There are three definite things in life: death, taxes, and cities changing. How can you gauge this change, and where can you go to witness the change? Drinking places are the heritage keepers within cities, where you can discuss issues that might not be on the front page of the newspaper or Facebook. A very informal way to find out where your city has been and where it is going. Grab a cold one and enjoy the discussion!
This post was submitted as a response to the topic question, “How Do You Whiskey Friday?,” by Baratunde Thurston, author of the book, “How To Be Black.”
How do I Whisk(e)y Friday? That’s the type of question everyone should ask themselves — to recognize how “your identity affects how you start the weekend.” I’ll offer my perspective…
The number one way is to always, ALWAYS, be sure to respect the bottle, or it’ll disrespect you. Knowing how you like to drink will lead you to where, and then towards what to drink. I think that you can find out how you whisk(e)y friday at a drinking place that catches your fancy, one that you’ve always wondered what’s happening within its walls. Bernard DeVoto says that time should be spent with “two or three friends,” but Derek Brown finds interest in the lone imbiber; let’s follow that path for now.
You should spend some time asking your friendly neighborhood barkeep a couple of questions. Since you’re by yourself, the bartender is your only “friend,” but well-suited to give you a bit of info on the area, anecdotes about what you’re drinking, even bits of etiquette that will take you far in this world of handshaking and hobnobbing. While you’re sitting at the bar, take a gander at the pretty bottles in front of you — ain’t they purrty? Remember them — they’ll come in handy when you need to make a reference sometime later.
Now, that person that’s been sitting next to you, you notice them? Ask them something. Comment on something. Anything. Doesn’t matter if they like you or if they’re interested in you or if you share something in common. What matters is that you’re elbow-to-elbow at that moment in time. You’ve got a brain — use it. Tell a joke. Or a story. Ask them a question that only they can answer. Remember that shiny blue bottle you noticed earlier? The one with the Queen on it? Ask them if they’ve ever had any. Tell them you’ve got some in your glass and it’s kept you smiling, though other brands usually put a smile on your face. Offer a cheers in response. Take another sip of your cocktail and smile because you can’t wait for the next Whisk(e)y Friday. Then go home, go to sleep, wake up and attack Thursday.
Because when you feel like taking a minute to #getcongenial, you don’t wait for the weekend. The day doesn’t matter. You don’t even wait for Whisk(e)y Friday to come back around; it might be the perfect time for Gin o’Clock. To share in a moment of humanity is a characteristic that’s essentially human. We aren’t meant to suppress desires or common courtesy or humor. For what reason? Because it’s not a designated time and place? Rubbish! Take the time when you have it because you don’t know if the time will come again.
Every city has its own distinct identity. The City That Never Sleeps. The Big Easy. Sin City. Keep [Austin] Strange. Many cities also have distinct identities that either create or inform its drinking culture. Cities such as NYC and San Francisco, with money to blow, have transformed the world of mixology with their cocktailing ingenuity, using ingredients and techniques never before seen, and basically impracticable and unattainable. New Orleans’ “keep the party going” reputation created the “to go cup”. Seattle’s band of tree-huggers delved deep into their Pacific Northwest sustainable sensibilities to push for a local/craft/handmade cocktail aesthetic.
What can Chicago claim as the identity of its drinking culture? While contemporary barkeeps in The City With Big Shoulders use their stalwart trapezius energy to shake things up and “Be Chicago”, there’s a bit of shadiness behind the Windy City’s bar history. While Harlem is known for its “hustlin’” mentality, and gang culture stemming from Los Angeles has spread all over the country, Chicago can doubly lay claim to being a city of original gangsters willing to hustle by any means necessary. But even the bartenders, adding a splash of “knock out” in that house cocktail, then running your pockets? Now THAT’S gangsta. What else would you expect of people “from the ‘go and don’t stop”?
This research discusses the redevelopment of historic urban districts, offering analysis of change at the scale of a neighborhood. Neighborhoods are flexible in terms of city scale — macro-attributes such as socio-economic and changing demographic issues, as well as micro-attributes such as interpersonal relationships and signs & symbols on buildings. Opportunities for redevelopment can touch upon many of these issues as themes, tying together the neighborhood in a way that reflects its past and creates a responsible and promising trajectory for the future.
Contemporary breweries and microbreweries tend to be isolated from the built and social fabric of urban neighborhoods — either located in unadorned, industrial areas or totally unrelated to other services in the vicinity. Historically, breweries were large-scale operations, sustaining the economy of large swaths of a region and creating a need for services that extended down to the neighborhood level. Breweries were connected to local craftsmen for construction and engineering services, to local drinking places for patronage of their products, and to personal customs of the workers and their families. The overarching drinking culture contains objects for architectural commentary and metaphor, which are especially promising for success in redevelopment of historic urban districts, as shown above: historic buildings that reflect the “urban narrative” that future development should follow, building symbols and imagery that reflects cultural ideals, and looking to create a synergy between current professional opportunities and previous crafts & occupations that used to sustain the neighborhood.
A successful example of an urban redevelopment that brought all these attributes together is the Distillery District in Toronto, which successfully maintained the heritage of the area and its inhabitants, creating responsible development with smart and compatible uses.
[Research by ME]
Beer and a shot is an incredibly flexible combination in drinking culture. The various manifestations with different spirits show the ability of the pairing to adapt to different cultural identities and ethnic environments.
How many people have chased their shots of Don Julio on Cinco de Mayo with a couple Coronas? Seen that guy at the Irish pub sessioning pints of his favorite ale with shots of Jameson? What about your friend celebrating his birthday with the all-American pairing of Jim Beam and Budweiser?
A new combo in hip hop is looking to establish their mark on the time-honored tradition of strong teamwork. Timeless Truth, two MC’s from Queens, NYC of Dominican Heritage, are putting their bid in to sit with other dynamic duos like EPMD, Run-DMC, and Mobb Deep. To really put their stamp on the game, they use a combination of their heritage, the Dominican pairing of Brugal Rum and Presidente Beer. The EP photo even has the signature netting found on the Brugal bottle — definitely official. One congenial combo begets another. Cheers!
The old adage goes: You are what you eat. Thus, I am a Honey Bun or a Chicken Sandwich, depending on the time of the closest meal.
But, are you indeed what you drink? How would you measure the correlation? The spirit of choice? The style taken? The color or complexity of the cocktail? There are many aspects to answering this quandary.
But let’s look at how you might go about ordering your drink or tipple of choice. Do you base your choice on the current scenario? Maybe you have an “old standby” for when you’re in a crowded nightclub, or for when you’ve got to delve into an area not frequently visited by your palate — a particular beer for a non-beer drinker, a particular wine with your artsy-fartsy group of friends, etc. Maybe it’s to stave off any prejudice or so people won’t frown upon you. In my younger years, I went to the Gimlet for nice restaurants — a classic cocktail that doesn’t require a laundry list of obscure ingredients. I also doubted my Bacardi O and orange juice would pair well with Peking Duck and rosemary couscous.
We shouldn’t shy away from letting our drink define us: it shows that you have principles, are creative, in touch with your cultural identity, and know a little something about a little something. We may not all get Billy Dee-level smiles when ordering a Colt 45, but maybe someone will perk up when they hear you put a little bass in your voice and emit the wonderful words, “…..
[to be continued in next post]
“I never used to understand the difference. One guy would say he’s British, and then another would come and say he’s English. I never understood…..you don’t understand until you have a sit down and have a couple of drinks with the guy and say, okay would you explain this difference to me?” — Excerpt from personal research conducted on individual connections to the traditional English pub and associated issues of cultural identity
The bar holds court to many diverse topics of conversation. It might be begin as small talk between two patrons, exchanging pleasantries and making short commentaries on other patrons or passers-by. With more time and more liquid, it might get more personal, as the patrons begin to disclose more about their likes and dislikes, idiosyncrasies, views, principles, commandments, etc. As a higher level of camaraderie is reached, the discourse gets even more glorious — now through the exchange of rounds, issues that might be taboo for discussion, at least with a stranger, are open for resolution. Each patron feels at comfort with the other, and is personally vested in adding fruitful energy to the conversation.
This type of conversation might be one of 8 million that occurs in a person’s travails through the house of spirits. Even though there was great congeniality expressed by the two patrons, it might be disregarded in terms of importance — just another conversation at the bar with a stranger. But what can you learn about others, your environment, and most importantly, yourself, through these instances? How do “barguments” tacitly inform us? What are some “barguments” you’ve had that have influenced your worldview?