Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Heafy's House of Awesomeness 2

Yeti: Milking a yak is no picnic, but once you pick out all the hairs it's very nutritious.
”Monsters Inc.”

Why not revisit Heafy’s House of Awesomeness, since I have no poker content to speak of.

For those of you living under a rock who have no idea what Heafy’s House of Awesomeness is, it is where I induct any object/thing/person/activity/day of the week into my own little personal hall of fame. So far, all we have is SNL. Today, I wish to add our second inductee – bourbon.

Ah yes, I could have gone the easy route and said beer – in fact, I did but then backspaced over it to go with bourbon instead because on the whole, I’m sure it gets far less props than beer does.

I remember first getting into bourbon by one of my friends in my home town, in far west New South Wales. I was about sixteen or so, and being of that age and in a small country town, you were keen to get your hands on anything that could make you inebriated.

Even though we would never admit it out loud, the majority of alcoholic substances tasted like shit to my 16 year old taste buds. I didn’t get into beer until college…well, the first time I remember drinking beer and actually enjoying it was a few years before that. Get party, smallish in size but with a keg on hand so all was good. I was able to get myself into two different shouting rounds (I’m sure my North American Friends have something similar – a small group take it in turn getting drinks for everyone. Even though the drinks were already paid for, you still had to stand up and fill up all the glasses.) I also remember getting to third base that night, and then throwing up most of the beer a short while later (which wasn’t related to the third base incident, but in hindsight it well could have been.)

But that was a little off track – this is about bourbon. We started on the old faithful Jim Beam. Spirits straight or over ice were not good for this little teenager (and still don’t bode well with me), but if you added just the right amount of your favourite cola – mate, this is pretty sweet stuff!

We would each take a 375mL hip flask to the parties, which was more than enough for us to get wasted for probably a month in those days. It was always a creative venture to find a suitable vessel to mix the drinks in, as we never bothered to bring them along. A Hungry Jack’s paper cup (Hungry Jack’s is the Australian version of Burger King) usually did the trick.

Bourbon was seen as a teenagers drink in our town, because it was so sweet tasting. As people get older, they tend to migrate towards scotch (if they want to pretend they are better than bourbon drinkers), rum (if they are from the real country parts of our land) and mostly beer (cos it’s cheaper.). In fact, it was a common saying that they is no such thing as a 30 year old bourbon drinker in our town.

While Vodka broke my drinking cherry, it was bourbon that knocked me up and stayed to nurture me through the good times and bad.

My preferred brand? Well, we put bourbon into 4 categories in our house. There is worse than Jim Beam White Label, Jim beam White label, better than Jim Beam White Label and then finally Cougar Bourbon.

While JBWL may be seen as the lower end of the market, there are plenty of cheaper versions out there that taste like shit. Good value for money, and believe me I have tried a few when the wallet was wanting, but I will not touch anything in this category these days.

The next level up is of course JBWL. While it has a reputation as being a bit of a white trash drink, I find it very acceptable. Surely the most common brand sold world wide, it is readily available and at a half decent price usually. Nothing spectacular, but a good decent drink to wile the night away with.

The third level is better than JBWL. This comprises mainly three brands – Jim Beam Green Label, Maker’s Mark and Bakers. To give a comparison cost for us here in the land of Oz, JBWL = AU$27, JBGL = $37, MM = $45 and if you find bakers under $90, consider yourself lucky. And each has a story to tell…

JBGL – sweeter than white label, and sometimes the price is pretty close. Bloody hard to find these days, though since we moved the RSL across the road has it for the same price has white label – major score! I went through a stage of trying all the Jim Beam variations, and by far Gold Label was the best. Alas, they stopped making it some time ago, but green lives on. There is also Black label, which is slightly stronger but I never warmed to it. I recall after a Friday night football game once we used an empty beer bottle to mix our bourbon. Unconventionally, we put the cola (in this case, pepsi max which is always the best for mixing spirits) in the bottle first, so we could take an exact measure of the ratio of bourbon to cola. We used the indentations of the beer bottle for precise measurement. I don’t know if it was the bon fire in the night air, the sweet taste of a cold drink after battle on the field, or just the perfect alchemic ratio of said beer bottle, but we believed we had found a 100% perfect mix that could be replicated time and time again. It just tasted absolutely perfect. Sadly, the brand of beer has now changed their bottles, so the mix is lost forever. Now days, most people accuse me of mixing it too strong, but I say you need to taste your spirits otherwise you may as well drink coke.

Makers Mark was the bourbon of choice for the lady who took our bar tending certificate classes. Yep, I am a qualified bar tender, which isn’t really saying much. This stuff tastes superb, but the price can vary greatly from shop to shop – I’ve seen it as high as $55 and as low as $39. Also harder to find, but has a really attractive bottle with a melted wax lid that amuses drunk people to no end. It is also the drink of choice for The Green Goblin in the Spiderman movies.

Bakers – well, this is a once a year type of deal. I have only ever had two bottle of the stuff, which comes in a wooden case. Quite fancy considering the bottle doesn’t look all that flash on it’s own. The first time we got it was a birthday present, the second time was the day the Distraction and I got engaged. And the taste? Well, it is the most expensive for a reason. Absolutely gorgeous.

Cougar Bourbon. What can I say – their ads on TV are brilliant, and feature very well endowed women. However, their bourbon tastes like it has already been digested – twice. Very close to this category is Wild Turkey – I have no idea why this is popular. Wild Turkey also sponsor and Australian Poker TV show called “Joker Poker”. I have spoken about that show before, but to put it short – “Comedians who don’t know how to play poker, play poker, and make no jokes while doing it.”. There, that about sums it up. I think this makes me hate the brand even more.

My Distraction also enjoys the fine brown devil juice. We even have specific glasses at home now that are used for bourbon almost exclusively, even though we drink far less now days. Even still, I make sure my fridge is always well stocked with ample ice, just in case.

With that, I formally induct bourbon into Heafy's House of Awesomeness. While not quite to life long commitment to an alcoholic beverage that Al may put into practice, but…If I am ever before the firing squad and offered 1 final drink – make mine a bourbon and pepsi max with heaps of ice.

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