Friday, March 27, 2009

Umbrella Drinks and Other Nightmares

We have clearly established that "Foodie Friday" can involve drinks.

A very entertaining post in this week's NYTimes alcohol blog. Anna Fricke considers all of the self-presentational concerns that go into choosing a signature cocktail. As Fricke notes, she wishes she could drink something other than what she does drink:

If I had my druthers, I would probably drink strawberry daiquiris all the time. But I don’t. Sure, they’re delicious. But the strawberry daiquiri is a youthful drink, the drink of a girl on spring break in Cabo. Much like skinny jeans and Flashdance tops, I can’t pull it off anymore. These days, I am compelled by circumstances to act my age and order a nice Bordeaux and pretend I know what I’m talking about.
In fact, Fricke sums it up nicely:
If I had to guess, I’d say that many of us aren’t drinking what we’d truly like to drink.
She chalks all of this self-denial up to all of the social pressures that have sprung up around alcohol. There are clearly "adult" drinks. There are clearly "cool" drinks. Neither strawberry daiquiris nor Zima would fall into either category. And because most of our drinking occurs in the presence of other people (real or imagined), we end up ordering things like Scotch or dirty martinis that seem adult but that many of us don't really like all that much.

Fosco will cop to some of this self-presentation, of course. He doesn't like martinis (of any variety) but will occasionally order one under extreme duress. His interest in wine is almost non-existent, but he still pretends to read wine lists carefully at the nicer restaurants (and to make informed decisions based on something other than price).

However, Fosco is lucky that several of his preferred beverages are actually both "adult" and "cool." Thanks to his partial Irish heritage, Fosco has a taste for whiskeys (although he actually prefers Scotch)--no fakery needed there. And luckily, if Fosco could only drink one alcoholic beverage for the rest of his life, it would be the perfectly respectable gin and tonic.

In fact, Fosco is in the happy position of a complete coincidence between the hedonic and self-presentational aspects of his "signature cocktail." Hedonism: he loves the taste of gin and tonic above all other drinks. Self-presentation: he likes what a preference for G&Ts says about him. What exactly, you may ask, does a G&T say about someone? I'm glad you asked:
  • Slightly traditional? Check.
  • Intertwined with British history? Check.
  • Possibility for some snob appeal (different brands of gin), without going overboard? Check.
  • Mild historical association with dissolution? Check.
  • Threat of colonial violence? Check.
I think we have a winner!

When it comes down to it, though, life is too short to be drinking a cocktail that you don't like. Obviously, people should feel free to order their favorite drinks regardless of what other people think. Of course, Fosco will still make merciless fun of anyone who orders a Cosmopolitan in his presence.


Jill said...

My drink: Maker's Mark Manhattan Straight Up
3 ounces Maker's Mark
1.5 ounces Sweet Vermouth
3 dashes Angostura bitters
and a cherry...yum

A Champagne cocktail is my second choice.
Sugar cube soaked in bitters with bubbly on top.

The Main Man drinks Vodka and Fresca...sounds weird, but it's very refreshing.

Love Meritage wines. They're a blend and very smooth.

Anonymous said...

I am a big fan of Maker's! I'm going to try your manhattan soon!

The BeeMaster

Anonymous said...

Well, I am a wine drinker and I'm a little curious about your statement that you 'make informed decision based on something other than price'. What information do you use? I don't make my decisions based on price (within reason, that is) but I like wines, I know what I enjoy and I make my decisions based on that. If you are not a wine drinker, what information do you use? Serious questions, no snark intended.

I try to stay away from hard liquor, as it causes me to lose a few brain cells (and sometimes my clothes, which dh likes) but I did have a recent love of the vodka gimlet (thanks to fosco, although my proportions are still not perfect) and more recently, sidecars at Ruths Chris that have been sadly removed from the list of "drinks that I like" and placed firmly on the "drinks that make me turn green with one whiff". (apparently, 4 in one night is ONE TOO MANY. For me, of course - YMMV).

You also forgot what gin says about you:
-Possesses strange alien taste buds that like the taste of pine trees? Check.


FOSCO said...

@Jill: I do enjoy Maker's, but I actually prefer Jim Beam (somehow, the whole FANCY BOURBON revolution passed me by). My problem with your Manhattan is the vermouth--for some reason, I just can't stand the taste of vermouth (sweet or dry). For some reason, it sits in the back of my throat like bile.

@BeeMaster: And to your eternal credit, you're always willing to share your Maker's with people like me.

@MizzBeeness: I apologize for a convoluted sentence in the original post. What I meant is that I PRETEND to choose a wine based on something other than price. In reality, price is pretty much ALL I'm looking at when I'm scanning a restaurant wine list.

I do like a nice vodka gimlet.

And yes, my pine-loving alien taste buds are alive and well. Check.

Oz said...

Oz drinks anything alcoholic... in particular hard drinks... give em that 151!