We do get some of that in the chapter that deals with two tragedies in quick succession: 9/11, and the death of Schaap's father. She describes this time as "one huge, tangled, overwhelming knot of death and sadness and pain and love," a time during which she finds stability and support at Fish Bar in the East Village. Here, we are afforded a summary of Schaap's philosophy around drinking, one that has more to do with place than potion.
"Of course we drink for solace, we drink for comfort, and the drink does its job; it is a calmative and helpmate," she writes. "But you can drink anywhere. You can drink at home. A bar gives you more than a drink alone. It gives you the presence of others; it gives you relief from isolation. When you are a regular, it gives you community, too."
Being part of that community is harder for a woman, Schaap acknowledges, but it's safe to say that successfully infiltrating the boys' club — not as a novelty, but as an accepted friend — brings a unique perspective and sense of satisfaction. Which is why Schaap is buoyed when she serves female regulars at the Park Slope bar at which she still works one shift a week. "I think they're getting as much out of this kind of life as I once did," she says.
And you can too, provided you keep in mind Schaap's bar code of honor, which she claims to have internalized at The Pig, her watering hole of choice while at college in North Bennington, Vermont: "Be good to the people serving you drinks; be open to your fellow patrons, no matter how different they are from you. Gently mind the people you bring with you, but have authority. Have fun, but not at the expense of anyone else. A bar is never yours alone." ^
DRINKING WITH MEN | by Rosie Schaap | Riverhead | 272 pages | $26.95 | Schaap reads Friday, May 24 @ 7:30 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St, Portland | $5-10 suggested donation | 207.828.5600 | space538.org | followed by drinks and discussion with Schaap at LFK (188A State St, Portland)
FOR BOOZEHOUNDS AND BARFLYS
"I'm always reading about drink," says Rosie Schaap, who is also at work on a new non-fiction book about whiskey. If your love for liquor goes beyond whatever's on special, check out this trio of Schaap's favorite boozy reads.
• Everyday Drinking: The Distilled Kingsley Amis | by Kingsley Amis | Bloomsbury; $10 | A humorous and beloved compendium of Amis's cocktail recipes, quizzes, and columns, as well as tips to avoid a hangover and best uses for bottom-shelf brands.
• The Drunken Botanist: The Plants that Create the World's Great Drinks | by Amy Stewart | Algonquin; $19.95 | A non-fiction exploration of how various herbs, flower, fruit, and fungi are transformed into alcohol, complete with recipes and growing tips for gardeners.
• M.F.K. Fisher: Musings on Wine and other Libations | edited by Anne Zimmerman | Sterling Epicure; $18.95 | An anthology of this famous food and drink writer's ruminations on wine, aperitifs, and cocktails.