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When I take a sip of alcohol, it’s like I put a memory to my lips. A story resurfaces each time a cork pops. Memories maniacally cling to whiskey and red wine and infused moonshine. I associate martinis with thick textbooks and cheap velvet and craft beer with Vermont in the fall, leaves so red you swear they’d been set on fire. Don’t even get me started on tequila – a too-young-to-do-it with the lights on drunk that smells like carelessness and feels like dewy, early morning skin.
When I choose to drink white wine after work, it’s because I can still hear my best friends singing to 90s music videos in our college apartment and sometimes I’ll drink whiskey neat just to remember the winter I realized my boyfriend liked poker more than me.
I know these associations can’t just be exclusive to me – and as a writer with an undeniable lust for other people’s stories, I asked readers to share some of their own alcohol-fueled feels. Lucky for us all, like the dedicated enablers they are, they obliged with fervor.
I’ll give you one of mine, then let you get drunk on theirs.
I remember the first night I drank a Gin and Tonic. For full effect, transmit yourself to a loud bar, sticky and frenetic.
At 20, my metabolism still welcomes the caloric embrace of a G&T – my hips are stick straight, they don’t curve yet. So sickly sweet, the G&T was the perfect accessory to a fake ID. I wasn’t yet vain enough to drink liquor with soda. Little did I know I’d be saying “Vodka soda, please” for the next three years – 20-year-old me should have appreciated the robustness of the word “tonic.”
The sugar keeps my heart at a steady flutter, I chew on my straw. This version of me wore a backless top. Who wears a backless top to a local bar on a Tuesday?
“Gin and Tonic” is easy to remember and regurgitate. The bartender reads my lips over the screech of a woman, 15 years my senior, singing karaoke in the corner. He puts the drink in front of me. “It’s on the house” – he’s still staring at my lips. My lips? It can’t be.
I turn my back, his gaze is elastic. I can feel his eyes traverse my spine. He’s not the only one. I walk across the bar and the wooden floor feels like a stage. What are those butterflies?
Now, three years later, I understand what the butterflies were. Stage fright. I can taste the first moment I walked across a bar and realized I was the one they were looking at – it tastes like a sickly sweat right of passage. It tastes like a gin and tonic.
Jack Daniels always makes me feel like a little bit of a Rockstar. There’s something rebellious and DGAF about ripping back a shot of Jack and then going back to your beer… like unbutton an extra button on your shirt and turn up the volume on the speaker system type of feeling.
Bourbon makes me feel like the Southern Gentleman I was raised to be. The type of guy who’s been wearing the same jeans and boots for years in his free time, but also puts on a suit and tie for the Derby and shows he can party with the best and still stay buttoned up.
Want me to be entirely completely honest? Let’s drink Bourbon. Bourbon makes it easy to tell you exactly how I feel.
Dos Equis – When I was 19 and 20 there was a bar in my town that carded once, and then put you on file. Me and my buddies had fakes that worked, so from then on, we had a spot to drink pints and play pool. Now, whenever I drink XX I think about the camaraderie with friends and how fleeting a liquor license can be.
Whiskey, pretty much any whiskey, smells of my early 20s. There was something about drinking whiskey over any other liquor that gave me the feeling of, “Okay, tonight is going to be a big one.” But back then, every night was a massive night. With pride, we’d set a fifth of Early Times on the counter of our local gas station next to a 12-ounce bottle of Coke. We knew it was reckless, but we also enjoyed the challenge of drinking that much bourbon with that little Coke. Most of the time we’d finish the bottle and throw it on the sandy bonfire we had going only to pick it out the next hungover morning — or simply grab it before we started our fire on the same beach the following night. I don’t drink bourbon that often these days, but when I do, it’s hard to not think fondly back to the days when I couldn’t get enough.
Whenever I drink something warm, I always think of being in the outdoors. I reminisce about toasting a successful hunt with my hunting partner from a stolen flask of his dad’s Cuervo that has been baking in the center console of his Suburban all day. I think of sipping bourbon in a duck blind or drinking warm beers from my backpack when I didn’t want to lug a cooler two miles up a river on a fly fishing trip. A warm beverage isn’t always ideal but they somehow taste best when enjoyed while spending time in the wild beauty of the outdoors.
Champagne gives me this heady, anything is possible feeling. The first glass of champagne I drank was after I was rejected from my dream job. My best friend and I sat and drank cheap champagne and talked about how to bounce back. Three weeks later, I got a better offer from a competing firm. Now, whenever I order champagne I get this undeniable urge to try something new or do something crazy.
I wish the internet had an appetite for 10,000-word articles because the responses to this inquiry could flow from my DMs long through the evening.
Just because my word limited is tapped, however, it doesn’t mean we can’t order shots in the comments below. Got any alcohol-related feels of your own? I want to hear! Take me to Happy Hour and tell me your stories – I’ll buy the first round.