnarkAndBourbon, but lucky for everyone I’m…distracted by World of Warcraft. Ahem.

Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder.

Yes, absinthe.  Yes, I realize how dreadful that pun happens to be.

I could go on about how I have been burdened with my crazy-neurotic fears of student loan debt, or how the effects of having adults use the word “gimme” on a regular basis slowly whittles away at my sanity (which, I suspect, looks like an old-timey whistle or something by now).

Never mind all of that, however, because this is a post about (at least, in part) absinthe.  The green fairy so many people have chased in the past all across Europe, this potent spirit has quite an air of mystery to it.  Maybe it’s the elaborate, ritualistic preparation of a proper absinthe drink; the slotted spoon, the sugar cube, and so on.  Or maybe it was the allure of a drink that caused hallucinations (I kid, of course; I see the world through some pretty magical filters without the aid of hallucinogenic substances, thank you very much).

Ultimately, it had to do with the drink’s association with artists, and their oh-so-quirky, unconventional ways.  And my tendency to give in to my personal whims.  To add perspective: I tried Jack Daniel’s because it was mentioned in Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” as Mr. Wednesday’s drink of choice (Spoiler alert: going from no booze to straight Jack is, well, a great way to test the mettle of your tongue.  Mine still has a restraining order out against me since that.

Some very basic stats about absinthe before I continue:

  • The particular bottle I purchased was about $62 after tax, all things considered
  • It was 60% alcohol by volume (120 proof)
  • The green color is clearly visible through the bottle, but less noticeable once in a shot glass
  • You should be measuring the use of this spirit with a shot glass
  • Unless you really want to familiarize yourself with intense drunkenness
  • And possibly vomiting (nobody likes vomiting)

I procured a bottle of Vieux Carre absinthe (which, I must warn, is not the least expensive booze to purchase), and embarked on my own journey to chase the green fairy.  Things to keep in mind while reading include that I did not have a slotted spoon, so that eliminated the classic absinthe drinking options.  Google revealed a good number of mixed drinks featuring absinthe also happened to involve egg whites.  Bit of a deal-breaker, that.  Much Googling later, a drink called the Traffic Light was chosen.  It’s a simple mixed drink, and involves absinthe (of course), orange juice, and cranberry juice.  If mixed carefully, a layering effect produces a traffic light pattern.

If you mix it anything like I did, you’ll get a very vibrant pink concoction that smells quite strongly of licorice (thanks to the liquer’s anise content).  The drink itself had a pleasant, sweet taste to it, and left me feeling warm and thoughtful.  It also helped contribute to some really enjoyable live-tweeting of the Oscars.  Or, as others may have perceived it, being obnoxious in one-hundred-and-forty characters or less.

While it may not be the stuff of legend from Europe, I will say the green fairy’s possibly tamer (I hope not, because I fear a wilder version of this would only be suited for simulating intense schizophrenia) cousin has left a good impression on me.

Oh, and I’m not dead from the experience so I suppose I could chalk that up as a victory as well.