Category: Food and Drink



Man, BYCU blogging is almost too easy this week: Halloween is now a big drinking night, as evidenced by this infographic.

There are many sites dedicated to boozy Halloween costumes, Halloween parties, and Halloween drinks.

But it’s not for me. Halloween is for kids, always has been and always should be. Even as a boy I remember thinking it mildly inappropriate to see adults put on costumes (whereas, I never remember finding it inappropriate to see them drinking to the point that they were dancing raucously or telling loud, inappropriate jokes). There’s nothing wrong with costumes, of course. It’s all in good fun and each person has his own idea of what’s fun and what’s not. Costumes have just never struck me as the kind of fun adults have.

I think I last wore a costume to a party when a junior at the University of Michigan, and it consisted solely of a ripped garbage bag that I put around my neck. When people asked me what I was, I merely replied “Your worst nightmare.” The humor behind it is too indelicate for TDE to explain further, but a group of guys at one party liked it so much that they nominated me for best costume. Alas, when the judges saw how lame it was, they wouldn’t put me into the competition.

Anyway, my Halloween drinking these days is pretty much limited to a tumbler of vodka and tonic that I sip from while walking my remaining little kids around town. This will be my twentieth year of taking kids trick-or-treating. I oughtta celebrate in grand fashion with a huge tumbler of vodka-tonic, but I have “volunteered” to clear out my downtown’s pumpkin decorations tonight after trick-or-treating. There are over 60 pumpkins and a few bales of straw, … Read the rest


18th Amendment

One of the best anecdotes I’ve read lately, in the literary-drunken vein:

“Mencken responded to Prohibition by selling his car and using the proceeds to purchase a large stock of ‘the best wines and liquors I could find,’ stored in a homemade basement vault whose door bore a custom-painted sign emblazoned with a skull and crossbones: ‘This Vault is protected by a device releasing Chlorine Gas under 200 pounds pressure. Enter at your own Risk.” Terry Teachout, The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken (Harper Collins, 2002), p. 144.

He sold his car to stock up on booze: ditching the “mechanical Jacobin” for liquor and wine. That man has my respect. … Read the rest



The veteran drinker Kingsley Amis didn’t like the advent of music in England’s pubs. I think he made some good points, especially this one:

If you dislike what is being played, you use up energy and patience in the attempt to ignore it; if you like it, you will want to listen to it and not to talk or be talked to, not to do what you came to the pub largely to do.

It kind of reminds me of my trips to the Hillcrest Lounge with my Dad when I first moved back to my hometown. I couldn’t really afford to drink at a bar, so Mel would buy far more than his fair share of rounds, but he’d ask me to make sure I won the jukebox wars: pump $5 at a time in the box, in hopes of beating the heavy metal rockers in the bar who wanted a lot of Metallica and Megadeath. For the most part, I succeeded, mostly by reckless monetary policy, but also by trying to select songs that wouldn’t force the rockers to “use up energy and patience in the attempt to ignore” my selections. If I picked Connie Francis and Beach Boys, I could try their patience and pry their quarters from their hands. If I picked Bob Seger and Lynyrd Skynyrd, they were usually placated.

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I heard of a local establishment charging $8 for a Tanqueray and tonic. It struck me as outrageous, but I don’t have a long history with hard liquor, so I looked into it a bit.

If I buy the big bottle (1.75 liters), the liquor costs me a shade under 80 cents per ounce. Then there’s probably about twenty cents worth of tonic, so my cost-of-goods-sold price is about $1.00 even, meaning the local establishment is getting a 800% mark-up. Such a mark-up strikes me as practically quasi-Prohibitionist (“Make it so expensive that nobody drinks!”), but I know virtually nothing about running a bar, so I went out and found this nifty article from the Houston Chronicle: How to Price Bar Drinks.

I say the article is “nifty” because it’s authoritative and concise. If you want to establish a reasonable drink price, “[m]ultiply the liquor cost by four or five to establish the price of the drink,” then round up to the nearest quarter. So, for gin and tonic, the price should be $3.25 to $4.00, if the bar is paying retail for its inventory, which, of course it isn’t. In Michigan, bar owners pay approximately 15% less than retail (according to a client of mine in the business), so the cost per ounce is about 68 cents. So the price should be $2.75 to $3.50.

The article also points out that the final mark-up depends heavily on the kind of bar: “For example, a sports bar serving numerous beer and drink specials, or a bar and grill hosting a happy hour, might experience a 30 percent liquor cost, while an upper-class martini bar maintains an 18 percent cost.”

Using those examples, the upper reaches of a Tanqueray and tonic should be $3.75. The article doesn’t appear … Read the rest

Everyday Drinking

I haven’t devoted nearly enough attention to drinking literature, but from the books I’ve read, Kingly Amis’ collection of essays, Everyday Drinking, is some of the best. Sure, he’s a limey, but I think the English have a special knack for creating drinking literature. The P.G. Wodehouse “Jeeves” and “Wooster” stories, for instance, are some of the best drunken fictional books out there. In addition to great writing, there’s something ennobling about reading drinking prose from an Englishman, but there’s also a risk: an endeavor, once if feels ennobling, becomes more enticing. While reading Amis or Wodehouse, I almost always feel like a gin and tonic.

Anyway, here are a few passages from Amis’ tome (if you want some Wodehouse samples, go to this righteous piece at Modern Drunkard Magazine). Expect more in the future:

“Reading must be combined with as much drinking experience as pocket and liver will allow.”

“‘It is the unbroken testimony of all history that alcoholic liquors have been used by the strongest, wisest, handomest, and in every way best races of all times.’ George Saintsbury.”

“Serving good drinks, like producing anything worth while, from a poem to a motor-car, is troublesome and expensive. (If you are interested, a worthwhile poem is expensive to the poet in the sense that he could almost always earn more money by spending the time on some other activity.)”

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Great charts: What countries drink the most vodka, gin, whisky and rum? Per capita, the results are: Vodka: Russia. Rum: Indian. Scotch Whiskey: France. Gin: Philippines. Tequila: U.S. (wait a second; something tells me the revocation of the work visas under union-swayed Clinton administration contributed to this). They didn’t have a chart for beer, but I assume Germany would’ve run away with that one. And wine? I’m guessing France. … Read the rest



I have four grape vines. I’m expecting (hoping/praying for) big things from them this year, since it’s their third year. Everything looks good so far, with lots of bunches growing. They’re all edible grapes, however. Nothing good for wine. If you’re into the grape/wine scene, however, there’s a publication just for you: Country Folks Wine & Grape Grower. It looks decent.


Some drinking advice from the Life Advice Lamp: “Want to save money when you’re out drinking? Donate blood first.”And: “Want to be popular at a bar? Tell people that you’re the owner of the bar and their drinks are on the house.” And: “Want to drink and drive? Do it during the night while the cops are sleeping.”


With the alarming assortment of beers coming on the market, this could eventually be one of the neatest websites of the decade: Beer Viz:

If you’re looking for a new brew to try, or just want to expand your palate a little bit, Beer Viz asks you a couple of questions about the beer you already enjoy and presents you with a plethora of alternatives that might suit you nicely. It’s kind of like Pandora for beer.

To get started, select the strength of beer you’re interested in (light, medium, dark), and select whether you’d like to explore similar beers by aroma, taste, appearance, or overall (selected by default, and takes them all into consideration). From there, you’re presented with a map to various beers in the category, organized by color and family so you can see which ones are like each other by type, and then with lines connecting the ones that are similar by taste, aroma, or the other parameters you selected. The size of the dot next to the beer’s name indicates its

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