I drink hard liquor. I always have.
My history with hooch isn't exactly storied. When I began drinking, I tested the waters to find what I liked best. Beer is fine, but filling. White wine makes me morose.
Red wine makes me slutty. Usually this sluttiness is self-directed. Meaning, after a few glasses of red wine I am most likely to be found purring into a mirror and complimenting my own tannin-stained gullet while trying to cop a feel. It's probably for the best that there's no one else involved. I say this recalling an unfortunate incident wherein I worked through a bottle of the stuff on my own and then decided Cool Ranch Doritos in excess were a good choice. Spoiler alert: They were not, my friends. They were not.
So it was that I discovered liquor through a process of elimination. I was like a scientist. When I turned 18, I "decided" to try alcohol in order to better prepare myself for a full and enriching college career. I downed a vodka tonic, loudly pronounced it had ne'er an effect on me, and then slammed my glass down, shattering it like I was auditioning for a minor role in an all-lady adaptation of "Trainspotting." Then I went home crying and put a towel on my head for strategic soothing purposes. Clearly this was not my drink.
Having overindulged, I took a step back. In fact, I didn't have another drink until half-way through my first year of college where I resolved to get back on the party wagon. And by party wagon I mean, my best friend's dorm room with gin and tonics and a viewing of Gone With The Wind. I got tipsy and expounded upon the evils of the antebellum South. Granted, I also shared that I'd forgive Rhett Butler all his ills for one tumble down my "ornate, velvet-covered staircase" -- always a solid choice. Wild times, y'all.
From there, everything got a little better (the notable exception being my brief love affair with Boone's "You Guys I Think I Have a Problem And That Problem Is Disgusting" Farm). Oh sure, there were cringe-worthy moments to be sure, but for the most part I had found my groove. That groove was gin. I liked to think, as I sipped mine, that somewhere while I busied myself pining for that week's unattainable Weezer-lovin' puka-shell-wearing hottie, that Queen Elizabeth was also sipping at her gin-based tipple, solving the world's problems.*
When I started graduate school, I matured. By which I mean, I panicked at being a minority as a young, female writer, and thus let the older dudes try to teach me about Scotch. Thinking about it now I chortle and then die of shame. As they tried to explain about fermentation, about barley and mash, about the inherent earthiness of the stuff, I just focused on nodding, not grimacing and grappling with the most important question of all: Why were these jerks making me drink something that tasted like wrong-bacon?
Before I could even make this excellent joke I caught the expressions on the faces of the dudes I was drinking with and got the answer to my question. Their eyes were bright, they couldn't hide their smirks. The guys around me were waiting for my moue of distaste -- after all, scotch is for men. I heard this and my born-stubbornness nudged my natural inclination to queer peoples' norms and lo, I decided to drink scotch.
It had nothing to do with an instant love it. It was bullheadedness at the start. I did it to prove I could. I did it because when it comes to booze there is nothing more purportedly 'manly' than the love of a fine Scottish whiskey. I did it because the Scotch meant a lot more to me than Scotch, and I was still groping around in the dark, struggling to find my feet as a feminist. Of course, then I started to learn about the stuff -- to like it, grow a taste for it, and appreciate it all on my own. I began to like Dewar's more than the expression on the face of a bar-tender when I ordered it.
My drink of choice stopped being a feminist issue and started just being me doing what I wanted. That's how it should go with the things we fight for. Eventually, they should just become part of our everyday realities, not stands we take. I could almost forget the origins of why I started drinking the stuff. Usually I do -- I blame that on the S-s-s-s-scotch**.
During the holidays, though, it's a little trickier to forget the origin of my passion. That's because Dewar's itself advertises with the following tagline: Drink Like a Man. Just run a quick internet search for Scotch and you'll be hit with all sorts of websites dedicated to "manliness." I swear to god, after 5 minutes of research I could feel the coils of brawny chest hair erupting upon my copious bosom.
Now that I really like Scotch, this mode of advertising made me angry -- because the booze was challenging, it was masculine? What does drinking like a dude even mean, anyway? Because I have two brothers, and they are both super into cider so there's that.
Frankly, both genders should be offended. Men should be annoyed at the implied idea that if they aren't drinking Scotch they are less-than on some totally borked chart of supposed masculinity, and women should be pissed that this ridiculous cave-of-man replete with peaty drinks and cigars still exists and is still verboten.
*I know, I know THE MONARCHY DOES NOT WORK THAT WAAAAAY