Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Drinking outside of the comfort zone. *GUEST POST* by Alecia Armold

The first alcoholic drink I ever had was a Yuengling Lager when I was 14.  I hated it. Since that time, my beverages of choice have been all over the map. There were of course the usual underage favorites, Zima and Smirnoff.  Smirnoff Ice Raspberry was my go-to, even after I turned 21. That is, until they came out with Smirnoff Triple Black and I was in sugary alcohol bliss.  Besides the obvious drawback of drinking these, they were expensive. They were never on happy hour specials. I watched enviously as my friends paid for $2 beers and always had a significantly cheaper bar tab than I did. At some point I decided I had to become a beer drinker, my bank account demanded it. So I did. I discovered a love of wheat beers and occasionally when I would have calorie regret, light beer. But never Miller Lite because gross.
This frugality philosophy of drinking stuck. I hardly ever drink liquor or wine at bars. The exception to this of course is if I’m not buying. I have a date thing. I will always order a martini. I don’t know why I started it. So if you’re reading this and you thought you went out on a date with me but I didn’t order a martini, I am sorry to inform you, you are mistaken.

While beer is my usual bar favorite, wine is the at home favorite. I love me some wine. Not in a sophisticated way though. I’m not slowly sipping on some hard to pronounce French Grand Cru, nibbling on cheese. It’s more like did I really just drink this entire bottle of Riesling while watching CNN for 5 hours? Well it was only $13, no harm done.
Ten years after having my first Drink Envy, I have a new one. I am envious of the people who can sip on scotch for an hour, the people who know exactly what combinations will make a delicious drinking experience. I am envious of the people who can truly appreciate what they are tasting. Also, those drinks just look cooler. I want to be a cool drinker.
I have not traveled many places but when I have, I have always tried to eat the most local, authentic foods. My food philosophy is the exact opposite of my drinking philosophy. Give me all the tiny plates with the little bits of deliciousness, I will give you my money. 

But, just as I decided I would be a beer drinker so long ago, I decided on my trip to Austin that I would be a drinker that looked like she knew what she was doing. I would really savor what I was drinking. I was not disappointed (although my wallet is a little distressed by it)

Clark’s Oyster Bar – 1200 W. 6th Street, Austin TX

C:\Users\aleci\Desktop\20160216_115902[1].jpg“The Stowaway” - Gin, St. Germain, Aranciata, Lime, Mint
Clark’s Oyster Bar was adorable. It radiates beach with its nautical décor and blue and green color scheme. It feels out of place for the area. Surrounding it is a body shop, Sherwin Williams and a liquor store with a flashing, broken neon sign. Of all the drinks I had, I may be partial to this one because I got to eat oysters with it. Oysters make everything better. The Stowaway was refreshing. It tasted like a sophisticated, boozy lemonade. I could definitely taste the alcohol but it was not overpowering. If I didn’t have plans to drink the rest of the day, I could have had several of these.

C:\Users\aleci\Desktop\Austin Ale House.jpgLive Oak Hefeweizen (local brewery in Austin)
Mexican Martini – Tequila, Cointreau, Lime juice, Olive juice, salt
Old Fashioned – Whiskey, bitters, sugar, orange slice
I broke two rules I had set for myself at this stop. I wasn’t going to drink any beer and I was only going to have one drink at each place. Austin Ale House has over 40 beers on tap, many regional, so I felt it would be criminal if I didn’t try a local beer. I could have tried a beer that I don’t normally drink but old habits are hard to break. It tasted like a typical wheat beer so I liked it but there was nothing noteworthy that made it stand out.


Per my bartender’s suggestion, I had the Mexican Martini. I was so nervous to try this drink. I’ve had tequila maybe twice and I hated it. However, this was delicious! It was sour but just the right amount. The strong alcohol taste I was expecting was not there. It was made so you knew what you were drinking but everything married perfectly.

C:\Users\aleci\Desktop\20160216_144931[1].jpgAs I was about to leave, Avery, my outgoing bartender originally from Philadelphia, said “I make a mean Old Fashioned” I had no idea what was in an Old Fashioned but who could resist that?
I was not a huge fan of this but what I did love was how Avery made it. It was obvious he had perfected his craft with this drink. Even though there were several other people sitting at the bar at this point, he took his time, gliding the orange peel over the rim of the glass before carefully placing it inside. After that performance, I couldn’t possibly waste a drop but this is the only drink I won’t be partaking of in the future.
By this time, I really needed food so naturally, the next bar I go to doesn’t serve any.

Variation of Magnum PI – rum, pineapple syrup, ginger beer

I chose this bar because I liked the name. My experience here was the least desirable but this drink was definitely my second favorite. While everyone else I’d spoken to seemed intrigued by my purpose for asking about specific drinks, this bartender seemed less than enthused. I considered leaving but I was already there and I had already broken rules at the last place so I had reached my quota. To be fair, I arrived at this bar at an odd time. The bars around this area had very specific hours. Austin is known for its live music and nightlife. It had a roof top deck but I chose a chair by the huge, open window. It reminded me of New Orleans. I love almost anything with rum and this drink was no different. Pineapple and Rum are my favorite combo and this drink was gorgeous. If I ever go back to Austin, I will definitely revisit the HandleBar. Perhaps around 11pm, where my biker bartender might make me this again and maybe even with a smile this time.

C:\Users\aleci\Desktop\20160216_162603-1-1[1].jpgMoscow Mule – Vodka, lime juice, ginger syrup (NOT ginger beer)
When I asked the bartender what he recommended he very hesitantly said the Moscow Mule. I could tell this was not because he didn’t believe in this drink but because he thought it was too “normal”. After assuring him that although I’d heard of the Moscow Mule, I didn’t have a clue what was in it, he proudly told me they made they theirs with ginger syrup instead of ginger beer. I love Irish pubs. They generally all have the same kind of décor, same type of food. They are comfortable. While I sat listening to Michael Buble and Ella Fitzgerald, devouring my fried pickles and sipping on this heavenly drink, I felt at home even though I was over a thousand miles from my element. This was the perfect ending to my day.
Two Moscow Mules in, my girlfriend finds me and alas we head off in search of barbeque and talk of our day. 

I don’t know if I’ll ever be a cool drinker. But I do know, the next time I have few dollars to spare, I’m definitely going to pass on that fourth $2 beer and ask the bartender for their specialty drink. It appears the odds are I’ll enjoy it.

*This guest post was sent by our lovely friend Alecia Armold. Please take a moment to check out her website The Hope Shoppe then stop by The Hope Shoppe on Facebook - and help support her efforts to help victims of domestic violence leave their abusers and start a new life. Through tragedy she's found strength, and it's a cause worth your support!

Interested in being a Drunk Bitch guest poster? No worries, contact us and pitch your idea, we might even pay you for it! Phillybooze@yahoo.com

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