The Developmental Arc of the Casual Alcoholic


I’ve got twenty one and some change years under my belt at the moment. Which means I’ve absolutely got more than one, maybe closer to three or four years of heavy drinking experience under my belt.

…don’t look at me like that. A good number of you probably have track records that go much further back before you got the magic number on your driver’s license. Yeah, it’s by no means an acceptable thing, and we have laws that prohibit blah, and something something responsibility, but the important part is that I played it smart, knew my limits, and am currently sitting here today, alive and well enough to smile about it.

Obvious drinking disclaimer before I go forward: know YOUR limits, drink responsibly, and don’t do anything stupid.

Anyway, I’ve had a weird developmental arc as a drinker. Before I legally could, my method was mixing whatever I could find in my parents’ liquor cabinet together to make what I thought at the time was just the strongest, most badass, potent sneaky cocktails possible. Tequila and three different kinds of whiskey? Great. Oakheart Rum mixed with Fireball and moscato? Hell yeah. I think at some point I mixed a Glenfiddich 18 year old scotch with a Glenrothes 1995 and felt like I was the classiest kid on the fuckin’ block.

Present me wants to kick past me repeatedly in the shins.

But later on, I managed to get alcohol through a sibling of a friend who was clearly above the legal age, and my tastes turned to lukewarm beers from the bottle, sitting around a bonfire – far from the eyes of prying parents. After that came frosty ales from the tap from an amazing Japanese bar in New York that doesn’t card their patrons. And after THAT came different sorts of whiskey – not mixed this time – first on the rocks and then neat.

Now, as you might have guessed from the picture sitting smack dab at the top of this page, I’m back to mixing stuff together. Thankfully, I can do so now with a level of panache higher than that of a high school kid sloshing things around in red solo cups with the lights turned off, but I still find it funny to look at the endcaps of this little arc of mine, wondering if there’s any sort of connection at all. Granted, I don’t mix to get absolutely slammed anymore. I mix because, well, mixing’s pretty damn cool. You get to experiment around with how spirits mix with fresh ingredients, and find out how temperature and dilution play into different cocktails, or how different garnishes add different effects that make a drink. It’s consumable art that’s easily appreciated by a wide majority of people, without having to be too high brow. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy an well-made, ice cold cocktail among friends?

Sometimes I wish it was that easy as a writer – that the feedback was as immediate as, “Damn, that looks pretty good. Give me another.”

Guess I’ll just keep chugging along on both fronts, eh?

The Developmental Arc of the Casual Alcoholic

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