Tag Archives: alcohol

Sippin’ The ‘Gnac

“Each year, Cognac makes its mark with enthusiasm, style and confidence, and it’s wonderful to be taking part in this year’s edition.”
Jonathan Demme

Eighteen floors above street-level. Someone hands me a cocktail. I drink it. Then another. I don’t know what’s inside, but I drink it anyway. I hear music… syncopated beats aligned sonically with displaced dub. I see people… beautiful, elegant, hip to the groove. Out the corner of my eye, I think I spot a black Napoleon, with a multicultural harem of Josephines. I try to make sense of it all. Eighteen floors above street-level. This is not good…

I insisted on coming tonight, even brought along a friend of mine – a spunky Asian girl from Hong Kong named Loi Wing. But when the elevator doors opened and we stepped into the bar area, she vanished. No matter, I think to myself. I’ll have a drink and we’ll find our way back to one another. Strolling toward the bar, I notice a cool, yellow ripple to the bartender’s right; a batch of ready-made cocktails, waiting to be consumed. The bartender smiles, informs me those are the only drinks available tonight, and winks. Strange…

Grabbing the closest glass and taking a sip, I’m intrigued. Interesting taste, sharp with a hint of citrus, but not too acidic. I drink some more. The glass is small, and in a matter of minutes, I’ve emptied it. I’m drawn back to the bar and before I know it, I’m finishing up a second glass. I start to feel like a cross between Bruce Banner and Reed Richards, craving more to drink but knowing it will severely change my behaviour. I still don’t know what I’m drinking, the effects it’s having on my body, or who all these people are…

Beautiful people. I’m surrounded by them, in their bow ties, their stiletto heels, their faux-vintage cardigan sweaters, and their $200 fancy sneakers. Their conversations are dizzying, and I hear snippets from around the room flooding my ears:

“One sec, I have to post this to my Twitter…”
“What’s the name of that rapper who sings about Courvoisier?”
“Yeah… My blog gets about 700 hits a day… Hey, you want to get a drink somewhere after this?”
“Don’t they drink Sidecars on Mad Men? What do you mean you don’t know… ?”

I need some fresh air, and stumble toward a balcony door. Outside, I make the mistake of looking down onto the street below me. Eighteen floors above street level. Jesus Christ. I taste my stomach in the back of my throat. Hearing music inside, I peer through the windows and see bodies begin to tangle into one another, moving rhythmically. Except the beautiful people seem to have been replaced by the Great Emperor Napoleon, and a gaggle of girls grabbing at him. Napoleon is black, the girls are dark-skinned, light-skinned, Asian, all colours. There’s a man on stilts. What the hell is happening? What is in these drinks?

Before I guess at an answer, I’m plopped down at a table. Sitting surrounded by strangers, we stare at each other blankly, and then at the abundance of colours, textures, and flavours spread in front of us. Brown sugar, white sugar, raw sugar, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, rosemary, mint, ginger, lemons, limes, blueberries, cherries, juices, sodas, and more. But once again, there is little time to make sense of the situation. I feel the effects of the drinks starting to wear off, and begin hoping for a return to some sense of normalcy and logic, when a series of vials are thrust under my nose, one after another. With the seemingly innocuous scents of maple, iris, and – most devious of all – ginger cookies, wafting through my nostrils and into my system, I’m overcome by sensation once again. Blinded to everything around me, I feel defeated by the urge to try more… taste more… experience more…

Let loose, I’m suddenly mixing ingredients in a frenzy. Flashes of Fantasia flicker in my mind as I create one unholy concoction after another. My hands have a mind of their own, and I feel like Being John Malkovich as I watch myself uncontrollably fall under the stupefying spell of this powerful beverage. Addicted to the feeling, I mix together Courvoisier, cherries, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. Too many ingredients with the letter C, I think to myself. Scared, I add a dash of lemon juice. Before I’m done tasting, I’ve already moved on to my next experiment. Courvoisier and cucumber. Again, too many C ingredients. I’m even more scared now. This is not just a coincidence. Coincidence, I think to myself… Also starts with a C. Now, I panic. Are they controlling my mind? Is that why everything here tastes so good? Is that why I had imbibed so much more than I ever would have under normal circumstances? Is that why I couldn’t think straight? “WHAT HAVE YOU PEOPLE DONE TO ME!” I yelled at the top of my lungs. Everything stopped. The room grew silent. Uh oh, I thought… They’re on to me.

I calculated my dashing factor. If I ran top speed, I estimated being in the stairwell and on my way to freedom in under ten seconds. Would that be enough time? And what of the complimentary gift bags I noticed by the door? No, no time for that now. Must concentrate. With beads of sweat forming across my forehead, I surveyed the room. There was a small commotion at another one of the tables. Had someone else realized what was being done? Were they being subdued? My heart raced.

“Alright! We have a winner for the best mixed drink!”

A voice. Whose voice? God? I don’t know. Applause. Cheering. What’s happening? All the beautiful people are standing up, looking toward the small commotion. Glasses are raised. People are drinking more. Don’t they understand what this is doing to them? The music begins again. Beats. I’m disoriented. Loi Wing saunters up to me, and I am relieved to see she is OK. I try to ask where she’s been and what they’ve done to her, but she smiles wider than ever and drags me by the arm, back outside to the balcony.

The fresh air invigorates me, and I begin to feel sober at last. I revisit what I just experienced: the dizzying excitement, the blurry exhilaration, the energizing crowd. Loi Wing asks if I want something more to drink. “Oh hell yeah,” I reply, before losing myself again in a glass of Courvosier Exclusif.

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The TTC’s One-Night Stand With Ashley Madison

The TTC in bed with Ashley Madison? Heavens to murgatroyd! No one ever says that anymore. It’s a shame, really. Snagglepuss must be rolling over in his grave. But I digress.

The TTC has been linked to Ashley Madison, a website whose official slogan is “Life is short. Have an affair.”  Specifically, Ashley Madison is crying foul over the TTC’s rejection of a contract that would have wrapped several streetcars in Ashley Madison advertising. Even more specifically, the streetcars would have the company’s slogan plastered along either side. It’s a deal that would put at least $250,000 in the TTC’s pockets, which are presently empty and hanging inside-out with moths flying about. Talk radio (the social barometer by which all issues are measured… what are you going to do about it, social media?) was all a-twitter this morning (see what I did there?) over the issue, with Torontonians evenly divided on whether it’s a good idea. Here are some arguments floating around:

  • Having Ashley Madison advertise on the TTC will encourage deviant behaviour and drive people to cheat on their significant others – First off, if someone in a relationship is debating cheating, that relationship is already in trouble. Second, if someone in a relationship decides to go ahead and cheat, they will do so regardless of what they see on the side of a bus. Life isn’t a movie where epiphanies are had standing on snowy street corners staring at signs on streetcars.There seems to be little uproar over the EYE or NOW magazines available free at most TTC stations, which openly advertise sexual services from prostitutes and escorts, and feature NSA (no-strings attached) ads from ordinary people looking for casual sex. In fact, there is likely a greater probability that you’re safer meeting someone from Ashley Madison for casual yet intimate encounters, rather than from the back pages of a free newspaper.
  • How will parents explain to children viewing the ad the notion of having an affair? – Good parents will think of something. If not, maybe we should look at banning the word “sex” from advertising, though that would probably cut out 50% of all ads. Maybe we should also make sure women in ads all wear ankle-length skirts and cover their shoulders, in case children ask about breasts or shapely legs. Oh, we should also ban ads where it looks like people are driving fast, in case it leads to speed racing. We should also ban the movie Speed Racer. Speaking of movies, don’t they have words in their titles like kill and death and violence and war? Let’s look at banning those as well. I’m pretty sure I once saw an ad that asked people not to smoke, and that may have a reverse-psychology effect on children, so that’s banned as well.The annoying point I’m making here is that you cannot shield your children from everything, and more importantly, your children aren’t as interested in these things as parents believe. They don’t possess the breadth of experience and knowledge to properly process the meaning of and beliefs behind, say, an affair. They learn the surface meaning and move on.
  • If Ashley Madison can advertise, why not cigarette companies? Alcohol? Gaming? – What if Marlboro put up a website, and asked people to join and create profiles. They could interact online with other people interested in Marlboros, and maybe even meet up in person. And when they met in person, they would each bring some cigarettes and smoke up a storm together. It’s a lousy – and copyrighted – idea, but bear with me. Marlboro wouldn’t be pushing cigarettes in that case. Sure, they may be encouraging their use, but they would really just be acting as a facilitator between two parties with mutual interests. If they hadn’t met through Marlboro’s website, they might have met nine feet outside the front doors to their office.If someone is going to cheat, they will cheat. Seeing an ad won’t compel anyone who hasn’t already made that decision. What’s more, Ashley Madison only acts as a third party. If not them, then EYE or NOW or Craigslist or Kijiji or any other number of sources.

By now you should see where I stand on the issue. The TTC is in need of money and Ashley Madison is more than happy to fork some over. But ethics and morals prevent the TTC from accepting. Has it forgotten the fact that in 2007, it was happy to take on the controversy of posting ads promoting atheism and the lack of God? Two years can be a long time when you’re raising fares and failing to meet the evolving infrastructure of the city which you serve.

Even if the TTC ultimately does reject having Ashley Madison’s ads plastered on what probably amounts to less than 1% of their streetcar fleet (for $250,000, did I mention that?), this should open a discussion for more advertising on the TTC to subsidize some of its costs.

Anyone who’s been on the Metro in Paris, the Underground in London, the New York subway, the Hong Kong subway and many other transit systems can attest to a plethora of ads. In New York and Paris, there is an ad every few feet. They are inescapable but not intolerable; rather they are a part of the urban underground landscape. Blending into the walls of the transit system as passers-by scurry by, they also give companies a chance to be edgy, creative and try to grab people’s attention. Volkswagen is a perfect example.

Finally, in a brilliant PR move, Ashley Madison also announced reduced fares on TTC vehicles bearing their ad, should their contract be approved. I don’t know if that’s realistic, but they’ve managed to hit a note that resonates with every citizen of Toronto, regardless of their stance on the morality of the issue: Your wallets are suffering, and we want to help. In effect, they’ve told Toronto that they will subsidize the TTC and they will subsidize TTC riders, but the TTC won’t let them. Touché, Ashley Madison.

Bottom line: The TTC needs financial help. If they don’t accept it from Ashley Madison, let this issue lead to an improved resolution on advertising on the TTC in order to offset operating costs. Higher ad revenues mean lower fares and a better system. Toronto deserves that much.

What do you think? Would you allow this? Details, please…

Wild Turkey: Harder, Stronger, Harder.

wild-turkey

I love Wild Turkey. Not the animal, mind you. Hence the capitalization on each word. Although I do enjoy grilled turkey breast, it being leaner and healthier than chicken breast without sacrificing any of the flavour. But I digress.

I love Wild Turkey. As far as bourbon goes, Wild Turkey is one of the most recognizable names and affordable bottles. It’s strong without being overpowering and has a smooth taste to it. You can easily drink a few glasses without even realizing it. And the Bourbon Drunk? It’s a great feeling. Wild Turkey warms up the blood but doesn’t anger it like whiskey. Wild Turkey relaxes the mind but doesn’t shut it down like vodka. Wild Turkey provides staggering sexual stamina but doesn’t cost an arm and a leg like Viagra. Or Cialis. Or Hero Tabs. Or Steve Martin’s All-Natural Penis Beauty Cream.

steve-martin

That’s absolutely right and you heard it here first. Wild Turkey is a great-tasting bourbon that also provides sexual and penile prowess rivaling a porn star. In layman’s terms, what I’m saying is: drinking Wild Turkey will give you an erection that lasts a long while and proves useful when having sex with that girl whose name you really don’t care to know. Allow me to elaborate, using myself as an example.

After a few years of drinking and enjoying a range of whiskies and scotches, I decided one night to try some Wild Turkey. I was first introduced by Hunter S. Thompson, who also inspired my proclivity for the whiskey. Not personally introduced unfortunately, but as an avid fan of Thompson’s, one picks up on his favoured alcoholic imbibitions, Chivas Regal and Wild Turkey among others.

And so it was that one night while out with L (the girlfriend at the time), I decided on a whim that I needed a change of drink, if only for one night, and Wild Turkey seemed like a good idea at the time. The night would transpire as any other until we got back to L’s place and settled in for some hardcore raunchy and animalistic sex. It’s just more fun that way.

Well. I’ve never been one to have much of any problems with the sex, in any area. But much to my and L’s surprise, I was like a jackhammer with a hard-on that night. And it lasted quite some time, even by my standards (that’s right). The next day, I half-attributed my performance to the Wild Turkey because it seemed like a fun idea correlating the two, and because it just made sense. Over the next few years, I would have a few more Wild Turkey nights, usually when I knew I’d be going home with a girl. I was determined to figure out whether or not my theory was true. Can drinking Wild Turkey really enhance my sex life? To paraphrase Barack Obama, Yes It Can (and yes it did).

My wholly unscientific research proved time and again that when I would get drunk off the Wild Turkey it translated to long, hard and thoroughly enjoyable sexual sessions for both myself and my partner. The last time I tried this was my last birthday, in late 2008. Once again, it did not disappoint and now when I’m out with the current (and keeper) girl, J, she knows what to expect if I start on the bourbon.

Speaking of bourbon in general, I should say that I have tried the same experiment with other brands, including Woodford Reserve and Jim Beam. I have inconclusive results with the Jim Beam and I always ended up getting way too drunk off the Woodford Reserve to do anything of note by the time I get to bed. But Wild Turkey has never let me down. Literally.

Try this next time you’re out with a girl and you know you’re going to her place afterward (or yours, but hers is always better): Have three glasses of Wild Turkey, straight up and on the rocks. At least three glasses. And don’t wash it down with water and don’t start mixing it with daiquiris and mojitos and those other fruity drinks you love. Be a goddamn man and drink some goddamn straight bourbon. Then go home and do what you do with your woman: make love, be intimate, snuggle, fuck, etc. (that would be a great name for a band, Snugglefuck – you’re welcome, thank me in the liner notes). That Wild Turkey you consumed will make you a hero, a star, a man. If not, you’re probably a woman.

Ketel One Vodka: They Misspelled Kettle But I Drank For Free So I Don’t Really Care.

A little while back I was invited to a vodka tasting. I won’t get into the details but here’s the abridged version:

“Do you want to come to a vodka tasting?”
“… Yes. Yes I do.”

Except I was online so there was no real interaction like that. But you get the idea.

And so I was instructed to meet at a restaurant called Kultura, which happened to be around the corner from my office. “It’s on King St, just past Jarvis,” a friend of mine had told me. I walked over onto King St and crossed Jarvis, but couldn’t find the place. I walked back and still couldn’t find the place. I tried a third time. After about 20 minutes of fruitless back-and-forth walking I called my friend to make sure I had the right directions.

“I can’t find this place,” I lamented.

“Oh,” she says, “there’s no name on the front. Just look for a set of double-doors next to a big window.”

Great. Thanks. How am I expected to find someplace I’ve never been before if there’s no real way of finding this place? And for fuck’s sake… put your goddamn restaurant name on the front somewhere you pretentious bastards. But I digress.

I walked inside and upstairs to the third floor where I was greeted by a small girl holding a clipboard with my name on it. Crazy. I checked in and received a ticket good for one free drink. Surveying the room as I walked to hang up my coat, I noticed there weren’t many people up there.

Three tables had been set up, parallel to one another but slightly staggered and on an angle. Each table had seats for about eight people and each place had its own setting with a glass of water on the side and three tall glasses with a shot each of Absolut, Grey Goose and Ketel One vodka. In addition, there was a plate of fancy crackers with mango chutney dip and some documents about Ketel One lying on the table.

After leaving my jacket, I strolled over to the bar to grab a drink. We had a choice of a Vodka martini (yes please) or a Cosmo (no please). I took my martini back to the table and sat down. One of the staffers there advised me on which seat to take and I was sitting at foot of the middle table, my back to the entrance. This would later prove to be an ill-advised seat as a presentation took place directly behind my back which I missed most of as I could only squirm enough to see the wall next to the presenter. Also, I ended up being in way too many pictures by accident since I was directly in front of that presenter.

Drink #1.

My table consisted of five other people: Casie whose name I just assumed would be spelled Casey because you know… that’s how it’s spelled, who was funky/bohemian/in-your-face/etc and who took a lot of pictures, Jeannie whose name I may have also spelled incorrectly and who works in the Social Work sector, her friend Elaine who runs a fashion blog in Toronto and is also involved in Social Work somehow, and two other people whose names I’d probably have spelled correctly had I remembered them. I’m pretty sure one was from Scarborough.

People started off by talking about their blogs and about blogging in general, which always makes me leery. I don’t particularly care for the word “blog” and I find the more it’s used, the more ridiculous it becomes. As such, the more one refers to oneself as a “blogger”, the more ridiculous they seem. It conjures up ideas of someone who sits at home all day on their computer writing to people they don’t know will actually read what’s been written, as if they have nothing better to do. (I realize the irony in my writing that, but for what it’s worth, I’m better than those people. Trust me.)

I won’t go into detail about what I said when asked about my blog, but I thought it was a pretty interesting concept.

Of the other two tables, one was about as busy as ours, and the other was full of Ketel One Vodka reps who had decided to take in the tasting. Little tip Ketel One: Not cool. You kind of lose your credibility when you send your cronies to oversee the marketing ploy that we so obviously know is a marketing ploy. Try and have some dignity. Also, it detracts from the feel of the event and also could influence people’s responses to your products. But I’m sure you already know that…

The presentation began and after a little history lesson on vodka in general and then specifically Ketel One, the tasting started.

Drinks #2, 3 and 4

We sniffed all three glasses to get a sense of the differences between the three vodkas. My nose was congested so I got nothing out of that. Then we tasted a little of each vodka before actually downing each shot.

Absolut: I never liked Absolut, though it’s drinkable. More so when free. But even more so when you’re 17 and it’s what your dad has at home.

Grey Goose: You know who drinks Grey Goose? Assholes. Someone sees a magazine ad about it being the #1 Vodka in the world in 2003 and they think that by ordering it at the bar they’re something special. Grey Goose burns and does not taste good (I’m being nice here) and the French should stick to making wine and losing wars. However, I will admit… you could do worse than free Grey Goose.

Ketel One: I had never tried Ketel One before and must admit I was impressed. Not just for the sake of this review either. It was surprisingly smooth and easy going. Not what I’d expected when I learned it was a Dutch vodka. There are many other substances I think of besides Vodka when I think of Holland and the Dutch.

Drinks #5, 6, 7

Since there were so few people at the tasting, I decided to continue my learning and did a second tasting on the shots at the empty seat next to me. Same verdict as above. But more fun this time.

Drink #8

As I downed my second shot of Ketel One, our super-enthusiastic host and presenter, Beth-Anne (I think) refilled my glass to make sure I got the full Ketel One experience.

Drink #9

At the end, we were given gift bags with bottles of Ketel One and mickeys of Grand Marnier as well as taxi chits and tickets for one more drink at the bar. Martini, please. Straight. No olive. Twist of lemon. He may be Bond but I’ll drink Daniel Craig under the table every time. That’s a challenge. Once he kicks Noel Gallagher’s ass he can come find me.

Anyway… Taxi beats Subway like Paper beats Rock and like Tyson beats Givens, so I  cabbed to the subway parking lot which held my car. I tipped the cabbie pretty well if I do say so myself (after all, it was on Ketel One) and gave him the mickey of Grand Marnier because he seemed like a nice guy. Besides, what better gift to give a professional driver who’s still on the clock than a bottle of booze?

All in all, an excellent night thanks to some weird asian girl who kept talking to me and thanks to Ketel One. I just hope I’ve mentioned their name enough times in this post that they’ll invite me back for the next one.