Now is the Special Occasion

If you’re anything like me, you find a certain level of satisfaction from stocking up. You have 3 extra bottles of your favorite vermouth for that imaginary dinner party where just everyone wants a third Manhattan. You have that esoteric bottle of peated Swiss single malt for that “someday” when you need to impress a malt-savvy visitor. You have sixteen hundred or so bottles of weird mixers that you’ve used for exactly one oddball cocktail. Each. You have several bottles of weird beer and at least two bottles of sparkling wine lurking at the back of your refrigerator. Now is the time to start drinking it. Find a cocktail website and start being creative with substitutions. Figure out the ideal ratio of bourbon or rye to sweet vermouth, or the perfect amount of bitters. Got absinthe? Make a Sazerac. Gin but no tonic? Try a real Martini. A bottle of Laphroaig that you just can’t stand? Try a Penicillin Cocktail. Don’t wait until the next global pandemic. Seize this chance to simultaneously discover new drinks and free up space in your liquor cabinet. You can always stock back up when we’re allowed outside again.

I’m not alone. Articles like this one have been peppering my news feed lately, along with actual news at varying levels of dire. If you don’t have kids or an essential job you might be bored out of your skull. This is a great time to experiment, blend, mix, try. Or (like me and my wife) you might suddenly be a 24/7 parent, elementary school teacher, remote employee, housekeeper, cook, and Zoom Hangout Host. This is still a great time to drink, but I don’t blame you if you skip the experimental stuff and just dump whatever’s closest into a glass. Ice optional. I’m right there with you.

Some of my friends have expressed concern at the idea of drinking alone, at home. As an inveterate solo drinker (reviewer, I meant reviewer) and introvert, I can’t really empathize with that, but I understand the reluctance. Obviously now is not a great time to succumb to an addiction if you’ve prone to that. (Why are you reading this?? Call your sponsor!) But to pervert two clichés at once, desperate times are the mother of invention. Co-opt your friends into Zoom or Hangout drinking sessions (game optional). Start a blog, podcast, or YouTube channel to justify your solo consumption. Give yourself permission to craft a perfect cocktail to accompany that Netflix movie (or series!) you’ve been looking forward to. I swear that a few bourbons on the rocks go a long way towards helping your brain process Tiger King.

Speaking of TV, I was watching the US adaptation of the TV series Shameless the other night, and a character (one who is never introduced to the viewer) dies and leaves behind an extensive scotch collection. You’re supposed to identify with Frank Gallagher, who stumbles upon this bounty and has a predictable reaction, but all I could think about was the poor sap who spent his life collecting all that good booze but never got to enjoy it. Now that the specter of COVID-19 stalks us daily the usually vague, background concept of mortality has recently been cast in a sharper relief. Really when better to crack open that “special occasion” bottle than extraordinary times like these? When better to figure out how to use up an entire bottle of green chartreuse? When better to open that bottle that reminds you of that once-in-a-lifetime trip? When better to live?

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  • “It’s not true that you shouldn’t drink alone: these can be the happiest glasses you ever drain.” – Christopher Hitchens

  • Totally agree. I’ve got a bottle of wine ~ 1974 Mondavi CabSauv purchased when spending ten bucks on a bottle of wine for me was a king’s ransom. Never could find the “right” time to drink it. I’ve got a wonderful cellar now but I keep the (absolutely undrinkable) bottle of Mondavi on display to remind myself that NOW is the time to grab that special bottle and drink it tonight.