What’s your poison?
It’s the question we sometimes ask when politely offering an alcoholic drink to a friend or guest (err, are you sure Ben? Maybe if the ‘we’ is a gold prospector from the nineteenth century!).
We might also ask this question of a new acquaintance, when trying to discern our drinking compatibility: according to that great booze-themed film, Sideways, some wine connoisseurs simply refuse to co-sip with Merlot lovers.
But, and as someone who believes there are no coincidences, and that when it comes to casual sayings and colloquialisms (we often speak without giving a second thought to) there is a reason certain clichés enter the vernacular, I reckon there is some truth in that one.
Because it is true.
Alcohol is a poison.
If you drink too much alcohol you can cark it. Even a little can make you sick. Some people, like true Alcoholics, have a physical reaction at even the smell of alcohol.
So why on earth would anyone drink poison willingly?
There are lots of reasons. Alcohol can help us relax; alcohol can help us form meaningful relationships with the opposite sex (sometimes lasting longer than one night); alcohol helps us blow of psychological steam. And, though you might find it difficult to believe, I’ve even heard of some people who drink alcohol because they simply like the taste.
Yes, that’s right.
To those who appreciate a nice drop of plonk, alcohol is simply part of the great degustation experience provided to us by a bountiful earth, a sensuous environment abundant with grape varieties, hops, corn and potatoes and whatever other raw ingredients mix with the distilling genius of wine makers, beer makers and good ol’ boy bourbon distillers.
To some, alcohol is not a poison to be avoided but a nectar to be savoured. And when my year of living sober is up, in just 10 days (!), I will say farewell to temporary teetotalism and hello to my old friend, booze.
Bourbon, beer or a bloody good wine?
So, on that day I rejoin the ranks of the drinking, what will my poison be?
For a while I was considering a sweet bourbon as the front runner in my potential FADFOY (First Alcoholic Drink For One Year). And since my daughters, Honey and Cherry, share the name of two varieties of Jim Beam bourbon I thought maybe one of those dark spirit varieties would be a good choice.
But then I decided it would probably be a bit much for my well-rested liver to jump back in the drinking game with a straight spirit. I could have mixed the Honey bourbon or Cherry bourbon with coke or something but I think that might have kind of spoilt it for me.
As of today then, and though I don’t want to lock myself into anything which would stop me from being ‘in the moment’ and choosing whatever feels right on the day (there is always the chance, say 1-3% chance, even after my YOLS is all done I will NOT have an alcoholic drink ever again) I am currently considering from the following list of candidates.
They are also some of my favourite tipples before I embarked on my year of living sober.
1) Red wine (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz)
2) Beer (Carlton Draught, Corona, Budweiser)
3) Champagne (Lindauer—we had this great New Zealand sparkling at our wedding, Moet—when I’m feeling flush with cash, Yellowglen—when I’m not).
4) White wine (Sauvignon Blanc)
And if I change my mind and opt for a spirit…
5) Scotch (on ice)
6) Vodka (Stolinchnaya on ice with a dash of lime cordial, fresh lime or fresh lemon)
7) Bourbon (Jim Beam, generally with coke)
8) Gin and tonic (not often but more as I get older)
I should also say there could be a wild-card too. Like say, if I happen to get a hankering for some sangria. Or maybe, if it is a particularly warm day, I might go for a wine-spritzer? Not your typical Ozzie Male Alcoholic Drink, I know, but it is very refreshing.
And low in poison too!
Today is Day 357 of my year of living sober.
Little Booze Joke
A golf club walks into a bar and asks for a whisky but the barman flatly refuses to serve him. “Why?” asks the infuriated golf club. “Because,” replies the barman, “I know you’re going to be driving later!”