...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What Are You Drinking? -- Part Two

This is the second installment of a three-part series.  Part One is here.  I'm including a link to the Google Docs file on which the table screenshots are based.

I  <3  California grocery stores

Part 2:  What'd you pay for that?

In this troubled economy we should consider where we're putting our money.  Buy a sixer of Miller Lite?  Or a mid-range whiskey blend?  Miller's going to set you back $6.  Johnnie Walker Black's on sale for $28. Then there's that $8 wine at Trader Joes.  What's going to give you more booze for your buck?

OR sometimes a opportunity comes around to buy something nice for yourself.  Are you going to go for that bottle of great real champagne for $35 or how about that good bottle of 18-year-old single malt for $100?

"$100!  That's ridiculous!  Why would you dump so much money into some liquid that you're just going to drink up anyway?  Let's skip the middle man and flush that cash directly down the toilet."
Good question, Blue Text.  We'll get to that.

Now, assuming for a moment that you enjoy all of these alcohols relatively equally, how much drank can you actually get for your dollar?  See here:

Orange = beers; Purple = wines; Pink = liqueurs; Blue = spirits; Brown = whiskies

To answer the first question: While it's closer than some may expect, Miller Lite does give you more for your money.  The beers tend to.  So do the mid-range liquors, as can be expected.  It's interesting to note how close everything lines up at the top.  That makes it convenient to choose whatever your tastebuds call for.

Beers hold their own pretty well throughout.  The liqueurs really don't, again due to their low alcohol by volume.  Conversely due to its higher content, gin shows up as a cost-effective option, whether you're aiming high or low.

Now, to address the second question.  Compared to the $35 champagne, that $100 whisky doesn't seem so bad now.  Alcohol content is 16% more expensive in the bubbly.  Meanwhile the whisky is an investment.  And that's a major premium that's difficult to measure.  To note:

Once you open that champagne, it must be finished within the next couple of hours, even if you seal it up Vacu-Vin-style.  But that whiskey?  You can go back to it whenever you like.  A pricey bottle like the one in the example above can last you two months if you don't abuse it too badly.  Liquor bottles thus become luxurious.  A long-term relationship, as opposed to a one-night stand.  Something you don't have to rush.  Did your work day suck?  Enjoy a sip.  Is it Friday yet?  Have two sips.  How much are you willing to pay for that?

"But you can't drink liquor with a meal!"
Yes, you can.  Vodkas are designed to be flavorless -- they're basically ethyl and water -- so you can enjoy it with anything you like.  No two decent brands of gin are the same, resulting it different balances of herbs which in turn can be paired with the herbs and seasonings in your dish.  Great whiskies are known to have 10-15 separate flavors and aromas that can in turn be matched to nearly every food.

"But a glass of wine is romantic!"
Perhaps.  But Oban 14-year served neat is damn near erotic.  And it's not $100.

"But I like Budweiser."
Don't tell me you like it.  Tell me you bought it because you were financially responsible and reviewed my chart above.

Have I sold you on liquor yet?
"No. I like Budweiser. And Baileys. Together."


Well, wait until you see Part 3...

(Sources: my liquor cabinet; beveragewarehouse.com; American Medical Association; Indiana Prevention Resource Center;
Feller, Robyn. The Complete Bartender. New York: Berkeley Books, 1990.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What Are You Drinking? -- Prelude and Part One

This is the first installment of a three-part series.

Deliciousness is subjective.  To some, Budweiser has a repugnant flavor and an aftertaste that makes one reach for coarse sandpaper to scrape one's tastebuds off.  Others like it.  Some find an Islay single malt a good match with barbecue and will drink it even if it risks one's wife avoiding kisses for 48 hours.  Others don't like it.

So you should let your mouth and tummy guide you where my simple math dare not tread.  But I will discuss quantitative decisions that can accompany one's drinking choices.  I've included a link here to the Google Docs file on which the screenshots are based.  Someday, perhaps, Google will allow bloggers to insert Google Docs into Google Blogger.  Right.

(Disclaimer: If you, dear reader, choose only to drink until you black out, vomit, weep, and forget the very drinks you've drunk, then these posts will only be tangentially related to your choices.)

Part 1:  How much alcohol is in your alcohol?

(Source: http://blake-theethanolmolecule.blogspot.com/)

Ethyl Hydroxide is a protoplasmic poison that can be metabolized at a rate of approximately 0.5oz per hour. When consumed at a greater rate than this metabolization, it enters the bloodstream where it then affects synaptic transmission. Therein lies the magic.

It is from this metabolization process that the American Medical Association, state highway patrols, and I get our official single serving of alcohol: 0.5 fluid ounces.

Interestingly, one established serving of wine (5oz) does not equal one serving of alcohol. It's more, as are most servings of alcoholic drinks.  See table pic below:

Orange = beers; Purple = wines; Pink = liqueurs; Blue = spirits; Brown = whiskies

You may notice a few things here.  Firstly, the prevalence of the blu-ish and brown rows at the bottom of the table, showing more alcohol per serving.  These are the spirits.  You'll also notice Bailey's way up at the top with the lowest alcohol per serving.  You may wonder, why isn't its serving size larger, like 3 ounces?  That mystery will be solved in Part 3.

The argument can be made that the listed serving sizes -- while considered standard by bartenders, calorie counting programs, and general etiquette -- are arbitrary when the drinker is at home.  "I can pour me a double whenever I like," one may say.  That's fair.  But there's only so much booze in your bottle, as per the "Servings of Alc" column.

So what can we learn here?

  • Champagne, light beers, and some liqueurs have one standard serving of ethanol per pour, or a little less.
  • Spirits tend to have a little more.  Example: Five shots of vodka (ugh, flashback) equal six servings of alcohol.
  • If you're popping open a beer, then you're getting pretty close to a 1-to-1 ratio.
  • That good bottle of Cab sitting on your shelf at home may hold just five glasses of wine but it has seven kicks of ethyl.
  • Or if you're pouring spirits at home, the higher the alcohol content (even if the difference looks minuscule), the more buzz in your bottle.

So take another look at the table in the picture, peek at the Google Doc, or let me know if you'd like the mini-spreadsheet.  There's more fun where that came from.

In Part Two I will take a look at economic factors...

(Sources: my liquor cabinet; beveragewarehouse.com; American Medical Association; Indiana Prevention Resource Center;
Feller, Robyn. The Complete Bartender. New York: Berkeley Books, 1990.
Pendell, Dale. Pharmako/Poeia. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2009.)

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Recap

As I was saying, distractions will corrupt one’s intentions.

But conversely, one’s intentions must shift with life. This is a little more personal than I usually get with my posts, but the last three years have been full of life:

My career:
As the 2008 election was in process, I wrote a political thriller. In June ’09 it got to a well-respected management company and scored me my two awesome managers.

In 2010, I wrote a script (for money!) for an independent producer.

This year, I’ve been writing a spec script for another producer that could lead to bigger and better things.

I quit my production accounting position with Discovery Studios so that I could focus on writing full time.

* * * * *

My family:
My family navigated financial troubles. My parents divorced. My grandmother passed away, age 92. The greatest cat in the world passed away, age 17. Keep moving. Nothing to see here, people.

* * * * * 

My international travels:
Italy (Rome, Tuscany, Naples, Amalfi Coast), United Kingdom (3rd time, but 2nd trip to London), Ireland (3rd time, sigh).

* * * * * 

My new family:
In March ’09, on Crisy Field in San Francisco, I proposed to Kristen Perry. She said yes. She got a ring. We had ice cream sundaes. It was a pretty good weekend.

In June ’10 we invited family, friends, and a rabbi, threw a killer party and called it a wedding. I am married. Michael Kravitz is married.

(Buried that lead nicely.)

“When I said, I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married.” Right. That’s exactly what Benedick and I meant.

Kristen is a special person. If you haven’t met her yet, I hope that you have the opportunity soon. She’s brilliant, funny, peaceful, and beautiful. And the family that I have joined is fantastic.

* * * * *

I would be remiss if I didn't reference the hundreds of hours of film, music, and whisky that I've enjoyed as well.

Now that Diving for Pearls has been pulled from the mothballs, let’s get some work done.