New beginnings


My interest in cocktails blossomed my senior year in college. Flush with a little money from a summer job, I dropped probably $600-$700 outfitting my dorm room closet with spirits, modifiers, barware, and glassware of various kinds. And we lived it up for the first couple months of school, while supplies lasted. It was then that I learned how to mix a Manhattan, a proper Martini, and White and Black Russians. I also started to appreciate the nuances of liquor that came from glass bottles with corks vs. plastic ones with removable pour regulators.


Prior to that my drinking included the usual high school and college nonsense. I acquired a taste for Old Crow and would go on about how each batch was different and it really varied from bottle to bottle. I loved (and still do) Pabst Blue Ribbon, the hipster champion that actually packs a healthy 5% ABV punch. And I’d occasionally experience cocktails in the company of my ex-bartender parents who appreciated the classics. But it was that dorm closet bar that gave me the first twinges of pride about drink. That made me invest in quality and making sure “it was done right.” And from there a love grew. Read more »


The Drunkest I’ve Ever Been: Lost in Portland


So, this one time when two of my favorite folks were in town…I got LOST.

There’s getting lost, being lost, and getting LOST. Getting lost can happen to most anyone, at any time. Being lost and getting LOST, I feel, are reserved for the habitually enthusiastic. Like the time I was shooting for 12th and Ladd and wound up at 28th and Stark with a skid mark all the way down my right arm (from connecting with a van while trying to slow my bike down enough to read a god forsaken street sign). I’d say this counts as being lost. Once I figured out what street I was on I knew where I was. Entirely different from getting LOST.
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The Drunkest I’ve Ever Been: Best dormie ever


The story of the drunkest I’ve ever been is more depressing than funny. Same with the second drunkest, and the third. And maybe more than that. I’d rather not leave you feeling halfway dead inside, so I’ll tell you a different story: Let’s call it the approximately ninth to twelfth drunkest I’ve ever been.

It was spring semester of my freshman year in college in Manhattan and I was in a long distance relationship. What this means is that I spent an inordinate amount of time on the phone. My story starts with such a call, one weekend night when two friends and I had plans to venture to a goth club. They pre-gamed vodka and 40s for an hour or more while I told someone 3,000 miles away it was their turn to hang up first. When I emerged, it was time to leave, and the last thing I remember is proclaiming that I “needed to catch up,” and raising a mug brimming with cheap vodka to my lips.

When I came to, 12 hours later, I was in my bed, wearing my goth clothes from the night before, covered in crumbs and crumpled slices of potato bread. It was 11am. An empty bucket was perched next to my pillow and the windowsill was littered with several glasses of water in different states of fullness. “What, uh, happened last night?” I yelled across at my dozing roommate. “Ask me later.” She mumbled.

I made it to the goth club—just not through the front doors. Unable to stand and propped between two friends, the bouncer suggested they get me some food and come back later. “But I’m 18!” I insisted.
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Food For Drunks: Cooking 101


Sometimes you are drunk and there is no way to acquire food not made by your own hand. Maybe you left your debit card at the bar and then spent your last dollars plugging the receding window at the peepshow. Or maybe it’s 4:00am and you don’t live in New York, so the closest place that’s open 24-hours would require too sobering a walk to make it worth it. Perhaps you finally made it home where the booze is, so why would you want to leave again? Regardless of the reason, there comes a time in every Enthusiast’s life that they need to cook. More specifically, cook while less than sober.

The first step is to take an honest self-assessment of how drunk you really are. Can you stand without one hand on the counter? Good, let’s reach for the frying pan. No? Maybe get out a bowl and spoon instead. As I’m sure you know, food prep can be a pretty dangerous activity, even while sober, so your choice of meal should take into careful consideration how acute your motor skills are at the time.
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My First Time


Before I recount the tale of my first time, let me first provide a little back-story. You may not be aware of this, but I was born and raised in Eastern Europe: the land of accordions, iron curtains, and vodka. The Double E is also a land that doesn’t simultaneously glorify and vilify drinking like America has a tendency to do. In the old country, enthusing is a part of normal day-to-day life. It’s simply in our blood. And as such I feel I should have some leeway when it comes to that pesky BAC limit—but I digress. Sure we have our problems with overly enthusiastic relatives and dangerously inebriated soccer hooligans, but there isn’t a big social stigma against drinking itself, and certainly not against enthusing at “disturbingly young” ages. I don’t remember there being an official drinking age, and if there was, it was certainly never enforced.

Asking me to recall my first time trying an alcoholic beverage is like me asking you to recall your first birthday party. I was simply too young to remember the very first time that the sweet nectar-of-the-gods touched my lips. I do recall my father/priest/grandma/doctor letting me try some of whatever they were drinking on multiple occasions in my extreme youth, so let’s just say it first happened when I was 4 and wrap up this part of the flashback.

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What the fuck happened?!: A boozey look back at 2010

—Josey and Christian

What the fuck happened in 2010?! How did I get these bruises? Where the hell is my wallet? Where am I—and who are you?!? 2010, it’s been real. As we scratch our soaking brains to try and remember what the fuck happened last year, one thing’s clear: there was drinking. And it all gets kinda blurry after that. Here’s our best attempt at a round-up of the year’s top stories in booze:

Drunken rants and DUIs. “Mooooom! You’re sooooo embaaaarraaaasssingggg!!!” Calling Audrina Patridge a “celebrity” is a stretch, but we don’t care who she is or where she comes from—her mom’s wasted rant following the ex-reality show “celebrity’s” “elimination” from more-vomit-inducing-than-store-brand-tequila-mixed-with-milk-in-a-moment-of-misguided-desperation “TV” “competition” Dancing with the “Stars” (are you sick of air quotes yet?—us neither!) was one of the best recorded drunken rants of 2010. Happy America! We’re all American!
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Music for Enthusiasts: From Hey Ya! ‘Till the last Sweet Thing’s standing


What makes a good drinking song? From first shot to sunrise bottle-swig, here are a few of my wasted favorites.

1) Hey Ya!, André 3000. Two words: Col-lege. Commence frantic, awkward arm-and-leg flailing and vigorous, desperate grabbing at anybody within appendage-reach. Well, that’s what I did when this song played at parties, anyways. Call and response lyrics encourage the boisterous participatory shouting we drunks assume is necessary no matter what song (or lack thereof) is playing. And Mr. 300o’s commands that the soaked and seething mass of booze-sweating bodies “shake it like a Polaroid picture” is the second olive in the dirty martini. Get ready to un-tag some pictures tomorrow morning.

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Four Loko field testing


There’s been a lot of recent press about a caffeinated malt liquor beverage know as Four Loko. Apparently it’s been causing college kids to succumb to alcohol poisoning at higher frequencies than normal. The theory is that the stimulants in the 23.5oz beverage prevent its drinkers from experiencing the sedative effects of the relatively high alcohol content (12%). Hence, they are able to consume more without slowing down and thusly they end up drinking and drinking until their BAC turns off the lights.

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Enthusiastic entrepreneur

Sometimes you can take a good thing too far. In college I decided to man the helm of a weekly Wednesday on-campus celebration known as 40s Night. Typically this tradition started during orientation week and served as a way for the freshmen to meet the upper classes in a jovial and quite enthusiastic environment. It would continue throughout the first month of school before petering out as the Portland weather turned sour and everyone became entrenched in classwork. This particular year however, I was taking a semester off. And, through circumstance to be discussed at a later date, was not gainfully employed. Needless to say, I had a fair amount of free time on my hands.

Through the Enthusiast network at our school, I found out that one could obtain 40s of PBR at a very reasonable rate from a liquor distributor on the other side of town. Each week we would scrape together $100 or so, secure a vehicle, and make our pilgrimage.

The first week we were busted by campus security hiding the bottles in a freshman’s first floor room. So for the following week I devised a method of not only keeping the beer hidden, but keeping it cold and mobile at the same time. Every Wednesday we’d secure a large, rolling recycling bin, empty the contents, and line it with a garbage bag. Then we would load in the bottles, surrounding each successive layer with ice. At about 10 pm, after a couple of hours of chilling, we’d roll the thing over to our designated location and open up shop. The cut-rate supplier combined with fair, but inflated pricing allowed for over 100% profit—in no time I would make back the initial investment and then some, drinking for free all the while.

These were some of my happiest times in college. I quickly became know as The-Fucking-Man on campus and made some lifelong friendships with the entering class of that year. Weeks went by and campus authorities started to get annoyed by the Wednesday night complaints from people “trying to study” and who were “getting distracted” by the baudy noise that came from our revelry. Eventually I was told by the class president that the noise was a real problem and we had to do something about it. Rather than take this as a sign that it was time to shut it down, I just moved us to the Student Union where we could close the doors and minimize noise.

A handful more weeks went by and campus emptied out for Fall break. By this time, the administration had really started to put the heat on 40s night and  I was squarely at the center of the issue. I was determined that we should have one last, good run and intended to call the whole thing off when everyone got back. But the damage had been done. One thing led to another and, non-student that I was, I got banned from campus for the remainder of the semester.

Our school had a notoriously forgiving policy towards that type of thing, but I had clearly crossed a line. Naturally, as an Enthusiast, this is a line that I crossed on a handful of other, unrelated occasions in the future, but I did learn a valuable lesson from that first time. No matter how awesome an idea, and how well executed, you can’t fly too close to the sun without getting burned. That said, I was fortunate that even at that high altitude, I managed to only singe my wings, rather than go down in a ball of flame. In the end, I will forever look back on those nights of 40s fondly—as my most successful (drunken) venture to-date.


Case of PBR photo courtesy of 40ozmaltliquor.com.
Recycling bins photo courtesy of Dano, flickr.
No Trespassing photo courtesy of Daquella Manera, flickr.



Does booze give you superpowers?

For those of you too drunk to read any further, the short answer, according to my empirical research, is an unequivocal duh. But allow me to elucidate.

I’m 19 (back in the day when the drinking age was a sensible and civilized 18) and get an invitation to an open-bar party at my old Catholic grade school in NYC. Open bar. I don’t have to tell you that those are words to set an Enthusiast—particularly a broke-ass college kid—to a-trembling. I am so there.

Since the cocktail party is scheduled for only two hours—and since it’s my pre-heat for a Friday night frolic—there’s a lot of work to do. And I set about it enthusiastically: Jack, chased repeatedly and relentlessly by Miller High Life. Pretty soon, my skinny ass is wasted. In fact, maybe the most wasted ever, before or since. And pretty soon, I’m in trouble. Or they are.

A lot of this has had to be reconstructed later with the help of my schoolmate/drinking buddy who came with. But I have no doubt about my motivation: I’m looking at an older, irretrievably square crowd—uptight, wine-swirling mackeral-snappers in striped ties. And rather than being engaged in some bullshit conversation about my progress toward respectability, I decide to bring some “conversation” of my own.

So I circulate around to each happily chit-chatting couple, stand close to them for a moment, grinning, watching, pretending to be interested, politely waiting my turn to enter the discussion—only to issue forth with an ungodly shouting that makes all conversation impossible. Not a little whoop or yelp. This is a long (30 seconds?), high-volume, non-verbal, unremitting vocal drone, a weaponized yelling designed expressly to destroy cocktail party palaver. And when I say loud, you have to understand that people think I’m loud when I’m just talking (I once got a note from a woman at a restaurant that read “your loud voice wrecked our dinner!”) and that, once upon a time, I sang in front of a very loud rock band.

I work my way around the room, assassinating comity, one conversation at a time. And it’s not just the loudness that’s disturbing, it’s the randomness. My beef is at such a conceptual—and dubious—level that these poor Catholic partygoers are like: what the fuck?!? If they ever said the word fuck.

On and off, the sonic assault continues for maybe 15 minutes, until the principal, a gentle, caring, middle-aged gent, approaches and throws a friendly arm around my shoulders and says, with a genuine smile, “I think it’s time for you to go.”

Let me explain that when this man was younger he had been afflicted with an illness (TB?) that resulted in one of his lungs being removed, which evidently carried a certain morbid, if heretofore unrecognized, fascination for me. So he’s easing me toward the door when I fling off his arm and throw mine around his neck and drag him to the floor. I have the kindly principal in a headlock on the floor, and now I’m yelling at him: “No one-lunged bastard is gonna throw me out!”

I gotta admit, if it’s comical now, it was mortifying the next morning, and for many mornings after. In any case, it’s my buddy and our unfortunate dates who ultimately disentangle me and the principal and get yours truly the fuck out of there.

But, alas, the night is still young.

The four of us pile in a cab, headed downtown to the Village Gate, where one of my all-time favorite bands, NRBQ, is playing a couple of sets. On the edge of Union Square, we get stuck in traffic. Stopped cold. Lots of honking and yelling, but no forward movement. Suddenly, without notice, I fling the cab door open and start running into the darkness and crowds of 14th Street. My friends and my date, not surprisingly, are happy to see me go. And after patiently waiting out the traffic jam, the cab deposits them, 10 minutes later, at the door of the club.

And I’m there to greet them!

This is the superpowers part. Apparently, I flew like Superman or ran at supersonic speeds like Flash to beat them to the Gate. No other explanation is possible—unless you subscribe to the crackpot theory that I ran around the traffic jam and grabbed another cab a block or two away. But that strains credulity, not to mention the rules of super-hero science. No, the facts point incontrovertibly to me acquiring temporary superpowers through the liberal application of booze.

Once inside the club, I barge into the dressing room to tell the band (I think) how much I love them, only to be physically threatened by a visibly agitated lead singer who is restrained by his band mates who are yelling at me to “just get the fuck out!” I return to my friends, who’ve found a comfortable booth, and, at some point during the set, go to sleep. On the floor. The ushers clear out the club for the next show—my friends finally making good on their escape—but somehow no one notices me. As the room begins to fill for the second set, I rise up off the floor and, looking around for my companions, discover instead some unwitting acquaintances from high school, to whom I attach myself for still more bar- and party-hopping until six in the morning, when, my superpowers depleted, I stiff them on a cab ride uptown.

—Toots Shor

Superman photo courtesy of rustman, flickr.