Drinking the Bottom Shelf: Old Crow Bourbon

Drinking the Bottom Shelf

Will Gordon drinks his way through the bottom shelf of the liquor store...so you don’t have to.


Last Friday night I did laundry like a common sucker, but then I went to the grocery store and took advantage of a three-for-one special on chicken thighs. I considered this a wildly successful trip outside, as mid-February trips outside go, the sort of trip a man ought celebrate with a bottle of Old Crow.

When I got home to display my bounty, I was not greeted in a manner befitting my status as Conqueror of Laundry, Hunter of Sharply Discounted Meat, and Gatherer of Cheap Bourbon. Instead, all I got was, "Why would they give three pounds of chicken to anyone who agreed to pay for one pound of chicken? Do you suppose there might be something wrong with the chicken?"

Well, yes, from the bird's perspective, I suppose it might be "wrong with the chicken" to be dead in our freezer until such time as I see fit to turn it into pot pie innards.

Weird that a woman who doesn't even like puppies would take the dead chicken's side in this, but I didn't have time to dwell on it, what with all the clean socks to wear and bourbon to drink.

"Yeah, I know it's kind of dodgy to stock up on buy-one-get-two-free meat, but chicken doesn't grow on trees, or maybe it does, but regardless, its thighs usually grow up to cost three times what I just paid, so let's think happy thoughts and drink Old Crow. Darling," said I, in the name of peace and reason and finally getting down to the drinking part of a Friday night that had been in full dark swing for two hours already.

"But I was going to get you bourbon for Valentine's Day," she said. Isn't that thoughtful? Well, except for the outrageous implication that the bottle I brought home on Friday automatically precluded her from bringing more home on Monday. I am very lucky that the young lady does a lot more drinking than she does judging, but I still run into the occasional teaching moment wherein I must explain that the earth wouldn't stop spinning if a person came into simultaneous possession of two bottles of bourbon.

Don't worry, the world won't end, Grey's Anatomy will still be on next week—even if God forbid a hard-working man were to—

"Yes," she said. "Let's drink Old Crow."

I fear I've been misleading you fine people for the past couple months with all my talk of tequila and rum and weird dairy products that get mailed to me in test tubes. I like all that stuff, but if left to my own devices, I'd just stick with whiskey on every liquor-drinking day. The only whiskey I don't like is Jack Daniel's, which we'll address somewhere down the line when this column devolves into Sobbing Uncontrollably as You Smash Everything on the Bottom Shelf.

Other than Jack, I love it all to such an extent that I even have a theme song, just like any other pro wrestler or delusional narcissist might.

I used to drink Eagle Rare, but that was back in the golden days of yore when I had disposable income and a blissful ignorance of fluctuations in the chicken parts market. Our household has to limp through another couple lean months until my research assistant graduates into the lucrative world of whatever it is she's studying, and at $12 a fifth, Old Crow is the sturdiest support I've found.

Old Crow claims to be "The Original Sour Mash," which is ominous given my hatred for originality and Jack Daniel's, but whatever the label's trying to threaten doesn't turn out to be a problem in the glass. Cheap bourbon tends to be meek, but I could smell my cup of Crow from a couple feet away even though Friday's cleaning day and the air was thick with bleach. (My research assistant might not be much of a chicken shopper, but she's a world-class eradicator of dust and disorder.)

I don't like to put a lot of thought into untangling the specific flavors of my bargain whiskey, but I paid attention this time and decided that Old Crow smells like candy corn and sweet orange tea, and it tastes like buttered toast. Doesn't that sound nice?

Higher liquor authorities deride Old Crow for its short finish, and I agree that it doesn't stick around for long post-swallow, but I don't mind. I'm not looking for $12 bourbon to take over my evening. I just want it to cool out on the coffee table, waiting patiently for me to find some time between bites of burrito and rants about chicken.

About the Author: Will Gordon is an itinerant reader and writer who's not above slinging drinks or pushing commas to pay life's various tabs. He likes cheese and bacon, but not as much as the rest of you weirdos seem to.