Abby eyeballing my French 75. Smart girl, but not quick enough. (Taken with instagram)
For someone who derives a small bit of pleasure in not taking care of one’s self (it’s pathetic, I know), I’m remarkably healthy. But then, of course, every now and again even I get sick. Like now. I have a cold. When I have a cold, I like a hot toddy. They’re delicious, warming, easy to make, and vaguely medicinal in a way my dead grandfather would approve. Here’s how to make one:
- Put some water on the stove to boil.
- Put somewhere between and a tablespoon of honey in a mug. Don’t measure, just pour.
- Cut a round from the center of a lemon. Juice the remaining halves and dump into the cup.
- Stab four or five clove buds into the lemon round.
- Add a generous jolt of whiskey to the honey and lemon juice. Cheaper the better!
- If you smoke, which I sadly do not any longer, have a cigarette. The water probably isn’t boiling yet.
- When the water’s boiling, fill up the mug. Give it a vigorous stir, add in your clove-spiked lemon round.
There you go. Drink up. Feel better.
Reading Hunter S. Thompson turned me on to Wild Turkey. I wasn’t old enough to buy the stuff, but I knew people who were, and so it was that one night I found myself at a friend’s apartment with a fifth and a tumbler and no idea how to proceed. So, I look at the glass, which doesn’t appear to be very big, and I fill it up, no rocks, and, hey, I get very drunk very fast and am in love. Since, I’ve had $7 plastic-bottle rotgut, I’ve had some crazy $200 bottles, I had a brief and violent infatuation with boiler makers. But recently, I gave it up. Mostly.
For a good stretch until just under a year ago, I spent many bourbon-drenched afternoons and nights with my now-dead friend, a not-inconsiderably sized Scottish dude with a couple decades’ edge of hard drinking on me. We’d go for a walk with our dogs, inevitably end up at the bar, and then remain there for a long, long time, drinking 1:1 beers and vodka (him), 1:1 beers and Maker’s (me). One time, I woke up to a text message from him: “Did u know u had a spoon in yr butt last night?” I didn’t know this, but I’m sure it was brilliant and in the service of comedy. Or, perhaps, a lie? (I miss him.)
Anyway, what I loved–and still do love, cautiously and infrequently–about bourbon is the swelling of possibility you (read: I) feel after a couple. You drink a couple of beers, and you’re where you were when you began, except more bloated. A couple bourbons? Shit is going to be allfuckingright. Let’s turn up the music, and, hey, I’ma dick around with the guitar, but wouldn’t it be better if the guitar were louder? It would be! But then you can’t hear the music, so you gotta turn that up, and then there’s another drink or five–always hard to tell when to stop: best thing is not to–and the couch has a fresh burn, and, and, and the neighbors are pissed and, jesus, what the fuck is up with them, anyway? Fucking mail order bride could still be stuck chugging gristly cock in a sticky St. Petersburg brothel, so the fuck’s she got to bitch about some noise? Quiet time, then, and your forehead is pressed against the cold window and you’re sorta watching what ain’t doing nine stories down. Maybe. Or not. At this point, it’s… blackened.
Actually, I’m fine with all that. (Except the neighbors, who are horrible people.) It’s the hangovers that did it for me. These used to be regular hangovers that a fistful of Tylenol, some coffee and a Tabasco-heavy breakfast could kill. And then I got old, and, goddamn if a switch didn’t get tripped. Hangovers became crippling two-day affairs every day. Migraines were fixtures. I’d smell the booze oozing out of my pores as I showered. I could form sentences in my head, but couldn’t figure out how to speak them. I’d sit down to write and end up staring at a line of type for 20 minutes trying to make sense of it. You know, standard-issue hairy hangover shit. (Never got to the point where I woke up with the bottle! still! in! my! mouth!) Regardless, I finally had enough, and that’s how I found gin. A clear, delicious liquor, gin. Much easier on the back-end. But here’s the problem: I used to walk into a bar and order a Maker’s rocks. Easy, reliable, not beer. But I haven’t found an acceptable gin-based substitute. I drink martinis at home, but I’m a drink snob slugging it out on a trade mag salary, and nowhere I can afford to drop in on routinely makes a passable martini. (Note to River Cafe: shave $8 off the price of a drink, and I’m there, jacket and everything.) So, until I win powerball, I’ll be nursing along my blossoming agoraphobia with store bought Plymouth.