A year ago, I was a different person. I enjoyed a good, fancy stiff drink. Something shaken with an egg white, perhaps, or sprinkled with bee pollen. My ice cubes came perfectly clear, or interestingly shaped. I’d hit an age where I had the confidence and resources to aim higher than whatever liquors were populating the well when I ordered. Not much higher, mind you. Just enough.
Back then I had hope, and standards, and self-respect.
And then came election day 2016, and all that happy shit went RIGHT out the fucking window. In its place was numb disbelief alternating with outright contempt for the not-quite majority of my fellow Americans that voted a dangerously stupid and amoral reality show host into the White House. The only thing I enjoyed was a sprinkling of rage. And worse, there was the occasional bout of denial or justification. “Things have to get worse before they’ll get better,” I’d tell myself. “It’s just exposing the divide that has always been a part of this country. We’ll be stronger for all of this. The pendulum swings both ways.” And do you know what made those justifications go down just a little bit smoother?
Alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol.
Drinking in Tr*mp’s America wasn’t about standards, and there was no hope. It became a coping mechanism. A warm blanket to pull up over your head when the disillusionment and disgust grew too great. Is that healthy? Fuck no. But neither is living in a country with actual goddamn Nazis.
So in reflecting on this past year, naturally my mind gravitated toward the various drinks that helped me deal with the crushing disappointment and fear that plagued my every waking moment. And then I figured, you know what? That’s enough to write an article!
Be forewarned, these drinks aren’t impressive. They’re not fancy. And they’re certainly not things that I’m proud of. After all, I’m no cocktologist (so much better than mixologist, and I’m sticking with it). These drinks are simple acts of desperation, and they did the trick.
Logic would dictate that vodka is the ultimate liquor for mixing with just about anything, but “logic” has no place in America anymore. Which is why whiskey is chosen my standby. I used to keep a bottle around, mostly for hot toddies during cold season. But who has the time to keep fresh lemons and cinnamon sticks on hand? Now I just pour whiskey in anything. Coffee. Tea. Ginger ale. Juice. Short of milk, I’m pretty sure whiskey is a tolerable addition to any liquid. And by “tolerable” I mean “still better than the literal shit-show that surrounds me.”
But the best part? It’s also the one liquor I know I’ll enjoy on it’s own, over ice. And if I don’t have ice, I’ll still enjoy it.
Why bother mixing anything at all when you can just pour yourself a glass of fancy funky fruit juice before bedtime? I used to think that people who kept bottles of wine on hand — people who had a glass or two each night, and owned cute little wine stoppers so they didn’t have to finish a bottle all in one go — were true adults. They were the sort of person I aspired to be, when I grew up. Now I am that person. And it’s not because I’m mature. It’s because I either keep wine handy, or I find a therapist. Look, wine helps me fall asleep. It stains my lips a shade of purple that I find moderately amusing in the privacy of my own home. And I can make a bottle last like two days — maybe even three during a good stretch. Also, did you know that with a long enough straw, any bottle of wine can be transformed into your own personal juice box?
I should probably recommend a type of grape, or a particular region, but frankly my go-to wine is lambrusco. It’s bubbly red wine, it’s never more than $20 a bottle (and frankly if it’s over $12 you’re really getting the good shit), and it’s so damn drinkable.
Should I just cave and find a therapist? Yeah. But therapists don’t come in a variety of flavors that fit every budget.
3) Aperol Spritz
This is the easiest and most satisfying cocktail I’ll recommend. Easy because the recipe is printed right on the bottle of Aperol (3 parts prosecco or other dry sparkling wine, 2 parts Aperol, and 1 splash of soda or seltzer). And satisfying because it’s like old lady soda. It does come out a bit orange, so be wary if that’s a trigger for you. But this cocktail went from my warm weather mainstay to my “always keep a bottle of Aperol in the freezer, you just never know” drink.
4) La Croix
I know, it’s a trendy seltzer and not a type of alcohol. That’s true. But there are so many flavors, there’s bound to be one that will go with whatever booze you have kicking around. Also, the can is the perfect size for a cocktail — just sip a bit off, then pour in your chosen liquor and stir (or not). Tequila or rum work with the more tropical flavors, obviously. Vodka will pair with anything. If you are feeling fancy (and if you have strong feelings about La Croix, you probably have some fancy-ish tendencies), there are no shortage of cocktail recipes involving the brand just a single google-search away. But why bother making things so complicated?
Why mix at all? Drink any liquor, straight, by the mouthful. You don’t even need tiny little glasses, as long as you aren’t afraid to chug from the bottle. Desperate times, etc. etc.
Remember: drink responsibly. And always tip your bartender. Unless you’re your own bartender, in which case the drink IS your tip!