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Don't Turn Drinking Into a Responsibility

06/05/2009 05:12 am 05:12:01 | Updated May 25, 2011

"Drink responsibly." Talk about an oxymoron.

Don't we already have enough responsibility in our lives?

Kids. Job. Clients. Decisions. Paying bills. Making deadlines. Watching your weight. Mowing the lawn. Filling the tank. Initiating foreplay. Then there's moral responsibility, civic responsibility, fiduciary responsibility. Don't you just want to say "screw responsibility" some times? Those times were made for drinking.

Yet you can't even do that without being constantly pressured by every single ad for beer, wine or booze to "drink responsibly". I'm not even sure exactly what that means, but I've got news -- the last thing I want to be when I'm drinking -- is responsible. All this responsibility is the reason I'm drinking in the first place.

Not Lohan, nor Gibson
I like drinking. Not stinking drunk. Not mean drunk. Not out-of-control drunk. Not Mel Gibson, David Hasselhoff or Lindsay Lohan drunk. And certainly not college drunk (fill in your own room spinning, nauseating, swearing you'll never, ever drink again episode here). Unnecessary. Bad form. Mistake.

But how about just a little drunk. Laugh-out-loud-drunk. Who gives a crap? drunk. Let's-get-naked-and-jump-in-the-ocean drunk. Come to think of it, just drunk enough to briefly overlook the mountain of responsibility we face daily. Isn't that what alcohol was intended for?

So if you're suffering from assorted ills, angsts and nagging negativity, here are a few of my prescriptions for irresponsible drinking.

Prescription #1: The Martini

Married with children, you're looking for a little levity with a soignée façade. To be enjoyed with company or solo. Your cocktail: the martini.

I'm fond of quoting the brilliant raconteur Dorothy Parker, who said:
I like a good martini, two at the very most.
After three I'm under the table. After four, I'm under the host.

The martini is the cocktail of choice when you feel like a sophisticated inebriation. There is something genuinely cool about a martini, the ritual, the shape of the glass, the purity of the liquid, interrupted only by glorious green olives. This is a drink for adults. The whole gestalt says, "This is not for kids, I'm a big boy now."

The original, classic version is made with British gin, just an eye-drop or two of dry vermouth, straight up, ice cold, olives and a twist, so you can eat while you drink. Make it vodka if you must, but know that any 'tini made with watermelon, kiwi, chocolate or anything other than gin or vodka is not a martini, it's a high-octane, Technicolor dessert. For purists like me, gin is the choice. And one is enough as there's something about that spirit's almost hallucinogenic effectiveness that makes everything else seem like mother's milk. Remember, there's a fine line between dirty martinis and nasty divorce. Speaking of which, if I want dirt in my food, I'll eat it directly from the ground. Dirty is for sex, not martinis.

Prescription #2: Tequila
Everything is getting on your nerves. Your boss. Traffic. The nightly news. Rush Limbaugh. It's time for Tequila.

Tequila can be calming or corrupting, depending on how you want to play it. You can sip a smoky Don Julio reposado to calm your nerves, soothe your stomach, and awaken your sense of adventure. At least that's how it starts. How it ends depends on your appetite for adventure. Too much tequila invariably leads to enthusiastic, wild-eyed mischief, followed by outrageous behavior, and then, generally, a misdemeanor.

There always seems to be an element of danger associated with tequila. I suspect that often derives from that first college trip to Cancun, when you go to some place with a name like Carlos & Charlies, where the waiters come along to your table with a type of elongated flask-like device, and inject a dose or two of cheap tequila down your gullet, returning repeatedly, until you find yourself semi-conscious, with your pants around your ankles, in a Mexican whorehouse, yelling for your mama.

If you go the margarita route, avoid all that pre-mixed crap and frozen goop. Have it made, or make it yourself, with just fresh-squeezed lime juice, Cointreau and a 100% agave tequila. Anything more than that is superfluous. Viva Mexico!

Prescription # 3: Caipirinha.
For all you do, you're feeling a little unappreciated, even unloved. Say hello to the Caipirinha.

From over 50 trips to Brazil, three things stand out in my mind: grilled hearts of palm, sultry women, and caipirinhas, the potently sexy national cocktail. Made of only lime, sugar and cachaça, the spirit distilled from sugar cane, capirinha literally translates into "little hillbilly". But I like to think of it as liquid love. The first sip may surprise you, but continue to stir the lime sugar syrup and you'll soon discover that these things go down like a baby's ass on a waterslide.

Candy is dandy, but candy-flavored cocktails are even dandier. Like love itself. So mix up a few caipirinhas for yourself and someone you intend to shag, put some Brazilian tunes on the iPod, and quote Al Pacino in Scarface when he says, "say hello to my little friend."

Prescription 4: Sangria
You're out on a date, and you want to bring her home late, to sin. It starts with sangria.
A friend of mine confided to me that although he wasn't a good-looking guy, and didn't have much hair, he had no problem at all "with the ladies", as he put it. He attributed that to sangria. Or as I now refer to it, Love Potion #9.

First of all, it's generally ordered by the pitcher, itself a very clever tactical maneuver. And what a tasty looking pitcher it is, filled with chilled, purple-colored grape juice and charming chunks of fruit floating about. Here's what you may not know: it ain't just cheap red wine -- it's cheap red wine spiked with brandy or rum or any other flammable intoxicant the bartender needs to move. Then it's polished off with sweet liqueur, such as Grand Marnier, and a splash of carbonation. It's a Spanish fly by the glass. Olé.

Prescription #5: Sake
Sake is another "away game", i.e., you'll only drink it at a sushi restaurant. When was the last time you drank sake at home? Answer: the last time you rolled your own sushi. Never.

The whole sushi dining experience is somewhat suspect. Have you ever felt like there was a group of guys conspiring in the kitchen? "We got 'em to eat the raw fish, now let's serve 'em some hot wine." Fortunately, as the culinary cognoscenti caught on, they're now serving floral and flavorful sake the way it should be -- slightly chilled. It tastes better and goes down easy. Therein lies the tricky part.

Oh sure, it begins innocently, served in that cute little carafe or bamboo decanter, accompanied by a cup the size of a thimble. To ladies, it's dainty enough to be sipped like tea. To guys, it's a shooter. And since it's just rice wine, how bad can it hurt you? Answer: bad.

Much in the same way you think you could eat sushi endlessly, so too can you consume cold sake. Having once done just that, here's what I recall, murkily: At 5:47 A.M. I hear bam... bam... bam. Violent pounding on my door. I awake, naked on the cold wood parquet of my living room floor, stereo blaring Stupid Girl by Garbage. Neighbor yelling "stupid ass" at me. Be warned: sake is the sneak attack of adult beverages.

Kill the guilt, lose the shame, and give responsibility a short rest. (Just DO NOT drive.) And follow the example of the great American poet George Thoroughgood:

Gonna get drunk won't you listen right here,
I want one bourbon, one scotch and one beer.

- One Bourbon, One Scotch One Beer - George Thoroughgood (and the Destroyers) 1977

'Life is short. Never waste a meal."©