Yesterday was Easter Sunday. Nothing I ever truly cared about, I eat eggs all year long and prefer not to have to first find them. It was also just another day in the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown. And yet it became a rather special day.
I had a drink last night. It wasn’t a special drink, none of those yummy cocktails I have made over the years. No lovely Martini Very Dry, no White Russian, no Old Fashioned either. No, it was just a simple local spirit with a chaser but it was special nevertheless.
It was my first in around half a year. Things weren’t always like that.
Like many people I enjoy a relaxing drink during dinner or after. Or in the evening while chilling. Things weren’t always like that either.
I am born and grew up in a “uniform family”. All men in the family knew how to put their drinks away, often too well. Both my grandfathers were genuine alcoholics, drinking even in their later days at least 5 to 6 beers daily. Often more.
My now retired father is an alcoholic by mere virtue of still drinking his daily 2 beers or whiskeys, at least. It was part of their job, it came with the stress and alcohol was the obvious resort.
With that line of heritage I was born with the obvious “alcoholic gene”. Being allowed to enjoy a beer at age 10 only – often a Scotch Campbell with elevated percentage – after a daily bike ride when on vacation with my grandparents didn’t help either. Times were different and nobody would even have thought calling social services upon him.
Of course, growing up during my teens “my gene” was rather handy. As we started going out, hit the local cafe and later the club around age 15-16, it was common to drink. Every pub and even club would serve us. The end of the ‘80s and early ‘90s were still rather relaxed and sort of inhibited too.
I wasn’t the only in the small city we lived in who could put his drinks away rather well at young age. Most of us could, both girls and guys. It was a normal thing to do. But I did belong to those who could easily put away more than average, and then some. Keeping pace with known alcoholics at the end of their 20s, early 30s wasn’t too big a challenge. And as we all know, the more you drink the more you can stand and the more you drink.
Hitting the professional life, for whichever weird reason I soon entered the life of hospitality and started as a waiter. It wouldn’t be long before I joined the crew of a bar with late evening audience, in Amsterdam. Yes, I had changed country.
Again, times were different and drinking on and during the job was still legal and a well-practiced exercise as well. Not much later I would evolve to work in techno clubs and made a name as bartender. I didn’t hesitate when I was offered the opportunity to work internationally on parties and in popular clubs, working seasons in the Mediterranean in summer and in Amsterdam or London in winter. Eventually I would “graduate” in cocktail bars in Germany. My last gig as employee was in a bar named as top 10 night bar by Playboy Germany.
I don’t remember much of those years. All I truly remember is one party, one multiple years long party. Work hard, party harder. Or maybe it was party hard, work even harder?
Coyote Ugly was us.
No, we didn’t spit the tequila back out. Beer was our fuel, tequila shots the oil. It may also have been B52s or Kamikazes.
Eventually, the life wore off. The years were both amazing but hard as well. Tropical years so to say.
And so did the constant desire to fuel my body, and mind, with alcohol. Besides much of my daytime had turned to IT activities already. Without truly having planned it, I left the hospitality sector, but not before having owned my own bar in a smaller city in Germany. Which also became the biggest absinthe local in the country as the EU had just legalized absinthe again. We never promoted the absinthe factor, we were a cocktail bar which just happened to have the largest assortment of absinthe in the country.
Drinking slowly faded out of my life. Gone was the nightlife, gone were the days of the prosecco breakfasts, the eternal buzz — or maybe it was a constant hangover? But it wouldn’t always be like that.
Through the following years there would still be periods I tended to be “out on town”, pretty much every day. During those periods, if there was no party, techno or (metal) rock, you could usually find me at the last “dive”. Those periods always started innocently, just hanging out for some drinks with an interesting social circle. Within days, weeks the tolerance had built up again and the nightlife was part of life again. So was the booze.
After I moved across half of the world, times would relax again. That also due to there not really being any bar culture locally. Only some top hotels would have a public bar which could be called bar and wasn’t a collection of cliques all nicely separated at their own table. I was often to be found at events in the professional scene, many which came with “free booze, free food” but they were compulsory representation. Although the beers were appreciated, very much so.
I was in a relationship then and it was easy to
get distracted by her say no to clubbing after events, even if it was with my best mate, an expat too. Hoes before bros? Or maybe I just knew all too well what the mate would do once in the club and I wasn’t too bothered about yet another night of “expat hits on local Asian women”.
I had started a home cocktail bar though but it didn’t grow much due to the rather limited local offerings of spirits back then. After some months most was drunk away again, much of it documented on my now hibernating/RIP centralized social media accounts. Online work just is better with a lovely gimlet or mint julep at hand. It is what it is and the “gene” surely wanted to be satisfied occasionally as well.
Those years have passed as well and I now am a rather behaved “alcoholic”. I don’t drink often anymore, I don’t struggle having alcohol at home without touching it. Coffee is both my fuel and oil.
Yesterday I had a drink again, after half a year. It was not a special day, how can any day be in this quarantine life? But my father had teased me with the bottle of wine he was going to open for dinner, a 16 years old Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir, my sweet spot of wine.
Feeling rather healthy again after half a year of health struggles, close to 90% back to normal, yesterday evening I decided to have a small shot of local gin with a chaser. It wasn’t special a drink on a not special Sunday. But it was the first after 6 months.
It surely felt special to have a drink again after half a year. It all made me think of a good, classic Lagavulin 16 years. I think I should get one of those bottles, it will surely last me for the rest of the year.
Yesterday I had a drink again, it was rather special. Today, this evening, I am back at the coffee.