Someone teach me how to drink

Who gave you "your first alcholic dose" ? Did you know what you were ordering and why? Were you being forced to taste alcohol by a bunch of college bullies or at an office party? Did you know what would happen if you drink gin instead or rum or whisky? Did you want to know how much to consume and when?

You must have admired, and worshiped those amongst us that we know as "adults". They seem to have all of the answers. They are infallible. Some day, we too will be an "adult", and will also be a fountain of wisdom and advice. Reaching 21 is essentially that imaginary cross-over; it is when we suddenly turn into an "adult". We have most likely been driving for several years by now. We are probably living on our own, have a job, and have to shave regularly. We have arrived. We are an adult. Unfortunately, we know almost nothing about alcohol, and drinking beverages that contain it. In this subject, we are mere infants, and like infants we need long and slow training in order to acquire the necessary skills to navigate its shores. But, at the same time, we are adults. All of our past experiences have instilled upon us the need to now present ourselves with the bravado of confidence. To convince ourselves and those around us that we do in fact know it all. I expect that it is from this, that many of our drinking problems spring.

Furthermore, while parents and teachers are greatly involved with educating us about how to safely drive a car, the only drinking education we receive is informally given to us by friends and older siblings. In fact, the only formal education I ever received in school about alcohol was that it was bad. I was never really taught about different types of alcohol and their practical effects on the body until I started drinking myself. And where did this leave me?

It left me several times surrounded by people in parties, wondering if a bottle of Malt Liquor was hard alcohol or not. It left my alcohol education not to parents and teachers, but to certain members of the accounting firm where I was training for my degree, who took me and my peers under their wing and showed us the way. It left me to learn how to binge drink at parties , but not how to drink at dinners and events.

We need a system that allows us to progressively learn from our elders how to responsibly enjoy alcohol. Much like the year that we have a learner's permit, I believe that we need to have a year's worth of alcohol education. This would essentially involve granting young adults who are 18 the right to legally drink, but not the right to legally purchase alcohol and not the right to legally enter bars. During this time, 18-year-olds would be forced to drink with people who are older, and wiser, and would inevitably gain from it.

Instead we have a system in place where young adults learn about alcohol not from their parents and relatives but from their friends and siblings.

The Importance of Cocktails

To begin with, despite everything that your peers might be telling you, the purpose of drinking is not to get drunk. Yes, technically alcohol is a chemical substance that induces drunkenness, and yes, cocktails wouldn't really be cocktails without alcohol. But a properly made cocktail is so much more then just being defined by the amount of alcohol it contains. The cocktail is a form of cuisine, with interesting, exciting, and even enlightening flavor potentials.

The cocktail (and its alcohol), when taken in moderation, also has a socially relaxing effect. It comforts you, and allows you to let your guard down just a little. When you are out with friends, it adds a little bit to the fellowship of the evening. However, if you go too far, and get "ripped", then it just makes a mess of things.

An old adage goes : "Drinking just to get drunk, is like having sex just to get pregnant."

Yes, technically both are the biological intents, but if that's all you are focusing on, then you are missing out on the real enjoyment that can be had when you truly embrace the experience properly. Frankly, when you go out drinking, you should probably get "drunk" about as often as you'd like to get pregnant.


There are many aspects of the cocktail which are so far outside of your existing experiences that the only real way to deal with them is to rely on some form of training.
Gin, tequila, and whiskey can be very difficult for the budding cocktail palate to understand, much less appreciate. Brandy and rum can be a little more approachable, but still distinctly unusual. The best drinks to use as training wheels, will be those that bare a close approximation to the same flavor profiles of the drinks of your youth. Drinks flavored heavily with juices, or which are almost a soda pop, will be the easiest to accept. In fact, you can essentially take anything non-alcoholic that you might like, and simply add a shot (45 ml) of vodka to it, in order to turn it into an "adult" drink. This is essentially all that a Screwdriver is; orange juice, with a shot of vodka.

In my next blog, I will give you some cocktail recommendations to try on your first experiences with alcohol. Let`s learn how to drink.

Cocktail Nirvana believes in an experience and not a hang over. Drink responsibly.


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About Shank

Shank is a cocktail enthusiast & a self-proclaimed mixologist. He likes to experiment with spirits. He has traveled around a bit visiting hundreds of bars and tasting the buzziest of alcohols, cocktails and shooters.

Shank spent early years of his dizziness in Mumbai. He has lived in Hyderabad for long and for the past few years is chilling his glass in Bangalore.

He is currently busy spreading his love for spirits through this blog - Cocktail Nirvana.

This blog is part of his ongoing quest for fine spirits, creative cocktails and classic mixology. These online journals will capture his cocktail inventions, adventures with alcohol, trips to bars, meeting with ace mixologists, lessons in the art of drinking and much more.

This apart, ignoring good judgment, the fine folks at also allow him to take up valuable space on their portal with his words & pictures.

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