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Learning to Drink Like A Grown-Up… Sort of

Learning to Drink Like A Grown-Up… Sort of

Laurie Ulster

I don’t know crap about cocktails.

I don’t know much about drinking in general, despite having worked in a bar back in the day… a lifetime ago, at this point. I’ve always had the taste buds of a six-year-old, which means that no matter how cool I thought I’d be if I could walk into a bar and say, “Scotch, neat,” the face I’d make while I sipped it would give me away in an instant. I love the idea of having strongly worded preferences about how a martini should be prepared, but when I take a sip, I make a squinchy face and involuntarily recoil. And I always wanted to be that cool girl with a beer at the party, but beer still smells and tastes like pee to me, so there goes that.

All those mom posts about wine? I want to relate, but I don’t. Downing a glass of wine is yet another thing I have to do that I’d rather not.

I’ve had my moments: tequila shots, the occasional gin & tonic, red wine with dinner, but it’s always so laborious. Why is it such work for me? Why can’t I like things sophisticated adults like? After years of trying, I finally just accepted my lot. Sometimes I would even get a drink at social gatherings just so I could use it as a prop and stop being asked if I wanted one. Wine pairings? They’re lost on me. I used to enjoy sweet treats like Bailey’s Irish Cream, but to quote Rhoda, “I don’t know why I’m putting this in my mouth. I should just apply it directly to my hips.”

And then we arrived at shelter-in-place, or as it was originally called, self-quarantine (and then self-isolation). I thought about how nice it would be to have a glass of wine at the end of the evening, then realized it would only be nice if I LIKED it, which I don’t. Damn.

But in a burst of inspiration on a difficult day, I remembered something: I DO have a favorite cocktail. And I could make it at home! I donned my mask and out I went, on my mission to find three items: Vanilla Stoli, ginger ale, and limes.

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We don’t have nice cocktail glasses, or even a proper shot glass for measuring, but we made do, and I fixed some cocktails for myself and my husband, to the confusion of my teenagers. “Are you going to get drunk and fall down?” my daughter asked.

I poured our drinks. I stirred. We sat by our front window and watched the sun set, sipping our sweet treats. And you know what? That one drink just took the edge off, and felt like a reward. The next night, my husband switched to Johnnie Walker and soda, which brings out my squinchy face again, but I’m sticking with my Vanilla Stoli & ginger ale. I have one on Fridays, usually, and also on Sunday evenings when my pals at TrekMovie and I gather on Zoom to watch an episode of Star Trek together. I haven’t had more than one in an evening, and I don’t see it becoming a long term thing, but in these strange times, when the days can blend right into each other even when I’m working on different projects, it’s become a reassuring ritual that makes me feel just a little bit more adult, despite the toddler-friendly flavor. So while this thing is still going on, on Fridays and Sundays… cheers!

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