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What I Drink When I'm Not Drinking

Posted on by Eric Burke

It's my turn to be sick this week. Luckily I tend to write tasting notes well in advance of actually needing them for a blog post. But the fact that I haven't had any whiskey for a while gave me an idea for a post. 

Relative to the general population, I drink a lot of whiskey. I don't think this is a shocking revelation. I've been pumping out two reviews a week for the last few years. Right there I have the makings of a habit that might make my doctor take a second look. And if you are connected to me on Untappd you'll have noticed that I tend to quite like whiskey's younger brother beer as well. 

But contrary to the previous statements, I am not constantly drinking alcohol. By volume and frequency, most of the liquid refreshment that I consume has little to no alcohol in it at all.

I know. Shocking. Right?

So I thought tonight I might share with you the things that are in my glass most of the time. One thing you won't find on this list is soda. If I had written it back when I started drinking whiskey, it would have been the number one thing on the list. But I've noticed that as my fondness for whiskey has increased, my fondness for sodas has decreased along with it. Every couple months or so, I'll still grab a ginger ale. But for the most part, I can't do it anymore. Too sweet and too syrupy. I think that, for me, developing a palate that enjoys whiskey has had an impact on the other things I like as well.

COFFEE: If you see me before noon, there is a good chance that there will be coffee in my hand. Black, rich, and strong. And not just whatever from the gas station, either. Good coffee from good roasters. I prefer a medium roast, but not one that is bright and citrusy. If I had to give up all but one non-water drink, I'd keep coffee over everything.

HERBAL TEA: Yes, I know there is no tea in herbal tea. But it sounds better than "damp flowers and leaves soaked in hot water for a while." I have my own blend that I like to make myself from varieties you can find at almost any store. I like an equal mixture of chamomile, peppermint, and ginger. 

WATER: Of course, I drink water just like everyone else. If I didn't, I'd be dead. I go through most of my life trying to avoid becoming dead so it would be silly to not drink water. 

BITTERS & FIZZY WATER: This is what is in my glass most of the time. And what has lead to the virtual elimination of soda from my diet. I got a SodaStream a few years ago, and at first, I used it to make their dumb sodas. And then I gave up on it thinking it was a pile of plastic that did nothing for me. After a while I started using it to carbonate water for cocktails that needed it and gradually, I started leaving out the alcohol when I did that. These days I have an ever expanding collection of bitters, but I use one or two in cocktails. The rest get dispensed two or three shakes at a time into a big glass of carbonated water. It gives me the carbonation and some flavor like I used to get from soda, but without all the nasty sweetness (and calories). My favorite is just my homemade orange bitters. Nice and bitter, but with just a hint of orange. Though depending on the mood, I'll use aromatic (Angostura or similar), cranberry, lemon, peach, rhubarb, or Paychaud's instead.

So that's me. You might have noticed that with each of these there is a hint of the geek about me. That thing that I do with whiskey where I taste it and think about it is present in almost everything that I consume whether it is coffee or beer, tea or fizzy water. I tend to mix, blend or find others who have done a good job of it for me. It's just a part of what makes me who I am.

But what do you drink when you aren't drinking? Let me know in the comments. I'm genuinely curious. 


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