Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ask the Bartender : Advice Column #8

Hey Bartender!
My girlfriend's a blast when she's drunk. Unfortunately, she's drunk most of the time. I don't drink a lot, but I've started drinking more since I've been seeing her. When she's sober, she's still a nice girl, but nowhere near the firecracker she can be when she's lit. Am I headed for trouble?

It's hard to say what the trouble might be. If she's a raging drunk who can't have social interaction without being wasted, she probably needs help that you can't give her. If you cared about her, you'd encourage her to seek this help, and help her detox. Before you tell your girlfriend that she's an alcoholic (to which she could become rather defensive), try asking her if she would go on a detox with you for two weeks. Tell her that you feel like you've been drinking a lot lately, and want her support by joining you in a two week no-drinking healthy binge. Self-declared "healthy" drinkers do this often. It proves to them that they aren't alcoholics, and gets rid of the build up of toxins in their systems. It's a good litmus to see how alcohol dependent she is, and know how much control she has over her drinking. Often people drink to deal with other problems in their lives, and during detox they have to confront those problems. Detox is a supportive time, where the two of you might get to know each other better and bond as a couple. Perhaps you can learn to see the drunken firecracker in her subtleties, not just her outbursts.

If she drinks socially because she can't "let loose" without the booze, you might want to help her feel better about herself so she felt confident enough to not need the alcohol. Being drunk, in my vast experience both as a drinker and a referee of the wasted, doesn't give you new characteristics, just brings out the ones which you already have. Mean drunks tend to be mean people. Happy drunks tend to hold back their enthusiasm in their sober interactions. Sad drunks rely on the alcohol as a crutch to express or aid their sorrows. It's a great sign that she's a "blast" when she's drunk. Generally, I would take it to mean that her sober "nice girl" routine will blossom into a barrel of fun as she becomes more comfortable with you, and herself. Relationships are about becoming the people you want to be, while learning and supporting each other during this process. If she's dating you, who doesn't drink much, a part of her probably desires to down shift her habits, or she would dump you for the dude who wants to do shots constantly. That guy, let me tell you, isn't going to have a week of rehab until his doctor explains why his kidneys are failing.

Perhaps the problem isn't hers- but yours. If you're bored, then you're boring. Do you tell her that you like her more when she's drunk? I hope not- it won't help make her feel more secure around you. I also hope you don't want to date someone who acts crazy when they are sober- wanting that relationship is less healthy than being a raging drunk. You should be so happy that she's nice when she isn't drinking, and a blast when she is. This girl sounds rad to me. It's unlikely you're going to find a firecracker that doesn't drink.

I think the real problem here isn't her drinking. It's that you feel upstaged by how awesome she is when she's drinking, and how nice she is when she isn't. That sweet combo could scare the pants off any boy, and make them try to find problems with the cool girl. I suspect she's not an alcoholic, and will detox and talk your ear off about why she drinks and why she likes you. You better come up with some replies that don't have to do with wasted table dancing. Exciting is nice, but nice is much more exciting.

When the detox is over, and you're convinced that she's the coolest girl in the world. First drink back, order yourself a sidecar. Yes, you are the boy in the sidecar to the cool girl who you admire and adore. This drink was designed to warm your bones and give a pre-dinner tartness. Make sure you get high shelf ingredients, because cutting corners wrecks the drink. Pour two ounces of brandy, one ounce of cointreau, and half an ounce of lemon juice into a shaker with ice, shake, and strain into a cocktail glass. Be proud of how fun your girlfriend is, because enjoying your time with her is what matters the most.

Hey Bartender!

One of my friends is currently dating a nerdy/arty guy who just left for Ecuador for the week. He wrote a short email that basically just said "hey, going to Ecuador, see you when i get back." She's flipping out cause she thinks it's over - the kicker is that they've only been on two dates. She's obviously over-reacting, but what should she drink?

You're totally right; she is over-reacting. She needs to play it cool and wait for him to call her when he returns. She's making up drama where there is none. Instead of talking herself into a terrible emotional state, put something complicated in her mouth- order her a tailspin. It's a cocktail full of flavors that she can think about instead of dooming her budding relationship with this adventurer. The best recipe I've found for this drink comes from 3/4 ounce Gin,
3/4 ounce Sweet Vermouth, 3/4 ounce Green Chartreuse, and a dash of Campari. Stirred with ice then strained into a glass to be garnished with a lemon peel and a cherry. Some other people use a dash of orange bitters in place of the Campari- most bars don't stock a variety of bitters though, and the Campari works like a charm. This drink should send a little shiver of pause down your friend's spine. Try to get her to think about something else, and let this boy either happen or not, on his own timeline or terms.

Nerdy art boys tend to need a little space in the beginning. She might want to send him an email while he's down there, to pick her up a bottle of Aguardiente, or fire-water, a sugar cane derived liquor well loved in that part of the world which is used to make several sweet, cinnamon rich drinks. It's bound to guarentee a third date, where he tells her excitedly about his travels, and how he was thinking of her too.

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