Claire's Ultimate Pairing Menu: A Review of All the Free PR Alcohol I Have Given Tinder Dates

If there is any real benefit to dating me, it's that I always have decent alcohol, and I am always willing to share.
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Claire Lower
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If there is any real benefit to dating me, it's that I always have decent alcohol, and I am always willing to share.

"Do you have anything to drink at your place?" a man, whom we will call "Jeff," asked me after several games of tabletop shuffleboard. 

"Um. Yes. A bit," I replied. 

One of the perks of my job is that I am continuously being sent bottles of alcohol to try, and, as a result, I always have something to pour if I have a visitor. In fact, if there is any real benefit to dating me, it's that I always have decent alcohol, and I am always willing to share, even if I met you by way of Tinder.

Below you will find reviews of some of the bottles I have been sent by delightful PR people, along with descriptions of the men I served them to. All names have been changed because I'm an OK human.

Maker's Mark Cask Strength

Maker's Mark Cask Strength is one of my favorite bottles I've ever been sent. If you're not familiar with the term "cask strength," it simply means that the spirit was bottled directly from the cask, rather than being diluted to a specific ABV. The sample I received was around 111 proof (an ABV of around 55%). 

Sadly, I shared this fine whiskey with someone who was not deserving of it, someone we will call "Tiger Shirt." Technically, Tiger Shirt was not a Tinder date, but a Bumble date. I have since quit using Bumble because — with the exception of Tiger Shirt — everyone on that app is perpetually on a mountain or scuba diving or refusing to wear a shirt. 

Anyway. Tiger Shirt was a cute 24-year-old who was very concerned that I was going to make fun of his T-shirts, most of which had animals on them. One evening, before meeting up, he texted me, "Please do not make fun of my leopard shirt." I ensured him I would not, but when he arrived I noticed there wasn't a leopard to be found, only white tigers. 

"Tiger Shirt," I said, unable to let this factual error go uncorrected. "Those are not leopards."

"They're not?"

"Um. No. They have stripes. Those are tigers."

"Oh," he shrugged, uninterested in the not-so-subtle differences between big cats. That was the last time we hung out. (This was not the incident that ended it all, but that's a story for another time.)

BUT BACK TO THE BOURBON. If you like Maker's Mark, and I always have, you will enjoy this cask strength stuff. It's a bit sweeter, a bit hotter, and has a bit more body than a regular bottle, and it makes a fine mixed drink (although I have enjoyed with just a bit of ice). Tiger Shirt had it mixed with ginger beer. He seemed to like it.

Josh Cellars Pinot Noir

It was my dream to share this with a dude named Josh, but I have yet to match with a Josh. Instead, I had a glass or two with a dude I'll simply call "Not Josh." Not Josh seemed really cool at first. Our first date was drinks, fries, and chicken liver mousse at one of my favorite happy hours. Not Josh had just moved to Portland and was very impressed by me. I only say this because he specifically used the word "impressive," which stuck with me. He said he loved Belle & Sebastian, so I suggested we listen to some Belle & Sebastian. "I have made an error," he later said during our listening party, "I don't know shit about Belle & Sebastian."

We each had a glass of the Pinot — I later finished the bottle while watching Game of Thrones — which Not Josh said he really liked, even though he "didn't like red wine." This is a very intense Pinot: Lots of chocolate. Lots of cherry. Very flavorful. Very good for chilling and listening to vinyl.

I hung out with Not Josh one more time, and we made plans to get pizza later that week, but then he stopped returning my texts. I later ran into him at a comedy show. It was hilarious.

Campari

Campari

Campari

Hi. You probably already know that I think Campari is perfect and flawless, and that I would write about it over and over even if they never sent me a bottle, so why, why, why would I share it with the worst Tinder date I have ever had?

(Because I was drunk, I'm guessing.)

We'll call this dude "IDK" because I literally don't remember his name, and he unmatched us as quick as he could. The date was that bad. It was a Sunday evening, and I was bored, so I agreed to meet IDK for a cocktail. (I had already had a cocktail, tbh.) He showed up, had a few himself, and told me he was a producer who had just moved to Portland from Los Angeles. He genuinely loved kale and was pretty put off by the fact that I reviewed junk food for a living. "Horror" is the best word to describe the look on his face when I told him of Mac 'n' Cheetos.

Anyway. We somehow (alcohol) ended up back at my place. I made Italian Greyhounds, which features my precious Campari. We drank them, fooled around a bit, and then IDK rushed to the bathroom to vomit. "Please change my name if you write about me," he said as he was leaving my apartment. Let none of this reflect poorly on the Campari.

Campari's slightly sweet, citrusy, bitter, and herbaceous flavor is the stuff of which my dreams are crafted. 

Beringer Founders' Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

I have no real complaints about this wine or the dude (the one I am calling Jeff) I shared it with. We played shuffleboard, he insisted on paying for my Campari and sodas, and he bought me pizza.

This Cabernet is super big and bold, and tasted kind of "woody" and "tobacco-y," with some nice berry flavor in there as well. It paired super well with the sausage and mushroom pizza.

Jeff really wanted to be written about, but I don't really want to write much more about him, because he is nice and took me to the river and buys me pizza and Thai food and alcohol even though he doesn't really drink. (He had like three sips of his wine.)

Scenes from the river.

Scenes from the river.

Those are the important details anyway.