Friday, March 28, 2008

What I've Learned


Last month I looked at the calendar and realized that I started this blog a year ago. I remember thinking that the absolute last thing I was going to do was one of those “Happy Birthday/anniversary”-type posts.

But then I changed my mind. I do that.

What prompted me was a regular feature that Esquire magazine does called “What I’ve Learned”. It’s my favorite part of the magazine*, and for those who haven’t seen it, the magazine asks a notable personality to provide whatever observations on life they feel are worthwhile. Here's a good one.

Never one to shy away from freely spouting my own crackpot take on things, I decided it was high time to jump in myself:

~~~ What I’ve Learned in OneYear of Boozeblogging~~~

~ The boozeblogging/online cocktail community is comprised of unbelievably friendly, generous, and encouraging people. Although I’ve yet to meet any of them in person, I’ve had many fun & informative exchanges via email and comments, and everyone I’ve gotten to know has been very kind. Interacting with my fellow drink geeks is a big reason why I continue to be enthusiastic about learning as much as I can about cocktails.

~ Starting a blog when you’re expecting your first child may not have been the brightest thing to do from a frequency-of-posting standpoint.

~ Pennsylvania has got to be one of the lousiest places in the entire country to buy booze. I knew this prior to starting my blog, but I didn’t fully realize just how maddening it can be until I attempted to try to lay hands on some slightly-off-the-beaten-path drink ingredients.

Rather than going into a full-bore rant, I’ll direct interested readers to this article, which does a pretty good job of providing a glimpse into the lunacy that is PA’s liquor sales system. This one is good as well. (Thanks to Cynthia for bringing these articles to my attention)

~ There is no substitute for fresh squeezed juice.

~ A year ago I hadn’t the faintest idea what the hell Falernum, Orgeat, or Pimento Dram were. Not only did I learn, but I now know people who actually make their own from scratch.

~ Don’t fear the brown! ’07 was the year I really embraced whisk(e)y. My mother-in-law turned me onto Scotch, and I discovered I really, really like rye. And though my taste for Bourbon has been spotty over the years, I recently ran across a few that I’d knock small children aside to get at (I’m talkin’ about you, 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle!).

~ Oregon apparently has a disproportionate amount of skilled and talented bartenders. While they are indisputably nifty as individuals, they recently decided to increase their prowess by several levels of magnitude and become collectively awesome.

~ People can get excited about bitters. Really excited.

~ I am now unable to go past any used book store without stopping in to forage for old bar guides.

~When properly made, tiki drinks are fantastic. They’re definitely worth the time and trouble

~ On recycling day, all my neighbors’ bins empty out with a series of dull thuds. Mine sounds like an avalanche in a chandelier store.

~ People who enjoy making quality drinks also tend to be damn fine photographers. Like this guy, this gal, and this guy, just to name a few.

~ I own an antique lime squeezer and not one, but two manual ice crushers. People will give you these things once they become aware of your interest in cocktails.

~ Even though I knew this before starting a blog, I have an incredibly loving, patient, and understanding wife. Aside from allowing my bottles & barware to take up an inordinate amount of space in the house, she also is willing to try all the recipes (no matter how odd) I scrounge up.

And if that wasn’t enough knowledge & wisdom for you, Gabriel over at Cocktailnerd recently posted a fun and educational list that highlights the things he learned about crafting cocktails during a lengthy power outage. Print it out and store it with your extra batteries and candles!

*Apologies to Mr. Wondrich


Craig Hermann said...

Congratulations on your anniversary. It's always a pleasure to read your articles. Sorry about PA's rules (OR's aren't too much better, at least we're starting to get some clout with our local liquor control board). Here's to many more years!

Anita said...

happy anniversary! I can't believe it's been a year...

Marshall said...

Happy Anniversary Dear Doctor!!! Having lived in Pennsylvania for three years and now back home in my own Commonwealth, I fully understand your tribulations at obtaining goods outside the purview of the potable potentates.


Cynthia Closkey said...

Hooray for your first year! Congratulations, and maybe happy returns on the day. I toast to you.

Paul said...

Happy anniversary, or birthday, or whatever! I agree on everything, and having met several (and growing) of our fellow booze-bloggers, I can say they're every bit as pleasant in person. Even Rick.

Dood said...

Happy Blogiversary!!!

I know that this particular blog was part of my inspiration to start my own. Great job, and keep up the good work!

Detley Spinell said...

"There is no substitute for fresh squeezed juice."

Amen, brother.

Jay Hepburn said...

Congratulations on a year of blogging Craig! Couldn't agree more about how friendly everyone in the cocktail blogging world is. Here's to many more years...

Dr. Bamboo said...

Thanks everyone! It's been a really fun year, and I'm going to do my best to keep at it in '08.

And make sure YOU all keep posting too...without my fellow booze geeks I'd have nothing to read. ;-)

Gabriel said...

Congrats, Doc! Love your work and truly look forward to seeing you in New Orleans. Perhaps I can commission you to draw up my next tattoo while there.

Keep up the good work sir.

Kaiser Penguin said...


I really enjoyed this post... a lot. It's great to have you as part of the cocktail community. Your prose and art are always energetic and thought-provoking.

keith waldbauer said...

Happy Anniversary Doc. I think you're older than me by one month. This article made me laugh so many times I don't even know where to start. You're a joy to read and I love that you seem to get around to every single blog posting and leave a comment. Considering that, as a new father, you're operating on a daily ration of what, 4 hours of sleep per, that's remarkable.

Look forward to knocking back a few with you in NOLA.

Dr. Bamboo said...

Gabriel- I'm really looking forward to New Orleans too. And I'd love to kick tattoo ideas around with you...but you do know those things don't wash off, right? ;-)

Rick- Thanks again! But you only have yourself to were the one who got me started on this nonsense in the first place!

Keith- Glad you're enjoying it! Fortunately,the li'l guy started sleeping all night long when he was somewhere around 3-4 months, so I'm not anywhere near as dragged-out as I was last Fall.

Bottoms up, everyone!

Kim said...

On recycling day, all my neighbors’ bins empty out with a series of dull thuds. Mine sounds like an avalanche in a chandelier store.

This comment? Is golden! This is why your house is the happiest house on the block, too!

nerdling said...

Wow, a year already? Time really flies when you're drunk—er, drinking.

And I haven't forgotten your list. Chuck recently turned me on to a new (to me) liquor store that I'm going to hit in the near future. At this rate it may even make it to you before Tales. Take that, draconian liquor laws!

Jess said...

I enjoyed you coming in, and making Bloody Mary's for you. I know you loved our bloody Mary's I made, but next time you need to try my (Category 5 Hurricanes) I make or one or our flavored Mojito's