Ashley Christensen stresses the importance of keeping a wine key handy
BevCon attendees are extremely familiar with the concept of day drinking. Hell, drinks are served before, during, and after every event at the three-day beverage conference — it is required material for industry professionals, you see. Or so we tell ourselves. Professional or not, most everyone who drinks alcohol has a clutch tip or trick for imbibing before the sun goes down. Maybe it’s the secret ingredient in your bloody Mary, a favorite shower sipper, or the right way to knot a six-pack to your tube as you float down river. So with all of our collective knowledge, one of Wednesday’s afternoon sessions, Slacker Track: Gas Station Drinking, Shower Drinking, Day Drinking, Airplane Cocktails, and Roadies wasn’t so much an educational seminar as it was a large handful of goofy adages bounced between panel and audience as laughter shook the room. It was fun.
Though the panel was initially to be led by speakers Ann Marshall of High-Wire Distilling, Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner et al., and Flying Pig Hospitality’s Jerry Slater, the group good-naturedly invited other presenters up to help run the show. Rajat Parr of Sandhi Wines, Domaine de la Côte, and Evening Land and Cappie Peete, Beverage Director at Christensen's AC Restaurant Group, were among the new faces to join the panel. Marshall even phoned-a-friend, FaceTiming well-traveled Southern food writer and editor Jennifer V. Cole to ask what the best day drink was. (Her answer: “Rosé, all day.”)
Over all the laughter, good-natured ribbing, and Salty Greyhounds going around the room, simple and helpful truths emerged that you may indeed want to add to your day drinking repertoire — if you haven’t already. So let’s break them down:
Day Drinking Tips
First and foremost, don’t be the guy that’s drunk by noon and passed out by 2 p.m. It’s just not a good look, and people usually draw penises on your face. But even when exercising restraint, you can still hit the sauce a little too hard, only to become hungover and pooped out by 8 o’clock. Day drinking isn’t a race, it’s a marathon.
(AM): “You need to have a strategy, people. This is important work. You’ve got to plan your day. Let’s say you go to brunch and you drink some bloodies, and you lose track of the day. You don’t want to wake up in an Uber that someone else called for you, a note pinned to your shirt with your name and address on it.”
(AC): “You also really want to make sure you hydrate. I just heard this new term called ‘water drill.’ Where we used to raise a glass of wine to toast at wine dinners, now everyone raises a glass of water — and I think they’re all quite grateful for it.”
: “And if you’re drinking wine all day, don’t drink any that are more than 12 percent alcohol. Rosés and beaujolais are perfect.”
The prevailing theme in discussing shower bevs is that they be light and reeeeally cold. If you’re shampooing next to a crisp white wine or a peppery gin and tonic, keep those glasses as far away from the clouds of steam as you can. Nothing’s much worse in a Charleston summer than drinking hot wine with hot water running down your back. Beer, however, seems to be the most popular shower drink of choice, perhaps because it comes in such a compact and self-cooling package.
: There’s a lot to be said for the cold drink/hot shower combination. I’m a big fan — you know, as a cook — of the effect of veritable temperatures on the palette.”
(JS): “Yeah, but if you’re drinking in the shower, don’t come into work and tell your boss you drink everyday before you get there. But seriously, you’ve got to think about what you’re drinking. You want something light, something easy to drink, like a lager. You don’t go for an IPA in the shower.”
Gas Station Drinking and Roadies
Let’s be real — if you’re hanging out at a gas station to drink, you need to make some new friends. Gas stations are for provisions, and you can get some decent ones there — just do any necessary liquor runs first.
(CP): “Ice, you gotta get ice. A cooler. A wine key.”
: “And find something to tie that wine key down with in your car. Otherwise you’ll never see it again.”
: “Yep, that’s a safe bet. Paper towels, napkins, lots of cups. There are always lots of cups in my car. And I really like to bring some kind of citrus. There’s sometimes fresh citrus in the nicer gas station, but in a pinch, you can get lemonade and use that as a mixer. Then there’s La Croix — pop open a can of any flavor of that and pour out a couple ounces, then add your favorite liquor. That’s always a good one.”
Which brings us to the day’s taboo subject: Roadies.
The entire panel stressed that you shouldn’t drink behind the wheel, and yet they went on to give their tips for passenger seat, RV, or back of a darkened tour bus drinking.
One option that was widely discussed is using those ubiquitous plastic soup containers found in commercial kitchens everywhere to cart around your mixed drink. Put the lid on, pop a hole in the top for a straw, and there ya go. Then there are can magnets, koozies, and thermoses that can disguise your bev into something innocent-looking. “It’s worth noting,” said one audience member, “that most of those larger size thermoses can hold a full bottle of wine perfectly — so I’m told.” Another said she likes mixing drinks in several different mason jars and then packs a large, other mason jar with ice. Then, when it’s time to serve the drinks, she adds ice right then, the jar acting as a perfect shaker and getting the drink really cold without watering it down.
It’s no secret that booze on airplanes is a necessary evil. Necessary because riding in planes (especially coach) is evil. The beverage program in the sky is also hugely overpriced and fundamentally gross. Shitty wines, melty rum and cokes, Bloody Marys made with canned tomato juice, a sad lack of any embellishment or the small pleasurable garnishes that make drinking on the ground so nice.
: “When I fly, I always get the worst Bloody Mary mix. It’s undrinkable. So I pack little baggies of seasoning and when I get my drink, I adjust it so that it tastes right.”
: “There is something to be said for being in a plane, lifting off into the sky. When I’m at 30,000 feet, this kind of dreaminess takes over. It’s where I plan a lot of my menus and my recipes and stuff. So I think drinking is actually better up there.”
If you’re lucky enough to have access to a boat, you’ve got to make the most of it. It’s also a place where you can sing this song, for realsies. This is a place where you want to keep your drinks cold for the longest possible time, using minimal supplies so you don’t have a bunch of crap to haul to and from shore.
: “I just discovered a new obsession with these plastic bag popsicle molds; you can find them on Amazon. You can make really good booze pops with those. Just be sure to have enough sugar and water in your recipe so that the pops will actually freeze.”
: “I think the number one thing to remember when you’re going out on a boat is to bring everything you need. That is not the time you want to realize you forgot the corkscrew or the ice. Plan carefully when you pack.”
There you have it, straight from the experts. Whether you keep things simple like Slater, who allows for a single olive (maybe), or add nibbles like Christensen, who remembers fondly the veritable submarine-sandwiches that topped her bloodies in the Midwest, there's an art to drinking before dark.