Wrong Strategy

…or strategery, if you prefer.  Here’s the question:

To my mind, that’s a silly worry.  Unless you’re blessed with 20/20 forecasting powers, my bet is that the cost of your favorite booze will climb way beyond your poor (and probably belated) efforts to be able to invest your money to buy it at some point in the future.  (As far as I know, there’s no such thing as a Booze Index to which you can tie your savings, more’s the pity.)

The answer, of course, is to buy booze now in sufficient quantities to support your intake in your retirement years.  This is sound advice, provided that you aren’t one of those people who, if they have more booze, simply drink more of it.

Mr. Free Market, of course, has a wine cellar which would even satisfy a hundred Richard Burtons;  but being the crafty sod that he is, he stores it not at Freemarket Towers, but in a climate-controlled room at a remote location a hundred miles away.

However, we are not all like him, not having access to his bloated plutocratic fortune;  and if I read the situation correctly, even if any of my Loyal Readers do have a climate-controlled room, it’s most likely filled with guns, ammo and SHTF supplies.

Nevertheless, I recommend stockpiling booze now, rather than hoping that your retirement savings will be able to sustain your alcohol needs in the future.  And for those interested in such things, I rather think that putting away a case of (e.g.) J&B or Maker’s Mark (~$240) each month will be a guarantee of future Booze Self-Sufficiency.

And if you happen to snuff it prematurely, the remainder would be an excellent (and tax-free) inheritance for your Wretched & Ungrateful Heirs as they climb over your still-warm corpse and begin pillaging your house.

Just a thought.

Moderation, Sort Of

Glenn’s article in the NY Post  got me thinking about booze and work, as it has always pertained to me and the companies I’ve worked for.  Here’s an historical perspective:

It isn’t an exaggeration to say that civilization came from alcohol. Before agriculture was invented, hunter-gatherers brewed beer from wild grains. It’s more likely that agriculture came from a desire to have a steady supply of beer than from efforts to produce more bread.
Given the downsides, alcohol consumption must also offer some advantages, Slingerland reasons, else it would have died out. But it hasn’t. In fact it’s hard to find successful civilizations that don’t use alcohol — and those few that qualify tend to replace it with other intoxicants that have similar effects.

And later on:

Drinking doesn’t just make us feel good, it also makes us get along better, cooperate more effectively and think more expansively. Silicon Valley companies have whiskey bars to which engineers repair when they’re stuck on a problem, companies (and even my law faculty) have happy hours, and pubs and taverns have played a vital role in bringing strangers together convivially for millennia. (When I used to hang out with Southern politicians, they didn’t trust people who wouldn’t drink with them.)

I remember once interviewing a secretary at the Great Big Research Company in Johannesburg, and towards the end of the interview, I told her that the job was hers.  Then, as I was walking her out of the office, I asked, “By the way, do you drink?”  “No,” she replied.  “You may find it a little difficult to fit in here, then,” I said.  I thought she was joking, and she thought I was joking, but as it turns out, neither of us was.  (She fit in quite fine, as it happened, because she always ended up being our designated driver, which she took in good humor mostly because not once in three years did she ever have to pay for a meal, such was our gratitude.)

I don’t trust people who don’t drink, either, unless there’s a compelling reason for that strange behavior.  (At the Great Big Advertising Agency in Chicago, one of the women was a recovering alcoholic, and I never once pressed her to drink, even though she came over to several of my booze-sodden parties at the house and enjoyed herself as much as any of us.)

Here’s my viewpoint on the matter.  I like booze.  I like the taste of it, I like how it makes me feel, and as long as I can restrain myself — something which has become a lot easier of late because hangovers absolutely flatten me — I can drink and have a great deal of fun in so doing.  (Of course, when I’m sitting at Mr. Free Market’s country palace drinking Whisky Macs, or at the King’s Arms with The Englishman pouring Wadworth’s 6X down my throat, all bets are off.)  But other than that, I’m mostly quite restrained.  I’m by nature a very gregarious man, so I don’t need booze to make me any more sociable, so it really comes down to enjoyment.  I like the little buzz, in other words.

On the other hand, booze for me is entirely a social beverage.  I absolutely cannot drink by myself.  Many’s the time I’ve come home exhausted from a day at the pit face, and opened a beer with a flourish — only to find, two hours later, half a bottle of flat beer.  But put me in a room with friends…

There’s a reason why booze is called an “adult” beverage, and it’s because one has to be an adult in its consumption.  Of course there are going to be people who abuse it;  show me any pleasurable adult activity and I’ll show you people who take it too far, and as a result we all become targets of the Puritans and scolds who bedevil our modern society.

Glenn suggests mockery for the anti-booze scolds among us, while my response would be, quelle surprise, a lot harsher.  But overall, I agree with Glenn’s point:  while booze has its downsides, let’s not forget its many upsides.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for my breakfast gin.


Strange Brew

Let me say upfront that during my lifetime I have introduced my family members to addictive substances of one kind or another.  Son&Heir is addicted to Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles, Daughter cannot resist Fry’s Turkish Delight, and so on.

But probably no other addictive substance has been so fully embraced by the entire family as the beer shandy.  It’s never been an American thing, but all over the British Empire it is consumed by the gallon, especially in hot countries like in Africa, India or Australia — and in summertime Britishland, it’s a staple.

Okay, Kim, my Murkin Readers ask, what is this strangely-named beverage?

Literally, it’s quite sample:  lager mixed half and half with “lemonade” (actually, Sprite or 7-Up).

Now before everyone heads to the john for some upchuck, let me give you a little case history.

I was walking though Covent Garden with Connie lo those many years ago, and it was quite a warm day.  So we stopped at a corner store (7-11 equivalent) and were browsing through the drinks fridge when I saw this:

“You have to try this,” I said.
“What is it?” asked my American wife.
“Beer and… 7-Up.”
“Tell you what.  I’m getting one for myself.  Have a sip, and if you like it, I’ll get you one for yourself.”
[tentative sip], then “Oh my God!  Why have you never made one of these for me before?
And we ended up having two with our sausage rolls, and getting a six-pack for the hotel room.

When we introduced our kids to the shandy back home, there was much joy and praise-singing of how wonderful we parents were, and it became a staple drink whenever we went over to Britishland, as well as at home.  (Every time I went to out Brit food store, I had to bring back a six-pack or two — until that got too expensive and I started mixing our own.)

If 7-Up/Sprite is too sweet for your taste, then use ginger beer or even ginger ale instead.

The beauty of the shandy is a many-splendored thing, so to speak.  It has low alcohol content, and if you mix it yourself, you can alter its strength simply by changing the formula to suit your taste.  (I myself prefer a 30-40% beer mix, simply so I can drink more of it.)  And it is an excellent thirst-quencher on a hot day.

Anyway, I told you all that so I can tell you this.

Of course, in this age of recipe tinkering, to the extent where we now get strawberry-flavored beer and chocolate-flavored vodka (okay, now you can go and throw up), it would only be a matter of time before some assholes decided to screw with the venerable beer shandy.  And indeed they have:

Shandy is currently undergoing an unlikely revival: part of a boom in ‘nolo’ (ie no or low-alcohol) beers, wines and spirits that has seen sales rise 50 per cent on this time last year.
It didn’t take long for canny manufacturers to realise they had a lucrative market on their hands.

And you can read the results for yourself.  (My favorite:  “It reminds me of the inside of a grandmother’s handbag — a distillation of scented tissues, Parma violet sweets and talcum powder.”)

You’re better off sticking with the classic mix:  ordinary lager (or a darker beer like a red ale, if your taste runs that way), and 7-Up (Sprite is too sweet, even for me) or Canada Dry ginger ale.  And stay away from the so-called “light” beers, because they don’t need to be watered down any more.  Ditto any craft beers, because as with any premium drink, diluting it takes away most of its character.

Amazingly, the beer I’ve found that mixes best with 7-Up is an old favorite of many people, Pabst Blue Ribbon.  (I wouldn’t drink PBR by itself for a bet, but it makes a better-than-average shandy, and it’s cheap too.)  So go ahead:  have some fun.

And don’t come running to me if, like my family, you end up semi-addicted.

Not That Kind

I’ve seen crap like this so often in the past that it just causes me a MEGO* nowadays:

This particular article, however, was accompanied by this pic:

…and I felt better about my chances immediately.

You see, I think the “sausages” to which they refer are the processed (“hot dog” or pork) kind such as made by Oscar Meyer, Ball Park, Armour et al., full of chemicals and preservatives and such.

My daily breakfast of a piece of boerewors doesn’t fall into this category at all.  Made by a butcher, it contains nothing but actual meats (exact point of origin, so to speak, anonymous), and no additional chemicals at all.  It’s a 6″-long piece of this stuff:

…plus a boiled egg, and that’s it.  (Maybe a couple of cheese curds, when we have them, for a little additional flavor.)

I actually can’t stomach processed sausages because after eating boerewors, they taste like nothing more than pulped sorta-meat.  Anyway, according to similar “studies” in the past, I should have croaked thirty years ago, as I eat a piece of boerewors almost every day;  and yet here I am.

Remember:  if you want to roll your own, there’s a Boerewors Prep link down the right-hand side of the page.  I accept no responsibility for any sudden addiction thereto.

*MEGO:  my eyes glaze over;  a sudden and acute attack of boredom.


I must confess that I’ve never understood the Brit obsession with “chip butties” (a.k.a. “chip baps”), which are simply whitebread-and-butter sandwiches with french fries inside them.  (A “bap” is a sandwich, either sliced bread or a bread roll — don’t ask, I don’t get it either.)

Carbohydrates squared.

There’s no reason why you couldn’t put fries into a sandwich, I guess, although I’ve always considered fries to be an accompaniment to a sandwich rather than its filling.  Put it down to Weird Shit That Brits Do.

However, there’s been this development:  the 1,000-calorie deep-fried chip butty, and apparently the Brits can’t get enough of it.  (No pics because… yikes.)

Even better, the deep-fried chip butty can be served with a side order of… fries.

Just when you think you’ve seen it all… although I have to tell you that I wouldn’t mind trying one, just out of academic interest.

Postscript:  In Scotland you can get deep-fried Mars Bars, but that’s just the Scots being Scottish.  And they taste just about as you’d think they’d taste:  bloody awful.