A Drink by my Choice

Drinking bourbon always makes me feel American. I can say with conviction that I prefer a Kentucky original even though I have no connection to that place and its environs and have no intention of living there. But it is still American. Not vodka because that romance belongs to the Slavs. Scotch is for old people and the aging (perhaps soonly independent) Scottish people. All our craft beers and micro-breweries can’t compete with its mundane existence in the lives of the Germans and the Belgians. Wine, maybe? Wine’s only 15% alcohol at its greatest. Bourbon punches you in the face at 40. And by god, do we love a good punch in the face. No refinement for us. I wonder if the people in Kentucky drink California wine with the same sense of pride as I do bourbon.

President Trump can’t take that away from me. That seems plainly obvious to me although others seem to think otherwise. For them, the attachment to bourbon as an American drink is more funny than serious. How can you take your relationship to a drink seriously? I suppose just as seriously as one can take their relationship to their country. We don’t choose our nationality and we can certainly choose another if we so choose. Different flavors exist as some prefer some over others and most have their favorites. And one chooses to avoid drink altogether, that’s an option too.

What does bourbon remind you of? When you close your eyes and think of bourbon, what images come into your head? Buffaloes. Cowboys. Mustaches. Men. Wood. Wood carving. White guys.

And wine? Grapes. Farms. Napa. Red. White. Sophistication. Pretentiousness. A woman in a red dress. Snoody white guys.

Lots of white guys, as it happens even though its mostly Mexicans picking the grapes. You don’t really see those guys in the tasting rooms, though.

I have to confess, I hated bourbon when I first started drinking. Well, frankly I hated all alcohol when I first started drinking and wondered why anyone would even consider “an acquired taste” if it tasted so shitty to begin with. What was the point of acquiring this taste in the first place exactly?

Well, peer pressure was enough to squash those thoughts and then usually being drunk by itself was great so I kept drinking. Popov at first. That’s the vodka that comes in plastic gallon jugs although to be fair all vodka tastes just as shitty.

So I started with vodka shooters to be a man, then moved to beer because having an opinion about craft beer and disparaging Bud Light made me seem more manly in the eyes of the hipsters I came to know and love. Whiskey was usually the thing I drank because shots appeared in my hand without paying for it but hesitated because it was usually the last thing I remembered before breathing too hard and throwing up somewhere.

But when someone compliments you on confidently ordering a double of Bulleit, neat, you start to feel it like the first drop of alcohol coursing your through your stomach as if the ethanol unchains you. The next time, when a woman does it, you’ll never order another drink in public because frankly, no one gives a shit about your craft beer choices.

I’ve traced it back. I know exactly where it came from and how it came about, how looking back it doesn’t feel like I had a choice because I was not cognizant of the choices I had to make. That’s the problem with thinking about why you make one before you make it — in the end, the beginning of the desire is an infinite loop of you asking ‘Is this the end?’. But thinking back, you also realize that knowing why gives you the free will so obviously lacking in previous years.

So now what? All these experiences I have lead me to believe that I am the sum of all that has happened to me before and the choices that I have made that cannot be unmade. I like the drink that I like either through hook or crook (even though I was the one crooked). And I see that the people who drink like I do share the characteristics that they have either bred in themselves or been born with.

I wonder if that’s how Trump voters feel. Like they’ve bought into this vision of America whether by their own volition or through the unconscious choices they’ve made along the way that have made them the way they are. Maybe they don’t see it. Maybe some do. Like they’ve bought into a vision that they’ve trained themselves to see, a vision of the world that others seem to share. They can’t unsee the world they’ve painted now nor they don’t want to. They have their drink and they stick to it. They see the vodka and the craft beer and the tequila but for whatever reason they choose not to and there isn’t much logic to why unless we trace it all the way back.