Monday, May 08, 2006

Well I Never

In my somewhat long and illustrious career in drinking in public places I have never been denied entry into a bar. Care to guess what happened to me on Friday evening? That’s right boys and girls, I was denied entry to one of my regular watering holes because I was not wearing a collared shirt. It went down something like this:

Guy I Have Never Seen Before – “You have to have a collared shirt on to get in to Downing Street.”

Me – “Huh?’

GIHNSB – “You can’t go in without a collared shirt on.”

Me – “Really. Since when?”

GIHNSB – “It’s new.”

Me – “That sucks.”

GIHNSB – “Sorry.”

Me (In my head) – No you’re not you pretty-boy fuck.

For a moment I was stuck. I couldn’t decide what to do. For a moment I wanted to ask to speak to whichever manager was on duty that night betting that it would be John or one of the other managers that know me as one of Scott’s hangers on and they might let me slide as I was not egregiously sloppy. I had on a nice pair of jeans, my brown Sketchers that I wear to work with my khakis, and a dark v-neck t-shirt. On the other hand I didn’t want to cause a scene because I had a lady friend with me and I did not want to cause trouble for Scott. I asked one of the waitresses whether Scott had put in an appearance yet and since he had not I decided discretion was the better part of valor and headed to the car.

Initially I was pretty pissed about the whole thing, in fact pissed enough to forego drinking there with Scott once he put in an appearance and straightened things out. I think most of my anger around the issue comes from the fact that drinking at Downing on a Friday night is a chore. Parking is impossible to find because of the Taco Milagro crowd who are yuppies of the most disgusting sort; the not quite beautiful people who think that going to Taco Milagro and hanging out with other not quite beautiful people makes them scene-worthy. I have a special loathing for Taco Milagro and the people that eat and drink there.

Actually I was so pissed off about the whole episode that even after Scott went in, laid down his thing, and cleared the way for me to get in regardless of the collar situation I was not going to go back. I told Scott something to the effect of they had missed out on their chance to make money off of me that night. I’m sure it didn’t actually affect them in the least, but it is nice to take a semi-boneheaded stand once in a while.

Now, after a day or two of fighting off the Asian Bird Flu, I am okay with how things went down. I have always thought the place needed a dress code, or needed to enforce their existing dress code. Downing is a nice bar and I have seen people in there who take sloppy dressing in public to whole new levels. On more than one occasion I have been the person taking sloppy dressing in public to inappropriate levels, primarily thanks to Scott dragging me along and assuring me it is actually okay for me to be a slob. I think he does that because it makes him look better and everyone goes, “Oh, that Scott guy is so nice, hanging out with the fat sloppy dude who clearly needs help dressing himself.” Nothing gets the girls like a homegrown nerd outreach program. Hopefully this new/renewed dedication to a dress code will help keep Downing a nice and classy place to drink.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Nothing Sacred - Day Three

How long can James blog about drinking without actually blogging about drinking?

Over the last two days I have blogged about the series of infiltrations performed by the highly specialized counter-drunkard forces of the Irving Police Department and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Comission last Friday. First I leveled my amoral outrage at the fact that they would do something like this and yesterday I mocked the appropriatedly named Nameless Reuters Wire-Monkey (NRWM) and then pointed you guys to some useful information out there on the web. Sorry I couldn’t jazz it up with some boobies or something else, but every once in a great while I will stumble across something on the Internet that is neither geek nor porn. It was one of those days.

So now we are on day three of James blogging in minuscule outrage about TABC’s strategic plan to rid the state of drunk drivers 36 bars at a time. In this episode we learn that, yes my friends, the long arm of Johnny Law has been a bit busier than I first suspected. While discussing the events in Irving with a coworker I was pointed to this article in my very own Houston Chronicle (Viva la Post!):
Public intoxication stings catch 2,200 in Texas bars

More than 2,200 people have been arrested in Texas bars in the six months since the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission announced a crackdown on public intoxication, primarily targeting bars.

The arrests included people who were drunk in bars, who sold alcohol to a drunk person, or a drunk employee on the premises of a bar or restaurant with a license to sell alcohol, said Carolyn Beck, a spokeswoman for the TABC.
Sweet Monkey Jesus! 2,200 people?!?!? This is really the only new news the article has to offer. Well, that and the fact that this is called Operation Last Call. Excellent name choice! I can imagine some TABC bureaucrat giggling to himself as he came up with that whopper of a name in much the same way I giggle to myself when I come up with something Damn Funny. However, unlike the previous articles, this article had an actual person’s name attached to the article, with email address. This being the case I thought I would fire off an email to the author of the article and ask whether she knows if anyone has done any statistical analysis to see if this program is actually paying off or is the TABC just wasting people’s time. Here is the email:

I just read your March 23rd article titled “Public intoxication stings catch 2,200 in Texas bars.” While I have been aware of the TABC program since earlier in the week when a friend of mine pointed me to some coverage from the Dallas area, this is the first time I have read anything to indicate it is has been more widespread than just the thirty people arrested in Irving. Since the program is clearly fairly large and has been going on for just over six months I was wondering if the TABC or anyone else has taken a look at the DWI/DUI statistics from the areas where they have been active to see if there has been a decrease in the number of incidents since the program’s inception. While this program offends my inner drinker, if it is actually working and saving lives then I will come to a grumbling acceptance of it, however if not it seems that the officers involved in the program could be put to more productive use.

Sincerely yours,

James XXXX
Almost immediately I got the following response:
Thanks for your response. I am at a loss right now to answer your questions. I do know that in the Houston area, the TABC works closely with Houston police intracking DWI arrests, then working “backwards,” so to speak. For example, it is not uncommon for a Houston police officer to ask a person suspected of DWI where he/she had his/her “last” drink. In many cases, the same taverns/pubs come up, or are mentioned. TABC then tries to monitor that establishment, in an effort to prevent people from driving under the influence.

TABC does allow publicly intoxicated people to go home with a designated driver, if they really do know that person. For example, if you are in a bar with a friend or significant other, and that person is intoxicated, they might give you a ticket, but not arrest you. They want you to get home safely. The spokeswoman for the agency said it would be extremely rare to allow a person who was clearly intoxicated to simply call a cab, because that person might not make it home – they could easily ask the driver to pull into the next bar. Or, they could get out of the cab a few blocks away. In Houston, that would mean danger. Trust me on this. There’s either a dangerous person lurking around, a Metro bus, or one of our little trains to run you over.

Personally, I find it very interesting that people are surprised to learn that a bar is a public place.
First I would like to give some serious props to the author of the article for responding within twenty minutes of me sending the email. While there seems to be a bit of boilerplate in her response, it is a clear and well thought out response, although I do take umbrage with the implication that I do not know about the rough streets of Houston. Of course she then turns around and takes a piss out of Metro. That makes me happy.

It is clear to me that it is now time to go straight to the source on this. Through a little bit of digging I found out how to contact people directly at the TABC via email (sometimes websites are so helpful!) and I intend to email Carolyn Beck directly and ask if the agency is keeping records of the arrests and citations issued in connection with the sting operations and then comparing them to the DUI/DWI arrests in the area to see if the program is having a measurable effect. As soon as I get the email composed and sent I will post it here and of course post Ms. Beck’s response.

One last thing. Pete over at A Perfectly Cromulent Blog finally weighed in on this issue, expressing much the same sentiment but, as always, in a much more concise and funny manner. Additional blogging about this issue can be found here.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Nothing Sacred Follow-Up Segment

Yesterday I posted about the proactive arrests of fellow imbibers made recently in Irving, Texas and Scott suggested I keep an eye on the story and see what else develops. While I am at a loss on how to go about doing this without spending too much time or money on this, I did do a little more looking into the background on this.

The first (I keep typing Frist instead of first, clearly I have politics on the mind too oft of late) thing I came across was this Reuters piece on MSNBC which I found through the Crime and Punishment section but the article itself seems to be in the peculiar postings section.
Texas arresting people in bars for being drunk
Undercover agents pursue inebriates in a pre-emptive strategy

SAN ANTONIO, Texas [which is nowhere near Irving, where the pre-emptive strategery took place, and is not Austin where the TABC, the nefarious commission behind the strategery, is based] – Texas has begun sending undercover agents into bars to arrest drinkers for being drunk, a spokeswoman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Comission said on Wednesday.

The first sting operation was conducted recently in a Dallas suburb where agents infiltrated 36 bars and arrested 30 people for public intoxication, said the comission’s Carolyn Beck.
Now here I would like to take a short break from transcribing the entire article (it is a short piece) to kick the writer of this article around. Read that sentence again paying particular attention to the “…where agents INFILTRATED 36 bars…” I don’t know about the rest of you, but the last time I had to infiltrate a bar was…no, wait, never in my life have I had to infiltrate a bar. I think it is clear that the nameless Reuters wire-monkey who wrote this piece has been watching a bit too much of the Mission Impossible lately. Seriously NRWM why must you make it sound so much more epic than a couple of guys who were probably in slightly better shape than 50% of the bar patrons walk into the bar and arrest some people for being drunk. That’s what happened. There was no Iron Curtain they had to piece, no great secret cabal to track down, and there were no secret police after them for they were the secret police. Using NRWM’s definition I have been infiltrating my underpants for years. Make of that what you will. Now back to the article.
Being in a bar does not exempt one from the state laws against public drunkenness, Beck said. [I find this somewhat ironic coming from a rocker-type…oh wait, they mean Carolyn.]

The goal, she said, was to detain drunks before they leave a bar and go do something dangerous like drive a car.

“We feel that the only way we’re going to get at the drunk driving problem and the problem of people hurting each other while drunk is by crackdowns like this,” she said.

“There are a lot of dangerous and stupid things people do when they’re intoxicated, other than get behind the wheel of a car [like let Scott order drinks for them],” Beck said. “People walk out into traffic and get run over, people jump off of balconies trying to reach a swimming pool and miss.”

She said the sting operations would continue throughout the state.
Another brief bit of invective for you before we move on. “…people jump off of balconies trying to reach a swimming pool and miss.” Ms. Beck people do that kind of crap stone cold sober. Stick to the drunk driving defense because if you’re going to spend your time trying to keep people from doing stupid things you, let’s just say you have a bit of an up-hill battle.

In all seriousness I liked this piece. It put a face on the sting operation and served notice to all us unrepentant drunkards that they will be infiltrating our local watering holes any day now. Also MSNBC had one of their intsa-polls in which they had received 38,270 responses. The question asked was “Does it make sense to arrest people for being drunk in bars?” 83% of the respondants chose the option that states, “No, people go to bars to drink, and if they get drunk but stay safe, it should be OK.”

After this I swung on by the TABC website to see if I could find the chapter and verse on public intoxication and related subjects. I was not able to find the legal definition of public intoxication on the TABC site, however I did find a PDF containing the TABC code, which some of you might find interesting, so I linked it here. I also stumbled across the TABC press release announcing this new strategy, or rather Sales to Intoxicated Persons stings. The following section appears in the press release:
Myths About Public Intoxication
  • A person can’t be in a bar or nightclub for public intoxication. Yes they can.
  • If a person is arrested for public intoxication, the officer has to offer them either a breath or blood test to determine their level of intoxication. No they do not. Agents may conduct routine field sobriety tests, but breath or blood samples are not required.
  • Just because a person has a designated driver, it’s okay to become intoxicated. No it’s not. Being intoxicated to the point of presenting a danger to yourself or others is grounds for arrest.
Then we get down to the good stuff:
Some Facts About Public Intoxication And Nightclubs

Many people do not understand how they can be arrested when they are inside a bar or a private club. Chapter 49.02 of the Texas Penal Code states: "A person commits an offense if the person appears in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that the person may endanger the person or another." Any location permitted to sell or serve alcoholic beverages is a public place.

People also confuse public intoxication with having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher, which is the legal limit for driving in Texas. But an individual’s BAC is only half the story. Chapter 49.01(2)(a) of the Penal Code defines public intoxication as "not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; OR (b) having an alcohol concentration of .08 or more."

Alcohol affects different people in different ways. Just two or three drinks can cause some people to act in ways that they normally would not. Loud or slurred speech, exaggerated movements and unsteady balance are the most common symptoms exhibited. These are some of the things that law enforcement officials look for when dealing with individual suspected of being intoxicated. If an agent can articulate that a person does not have the normal use of mental or physical faculties, due to alcohol or drug consumption, then the agent can arrest that person for public intoxication.

Sales to Intoxicated Persons: Section 101.63 of the Alcoholic Beverage Code makes it a crime to sell alcoholic beverages to an intoxicated person. Bartenders and wait staff are legally obligated to look out for these signs of intoxication and to refuse to continue serving someone who appears to be intoxicated. People in the service industry are encouraged to attend a TABC-approved Seller Training Course and be trained in how to identify minors and intoxicated persons.

Consequences: Public intoxication is a class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $500 for each occurrence. Not only that, most jails now require that a person arrested for public intoxication be held for at least 4 to 12 hours before being released. Selling alcohol to an intoxicated person is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $500 and/or up to a year in jail. Just having either of these offenses on a person’s criminal record could affect their ability to get a job for the rest of their lives.

Contact: Carolyn Beck, Public Information Officer, 512-206-3347

Now we’re getting somewhere. We have the chapter and verse on where the PI clause exists in the state penal code AND they gave us Carolyn Beck’s phone number. If I had more cojones I would call her and ask if they have bothered to do a study on the impact of the program. If I was even more daring I would call her, ask that question and then when I received the inevitable no, I would ask for arrest details on the program so I could analyze the data myself. I bet I would not get that either.

After reading this I swung by Google to try and track down an online copy of the Texas Penal Code so I could read the entry on PI myself. Here is what I found in Title 10. Offenses Against Public Health, Safety, and Morals. (Morals, nice touch.)

Sec. 49.02. PUBLIC INTOXICATION. (a) A person commits an offense if the person appears in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that the person may endanger the person or another.
(b) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the alcohol or other substance was administered for therapeutic purposes and as a part of the person’s professional medical treatment by a licensed physician.
(c) Except as provided by Subsection (e), an offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.
(d) An offense under this section is not a lesser included offense under Section 49.04 [Driving While Intoxicated].
(e) An offense under this section committed by a person younger than 21 years of age is punishable in the same manner as if the minor committed an offense to which Section 106.071, Alcoholic Beverage Code, applies.

There you go loyal readers. I really don’t have any commentary on the law itself except to say that I do not like that it is left to the officer’s judgment. I promise to keep my eyes peeled for further developments on this case.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Nothing Sacred

Initially I was going to write about vodka and my not so recent adventures in drunkenness at a Russian New Years party, however today a friend brought the following articles to my attention which I felt warranted discussion here on the ‘Caust.

Officials Make Public Intoxication Arrests Inside Bars

IRVING, Texas – The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Comission has taken its fight against druken driving to a new level. TABC agents, along with Irving police, targeted 36 bars and clubs Friday, arresting some allegedly intoxicated patrons before they departed the businesses.

This did not immediately get my dander up as I, like Scott, am bothered by people that are sloppy drunk in bars. I am sure most of this comes from the fact that when I am drinking in a bar it is more about spending time with friends than the actual drinking, but that is really a discussion for another time. As long as they were dragging the sloppy drunks and clearly debilitated people out of the bars, I was okay with it. Then I got to this paragraph:

The report also said that some agents shared tables with suspected drunken patrons. Some patrons were subjected to field sobriety tests inside bars.

So clearly they were not just getting the broken drunks but just regular patrons who might have imbibed a bit too much, or, like me, not able to pass a field sobriety test stone cold sober. This has also moved from that nebulous region that is somewhere between police overstepping their bounds and the desire to protect the public. This is the sort of thing that police states do and, though we may be headed that way, the last time I checked the good old U. S. of A. was not quite there yet.

Mr. TunaCan launched a fairly vitriolic screed against this practice via email claiming that the police were arresting people who were likely to commit a crime before any crime had actually been committed. Does this sound anything like a slightly more focused version of the racial profiling that police departments do not engage in, no sir, not at all. (Please note that the last nine words of the previous sentence are so dripping with sarcasm that you may not actually be able to make out the letters. Sorry about that. Of course if the police really wanted to practice their racial profiling on drunks they should just arrest all the Irish. Of course I think that’s just good public policy, but then sometimes I am not a good person on the inside.) The follow up article shared even more disturbing details about the pogrom staged for the public safety:

Bar Sweep Sparks Controversy

At one location, for example, agents and police arrested patrons of a hotel bar. Some of the suspects said they were registered at the hotel and had no intention of driving. Arresting authorities said the patrons were a danger to themselves and others.

"Going to a bar is not an opportunity to go get drunk," TABC Capt. David Alexander said. "It's to have a good time but not to get drunk."

Woah. Now hold up there Captain Sparky. Of course going to a bar is an opportunity to get drunk. I know more than a few people who view it as our national duty to get drunk when we go to a bar. Seriously you brown-shirt wearing git! Bartendees predilection for getting drunk is what keeps you in a job and by extension pays your mortgage, kid’s tuition, and wife’s cabana boy bills, if you know what I mean, so sit down and shut your trap.

As it turns out Deputy Dog was within the guidelines set up by Texas law:

Texas law states that inebriated individuals could be subjected to arrest anywhere for public intoxication.

Now I do not have the mad research skills to track down the chapter and verse so I am going to take the journalist’s word on this one. (Of course this is a journalist who decided to write an article and uses a comedian as the counterpoint to the TABC’s actions, so his/her journalistic instincts might be a bit suspect.) This leads me into the story of Ben, one of Mr. TunaCan’s college roommates.

Ben was, lets just say that Ben had issues, tons and tons of issues. I didn’t know him real well, but Mr. TunaCan seemed to like him well enough and I suppose he liked Mr. TunaCan as he gave him the moniker The Aardvark Captain of the Guard. Anyways, one day Ben disappears. For a couple of days. Initially no one was worried as Ben was a bit of a strange cat and unusual behavior was the norm, but after a while (I cannot remember the exact amount of time this took it may have only been hours or it may have been almost a whole day) people really started to get worried. We contacted the campus police in the attempt to file a missing persons report and learned that we had not exceeded the time limit for an adult. Eventually Ben turned up again after having been arrested between the U of H campus and downtown and eventually released. The charge? Public Intoxication. As I said at the beginning, Ben had issues, and he was taking medication for these issues, however Ben would not have known a cocktail if it grabbed him, smacked him around, and screamed, “SAY MY NAME!” at him. And he was in the pokey for PI.

When used judiciously the generic charge of public intoxication serves a good purpose. It allows officers to pick people up who are behaving in an erratic and/or dangerous manner and put them somewhere to cool their heels. From my limited knowledge, in Houston the charge of PI carries a fine that the judges’ bust down to time served after you spend a night in jail. In Ben’s case I feel the officers probably made the right decision, even though he was not drunk. He did not have any identification on him, was out of it (he had not taken his meds), and was a lonely white boy in, what back then, was a very dangerous neighborhood.

Clearly this recent action by the City of Irving and TABC steps FAR beyond the realm of judicious application. This maneuver has the stench of a couple of different things:
  1. Somebody needed to justify their existence.
  2. The City of Irving needed a little cash influx from the state and what better way to get this than incarcerating some drunks for the night.
The first one is pretty self-explanatory, however the second point may need some illumination. As I understand the criminal justice system here in Texas (which comes from a prison guard) when a person is taken to a city or county jail, the state gives the imprisoning entity money (let’s say $700) per day or partial day that the person is imprisoned. This little money train re-ups at midnight, therefore if you are arrested by HPD 4pm on Sunday, Houston then gets allocated $700 from the state. If you are still incarcerated at 12:01am on Monday, Houston gets allocated another $700 from the state. This is why when I was in the pokey for unpaid traffic tickets (I am so lame) I saw the judge sometime in the afternoon, however I was not processed out until about 3am. In addition to this the Irving police may have been on a little fishing expedition in an effort to get more money by catching people with outstanding warrants. They only arrested 30 people, but I would be interested to know how many people they questioned/tested/ran through the computers.

The justification for this entire exercise:

Agents and officers said the operation represented an effort to reduce drunken driving.

Sgt. Chris Hamilton, of the TABC, said some inebriated bar patrons "end up killing themselves or someone else" after departing the businesses.

Ah yes, the spectre of public safety rears its ugly, fascist head. I know I have heard public safety as a justification for the abrogation of American rights before. Where was that? Oh yeah, there was this little episode in American history. Not recent enough for you? Well, you’re all bright kids. I bet if you think about it long enough you can come up with something you have heard on the news recently. Something about the FISA Court and wire-tapping.

This post ended up wandering a bit farther afield than I intended, however I felt it important that you guys know this kind of crap is going on. As for me? They can have my beer glass when they pry it from my cold, dead hand. Or pick it up off the floor. If that’s the case please make sure I am on my face or side. Thanks for your consideration.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Big Ad

TV spots for beer have always been entertaining. At least for as long as I can remember, which, to be completely honest, is only about a decade. While elephantine in size, I have the memory of a gnat. I don’t remember beer adverts from the 70s, but, as it was from the 70s, it by definition sucked, and I don’t remember them from the 80s, but again, by virtue of decade association they sucked as well, but had better music. Therefore, I suppose what I am really saying is that since the 90s, beer commercials, with a few exceptions (Pete Coors, you bug me) kick all buttocks.

A few personal favorites include the horses playing football, the recent Guinness commercials (I say Phineas, Brilliant!), and of course the ubiquitous Budweiser frogs commercials and the army of off-shoots this campaign spawned. I have to admit, although I had a soft spot in my heart for the ferret, Louie and Frankie, they were my favorites. They were brilliant! An Abbott & Costello for the beer-drinker. While my love for the little buggers did not extend to taking part in the orgy of merchandising launched by their popularity, if Bud was to put out a DVD compilation of the ads, including the radio spots, I would seriously consider adding it to my collection.

Now, I have told you all of this so you will grasp the full weight of what I am about to say.

The lads at Fosters have created the greatest beer ad ever.

By ever I mean since man first discovered the frothy goodness that is beer, there has been no greater add.

You can view it here.


Go on, it will be okay.

Take a moment to wallow in the glory.

Watch it and be forever changed by the undeniable majesty that is this ad.

Then go drink a Carlton. Hell, have one on me, but I will have to owe you.

(On a semi-related subject, I find the current crop of ads for Tanqueray particularly irritating and, if I drank gin, which I hold, along with Mr. TunaCan, to be a Dutch fuck you to the English, I would stop. Or rather I would not drink Tanqueray anymore. God those ads bug me.)

Monday, December 26, 2005

Peppermint Martini

2 parts vodka
1 part peppermint schnapps
1/2 part creme de cacao

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake until desired temperature is reached.
Strain into a martini glass.
Garnish with a candy cane.

Holiday Science

Recently my esteemed colleague Scott posted about the popularity of faxutini’s, which brought to mind the Peppermint Martini I sampled once upon a time. It occurred to me that this would be the perfect excuse to buy myself some decent vodka (I think the only vodka I had at the time was Stolichnaya, which is fine for mixing, but not martini-ing) and a good shaker. But before I did any of this I needed a recipe. Fortunately I knew just the source: I will save singing the praises of Spec’s Liquors for another time, suffice to say they are always my first (and usually my last) stop when I am searching for something related to drinking. A search of their bartender’s guide provided the following recipe:


2.5 parts Stolichnaya
.5 parts Peppermint Schnapps
.5 parts Crème de cacao

Mix ingredients together in a shaker with ice.
Strain into a martini glass.
Garnish with a candy cane.

Shopping list in hand I headed out to Spec’s to do some damage to the old bank account and then do some more damage to the liver. When I got home with my supplies I went ahead and whipped one up using Ketel One vodka rather than Stoli. The first few sips were okay, but it was quickly apparent that something was wrong. The vodka flavor really started to come through when I was about a third of the way through the drink. I had mixed it sufficiently as I shook the drink until a fine layer of frost had accumulated on the shaker. Clearly the ratios were off a little bit. The trick with this drink is to have the peppermint schnapps be the only thing you can taste without the peppermint being over powering. I changed the ratios to:

2 parts vodka
1 part peppermint schnapps
.5 part crème de cacao

Although I wondered why the crème de cacao was included in the original recipe, I wasn’t ready to cut it out entirely as I suspect it helped cut the peppermint flavor. This mixture seemed to be just right. I drank the entire thing without ever being able to taste the vodka and while I knew I was drinking a peppermint drink, but the peppermint was not overpowering.

I think I will play with the recipe a bit more in the future, but for now I feel confident declaring victory and posting my results here. I think my next science experiment will involve putting a twist on the classic Pimm’s Cup, which has been a favorite summer drink of mine for some time.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Chick Magnet

While I am not the past master at drinking that young Scott appears to be, this past week I was reminded of one of my more heroic bouts with the bottle which is worthy of sharing if, for no other reason, it took place the first weekend I made Scott’s acquaintance. The event of which I speak involves me, more Lone Star than any sane man should drink, a Screwdriver the size of Idaho, Scott, 2,000 dirty hippies, and the eponymous Chick Magnet boxer shorts.

Burning Flipside is held every Memorial Day weekend in the Texas hill country, just a few miles west of Austin. For many people Burning Flipside, or Flipside as it is more commonly referred to, takes on a certain aura of spiritual homecoming and serves as a stop-gap in their struggle against reality between trips to Burning Man. I am sad to say that it does not hold a deep significance for me. For me Flipside is an opportunity to go camping with a group of friends, hang out, drink, and enjoy the floor show. My downfall is that every other activity I engage in at Flipside, be it hanging out, enjoying the floor show, or eating dinner, also involves drinking. This means that I will, in the five days I spend at Flipside, consume a heroic amount of beer and liquor. My alcohol intake for those five days is probably about a third of my alcohol intake for the entire year.

This past year I had taken an ample supply of Lone Star for drinking during the day, and then donated a couple of bottles of McCormick’s Vodka (for which I cannot find a website) to one of the donation bars out there to ensure my evenings would be filled with liquor-y goodness. This came back to bite me the night of the burn. I had spent most of the day in the creek drinking with a rotating cast of casual acquaintances and friends, however I knocked off about 4pm for a quick bite to eat and a little bit of a nap before the evening swung in to full gear.

I awoke from my nap still feeling that warm sensation of a light buzz. I got ready for the night’s activities, which included burning a huge freakin’ rocket-sculpture, and made my way down to the field where the burning was going to take place. After the burn I wandered into the aforementioned donation bar where I proceeded to drink. At some point Scott showed up and convinced the bartender to fess up with the end of a bottle of Jack, which we shared while BSing. I had met Scott earlier in the weekend, but he was bust doing things which shall not be mentioned on this blog, so we had not really hung out. For some reason this turned into the night where we hung out. I switched between the Screwdriver that Ate Manhattan and Jack Daniels for awhile. At this point I was very drunk and Scott decided he needed to escape the field for a bit and thus he beat feet for his car beneath the flimsy excuse of needing to get some cigars for us to smoke. I continued to drink. Scott walked about five miles to recover said cigars and return. I drank more and more and more. The Jack was all gone. I got a refill on the Olympian Screwdriver. I smoked a cigar.

At this point the evening starts to get a little hazy.

I remember trying to talk to Scott but then wandering off when I got the feeling I was interrupting him dropping some game on an unsuspecting young lady. Sadly, as it was to turn out, wandering off meant wandering back into the bar where I could be plied with more of the hooch. At this point in the evening this was officially a Bad Idea. There was a stripper pole in the bar. There were people making use of the pole. I might have said something fairly inappropriate to the people using the pole. I am not sure. About this time I realized I was way too wasted to be in public so I started the drunk stumble-walk back to our campsite.

Somewhere along the way I found I had to vomit. Not wanting to mess up the outdoors with my spew I opened the front pocket of my overalls and puked in there. I found this little fact out a couple of days later when I went to wash the overalls.

I made it back to camp and collapsed into a camp chair, which to my surprise, survived the evening. As I was sitting there in camp chatting with my campmates I started to be sick again. I was so drunk I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even turn my head. After about thirty minutes I managed to recover enough to realize that I was covered in my own sick and I was past the point of being sick and I needed to pass out. Right then.

I clambered out of the camp chair and slowly made my way to my tent, shucking clothes enroute. This trail of breadcrumbs was thankfully kicked into a pile in front of my tent the next morning by some kind soul.

I am sure you are now asking yourself why the title of this post is Chick Magnet. Well, fair reader, the last anyone saw of me that night as I beat a retreat from the field of battle were the bright yellow words ‘CHICK MAGNET’ emblazoned across the ass of my boxer shorts. A name I certainly lived up to that night.


On the Tipeler site, a friend posted this comment, which I thought was worthy of preserving:
Alas, I was witness to "Team ChickMagnet" in all its glory. A few of us were sitting in camp jibber jabbering around the vomit episodes. It was grand!! In between episodes, James was even capable of making jokes and somewhat carrying on with the conversations. There were a couple of newbies with us. One girl started to get up and leave but I think she realized she didn't know where to go so she sat back down. I assured her that it was "OKAY." THEN... dear god, when he finally ventured off to bed and his pants fell down around his ankles causing him to sort of shuffle off to his tent, I thought I would die! His boxers said CHICK MAGNET across the ass! In my state of mind, I couldn't help but think this was some sort of performance art. Really! Beautiful, just beautiful! I love you, Chick Magnet!!!
Thank you, Susan. I had completely forgotten that I was carrying on a conversation between chunder rounds.


Originally posted by Scott.

1 rocks glass
1 brandy snifter with diameter only slightly smaller than the rocks glass.
1 oz high proof, high sugar content liquor – sambucca, cointreau, and drambuie all work well. 151 works, but you’d be insane to drink that.
Matches or other source of fire.

Pour liquor into the brandy glass and set on fire.

Once burning, place rocks glass over the brandy glass and leave until flame goes out. Don’t let it burn too long otherwise the brandy glass will get too hot to drink from (at least too hot to drink from without burning your mouth).

Once the flame goes out, pick up the glasses without breaking the seal, bring it to your nose. Then lift off rocks glass, and AS YOU TURN IT OVER, breath in hard through your nose, inhaling all the alcohol vapor, then knock back the shot.




Why it works - The fire burns all the oxygen, creating alcohol vapor. As you breathe in the vapor, it travels through your nasal passages and into your lungs, all of which have much thinner walls than you stomach, so the alcohol is absorbed almost instantly, and you get drunk for about 30 seconds. That passes, then the booze you swallowed hits and you get drunk for longer.

Two for the price of one – you just can’t beat it.

You Want Me to Drink WHAT?

Originally posted by Scott.

As I think I may have said before, I like to drink. I like alcohol, the variety that is available, the way different types of alcohol can be mixed together to create something new, and the effect it has on me.

As a result of enjoying alcohol, on something of a regular basis, I have, on occasion, found myself slightly inebriated by the end of the evening.

Ok… maybe slightly inebriated is an understatement.

“Smashed out of my tiny mind” is perhaps more appropriate.

Most of these evenings manage to pass into the mists of time, being remembered merely as a good night; an evening you went out with your buddies and drank enough to make everything entertaining, without the nasty side-effects of spending all night calling for dinosaurs, or waking up and trying to explain to yourself why the sheepdog lying in bed next to you is wearing a tutu.

Some of them stay with you though.

These are the traumatic evenings.

The ones that frequently lead to traumatic mornings.

As I said, I like alcohol. I like the way it tastes. I like the way you can mix it together and make new and interesting drinks. But that's not to say that I like all alcohol.

Some drinks are politely described as "an acquired taste". As far as I am concerned, if you acquired the taste you are either drunk or desperate need of professional help. Chartreuse for instance. Or the Robitussin of the drinking world, Jaegermeister. I don't like these drinks because, lets face it, they taste like ass.

However, some alcohol I dislike so much, merely getting close enough to smell it turns my stomach. These are the drinks which not only taste bad, but are inextricably linked with bad drinking experiences.

Tequila for instance.

A drink guaranteed to turn refried beans into regurgitated beans if given half a chance.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have NEVER been drunk on tequila.

There has, however, been occasion when, during the course of a evening, I've been tricked into imbibing a shot or two of tequila. Don’t ask me why, I can’t stand the stuff. I put it down to peer pressure, or perhaps the pretty bartender using her feminine wiles on me. You know the way they do, confusing me by batting her eyelids while offering me the Devil’s own piss, usually with the words, “it’s ok, this is good tequila.”

Let me tell you now, ladies and gentlemen, bartenders lie like rugs. Tequila is NEVER good.

Anyway, whatever the reason, I hold others responsible because I’d never drink that stuff in my right mind.

The smell of it turns my stomach, but the taste. Oh, god the taste is awful....

I don’t know what it is about the flavor, but no matter what I drink before or after it, that flavor stays with me. All night long. Five cigars later and I can still taste it. Try to drown it with 8 pints of Guinness and I can still taste it. Scoff down a kebab bought from the back of some dodgy van at 4.00 in the morning loaded in chilli sauce, and I can still taste it.

Tequila seems to be the last thing you taste at night when talking to god on the porcelain telephone, and it’s the first thing you taste when you wake up the next morning feeling as rough as a badger’s arse.

And that's never a good thing.

Although, arguably, it's not as bad as Cointreau.

Well, It Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time...

Originally posted by Scott.

When I was a younger man, I played rugby.

I played on a Rugby team that had a drinking problem, unlike the ones I’ve played on lately, which are drinking teams that have a rugby problem. One year, we went on our annual Rugby tour to the fair country of Italy – Venice, to be precise. Nice town. Expensive as shit. Not as fun as Amsterdam the year before, but all said and done, a good place to travel if you get the chance.

Now, let me start the story by saying that the first rule of Rugby Tours is much the same as the rule for trips to Vegas – What goes on Tour, stays on Tour.

Yeah, right!!!!!

If you can remember the story, you should tell it – that’s how legends are made.

Like the story of my mate Andy (who features later) who woke up in the wrong bed. No big deal. Except, he woke up in the same bed as another player. Okay, I guess. Except the bed was against the wall, and Andy was lying next to the wall. Uhmm. Okay. Except, the bed was a bunk bed, and you got it – they were on the top bunk. We never did figure that story out.

Anyway, we went on tour with 30 players, plus associated coaches, family, significant others and general hangers on looking for a good excuse to get ploughed for a week. 30 players. 5 games. 15 players per game. Now, stay with me here, this means that, at most, you should be playing 3 games during a one week tour.

The deal every evening was that the team for the next day would be posted by about 8.00 p.m., after which you would figure out whether you could go get hammered, or had to take it easy for the night. Come the Wednesday evening at 8.00 p.m. nothing had been posted. Come 8.30 p.m., still nothing. By 9.00 p.m., my mates Andy, Charlie and I were getting kind of hungry. So, being intelligent, rational individuals, we started weighing the likely team for the next day. We figured that since we had already played two games, and since we were all guaranteed to be playing in the last game, that would be our three, so we were safe for the evening.

We headed out for the evening; you know, the usual thing – pizza and beer (by the way, good pizza those Italians folks – who knew?). We then hit a few bars, and drinking ensued - beers, shots, more beer, cocktails. Oh, and some beer. As I say, the usual.

It’s not that we were trying to get drunk you understand, it’s just there are rules to rugby tours, and a certain blood alcohol level has to be maintained throughout. I’m not sure what that level is exactly, lets just say the appropriate measure involves the amount of blood in your alcohol stream, rather than the other way around.

Anyway, after about 11.00 p.m., other team members started coming up to us suggesting that, since we were playing the next day, we might want to take it easy. Well, being the intelligent rational thinkers we were, we thought they were winding us up, so we ignored them. Well, actually, we told them to “Bugger off”, and proceeded to down enough alcohol to sink a small boat.

You know, something the size of the Titanic.

Anyway, we got back to the hotel at about 1.30 a.m. after a good 3 hours of fairly heroic drinking and found that we were indeed on the list for the next days game.


Well, like I said, we were intelligent rational individuals, so when faced with this knowledge we did the only thing we could.

We drank more.

Oh, sure, we could have gone up to our rooms, drank several gallons of water, taken a few aspirin and tried our best to be sober for the next day, but are you kidding me?

As it turned out, my mate Charlie had bought a liter bottle of Cointreau on the way through Duty Free, and this seemed like as good a time as any to break it open. Which we duly did, and proceeded to do Cointreau Burners with it.

Burners for those of you who don’t know, involve taking a rocks glass, pouring a couple of ounces of rocket fuel in the bottom of it, and setting it on fire. When it is burning nicely, you put your hand over the glass, totally covering the rim, while being careful not to burn your hand. As the flame continues to burn, it burns all the oxygen, creating alcohol vapor, and forming a vacuum seal around your hand – the glass will literally stick to your hand if you get it right.

If you don’t get it right, you’ll burn the shit out of your hand because the flame won’t go out.

You’ve been warned.

And yes, this is one of those drinks that are a really bad idea unless you are drunk already. And if you are so drunk that they seem like a good idea, you are probably too drunk to be drinking them.

Anyway, once the flame goes out, pick up the glass without breaking the seal, bring it to your nose, and as you break the seal, breath in hard through your nose, inhaling all the alcohol vapor, then knock back the shot. The alcohol vapor travels through your nasal passages and into your lungs, all of which have much thinner walls than you stomach, so the alcohol is absorbed almost instantly, and you get drunk for about 30 seconds. Then the booze you swallowed hits and you get drunk for longer.

Two for the price of one – you just can’t beat it.

But we should have.

We should have beaten it with a very large stick, because you get very, very drunk off these. Especially when, at the end of a very heavy evening, you drink the entire liter of the stuff.

Twelve years later and some days I can still taste it.

Suffice to say, the morning after was less than pleasant.

On the bus to the game, one of us was in full hangover mode (me). One of us was unconscious (Andy). And one of us (Charlie) puked non-stop throughout the 45 minute bus ride to the game. Not good.

But nothing compared to what happened when we got to the game. After we arrived, it got really bad.

We found that half the pitch was about 4 inches deep in mud. As any sports player (or hell, anyone with common sense) will tell you, running in 4 inches of mud is bad if you feel well, but murderous with a hangover.

And just to add to the fun, a nearby sewage pipe had broken, so the air stank of raw, untreated sewage.

You can picture it. Needing to breathe to get oxygen into the body so we could deal with the mud and hangover, while being unable to breathe because of the smell.

I have never wanted to die so much in my life.

And I will never, ever, drink Cointreau again.


Friday, December 16, 2005

Chocolate Martini

Originally posted by Scott.


One for the Ladies


2 ounces vodka

1 ounce White Crème de Cacao (that’s the clear one)


Crème de Cacao and chocolate powder to rim glass

Chocolate chip, cherry or strawberry as garnish


Pour all liquid into shaker filled with ice. Shake, or stir until desired temperature is reached.

Put a Chocolate rim on the glass. (Place glass upside down on a little Crème de cacao, to moisten rim. Place into a saucer of chocolate powder to coat rim.)

Pour liquid into glass, be careful not to hit the pretty chocolate rim.

Place chocolate chip or strawberry in glass or on rim, according to artistic desire.



The Martians Are Coming...

Originally posted by Scott.
“I enjoy a Martini,

Two at the most.

Three, I’m under the table.

Four, I’m under the host.”


I forget who said that, but I’ve seen it happen.

There seems to be a trend that’s been happening over the last few years by which Martinis are seen as a cool and trendy thing to drink. I think this is a good thing.

Why? Because I likes me some Martinis.

And not just because Martinis are a socially acceptable way to drink 2 shots of gin or vodka, without any stigma being attached. Don’t know what I mean? Think about it for a while. If you order a Martini you are viewed as classy and sophisticated. If you order a double vodka straight up, you are viewed as an alcoholic.

It's harsh but true.

Actually, I think that the glasswear goes someway to perpetuating this. The ability to handle a drink in a glass as awkwardly shaped as a Martini glass does give you a certian number of style points. If you can spend all evening drinking Martinis and still handle your booze - and by that I not only mean the ability to still be vertical, but also the ability to not spill your drink every time you move it - you have a certain amount of class. Spilling your drink each time you move it because you're so drunk is not good. It means you can't handle your liquor and means martinis are probably not for you. Quit now, and stick to something lighter. Peach schnapps perhaps.

Anyway, as I said, I like Martinis. I like them because of the way they taste. And by that, I mean that if they are made well, they taste like water.

Of course, from that comment you can tell I am something of a philistine. I drink bone dry Vodka Martinis with a twist. Ketel One by choice, but I’ve been known to stray. Now, there is logic behind this choice. First, I don’t like drinks which taste like Christmas trees, so tend to stay clear of Gin. Second, if I wanted a snack I’d order one, so keep your damn olives out of my vodka, ok? Finally, and this is important, people who drink Dirty Martinis are out of their tiny minds. And drinking more sea water is only going to make it worse.

This is going to be a rant about “Fruitinis”, but let me take a moment to clear something up. A “Dry Martini” is not made more “dry” by adding more dry vermouth. I swear I’m going to do serious injury to the next person who pours a shot of vermouth into my Martini when I ask for a Dry Martini.

Let me give some history.

The original Martinis were made with English dry gin. That’s where the “dry” comes from. Got it? Good. Once you understand that and you understand that when you pour more vermouth in, even dry vermouth, there is less of what makes it "dry". Winston Churchill said it right when he explained how much vermouth to use. He reckoned that if you let sunlight pass through the bottle of vermouth into the glass, then that is about the right amount. If your bar has no sunlight, wave the bottle over the shaker like some sort of voodoo charm (just long enough to scare the alcohol), then put the bottle away.

A place for everything and everything in its place. The place for the bloody vermouth is in its bloody bottle, ok?

Anyway, Fruitinis.

As I said, I’m a something of a philistine, I drink vodka martinis with a twist. But I’m snobbish enough to raise an eyebrow at all the “fruitini’s” that are sold in bars. I get that you can do wonderful things with alcohol, and it’s fun to play with. I also understand that fruitinis give an extra avenue of drinks to those who find the classic Martini too strong. and that’s great. But I’m not sure that “fruitinis" are Martini’s. And I’m definitely not convinced that drinking “Fruitini’s” makes you a Martini drinker. Especially if you can’t stomach a classic martini because “It’s too strong.”

I can understand the Cosmopolitan. But it doesn’t sell itself as a Martini. What makes me pause are drinks like the Apple Martini; the Pineapple Martini; the Kiwi Martini (who the hell thought that up?). I mean, I’m sure they’re good, but are they really Martini’s?

I’m not sure what exactly defines a Martini. It certainly goes beyond pouring your drink into a really awkwardly shaped glass. (I’ll leave my diatribe about bars and their stupidly shaped Martini glasses for another time, suffice to say if it isn’t straight stemmed and clear, it’s a gimmick. And if you have to use a gimmick to sell your drinks, go back to school and learn how to make better a better drink.) For me, and please realize I sat and thought about this definition for at least 30 seconds before writing it down, a Martini is a drink containing predominately gin or vodka, plus whatever you decided to water down your perfectly good liquor with, shaken or stirred and poured into your glass.

And it should be clear.

Now, I know that opens me up to clever questions such as “Whether vodka and coke would be a Martini”, but my witty come-back to that is, “Bite me!” My main point was to say it Martinis should be clear.

Which brings me nicely to “Chocolate Martinis”.

Now I like Chocolate Martini’s. Alcoholic Chocolate. What’s not to like? But the thing is, what most bars serve as Chocolate Martini’s are, in my opinion, no more Martini’s than a glass of Bailey’s Irish Liqueur. Which is frequently what they are. Just because you pour your concoction of Vodka, Kalhua and Godiva liqueur into a Martini glass doesn’t make it a Martini. Its still and Orgasm, and belongs over ice in a highball glass. Probably with a little umbrella and a cherry.

You want a Chocolate Martini, knock yourself out, but keep away from all the cream based drink. Unless, and I’m spitballing here, you use it as a float on top of your drink.

No. Actually, thinking about it, just keep the creamy drinks out of the Martini glass.


Anyway. I’ve said it before, I’m an equal opportunity drinker. I guess if you like what you’re drinking, drink it, and ignore me. But don’t proudly proclaim yourself a Martini Drinker because you can drink twelve of the Strawberry Watermelon Martini your local hostelry serves in an evening without feeling a thing. Sure, they go down as though they were water. With all the fruit juice in them, they probably are, or at least might as well be. For my money, if you can’t drink the classic martini, whether you choose gin or vodka, you are a cocktail drinker, but not really a martini drinker.

However, to show that I am actually a nice person, who does more than just criticize others, here’s a recipe for a Chocolate Martini that I consider a Martini (albeit not one that makes you a Martini drinker. But at least it’s clear.) Try it before you complain that it’s not right. It is right, and it’s actually very good. Chocolatey, but you can still taste the vodka, and it isn’t too sweet.

And best of all, it’s clear.



2 ounces vodka

1 ounce White Crème de Cacao (that’s the clear one)

Crème de Cacao and chocolate powder to rim glass

Chocolate chip, cherry or strawberry as garnish

Pour all liquid into shaker filled with ice. Shake, or stir until desired temperature is reached.

Put a Chocolate rim on the glass. (Place glass upside down on a little Crème de cacao, to moisten rim. Place into a saucer of chocolate powder to coat rim.)

Pour liquid into glass, be careful not to hit the pretty chocolate rim.

Place chocolate chip or strawberry in glass or on rim, according to artistic desire.

Be prepared never to drink a creamy chocolate martini again.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Beer. Helping Ugly People Have Sex Since Who Knows When.

Originally posted by Scott.

Or alternatively,

Friends Don’t let Friends Beer Goggle. Unless it’s funny.

This is the first in a line of stories I have about my mate Little King.

I have so many stories about him that it’s difficult to know which one to start with. Let’s clear one thing up. Yes, he was called Little King. And, No, it’s not that his parents didn’t like him, it’s just the name he went by during drinking games – and besides, he’s married now, so the names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

I contemplated whether to start with the glorious tale of his 18th birthday, which started with Mexican food, progressed to him being handcuffed to an inflatable doll, and finished with him getting his head shaved. With friends like me, you know?

I toyed with the idea of discussing our evenings playing drinking games where, during the span of a couple of hours, we would each drink the United Kingdom Medical Board’s recommended weekly intake of alcohol before heading out to the pubs.

Finally, I decided on a more enlightened topic. Beer Goggling. Something at which Little King was a god.

Beer-goggling, for those of you who don’t know, is a phenomenon I’ve seen on both sides of the Atlantic. Normally it refers to that state of mind where alcohol and lust combine to completely override common sense, good vision, and good taste. It’s the stage at which the Old English Sheep dog in the corner of the bar is starting to look mighty sexy. But it refers to more than just a drunken hook-up. I think that, in a Pavlovian kind of way, it might also have something to do with last call. If you watch long enough, it’s something that you can set your watch by it. About 30 minutes from closing time, whether you’re in a bar or a club, suddenly people start going crazy trying to hook up with someone so they don’t go home alone. Don’t believe me? Go spend evenings in a less than classy establishment for a couple of months and tell me if I’m wrong.

Let me take a moment here and first insert a little story about my buddy, Goggles. Goggles was a true master at this sport. His ploy, if you want to call it that, was to get absolutely blitzed, and about half an hour from last call, go up to the first girl he saw at the bar, tap her on the shoulder, and ask, “So. Do you want to sleep with me tonight?”

Invariably he would get slapped.

Undeterred however, he would then move to the next girl in line – normally within earshot of the first, and ask “So. Do you want to sleep with me tonight?”

Again, invariably, he’d get slapped.

At which point he’d move to the third in line, again within earshot, and ask..... Do you sense a pattern? Now, my point is not to make fun of Goggles (OK, it is. But that’s not my entire purpose). I grant you that he’d get slapped a lot. He also got laid a lot. Because eventually, he’d find someone whose standards had dropped as low as his, and they’d hook up for the evening.

And that’s Beer-goggling ladies and gentlemen.

Goggles was a master. But LK was a god.

The evening which I am going to recount occurred in the first semester of our undergraduate year at Edinburgh University. We were at one of the University Student Unions; the much lamented and undervalued “Teviot” – a great place for a cheap pint (about a $1.50) and a plate of food, by the way.

Back in those days (and I’m sure even now) it had about 5 different bars and ran about 4 different night clubs in the place on a Friday evening (yeah, it was that big). The busiest one was on the top floor (the name temporarily escapes me – but that may be alcohol induced). We had been there for about 2 hours when we started noticing LK and his ladies.

I use the plural form deliberately, albeit, without a chromosome test at least, somewhat loosely.

I’d been talking with my other mates and, as normal, we were discussing LK. His prowess with the ladies was interesting, and therefore always a talking point. It would have been impressive, had it not been for his taste, or lack thereof. Don’t get me wrong, he picked up some gorgeous young ladies, but that was when he was sober. Which was rare.

After about two hours, we were discussing the woman he’d hooked up with that night, but it turned out that my four friends and I could not agree on the description of the girl. Short, tall, medium, thin, heavy, dark hair, red-head, blonde. Turns out there was a reason.

Turns out that by two hours into the evening, he’d made out with six different women.


I have no idea how he had the time to put drink down him, let alone hook up with six different girls. But that was LK. As I said, the man was a god.

We found him shortly after that, took him aside and told him he might want to pace himself. He was only little after all – about 5’4”, and a physique which can best be summed up by the phrase “cuddly”. “Rotund” is a close second. But he had a confidence I’ll admire for a long time – although I’m truly glad that I can’t emulate it.

After that we did our best to look after him. We kept our eyes on him, and every time he started dancing close with a girl, we stepped in and dragged him away. Now this might seem mean, both to him and the girl, but we figured it was only right. He was our mate, and we figured neither he, nor the girl (ok, girls) in question wanted to wake up the next morning trying to figure who the hell the random person next to them was. After all. Friends don’t let friends beer-goggle.

But he got away. He was only gone for 10 minutes, but he got away.

When we found him, he was trying to give some delicate, young lady the kiss of life. Either that or he was trying to extract her fillings with his tongue. We couldn’t tell. And he had her hands up her shirt.

Now this is occasionally something to be applauded. Perhaps not in the middle of a night club, but who I am I to say when true lust is going to hit? So sometimes it is to be applauded.

Although, perhaps not when the “apple of her father’s eye” in question was a Women’s Field Hockey goal-keeper. Perhaps not when there were three spare tires visible beneath his arms. And almost certainly not when the name written on the back of her XXXL hockey shirt read “Man Eater”.

So we left him alone.

And laughed.


And at a a distance.

Personally, I think we were scared of Man Eater.

But besides. Friends don’t let friends beer-goggle. Unless it’s funny

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Pubie's Last Stand

Ah college. The mere mention of that word brings back fond memories of co-eds who wouldn’t give me the time of day, late night discussions over cigars and beer on the top floor of Agnes Arnold Hall, and the occasional bout of semi-criminal mischief. College is also the time where I began to understand the joys of drinking and no one did more to demonstrate this to me than Pubie. Pubie was my tragically coifed and nicknamed roommate my sophomore year at the University of Houston, and while he was a year younger than Mr. TunaCan and myself, he embraced drinking with an élan that was unrivaled by any of our other compratriots.

Pubie, so named because of his incredibly short, curly hair, taught me many things. At this point in my life I did not like beer and had only been drunk a couple of times, both in response to problems with the fairer sex. I am not sure how much drinking he had done before arriving at UH, however I know once we discovered you could trade meal-clicks for pitchers at Coog’s Café our livers were never going to be the same. Pubie was on a National Merit Scholar scholarship, which at the time meant a full ride to UH with the seven meal-clicks a day eating plan. This added up to a lot of beer and junk food. Added on top of the fact that we could get beer for free from the university was the Honors Program parties. These always involved a couple of kegs and the person manning the door would traditionally ask whether you were drinking or not rather than asking to see I.D. If I ever feel the need to sue someone over my drinking UH is so going to get it.

The final drinking straw, as it were, was the fact that Mama-san’s was less than a five minute drive from campus. Mama-san’s was a drive-up liquor store that would sell to you as long as you could get your money on the counter. I saw kids who could not have been more than 11 or 12 riding their bikes away from there with a forty or two stashed beneath their arms. To this day I do not know the actual name of the store and I have no idea who found it. I suspect that it was one of the frat-rat’s who shared the dorms with us. Forced to guess who it was I would blame the TKE (Tau Kappa Everybody) who lived on the 4th floor and managed to pull off a GPA somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.0 his first semester. This guy would START the day with, I believe, a Tang and vodka.

Throw in a bit of boredom with all these factors and shake vigorously and there you have the recipe for drunken antics the likes of which take place on many campus’ across the nation. Anyways, you get the picture, here we are, a bunch of kids of above-average intelligence with nothing to do and copious amounts of alcohol available to us. Stupidity ensued. Sending frozen oranges sling-shotting down the hall was a drunk idea. Freezing the rubber mallet was probably a drunk idea.

Now, I have told you all this so I can share the single funniest moment of Pubie’s freshman year.

He had finished his finals sometime that morning and then came back to the room and packed all of his stuff since his parent’s were picking him up the very next morning. As soon as he was done packing he headed out to drink and play cards with the boys. He was already upstairs and drinking before I bothered to get out of bed in the morning, which means he was able to drink a heroic amount of beer before I headed upstairs after dinner that night. At this point he was already laughably drunk.

Pubie was what we refer to as a six-pack homosexual in that as soon as he was drunk he started to give everyone hugs and tell them he loved them. You were fine as long as you hugged him back and told him you loved him, too, but if you rejected his affections he would get MAD. He also got very good at cards when he was drunk. Like scary good. He was already in his hugging stage when I wandered off, ostensibly to pack some more of my crap, but most likely to play on the computer (I was 100% loser in those days). Around 1 or 2 in the morning it occurred to me that I should try and track Pubie down and get him to bed since his parents were going to be there in a few hours.

I headed upstairs again and began my search. He was not in any of the usual hangouts and I was beginning to think that he had either sealed the deal with one of the girls he had been pursuing all semester or that Olga, the scary Turkish girl, had found him passed out in a corner and was having her way with him. Either way I was not going to interrupt as I was either proud of him or not willing to sacrifice that much of my sanity for him. Then I heard him laughing like an idiot and the sound was coming from Mr. TunaCan’s room. I poked my head in to see if he was actually in there and lo and behold I found him.

Pubie was standing on one of the desks in the room facing the window. The windows at UH did not have screens on them and they opened at both the top and the bottom. In this case the window was open with the top down. Pubie had his business in hand and he was peeing out the window and laughing the maniacal laughter of someone who needs to visit the nice men in the white coats for a while. I am sure there was some cussing involved in coaxing Pubie down from his perch but eventually he was convinced to pack up his junk and get down from the desk.

To say Pubie was trashed is to be way understating the fact. Quite frankly to this day I am amazed that he was still conscious, let alone ambulatory. As near as I can figure it he had been drinking for roughly 14 hours at this point. 14 hours! Truly this man had a liver empowered by the gods.

After we talked him down from the desk I escorted/carried him to our room. As soon as we got there he let me know he had to pee again but that he was having trouble standing. I guided him into the bathroom and shut the door behind me, letting him know that he was on his own. While he was in the loo I worked on getting his bed ready all the while wondering how we were going to get him up to the top bunk. He let me know he was finished and I made him promise he had his pants on before I opened the bathroom door.

Sweet Monkey Jesus.

In the dorms we used to joke that Mr. TunaCan approached urination like many people do a piñata, blindfolded and swinging for the fences. It appeared Pubie had taken this to heart this night as he managed to pee on everything in the bathroom EXCEPT the toilet. Everything. Including himself. At this point I was beginning to get a bit exasperated with the shenanigans and so I pushed him into the shower and turned it on him on cold, hoping it would sober him up a little. After his shower he changed into some clean clothes and started to climb into his bunk. About halfway up the ladder gravity started to assert itself and he almost fell off. I managed to stabilize him and get him into bed where he promptly fell asleep.

I quickly followed, thinking that I was glad his bunk was not over mine.

The next morning I dragged him out of bed and forced him into the shower, knowing that I had to act quickly since his parents were arriving at any moment and the room reeked of piss and beer. Fortunately I was able to gather all of his clothes and bedclothes from the night before and get them into a trash bag and into his stuff before they arrived. Once Pubie was out of the shower he was looking a little more human and we conspired to frame our third roommate Carlos, who we hadn’t seen for weeks but had left a couple of Olde English bottles around, for the smell in the room.

His parents came and collected him and his things and that was the last time I saw Pubie for several years as I chose not to return to the University of Houston. Truly Pubie is one of the greatest drinkers I have personally known and I am glad his last stand was worthy of retelling.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Drink Recipes

I went ahead and split out the drink recipes from Scott's post so we can have them as individual lines in the Drinks section of the Links. You can now return to your drinking.


Fill a highball glass with ice.
Pour in 2 oz. of vodka.
Fill the glass to within 1/2 inch of the lip with Red Bull.
Top off with champagne.

Originally posted by Scott in Drinks to be Drunk while Drinking to get Drunk which really should be subtitled, "What I suckered James into drinking on his birthday."

Car Bomb (Proper)

1/2 Pint Guinness in a Pint glass
1 Shot glass of Jamisons (although any Irish whiskey will do in a pinch)
Remember: Specify you want an entire shot of whiskey if you are ordering this at a bar, American bartenders tend to do a half-shot of whiskey and a half-shot of Irish creme.

Drop the shot glass of whiskey into the 1/2 pint and drink the whole thing in one go.

Originally posted by Scott in Drinks to be Drunk while Drinking to get Drunk which really should be subtitled, "What I suckered James into drinking on his birthday."

Friday, December 09, 2005

Drinks to be Drunk while Drinking to get Drunk

Originally posted by Scott.

Drunk. Hammered. Wasted. Blitzed. Ploughed. Trolleyed. Guttered. Maggotted.

Whatever the term, this is something I almost never do deliberately. It has been a very long time since I actually set out to get drunk. Normally it takes something catastrophic happening in my life before it sounds like a good idea.

Now don’t get me wrong. I get drunk.

A lot.

As I see it, there’s nothing wrong with getting drunk. Hell, it can make for fun evenings. I mean, I like booze. I like the way it tastes. I like the incredible variety of alcohol that exists. And since getting drunk is a by-product of having things I like, that works out well.

It’s just that I rarely start the evening with the goal of getting ploughed. In fact, one of the things that truly irritates me while I am out having a quiet drink with friends, is the bunch of arseholes in the corner who are power drinking because they think it is cool and clever. Bloody idiots.

I do not see, and have never seen, the attraction of getting so out-of-your-skull drunk that you end up hugging the porcelain throne all night. Then you get to spend the next day enjoying the twin joys of a crushing hangover and your mates filling you in on the many dumb activities you got up to the night before. (Actually, I’m pretty sure that at least a small part of alcohol induced blackouts is due to the body’s basic desire to NEVER EVER remember who it was you slept with the night before, rather than any effect the alcohol may have had on you.)

However, I had something of a misspent youth, so after about a decade of getting people drunk out of their minds, I have skills.

In fact, I have mad skills.

In order to go some way to fulfilling a promise made by James, I am going to start adding in a few recipes for drinks. Some may be familiar. Some you’ll go “What were you thinking?” and some (I’ll let you know which ones) should never be drunk. Ever. (In fact, if they ever sound like a good idea, you are way too drunk to be drinking them.)


Take a highball glass. Fill it with ice.
Pour in 2 oz Vodka.
Top to within ½ an inch from the top with RedBull.
Fill with Champagne.

Beware. This tastes like candy, and is very easy to drink. You will not realize how strong it is till you try to stand up. You’ve been warned.

Car Bombs

½ pint of Guinness in a pint mug.
1 Shot glass full of Jameson’s Irish whiskey. (Watch out – if you ask for this in the US, you have to specify this. Otherwise bartenders have a bad habit of giving you a shot glass with half Jameson’s and half Bailey’s in it – to be avoided)

Drop the entire shot glass into the Pint glass and drink the whole thing in one go.


Watch this space. More will follow.

Edit. I added RedBull to the Shambles receipe. Kinda looses something without it. -- James

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Originally posted by Scott.

Back at home (sunny Scotland for those of you who missed it), everyone has his or her “local”. A local, for the uninitiated, is an individual’s pub, or bar, of choice – the one where he or she instinctively heads for a quick drink. Your default pub, if you like.

Now, because I’m British and we like confusing people, a “local”, although easy to get to, is not necessarily the closest bar to home. Rather, it’s the place where you choose to drink over all the others in your area. Your home away from home. Your port in a storm. Your refuge from the grind of daily life.

It is important to note that what makes a pub “good”, is different from what makes it your local.
What makes a good pub may be the extensive selection of Single malt Scotch. It may be the 75 beers on tap – only a handful of which are domestic. It could be the big screen TV’s showing any number of sporting events from the NBA play-offs to the local highschool tiddlywinks championship. It could be a taste of home. It could even be the waitresses dressed as schoolgirls. Whatever the draw, whatever the hook, the important thing is that it continues to bring you back. What makes a local is different. Sure, your local is probably somewhere you consider to be a good bar, but there’s more to it.

Merely being a good bar isn’t enough. It misses the point. The “local” is a phenomenon that goes beyond just being a good bar, or a place where you’re almost guaranteed to hook up with someone. For my money, your local is a place for which you forsake other bars EVEN THOUGH the other places are good bars, or you’re almost guaranteed to hook up with someone.

For me it’s the place where you walk in, and you know people. Regardless of what day of the week it is, or what time it is. It’s the place where the guy behind the bar, or the girl who brings you drink is not a member of staff, but your friend. It’s the place where not only do they know what you drink, but normally they don’t even bother to ask, because they started to pour it for you when you walked through the door.

What brings me back to places is a simple recipe. It has to be comfortable. It has to have two or three of the drinks I like on a regular basis. It has to attract the type of people I want to be around, for whatever reasons. It has to draw those who like to drink, yet deter power drinkers and drunks.

What makes a place my “local”, is a factor that is so easy to point to, yet so hard for many places to get right – the staff and the atmosphere they generate. If you get the right group behind the bar, then I will come back again and again.

The key is a term I mentioned in the opening paragraph. Find yourself “your home away from home”. Find the place that you’d want if you were opening a bar. Find it, and stick with it. When you get to the stage where everyone knows your name, you’ll never leave.

Because you have no need to go anywhere else.

You’re already home.

My local, for those of you who are interested, is currently 10 Downing St., located at 2549 Kirby Drive, Houston, Texas 77019. It's close to work, and definitely worth the drive from where I live. I’m probably there 5 nights a week, and I consider it my home away from home. So do my friends – if I’m not in my apartment, chances they’ll find me at “home”.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Usual

Originally posted by Mr. TunaCan.

Everyone should have one. Its the thing you automatically order when the bartender walks up to get your order, but you've been staring at the ass of the girl at the end of the bar as opposed to thinking about what the hell you want to drink. For me, its whisky and water, preferably Jameson's, but in a pinch most anything will do. Its important to find something that you like a lot and is common enough that you won't have to cycle through fifteen different drinks/brands until you find something to drink in this particular backwater shithole of a bar. Case in point: A few months ago I was in Brussels with a couple of buddies (Lapp and CB), after sampling some of the damn fine local beers, we wandered the city looking for a suitable place to get a serious drink on. We eventaully found what appeared to be a goth/eurotrash bar in the old part of the city. Now for some reason, no bartender in Brussels will speak English to you (as opposed to Amsterdam, where everyone speaks English). Mainly they want to speak French, and while I took a few years of French, I'm less than conversant in it. They had it, and more importantly, they understood what the hell I was trying to order. We proceeded to break ourselves on it that evening. We wandered to Amsterdam the next day (where we had wandered from in the first place), and I noticed a lovely little fact. Every single bar I meandered my drunken ass into had a bottle of Jameson's behind it. Every. Single. One.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

First Question

So why is the name of the blog Alcoholocaust while the URL is

Well, the short answer is that some no talent twelve-stepping ass clown who may or may not be named Lou Kesten has the URL all tied up. Normally this would not bother me, however he has made exactly one post to his blog back on Sunday, December 30th, 2001. The one sick pleasure I can derive from this is that while this Alcoholocaust is about the joys of drink his is, “…dedicated to the principle that recovery from alcoholism can be, if not fun, at least funny.” There is a glorious irony here that I like to savor for a moment.

Mmmm. Tastes like victory.

I tried a couple of other URLs, but they were also tied up. When I looked up tippling at (one of the most useful sites out there, in my opinion) I found that is was possibly derived from the Middle English word for bartender, tipeler. was taken (as were and so became the home for the new and shiny Alcoholocaust. Besides, I figure having a foreign language kind of ups the intellectual hipness of the place, and lord knows we are going to need all the help we can get with that here.

No one actually asked this question, I just thought I would get it out of the way before someone did.

As the more astute amongst you may notice, we are now kicking it at thanks to Lou Kesten who turns out to be a hell of a guy and gave up the URL when he read this post. I moved this post from the tipeler site for the sake of completeness.

The Second Day

Welcome to my second entry in to the ever expanding blogosphere! The Alcoholocaust is a blog dedicated to, as I say in the description, the most noble and manly of arts: Drinking. Everything related to drinking is going to be fair game on this blog.

  • Bar reviews? Count on it. Well at least for the three bars at which the group of miscreants I know drink.
  • Drink reciepes? Bring ‘em on. Even if you’re not a member of the blog, email them in and we will try them out and post them along with our thoughts.
  • Stories of drunken exploits? Are you kidding me? That is really the whole point of this blog, but don’t tell anyone else, I want to have some shoddy veneer of class.
  • Philosophies about drinking? Absolutely! I would like this to be a thinking drinker’s blog. A symposium if you will, but maybe with less of the butt sex.
I have also invited two of my friends to contribute to the Alcoholocaust, so in addition to trying to stick with a theme (which my other blog, Opiate of the Masses couldn’t do if the theme was super-glued to the blog) I am going to have to share this space with a couple of other drunkards. I will let them give in depth introductions themselves, but believe me when I tell you they are both well versed in the rarified science of drink. One is a former bartender hailing from Scotland and the other is a former philosophy major from the outskirts of East Texas. Both of them had upbringings and made life choices which I believe destined them to become the grand masters of the art that they are today. In all honesty I bow before their knowledge and consider both of them not only my good friends, but my spiritual advisors.

Now let’s get this party started.