Ode to Whiskey: A Journey

Ode to Whiskey: A Journey

When I got back from a backpacking trip to England in 2008, I decided I would start drinking whiskey. It was as simple as that. Here’s how the progression went:

  • Malibu Rum (Jan-May 2006) The alcohol that tastes the least like alcohol. Convinced myself it was actually pretty hardcore because lots of people don’t like the taste of coconut. Ended when I threw it up and it tasted the same coming up as it did going down.
  • Flavored Vodka (May-Aug 2007) Vodka is for pretty girls that know how to walk in high heels. Maybe if I drink some I’ll learn? Needed it flavored because vodka tastes like Walgreen’s brand hydrogen peroxide. Ended when I sobbed on the bathroom floor after sharing a bottle of watermelon Smirnoff and feeling like such shit I thought I was going to die.
  • Regular Vodka (Aug-Jan 2008) Turns out if you put regular vodka in tastier things like cranberry juice or tonic water with a gross of lemons squeezed in, it reveals itself as more of a metallic, I-just-got-back-from-the-dentist taste. Palatable, but ended when some guy who wanted to buy me a drink just assumed I was drinking vodka, and I got all indignant.
  • Gin (One day in February, 2008) One gin and tonic was enough for me to realize I had no interest in getting drunk off tree sap.
  • Southern Comfort (Jan-May 2008) Inching my way ever closer to whiskey. SoCo and I had a close, personal relationship that ended in me cheating on it with Amaretto. I went back one night, pleading for forgiveness, but SoCo’s saccharine acceptance of my apology made me realize it was too good for me. I needed something harder, with more emotional scars.

So I started ordering Jack and Cokes. This morphed quickly into “whiskey and coke,” because hi, poor college student. If ever I was asked what my whiskey preference was, I would always answer “…cheeeeap?” like I’d never been asked that before. So I’m a whiskey drinker now, and though my tastes have refined some, I’m always game for whatever eleven dollar handle of Jimmy O’Doulahan’s Straight-Up Kentuckyfied Canadian Distilled Irishness you’ve got sitting on top of your fridge. Whiskey’s given me a lot, and rarely is it hangovers. So here’s to you, whiskey.


Whiskey tastes like a lumberjack. Whiskey will tell you it loves you, and if you ask “Why?” it’ll answer “Because I fucking do, Jesus” and then bite your neck. Whiskey burns going down, but like menthol, not like fire. Fire burns you; whiskey soothes. A shot of whiskey is guaranteed to give you the courage you need to show up at a bar where a boy with a guitar who just dumped you (the boy, not the guitar) is playing rocknroll but you’ll be damned if you’re going to puss out.

Whiskey diet 2-for-1s will cover the entire surface of the table you’re sharing with your fellow blogmates at The Local Totally Chill Drinky Time Fried Stuffs Establishment because each and every one of you drinks them. It’s perfectly possible at least one person at the table doesn’t like whiskey at all, detests it even, but orders them anyway for the sake of Blog Unity. You will take many many photos of the whiskey-laden table, three pairs of shocked looking eyes peering at you from above glasses, and tweet it with a caption that reads something like “Writers + Whiskey = <3”. If all else fails, if everything else goes to shit and the world’s banking systems fail and societies crumble and the earth fractures in two, right down the middle, like a big lava-filled Cadbury Crème Egg, at least you know you’ll all be drinking whiskey.

You’ll never have to tell your SO what drink you want when he asks “Want me to make you a drink?” because all that’s in the cupboard are two 175s of Jameson and some Fernet which you think is gross. You just answer “yes, duh” and the only variable in the otherwise static equation is how flat the Coke will be. Turns out it’s pretty flat, so flat you wonder vaguely whether or not the bottle has been in the fridge since the Nixon administration. But you drink it happily, sucking air in between your teeth and then blowing out like you’re playing a flute in an effort to dispel some of the zing. Back to the Future Part II, and the whiskey will loosen your tongue enough that you’re going to have to pause the movie so you can explain your theories on wormholes to the hapless man with whom you now suddenly really really need to make out sitting on the couch next to you. Whiskey may convince you your SO is a lumberjack.

Whiskey fills your head with delusions of grandeur and just enough emotional fortification to convince you to act on those delusions. You may be clever, but with whiskey you’re Whiskey Clever. You may be funny, but with whiskey you’re Whiskey Funny. You may be pretty, but with whiskey you’re the sort of nonchalant sexy that you won’t realize you were pulling off until someone points it out. Whiskey will inevitably, at some point, make you want to punch someone in the face.

On those occasions when it seems whiskey may be in order, you’re probably not wrong.

Katie Sisneros

Photo by Kirti Poddar