I’m so very excited to have been interviewed by Drinking Diaries as part of their series on women and drinking. Check out the whole site, which features commentary on women and booze culture. A bit of my interview:
How do you approach alcohol in your every day life?
I’m a writer most of the time, but I also work in the booze business, as a sort of Jill-of-all-trades for Atsby Vermouth, a craft vermouth company in New York. Part of my job is to drink — to meet bartenders and consumers, to see what’s going on in the cocktail and spirits world, and to have a solid knowledge of wines, spirits and other products. I like to drink, and take great pleasure in sipping on something nice — now that it’s fall, I’m drinking a lot of our Armadillo Cake vermouth, and I love sherries and amari and of course red wine (the Smith & Vine $12-and-under table is my weeknight go-to; I upgrade for fancier events). Rye whiskey and bourbon are my favorite heavier spirits, and they go nicely with the colder weather (I can’t wait until I receive my first DramBox). But since drinking is part of my job, much of the time I’m out drinking I’m also representing the company I work for; many other times, I’m meeting with editors or fellow writers, people I consider colleagues and will likely have a professional relationship with in the future (and I live in New York — you never know who you’ll meet sitting next to you). So I’ve learned to drink well without getting hammered. Since I drink a lot of spirits when I’m out, at home I stick to wine and fortified wines, like vermouth. And when I’m out at a cocktail bar, I’ll have maybe one high-proof cocktail and then sip on lower-proof concoctions — which, because they’re often made with vermouth, sherry, amaro or other super-herbal, flavorful components and because it takes a skilled bartender to know how to work with those products well, are often some of the more complex, interesting items on the menu.
Americans have a pretty disordered relationship with alcohol, and I think women in particular are especially divided between this pull to keep up with macho, bro drinking culture — which means downing a bunch of crappy booze simply for the purpose of getting really drunk or proving how much you can consume (because beers pounded corresponds with penis size, or something?) — and social pressures to always be trying to achieve a physical ideal, which means trying to be thin. So you have these very questionable “skinny” diet booze products marketed at women, which come in colors found nowhere in nature and are full of chemicals and artificial sweeteners, or you have women who are a little more sophisticated and wouldn’t be caught dead drinking a glorified wine cooler downing vodka sodas so they can get drunk without getting fat. It’s not a healthy way to view drinking. And of course as an American woman I’m somewhat susceptible to the underlying idea, that I need to be hyper-vigilant about what I choose to eat or drink lest I gain weight. That’s such a depressing and exhausting way to live! Food and drink shouldn’t be catalysts for guilt, but so much of the way we talk about them drips with shame. We’re obsessed with the “obesity epidemic,” we “cheat” on our diets, if we eat something caloric we’ve been “bad,” chemical-laden diet foods are marketed as “ok” to indulge in. Fuck that. Feed yourself things that taste good and make your body feel good. Drink things that taste good in ways that make your body feel good. You’re on the planet once, in one body. Be nice to it. Let it feel good.
What do you like most about drinking?
I love the relaxation, and how sharing a drink can be a wonderful way to bond with someone. I’ve found that sharing social experiences makes for a deeper connection — so an evening trying out new wines or cocktails is a great way to foster a relationship. And of course the taste of a great wine, spirit or cocktail. The immensity of pleasure that human beings are capable of experiencing through taste is a remarkable gift. I try to embrace that in how I eat and drink, and remain grateful for it by eating and sipping on exceptional things made with care.
I’d be curious to hear how Feministe readers would answer those same questions. What’s your relationship with alcohol? Who or what influenced it? Does gender or other identity factors influence how (or if) you drink?