I’d like to say something like “I started drinking cocktails because I liked a boy who was into them.” It’s such a classic reason to do anything. But, unfortunately, I’m not a part of that tradition. I started drinking them because people around me were drinking them. I’d walk over to LW’s house and she would be so accommodating and interested in sharing her love of cocktails with her visitors, it seemed wrong to say no. She did research and experimented just so she could make me a facsimile of a fizz. How do you say no to that?
The first time I specifically went to a cocktail bar, I realized how great it was. When you go to a cocktail bar with cocktail enthusiasts, or just good friends, each drink gets passed around so everyone can try it. Comments are made, individual judgments shared, and you learn something more just by hearing how other people experience it. It’s quite like going to a movie, all things considered.
I never seek out cocktails on my own, aside from the hot toddy in the winter to help rock me to sleep.
Drink has easily become my favorite place to get drinks. This is largely in part because I don’t like drinking.
I have a hard time drinking anything that isn’t water or milkshakes. Soymilk has a purpose when being consumed with baked things (even sandwiches!) to keep my mouth wet and make chewing easier, but it is very rare that I get a glass of something and drink it. I never drink it quickly unless I grit my teeth and force myself to do so. Over the course of a night, I can consume one beer. A whole meal to finish a glass of juice. My tea, unless it’s in an actual teacup, is cold by the time I drink the last dredges that hang around the bottom of the glass with the bits of tea leaves that escaped bags and filters.
I do, however, like the taste of alcohol.
In general, I like tastes. I like exploring tastes. I also like textures. That’s something really fun about alcohol–they all have different textures. Nice alcohols have interesting tastes that change as they hit different parts of your mouth. The experience on the soft palate is different than that on the tip of your tongue.
Because I don’t like actually drinking things that aren’t water, cocktails are a great thing. They allow me to explore taste and texture. They taste better, or at least more interesting, than a glass of juice and they’re not so big I have trouble finishing one.
The thing is, I don’t really know a single thing about cocktails. Sure I’ve paged through various lists and books of drinks, but I don’t actually know what most of the stuff in them are. I learned the basic college rule of “alcohol + soda/juice = acceptable.” My dad taught me how to make a white russian, a midori melonball, and a tequila sunrise. I learned that I could mix any sweet alcohol with a milk like substance and people enjoyed it. That’s most of what I know.
I also know what a tequila furnace is.
I know a few things about what gin is, and about what vodka is. I know the process behind rum and some general ideas about the magic that makes whiskey (barrels have something to do with it!), but I have no clue what Chartreuse is.
At least, I didn’t until I went to Drink.
The first time you go to Drink, it’s worth going all out. Someone I know ordered “a glass of sunshine.” I asked for something that “is like how Vermont smells in the summer.” (I got a gin mule with ridiculous amounts of mint that were not muddled and instead just left to steep for several minutes.) This is fun and a little amusing.
After two other trips, which left me floundering once whimsy lost its charm, I learned from LW how to properly go to Drink.
(Note, this is just one method that I particularly like. There is no wrong way to go to Drink, other than being a jerk or an ugly hipster.)
Before you get there, do a little research or at least spend some time thinking about what you want. Pick an alcohol or flavor profile you want to explore. When I saw LW doing this, she was exploring tequilas. Equally, you could say you wanted to explore smoky drinks or herbal drinks or drinks you can make with fresh blackberries. You can say “Hey! I bought this bottle of Chartreuse, what do I do with it?” Explain this to the bartender. If it’s not too busy, they might send another bartender your way who will serve as a better guide on your journey. Talk to them about what you want, they’ll ask you questions. They’ll ask you how you feel about spicy drinks, how you feel about different flavors and textures and intensity levels.
This is all part of the fun.
Going to Drink is like going and getting a really great haircut or being pampered. You don’t need to think too much about it. You don’t need to direct every step. You just need to relax and let someone else, at least for a while, take control with the basic directions you’ve given them. Besides, they know what questions to ask to figure out where you want to go.
I’ve never had a drink there I didn’t like.
Something a lot of people say when talking about Drink is that it’s expensive. At twelve-dollars a pop, it’s actually not a lot when you compare it to other cocktail bars. It is, in fact, on the low end. Getting a Pimm’s cup from Drink is more expensive than getting one from a bar–getting a gin mule there cost more than getting one from the bar down the street–but the one at Drink came with knowledge about the history and construction of my drink. It came with excitement and exploration. It also tasted a lot better than the ones at the bar down the street.