"You know, honestly, I think it’s just too hard to keep track of,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “If you can’t legislate it, if you can’t enforce it then you probably ought to just go ahead and make it legal. I think that’s kind of what happened with Prohibition."
— WV Men’s BB Coach Bob Huggins, on the NCAA’s change in legislation of texting potential recruits
Back in November, I didn’t know I’d have to post a eulogy. One week after a cautionary post about a wayward athlete, here’s another one about a celebrity on the wrong side of the bottle. This is not the type of deja vu that I appreciate.
I’m not going to tear up the internets by mentioning Whitney Houston’s passing; they’ve been torn to shreds in a similar fashion to when Michael Jackson almost flattened the WWW. But this is not a post about technology — this is a post about making better decisions when you drink, the crux of what The Congenial Hour is all about.
When everyone heard of Whitney’s passing, we all thought of her past drug abuse and somehow thought she had a relapse that was too much for her to withstand. However, the apparent cause was something that we’ve seen before, and will probably see again: the one cocktail that always brings about last call, alcohol and prescription medicine. It has taken celebrities from the worlds of music, film, hockey, and professional wrestling. The worst thing about it is that we have not seen the last of this type of tragically regrettable occurrence.
Two things about alcoholic beverages always need to be considered. One, the irony of the term “alcoholic beverage” is in its name: it should NOT be considered a beverage. When I think of a beverage, I think of a tall glass of milk after eating an arm’s length of Oreos, a “cold drink” of Coca-Cola or sweet tea when I visit friends and family down south, or a Gatorade Propel while I’m working out. Those are beverages — drinks intended to quench your thirst. While I’ve got some lovely items in my cocktail cabinet that are quite tasty, I don’t have a “thirst” for them. I do itch for a good Old Fashioned from time to time, but I’m not running into the house for some 7yr W.L. Weller after running around Lake Montebello — I want something from the Brita!!
The second thing is we need to start making better decisions about drinking. Alcohol abuse is not new on the radar but it’s causing some of the same pains that it has for centuries now. Binge drinking without water or food, drinking copious amounts of liquor without a care, really has to stop. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying spirits and wonderfully-crafted cocktails in a night out with friends. Nothing wrong with pairing champagne cocktails with a culinary delight. But when you’re grabbing beer and champagne to wash down your burger and fries, you might want to take a step back. Slow down and realize that everything has a time and place. Certain cocktails are for a certain time. Certain spirits go better at specific times — there’s a reason there’s an aperitif as opposed to a digestif. You don’t need them all, all the time. Take a minute and get Mother Nature’s favorite beverage in your system; it just might save your life.
Rest in power, Whitney.
Steve Jobs changed the world through his company, Apple. Many effects have been mentioned over the last couple of days, especially in the worlds of technology, product design, and music. HP has the claim of making the computer “personal”, but Apple probably made it “friendly”, establishing higher levels of kinship and interaction between people and devices than everything but the car and the toaster — well, maybe they’re a step above the toaster.
What about their influence in the spirits world? Not so much directly, although there was talk about a program called “Cocktail” that would have been a collaborative project between Apple and major record labels to offer more iTunes information that traditionally came in the form of the album insert — photos, lyrics, etc. No idea why it was codenamed “Cocktail”, but the connection still remains. The most tangible connection is through technology, as the proliferation of the smartphone and its apps has allowed budding cocktail newbies and lifelong imbibers to discover new ingredients, find new places, and share information. How many seminars have you attended where the presentation is on an iPad? When was the last time you consulted your iPhone about drinking hotspots in a certain part of town? If Jerry Thomas had a Mac or an iPhone, his recipes wouldn’t have needed rediscovering — they would have been all over the world for generations!
So one last cheers to Steve Jobs for really changing the way we communicate today. This article came up with a lovely Laird’s cocktail for when he stepped down as CEO, and renewed it for when Jobs passed the other day. Maybe you can quaff one this weekend while you’re enjoying The Congenial Hour on your i(fill in the blank). Make it congenial!