March 2009

Secrets for Successful Indulgence

I live in an area that's not just a college town, it's a college town with several small colleges, and a fair number of pubs, bars, and cocktail lounges. This means that in the course of indulging in free Wi-Fi, I'm afforded an incredible theater for watching people engage in astonishingly silly behavior around alcohol. This post is an attempt to offer some alternatives of indulging, without running quite so much risk.

First, yes, we like alcohol, not only for the amazing varieties of types and flavors it comes in, but for certain "medicinal" values as well. For the purposes of this post, I'm going to assume no one likes puking their guts out, and only the insanely masochistic like a hangover.

One of the most basic things you should do when you know you're going to have a fun night with a fair amount of imbibing is to eat something first. This does not mean a granola bar. This means real food with protein, and yes, some fat. Not just salad. Fat will actually adhere to your intestinal tract in provide a little protection against subsequent indignities. Have a steak. Or a quesadilla. Or a cheeseburger. Anything with a little substance.

Stocking Your Home Bar

You don't have to rush out and spend a fortune on booze and mixers to have a reasonably well-stocked home bar. Most people who drink alcohol will have a range of drinks they're happy with—it's actually more important to have something—juice, ice tea, or soda—for the non-drinkers, for people pacing themselves, and for the designated drivers. As your experience with mixology grows, though, you'll find yourself wanting to experiment with more obscure cocktail recipes, and you may well discover yourself acquiring strong preferences for some spirits over others, and the next stage in your development as a home-bartending enthusiast—or at least, in my own—is the desire to compare and contrast different brands, to create drinks with a signature twist.

Basic Home Bar

Given the economy, and the fact that sometimes it's just nicer to enjoy a quiet drink at home, now might be a good time to think about setting up a basic home bar. You ought to be able to get the "starter set" for between a $100.00 and $125.00. That should give you the basic bartending equipment and glassware you need to make most cocktails for you and a couple of friends—but not for a large party. In another post, we'll talk about how to stock the bar with enough alcohol and mixers to begin, without going broke. I'm including ballpark prices here from online retailers, but I'm not linking to the pages. I'll include enough data that you can, if you wish, find the specific product, but honestly, I expect you'll do better shopping locally—especially after adding in the cost of shipping. I'll talk about tools first, and then glassware.