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The Imbiber: Drink Like a Man
  • November 29, 2011 : 20:11
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I once knew a guy from South Philly named Denny Capriotti. He was a former Golden Gloves boxing champ turned, ahem, "collection agent." Everybody called him Knuckles. There were two certainties whenever you hit the town with Knuckles and his crew: 1) You were gonna get drunk, and 2) you were gonna get into a brawl. Sometimes we were the ones savagely beaten, but most of the time—due in large part to Knuckles’s proficiency in the sweet science—the other guys got the worst of it.

I lost touch with Knuckles in my early 20s, around the time I realized my future lay in rearranging words, not faces. To this day, though, I still credit him with teaching me some extremely valuable lessons. He gave me pearls of wisdom like “never take a swing at someone when you're wearing a nice watch." He'd had too many bands break on him and wanted to spare me the pain. Another of his: "Never go bowling in shorts." This one I can't explain, but I know instinctively that it's true. And Knuckles gave me one more rule that has become one of the primary guiding principles of my close personal relationship with alcohol. To wit: "Drink like a fucking man, man!"

As it turns out, though, this extremely simple rule is not always so simple to follow. Where exactly do you draw the line when it comes to separating manly from metrosexual? Or separating metrosexual from something you might see Steven Cojocaru sipping at a Gaultier show after-party during Fashion Week? (And believe me we know, if you’re the sort who might actually be at a Gaultier after-party during Fashion Week, then you don’t need us to tell you how to drink.)

Sometimes it's simple. There are drinks that are impossible to sissify. Scotch rocks. Bourbon rocks. A Manhattan. Draft beer. Tequila shots. And then there are those calls that fall right on the line. For instance, from time to time I enjoy a premium vodka with soda water on the rocks with a squeeze of lime. It’s refreshing, gets you drunk and isn't nearly as caloric as beer. Plus, I’d argue vodka is quintessential hard-guy hootch, the spirit of choice among Russian mobsters and burly professional hockey players with names like Vladimir and Uwe. However, others will tell you the high-priced vodka-soda-lime combo is better left to neutered yuppies and supermodels. Believe me, if Knuckles wanted to make an issue of it, I'd switch to Jameson in a hot minute.

But there are some rules for men's drinking that everyone can agree on. Such as the fact that it’s never acceptable to order a cocktail the color of a Smurf (or any other Saturday morning cartoon character, for that matter). But even for that we need an exception. Namely, the frozen rum drink, which is acceptable if and only if you’re on a beach or poolside in an exotic locale with a hot chick and she orders one too. Note, this applies to daiquiris only. Pina Coladas are the banana hammocks of tropical adult beverages. Just don't go there.

You see how complicated it becomes, and how quickly? Just in case, here's a chart.

There are a few easy ones, though, such as: Man shall consume no “tini” save a martini, the way God—and the Rat Pack—intended. And that means gin, bub. The vodka martini is the bastard child of Jay McInerny, the dotcom crash and bars with interior designers on call.

Then there’s the delicate conundrum of how to handle a situation where a known badass—someone who could easily mop the floor with anyone in the room—orders off the swishy side of the drinks menu. Is it okay for the rest of us to follow suit, or does the Male Code of Conduct call for a potentially painful confrontation?

A few years back I found myself hunkered down with Sugar Ray Leonard on a Saturday night in a private booth at a Las Vegas nightclub. Though the legendary boxer had not fought professionally in quite some time, he appeared to be in tip-top shape—or at least in good enough shape to beat the pants off a mouthy out-of-shape booze writer. So it was with a fair amount of trepidation that I called him out on what I observed to be some surprisingly lightweight drinking habits.

“No mas!” I shouted, harking back to Ray’s most memorable encounter with Roberto Duran. I was referring to the Cape Codders he kept ordering (for the record, it’s the cranberry juice, not the vodka, that makes it girly).

“What’s wrong with Cape Codders? I really enjoy them,” Ray replied, instantly topping my list of Top 10 Things I Never Thought I’d Hear a Guy Who Kicked Marvin Hagler’s Ass Say.

“You’re one of the toughest fighters of all time, man. You should be drinking something harder than Cape Codders! Can I interest you in a Rusty Nail, perhaps?” I instinctively looked at his watch and was relieved to find he was wearing a top of the line Movado. Still, I feared it was only a matter of time before the words “Shirley Temple” came out of the mouth of the guy who once TKO’d Tommy “The Hitman” Hearns. Who knew what would happen after that.

“Well,” Sugar Ray said thoughtfully as our waitress sized me up for my casket, “I like Cabernet too. Two glasses?”

Relief washed over as I recalled something else Knuckles told me a long, long time ago. "Real Men do drink wine… but only red, and only on Sundays." I peered over at Ray’s Movado. Half-past midnight. In the clear. We ordered a bottle and polished it off like champs. Good thing for him, too. I've got a killer right hook I like to follow with my cower-in-the-corner-and-beg-for-mercy.

read more: lifestyle, alcohol, the imbiber

4 comments

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    There is nothing quite like a nice smokey, single malt scotch with a smooth cigar, accompanied with a beautiful woman.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    I think "Scotch" should be replaced with "Whisk/e/y". There are some great Bourbons and Irish blends that can definitely hold their own against Scotch
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    ummm vodka tonic, gin tonic deff comes after beer this is dumb as fuck
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Johnny Walker and ice no matter the weather. Accompanied by your favorite cigar or pipe tobacco. Strait is the gate and narrow the path, few there will be that will find it.
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