Will Gordon's Bottom Shelf Caloric Journey

Drinking the Bottom Shelf

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


Welcome to a Very Special Episode of Drinking the Bottom Shelf. Today I will be working off a gambling debt to Serious Eats Overlord Ed Levine, and we will all be learning valuable lessons about kale juice, mortality fears, and betting against a man with the words Serious and Overlord in his job title.

Ed is a fan of the New York Giants; I am a fan of the New England Patriots. These two teams played each other in the Super Bowl six weeks ago, and Ed and I wagered on the outcome: If the Patriots won, he would sit in on our next malt liquor tasting and then write a Bottom Shelf column about whatever trivialities were floating through his wrecked brain the next morning. If the Giants won, I would do a cover version of Ed Levine's Caloric Journey. Follow me.

I've spent most of my adult life between 2 and 14 pounds overweight, with the target weight being a hypothetical number, since I don't weigh myself often, and maybe I'm really 30 pounds overweight on my best days and roll around in a permanent state of greasy, obesey denial. But that's not the point. The point is that despite my poor impulse control and fattening career choices, I manage to keep things relatively in check thanks to a very lucky love of vegetables combined with a reasonable patience for exercise. Oh, and vanity. Thank god for vanity.

But even though I'm generally content with the state of my physical affairs, I've decided that this Year of the Monkey is going to be dedicated to getting into actual real live good shape. I'm talking about total inside-out healthiness, not just the "Screw it, pants fit" variety.

Operation Don't Die is off to a strong start, because it's pretty easy to control what goes into my body during the winter. I know most people tend to gain weight in winter but I'm usually on the opposite seasonal schedule, because I cook very healthfully year-round, and I rarely go out to eat when it's cold outside. Bottom Shelf research director Emily and I spend the winter subsisting on root soups and white meats. But it's almost springtime now, which means soon we'll be going to restaurants again, and I've never had any restraint at all when eating out, especially when alcohol is involved.

I drink less than you think, but I still drink more than I should. My alcohol intake isn't high enough to cause any direct health problems, meaning my liver and kidneys and all that are fine. But my drinking leads to all sorts of indirect health risks, primarily those related to the three slices of pizza I'm prone to eat on the way home from the beer and hamburger place. I realize that's got to change if I'm going to get the most out of the next 60 years I insist on spending with Emily. She is young and thin and healthy, so it's time for her old man to make a real commitment to getting in on the healthy thinness.

Before baseball season starts I'll have to address the small matter of how to stop eating like a repulsive cheese-seeking missile every time I step foot out my front door, but for now my more immediate concern is how to atone for making beef stew—right under my own roof!—Saturday.

If there's one thing Emily loves more than chubby, wordy excuse-makers, it's holidays. She celebrates them all, even the inconsequential ones that don't commemorate her nation's freedom or her fiance's birth. So that means I owed her something festive on St. Patrick's Day. I made Caroline Ford's Guinness beef stew and it was great. And you know why I'm here living to tell about it? Because I didn't accidentally drown in the stockpot while bobbing for beef immediately after dinner. I just had one bowl and put the rest away. And that's because I didn't trust myself to drink alcohol around so much saturated fat.

But Emily can control her appetites and is therefore allowed to drink in the presence of beef stew, so I spent last week wracking my brain for clever ways to turn her beer green. I was all set to start melting Starbursts when Drinks editor Maggie came through with the perfect suggestion: Run a metric ton of mint and basil through the juicer and then add the resulting ounce of liquid to the palest beer I could find. (Actually, Maggie suggested kale juice, because Maggie always suggests kale juice, but she still gets credit for leading me down the right path.)

The herb beer was great, the stew was too, and I didn't feel gross in the morning. It turns out that one normal human serving of even the fattiest food won't wreck you. But I still busted the juicer back out and forced down a delicious and restorative glass of my signature green juice, the What's In The Fridge and Softer Than It Should Be? I think this one had cabbage, arugula, parsley, cucumber, and celery. It always makes me feel better, and I hereby pledge to drink a quart of it at least four days a week. I'll check back in with a progress report after I lose whatever bet's next.