The Discriminating Lush
To drink often and to drink well: such are the dual pursuits of the discriminating lush, the drinker whose eyes rise toward the top shelf, who eschews Schlitz tallboys and whisky from the well in favor of the sophisticated, the rare, the premium, and the pricey. The unrefined boozer — the barfly, the professional — prizes quantity over quality, makes his medicine from boilermakers and Boone's, fervently and without joy. Not so our discerning imbiber.
And though this drinker favors the high-end and small-batch, there's a decided lack of snobbery. It's not about snottiness — to each his or her very own poison of choice! — it's just about standards. And as we enter the dark season, some lines from the Greek lyric poet Alkaios echo: "Damn the winter cold! Pile up the burning logs/and water the great flagons of red wine;/place feather pillows by your head, and drink./Let us not brood about hard times . . . Drink deeply, drink."
Below, a few suggestions on gifts to intoxicate the sophisticated drinker.
NORPRO 399 CHURCH KEY CAN AND BOTTLE OPENER | $3.78 | People disagree about how a bottle opener came to be called a "church key." Some argue it was an act of defiance when Prohibition ended, an old-fashioned fuck-you to the religious organizations that banned boozing in the first place. This model is as basic as you can get: traditional, functional, no needless bells and/or whistles. It's a basic building block in any drinker's life. You don't need to be showy when you're cracking open a bottle of BrewDog's End of History beer ($765), at 55 percent alcohol, with a bottle encased in a taxidermied stoat carcass. No matter what you're opening, this church key'll help unlock the door to God.
MIX-AND-MATCH SIX-PACK FROM DOWNEAST BEVERAGE | VARIES | Show the discerning boozer in your life that you’re up on beer trends with a sixer of foreign and domestic specialty brews from Downeast beverage. Staff recommendations include the Jaipur India Pale Ale from Thornbridge Brewery ($7.19), whose label invokes “Innovation. Passion. Knowledge.” Or the $3.99 Thisted Limfjords Porter/Double Brown Stout, brewed with licorice and emerging with a smoky, well-balanced flavor and smell.
Downeast Beverage | 79 Commercial St, Portland | 207.828.2337 | downeastbeverage.com
PEWTER FLASK | $59.95 | Understated and elegant, this lovely specimen — handcrafted by British company Alchemy — is kidney-shaped to slide into your pocket, no problem. According to the company web site, Alchemy "belongs to the time-honoured body of master craftsman, 'The Worshipful Company of Pewterers,' who were granted a Royal Charter in 1474 by King Edward IV for the legal manufacture of pewterware throughout England," so tippling with this flask also means tapping into some pretty serious history as well.
THE GLENLIVET 1969 CELLAR COLLECTION | $749.99 FOR 750 ML
| You might not be able to pay for it with the change from your returnables, but a 750-ml bottle of The Glenlivet 1969 Cellar Collection, available at RSVP for $749.99, is the perfect high-end gift for the single-malt scotch lover on your list. Selected from the best casks of 1969, this Scottish whisky is 50.8 percent alcohol by volume and comes in a special wood and leather case. The appearance: “deep gold,” according to the Glenlivet site. The smell involves sweet orange marmalade and orchard fruits. The taste: velvety, fruity, and fresh — not oaky — with bright orange at the end. 1969 was the year of the Apollo 13 moon landing, the Beatles’ final live performance as a group, and Woodstock. Honor that legacy with a dram of the good stuff
RSVP Discount Beverage Center | 887 Forest Ave, Portland | 207.773.8808
— Nina MacLaughlin