Introduction: What Is A Boozy Lifestyle?
My evolution of the boozy lifestyle has been a lifelong endeavor beginning well before it was officially named. While other teenagers were chugging warm six-packs of cheap Milwaukee lagers, I was tasting a variety of brews and cooking healthy meals to pair with them. As I got older, I dreamed of becoming a beer connoisseur. Seriously, Michael Jackson (not the singer) did it!
I first discovered Jackson on his show called The Beer Hunter in which he examines beer culture in different countries. Who wouldn’t want to travel around the world tasting beer? His seminal 1977 book, The World Guide To Beer was ground-breaking in categorizing beer styles and associating them with regions and cultures. He was one of my early boozy lifestyle influences.
In the mid-1990’s, a friend gave me a Robert Parker Wine Buyers Guide, after I expressed the familiar complaint about how difficult it was to choose a wine from hundreds of options offered by the local liquor store. Though only somewhat interested at that time, my wine enthusiasm began to grow a few years later when a colleague gifted me a bottle of Italian red wine. It wasn’t particularly special or expensive, but my enjoyment of drinking it opened up my senses, and ultimately my mind, to the world of wine. I think back on it as my wine epiphany. I began trying lots of different wines, and reading articles and books by Ray Isle, Matt Kramer, Eric Asimov, and others.
I’m lucky to have found my husband, Mike, to share the enjoyment of wine and spirits with me. (Especially wine, because if I didn’t have someone to share a bottle with me, I’d probably drink the whole thing myself.) An early part-time bartending job fostered his interest in mixology. Later, he leveraged his knowledge of computer programming to develop and sell point-of-sale/inventory software for liquor stores. Eventually, we quit our day jobs and became business partners in our own wine and liquor store.
We considered trying the wines we sold in the store as “doing our homework” and tried to be objective about a wine’s characteristics. Ultimately, customers want to spend their hard-earned cash on something they enjoy. And so, we began to learn the language of wine with the goal of describing its qualities and helping our clientele navigate the store’s wine collection.
After we sold the wine shop, I had an idea that it would be fun to express my interest in wine by writing a blog. A brainstorming session produced a bunch of good ideas for blog titles and Twitter handles, but I found that the early birds had beaten me to the worm; most of our ideas were already taken. At one point, my drinking buddy suggested “wine connoisseur.” I bristled at the term’s pretentiousness and replied, “I’m not qualified enough to call myself a connoisseur.” He asked, “Then what are you, a ‘kindasseur’?” And the Winekindasseur was born.
Topics of the blog expanded beyond wine to include spirits and cocktails. Since it’s not good to drink on an empty stomach, food and recipes were added. An occasional random thought also weaved its way into the Winekindasseur tapestry.
A couple of years later, I decided to build on the Winekindasseur blog and write this book. I soon learned that if you tell someone you’re working on a book, the first questions they ask are, “What is it called?” and, “What it is about?” Better be ready to answer.
My answer began with a list of things the book covers; wine, food, travel, cocktails, drink labs, and recipes interjected with a few humorous personal stories. For most people, that’s just too much information. Another conversation with my drinking buddy yielded “tipsy” which has a polite feminine connotation, but a quick search on the Internet showed that Bethany Frankel had already established “Tipsy Girl” as a brand.
Inspiration struck during cocktail hour one evening when I referred to our routine as our “boozy lifestyle”. In a trendy culture of beauty, fitness, and fashion lifestyle gurus, the idea of being a boozy lifestyle expert carries a measure of irony with it. The word ‘boozy’ expresses just the irreverence I was looking for; not youthful, feminine, or especially well-mannered.
From the launch of the Winekindasseur blog in 2014 through the completion of the Boozy Lifestyle book, my writing underwent some major changes, both in what I wanted to say and how to express it. Wine reviews became stories of wine experiences and travel, food recipes were tied to lovers, friends, and family, and the content became more personal. I found a voice that channeled my inner Jean Shepherd (A Christmas Story), of whom I’ve been a fan since the early 1980s.
I faced quite a dilemma trying to fit Boozy Lifestyle into a standard genre. I’ve always been hard to label, (or do all creative people just say that?) Looking through book categories on Amazon and the library, I discovered that “Lifestyle” isn’t a common classification like Art & Photography or Business & Money. The Cooking, Food & Wine category comes close, but to that I’d need to add Spirits & Cocktails with a healthy dash of Humor and a smidge of Autobiography.
A boozy lifestyle is a balancing act; to enjoy imbibing and eating the good stuff without over-indulging. Current daily life doesn’t have much in common with our ancient ancestors, but one thing we still do is drink fermented beverages. Social drinking was the norm during banquets and symposia of ancient Greece, however habitual drunkenness and extreme intoxication were frowned upon. A couple of millennia later, we’re still practicing social drinking to grease the wheels of interpersonal relationships. We celebrate good news, weddings, babies, promotions, and holidays by saying, “Cheers”. What better way to nourish relationships than to share a hearty meal and raise a glass? I’m not a certified wine expert, an award-winning mixologist, a gourmet chef, or even a celebrity. But rather than give up and let my inner critic gain the upper hand, I’m making it my mission is to infuse a little happiness and humor into a disgruntled world by sharing my boozy lifestyle experiences. I hope this collection of stories integrated with food and drink recipes inspires you to elevate the everyday with booze as your muse.
More Excerpts From Boozy Lifestyle
In the beginning, there was beer. As a rebellious, newly legal-age drinker, I refused to drink the brand of beer my father drank. In my young mind, it carried the stigma of dad beer; budget-friendly, old-fashioned swill drunk by pot-bellied, blue-collar, middle-aged men. Instead I headed out to the local store to buy my own six-pack.
There are those wines you drink that give you absolute pleasure. Others are tolerable and for happy hour pricing, or free, you’ll settle. Then there is wine that you must simply pour down the drain while gently humming “Taps”.
When I walk into a wine shop, I’m like a kid in a candy store, so buying a liquor store seemed like a good idea at the time.
In the process of becoming new business owners, the previous proprietors endowed us with three parting pearls of wisdom including, 1) “Don’t let people see into the windows”, 2) “You can’t make any money on beer”, and 3) “Concentrate on selling the high-end wines”.
After several weeks of selling Yellow Tail, Cupcake, and Sutter Home, I had all but given on being able to sell the Cakebread Chardonnay and the Masi Amarone. Then along came a young, well-dressed man looking for a holiday gift for his boss.
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