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Maintaining A Balanced Diet - A Guide To Drinking

The domineering force of alcohol can manifest itself in the form of crippling addiction, but it can also overpower our enthusiasm as hobbyists.  I'm sure I speak for many out there when I say that my need to keep drinking is driven by my desire to taste as much as possible. The problem with curiousity however is that it killed that cat, or in this case, pickled his liver and left him a mess. There are real dangers out there for those of us who like to spend our free time traversing this deliciously intoxicating world and, when you work in an adult candy store like K&L, any dehydration or morning nausea from the previous night's antics is immediately a faint memory when the visual of our sales floor hits the retina upon arrival.  All those bottles to choose from, and so little time to drink them all.  Needless to say, I've picked up a few lessons from three years on the frontline and I'm here today to share them with you.  If you've ever felt like you need to take break from the booze, you are not alone, but moderation can keep you from this either/or precipice.  Here are my tips to stay happy, healthy, and satisfied as a professional drinker.

1) Choose The Proper Drink - If you choose to only drink spirits, you're not only withholding serious pleasure from your taste buds, you're also bombarding your kidneys, liver, and stomach lining with high-proof poison.  Selecting healthy amounts from all the major food groups can help ease some of the strain that your body undergoes in trying to purge itself of alcohol.  Part of drinking responsibly means choosing the proper beverage for the proper time.  If I'm out for an early lunch on a Saturday, I'm not going to order a glass of whiskey - I'd be knocked out before the afternoon activities even started.  Beer is definitely the correct choice, or a glass of white wine if the carbonation is too much.  Understanding which food groups are appropriate for each drinking scenario can go a long way to keeping you in check.  Plus, my affinities seem to work in phases, so it's great to have options when I've exhausted my tolerance for brown water. Drinking should not be an all-the-way or nothing exercise, so lighter options are sometimes a necessity.

2) Keep excerise the one constant - I once made the mistake of trying to work exercise into my drinking schedule and I paid the price with dizzy spells, fainting, and general fatigue.  Your exercise schedule needs to take priority and the booze fits in around it.  For example, if I go running every morning then I cannot begin drinking heavily before bedtime - it leaves no time for my body to filter out the alcohol before exercise.  I don't get home until after 7 PM and I usually am asleep by 11 so that doesn't leave much time.  Does that mean I should swallow as much elixer as possible between 7:30 and 8:15 as possible, then hit the water heavily so that I pee five times before bedtime?  No, unfortunately it doesn't work (as I've tried that).  The rule is I can have either a beer or a small glass of single malt and that's it.  End of story.  Running comes first, then booze.  I usually don't run on Saturday or Sunday, so that gives me Friday and Saturday to indulge a bit. 

3) Maintain A Balanced Booze Diet - I've found that my desire to drink just about everything can in most cases keep me from overdoing it.  I had a fantastic dinner on Thursday night that ended with complete satisfaction and more-or-less sobriety.  I started with a Campari and soda, dined with a glass of red Italian wine, and ended with some Amaro.  After that I even let myself have a small glass of Springbank. The diversity of the flavors, and the anticipation of each beverage helped to keep each serving to a minimum.  Having four small drinks was more pleasing than drowning myself in two big ones because of the variety.  When I overindulge it's usually because I'm trying to finish a quantity of booze that was too large to begin with. Which leads me to my next point....

4) Don't Feel Like You Have to Finish the Bottle!! - This is perhaps the most important of the four points.  Perhaps the coolest part about buying a nice bottle of Scotch is the fact that you don't have to finish it once it's been opened.  Beer and wine unfortunately do not keep for long after oxidation so they must be drained in a matter of hours or days.  If you're all alone, a bottle of wine is simply too much.  Even a half bottle of wine to yourself results in nothing but TV for the rest of the night.  Putting the cork back in the bottle is something you should get in the habit of doing.  Wine will keep just fine for 2-3 days and most of the time will only improve over that period.  Have a glass on Tuesday, a glass on Wednesday, and a glass on Thursday rather than a bottle all at once. 

-David Driscoll

Reader Comments (3)

All good thoughts; though I generally stick to just spirits as I'm deep into the mixology game at this point. I totally agree that my need to drink more comes primarily from my desire to *taste* more.

During the week, I limit myself to one cocktail an evening; usually taken just before or after dinner. Family time in the evening and work in the morning are all the motivation I need to keep it to a single drink. Even on weekends I try to limit myself to no more than 3 drinks in a single day--and I usually keep it to 2.

There are definitely special occasions in which I imbibe more; but one of the things I enjoy is the look of disbelief on people's faces when they see my well stocked bar and learn that I maintain a single drink per evening policy--since the natural assumption is that I must be a raging alcoholic to keep that much booze in my house.

January 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Crescimanno

Brian - that's always the misconception, that interest in booze = hardcore boozing.

January 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDavid D

From Alcohol and Health, a site written and administered by Prof David J. Hanson, Sociology Department, State University of New York, Potsdam:

"Moderate drinkers tend to have better health and live longer than those who are either abstainers or heavy drinkers. In addition to having fewer heart attacks and strokes, moderate consumers of alcoholic beverages (beer, wine and distilled spirits or liquor) are generally less likely to suffer strokes, diabetes, arthritis, enlarged prostate, dementia (including Alzheimer's disease), and several major cancers."

David, your contention that a glass of whiskey is harder on us than a beer earlier in the day is very unlikely to be true. 1.5 ounces of spirits=one 12-ounce beer= a five-ounce glass of wine, right? All depending on each drink's abv, of course. This is a general guideline. And of course each person's experience of a particular type of alcohol can vary based on the person's physiology, not to mention *expectation*.

Finally, for a serious look at addiction issues--sans the destructive and stupid religious nonsense of AA and the like--please see the books of Stanton Peele. A good place to start is his website:

January 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHenry H.

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