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: 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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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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