I hate wasting food and drink. If I live long enough to be inducted into the Assistant Little League Coaches' Hall of Fame, I will owe it all to my juicer, which I bought solely to avoid throwing out neglected vegetables. Every Sunday morning I buy every green thing at the farmer's market, and every Saturday I turn it into juice that surely counteracts the week I spent chugging Trader Joe's frozen burritos.
'Eyewitness Booze Investigation' on Serious Eats
Drinks editor Maggie whipped up a lot of Cinco de Mayo coverage recently, which led her to write what is both the kindest and cruelest email I've ever received: "I would give you so much good tequila if you were here right now." The kindness is obvious and the cruelty comes in the implied follow-up: "But since you're outside of hand-delivery range and there's no such thing as UPS, how about if I just forward you a press release about a new mayonnaise-flavored vodka?" But though I'm sometimes frustrated by my inability to extract decent booze from Serious Eats, for the most part I've made peace with the fact that all I can expect from this gig are fame, fortune, and corned beef schnapps.
Tomorrow I'm meeting an old friend for lunch and I couldn't be more excited or less excited. I am exactly the right amount of excited: very extremely to be seeing one of my favorite people for the first time in at least five and perhaps as many as 100 years; and not-at-all-god-please-why to be going to Border Café in Harvard Square.
I tend to select my friends more for their entertainment value than their utility. When I filled out the "Meet the Will" questionnaire a couple months ago, the only question that stumped me was the one about which friend I rely on for restaurant recommendations. I had to invent a person, because I generally avoid counting on my friends for anything more taxing than drinking all my beer and over-hugging my fiancé.
I don't know much about you beautiful beasts, but I do know you read certain parts of the Internet because that's how we became friends in the first place. So I trust you've heard that "This American Life" had to apologize for faking parts of a story about how awful working conditions are at Apple-affiliated factories in China.
Bottom Shelf research director Emily came down with a sore throat Monday afternoon, which gave me a rare and welcome opportunity to play heroic caregiver. I don't get a lot of chances to nurse Emily back to health, because she's fairly sturdy, plus she works with a bunch of doctors and also believes a little too strongly in the healing powers of Advil and detective shows.
It's finally turned winter in Boston, so I had to trade my bike in for a bus pass. This was initially devastating, but then I realized it was an excuse to get one of those superphones that prevent you from ever making accidental eye contact with a fellow human being. So that was good, until it led to more bad: You know all those people staring at their phones on the bus? I'd always assumed they were looking at porn or reading Serious Eats, but it turns out they're busy beating the hell out of me at Words with Friends, the fake Scrabble game that is disproving everything I thought I knew about the English language, things such as "Will has a firm command of it" and "Quok is not a word."
I don't really like dessert, which is ridiculous and valid grounds for my immediate dismissal, but hear me out. I like to eat before dinner and I like to drink after dinner, and I've just never accounted for a traditional dessert in my overindulgence regimen. Now, if you're talking about a dessert you can eat with a straw, then maybe you're starting to talk some sense.
In late fall of 2008, my overseer at one of the filthy and rich companies for which I write fibs gave me a bottle of Jameson 18-Year-Old Limited Reserve. I wrote my benefactor a sincere and heartfelt thank-you Post-It and squirreled the bottle away for a special occasion, and then I realized that getting a free bottle of high-end whiskey is pretty special and oh did I have myself an occasion. Then it was Christmas for the next six weeks and then it was New Year's, and by the time I got around to checking my email in the 15-minute break between the Super Bowl and St. Patrick's Day, I was no longer that company's favorite freelancer. It happens.
If you don't have a glass to pour your drink into—and why would you?—then you're better off with something that comes preassembled. But should that something be established category leader Four Loko, or Gila Brewing's plucky upstart, Crunk Juce? (Assuming, of course, that it must be something with an intentionally misspelled name: Premium malt beverages are for people who party hard and spell harder!)
One thing that will be different is that I'll finally get to drink a real mint julep. Yup, I'm a bourbon-loving, track-going, Kentuckian-befriending booze columnist who's never had a proper mint julep. Look, I'd be all for drinking mint and complication if someone else wanted to do the herb gathering and ice shaving, but no one in my life ever has. The people who make Early Times Kentucky Whisky make a premixed facsimile, though, and the people who market it sent me a bottle. Close enough?
My whole life has been an elaborate series of shortcuts and weasel-outs, but even I get pedantic when it comes to assembling a proper margarita. You need to use real fruit!!! And if you're not going to spring for Cointreau or Grand Marnier, just skip that step. But since even my pedantry is rimmed with laziness, it should come as no surprise that I'm not dead set against the idea of premixed cocktails.
I like Jack and Coke more than I like Jack or Coke. The Coke is strong enough to mask a little bit of the extra-sweet charcoal funk that sets Jack apart from other mid-shelf American whiskies, and the Jack is alcohol-havin' enough to justify drinking soda this far along into my dotage.
Though I am unabashedly pro-cow, I avoid milk. But what if it's chocolified and alcoholified? In that case, it's a new 40-proof hooch called Adult Chocolate Milk, and it's much better than I thought it'd be.