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Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Good, accurate booze advice from Ray Smuckles

Lying on the floor of my bedroom is a bottle of Jim Beam my cousin gave me for my 21st. I'm not a drinker of wide experience but it turns out I hate bourbon. I'm now 22 and short on funds for what I DO like (scotch, guinness.) So how do I get this damned bourbon down me as pleasantly as possible?
Anonymous, Internet

A-ha! You say you hate bourbon, but you do like Scotch! I think we have the keystone which will unravel this puzzle.

Jim Beam is a good bourbon which you can drink straight, along with the other name brand American whiskeys such as Jack Daniels, Knob Creek, Ancient Situation, etc. I’m guessing that if you like Scotch but don’t like bourbon you are turned off by its relative sweetness. Certain palates find the extra sugar in bourbon medicinal. Drinking it over ice reduces this sensation somewhat, but if you still find that you can’t stomach its extra sugar we’ll do something counter-intuitive and mix it with three parts of cola. I think you’ll find that anyone on earth can enjoy a nice, sweet bourbon and Coke.

I DEFINITELY helped you with this advice.

I used to be a big vodka martini man (Belvedere or Grey Goose [are] my preferred labels) but I've moved to another country where it's tough to get anything better than Absolut, which I personally find very over-rated. I like gin and tonics, and am considering a move over to gin martinis, i.e., with Bombay Sapphire or some other top-shelf brand. Is it possible - or wise - to make such a big switch? I love the whole martini experience, but won't do it without top-flight hooch.
-JM, Sydney

Dear JM,

You would be surprised to hear how many people scoff at such a question. Not me, though. It’s all about the sugar, and boy do I hate a big-bodied gin or vodka. Crisp is the name of the game, and I am ready to slap anybody who does not belong in the game, completely slap them on their faces and the sides of their heads/ears. I will slap them.

It sounds like you’ll need to move over to an extra-dry gin martini, and the down-low on gin is that the ~80 proof Plymouth or Gordon’s are the best ones going. Tanq and Bombay are way too strong at like 95 proof, tasting too harshly of alcohol. Either way, take these shaken with a twist in a chilled glass.

Note from your Editor: Ray's Place, a weekly advice column (or column about whatever he feels like writing about) appears every Wednesday on Achewood.

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