I haven’t met many varieties of alcohol I didn’t like, but whiskey is my favourite. It will get you plastered, certainly, if that’s what you’re looking for, but drinking it solely to get drunk is really quite a waste; it is best when savoured slowly, and well worth the time and patience to learn the distinct qualities of the different brands and types, be it American, Canadian, Scottish, Irish, or Japanese, single malt or blended, rye, Kentucky bourbon, etc. (If you want to know what decent whiskey tastes like, avoid the aberration that is Fireball at all costs.)
It still has a reputation for being a man’s drink, which is a pity; happily, this seems to be changing. (There is an organization dedicated to introducing more women to whiskey in its many forms, and cocktails made therefrom, called Women Who Whiskey. If you’re interested and over 21, do join up.) If you’ve ever watched Mad Men, you’ll know what an old fashioned is, but there are many, many more whiskey cocktails to enjoy. It also makes a good digestif and is awesome in Irish coffee, although I strongly recommend not trying this if you have anything you need to focus on in the following hour or two, and workplaces generally frown on the practice. With good reason. I personally believe that it’s demented to spend more than two or three hundred dollars on anything meant to be eaten or drunk, unless doing so for charity, but when it comes to whiskey I do at least understand the pricing given the aging process, the rarity of older whiskeys, and the fabulous decanters used for some of them. Happily a good quality bottle of scotch can be had for $40 or so.
So if you haven’t tried a good whiskey before (and you’re old enough to do so and not driving afterwards–seriously, I can get tipsy on a couple of mouthfuls on an empty stomach, and I drink often enough to have a moderate tolerance), make this your week to ask a trusted bartender or knowledgeable friend to recommend you one. My current personal favourites that are commonly available are Glenmorangie, Highland Park, Maker’s Mark, Knob Creek, and Redbreast; everyone has their own. On Tuesday evening we might all need one.
I’ve never been much of a fan of reality TV, with one exception–I try to watch at least one episode of any historical reenactment series I come across. (Some turn out to be dreadful, and I abandon them.) I haven’t seen them all, but I’ve found several over the years. I’ve been interested in history all my life, particularly in how people lived with different social mores and without the medical and technological advances that we enjoy. (I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a huge fan of costume dramas?)
This is by far the best of the lot, as far as I’m concerned, although I don’t think the term “documentary” really applies, and “The Supersizers Go…”, a reference to Morgan Spurlock’s torturing himself by (allegedly) eating only McDonald’s food for a month, isn’t the best of titles. That said, I really really wish I’d found it sooner.
The show follows Giles Coren, a food critic, and Sue Perkins, a comedian and now co-host of the Great British Baking Show, while they spend a week at a time eating, dressing, and investigating the hobbies, fads, and social constraints of specific time periods. The first series is devoted to different eras in British history; the second includes a few other places in Europe.
I suppose it’s ostensibly a cooking show as much as anything–it goes into cooking methods, serving styles, and eating habits in considerable detail, and employs professional chefs to recreate dishes from each period. Each episode starts and ends with a doctor assessing how the week’s diet has impacted the participants (this is the only similarity to Spurlock’s documentary). In the interim, there is some eating, some dressing up, and Coren and Perkins try out unusual activities such as trying to seduce a (very patient) volunteer with foods thought to be aphrodisiacs in the eighteenth century and applying cosmetics from eras past. There is also a lot of drinking. A lot of drinking. Sometimes at every meal. Because Britain’s reputation as a nation of heavy drinkers is not a new thing–even during the centuries when most of Europe drank beer at every meal because water and milk were unsafe unless boiled, the British were accused of drinking too much.
It is hilariously funny.