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The Sake Years

25 Sep

Like most suburban teens who discovered alcohol, I had no idea what was good.

There was Boone’s Farm and there was this stuff called Mad Dog 20/20. Or at least I think that’s what it was called. I’m not going to Google it.

There was Zima, which was like the Smirnoff Ice of 1999, and Bud Ice, which was Budweiser with more booze in it.

Anyway, I knew jack shit about alcohol.

So in college, once I turned 21, it was all about exploring.

Enter Dr. Brew, PhD., who introduced me to my party beverage of choice my final year in college. Sake. See, she and I had saved up a ton of dimes so we went to this little sushi place near our college. And Dr. Brew ordered a bottle of sake for us.

I wasn’t even drinking wine, yet, but I was going to give this sake stuff a try.

My life changed. It was so good! Sort of sweet, but it tasted like rice.

It also got us incredibly smashed. We got so silly-drunk that we couldn’t drive back to my apartment. So we decided to eat more whatever rolls instead of using that money for books.

Dr. Brew ruined me that day. After that, I took a bottle of sake to every party I went to, and it sort of became my thing. Sure, my friends made fun of me. But I didn’t care.

For whatever reason (pregnancy/breastfeeding), I haven’t had sake in a while. But I got a bottle the other day. And it’s taking me back to the early 2000s. All I need is a midriff-exposing shirt, crimped hair, and a choker and I could be 21 again.


I don’t even like Pepsi, but I was once a hopeless addict for Pepsi Twist.

28 Mar

Way back in 2002, Dr. Brew and I were sharing a dorm room, a food shelf, and a mini fridge. And one fateful day, she carried in a 12-pack of Pepsi Twist.

Please note that in the on-going battle (created by ad agencies more so than consumers) between Coke and Pepsi, I’ve always sided with the red can. After all, it’s so Uh-mer-can.

But there was something about adding lemon to soda, even if it was overly sweet Pepsi, that was intriguing to me. So we popped open a few cans, took some swigs, and addiction was born.

I went from drinking maybe a soda a month to guzzling down two or three a day. After I drank all of her Pepsi, I actually had to go buy some myself to replace it. I don’t think I had ever in my life purchased a multi-pack of pop. Yeah, I fucking said “pop” and I’m from Texas. Confused?

But that shit was so good. And I freaking needed it! I’ve never tried heroine, but I’m going to go balls out and say that it’s something like Pepsi Twist.

The whole thing was funny at first–two skinny freshman just giggling and drinking Pepsi Twist. But then we started neglecting our studies. Instead of writing our essays and prepping for tests, we’d just lay on the couch and suck Pepsi Twist through straws. Then we quit going to work, so paying for the Pepsi Twist proved difficult, but by  not spending money on food we managed to get by for a little while. Then we naturally had to turn to prostitution. As our teeth rotted from all of the corn syrup sweetener and our bones became brittle, all we could think about was our next lemony fix.

Eventually, when we awoke one day in a sticky soda puddle in an ally somewhere, one of us wised up and said, “We need to quit this shit.” So we did.

Then we discovered Vanilla Coke.

I have been Pepsi Twist sober for almost ten years now.




My Darling, My Pabst … A Love Story

7 Mar

Dr. Brew, PhD. is a beer snob, a PhD student, and one of the Queen of Awesome’s sexiest friends.

She’s was recently rewarded her Golden Saucer at the Flying Saucer and she now shares her latest beers on the Untappd app. And she occasionally puts her glass and iPhone down to blog for us.


I am an adult.  Everything about me (almost) screams adult.

I am knocking on 30’s door. I paid off my car. I pay my bills.  I watch the news like its an academy award winning movie.  I am older.  Even my drinking has matured.

Gone are the days of just-turned-21 midori sours. I now prefer whiskey on the rocks.  I have a vast taste of wines and, now that I reside in the southern Illinois region, a simple Moscato will not do.  Also, as my title states, I am well versed and intellectually advanced in the world of beer, preferring rare micro-breweries above all else.

So why in GOD’s name did I shotgun a Keystone on my front porch!?!?

Why did I follow with a Pabst Blue Ribbon in a martini glass??!?!

I’m not proud of who I am in this moment, but allow me to try and explain this slumming of beer. I live in Carbondale, IL, otherwise known as “Little Egypt.”  (Look for it on a map, it IS NO WHERE NEAR CHICAGO.) This town has about 20,000 people, a unique topography and 32 wineries within driving distance.  It’s also the home of Southern Illinois University, a university that has such claims to fame as our mascot, the Saluki, a fast ass poodle (Google it); and alums like Jim Beluish, who beautifully illustrated the antics of this town in a little known movie called Animal House. Ever hear of it?*

Prior to my moving here, I thought, “Hey, I am a seasoned drinker. I can keep up!” But add the fact that there are eight bars in town and nothing else. All Carbondale people do is drink.  And they drink HARD.  Upon my first night of partying here in the ‘Dale, I had my christening.  In a circle of grad students and processors, I was handed a PBR and was told to shotgun it.

I was no drinking prude, however I had never shotgunned a beer prior to this.  Kegstand? Check. Beer bong? Check.  Shotgun? Nope.  So I placed my fresh-out-of-Texas lips onto the cold can over a hole stabbed with a knife, popped the top and drank away.  Since then, my department keeps a six pack of PBR for said occasions.  We are all adults.  Functioning adults.

And now the martini glass full of Pabst … sigh.  I hear my fellow beer scholars gasp with horror.  I have been indulging in beer delights that the Lone Star State can’t/won’t get.  HopSlam, Founders Breakfast Stout, Better Half, and the holy mother Kentucky Breakfast Stout.

So why would pour beer into a martini glass? Why would I do this to beer? ANY beer?  The only thing I can say is we shotgunned a Keystone first. All the logic in the world went out the window. My roomie and I decided our Friday night bender needed some class and the martini glasses came out. Hilarity, nay, horror ensued.

But do not loose faith, dear students of beer.  There is light in the slumming of beers.  Now, PBR holds great adoration from me. As a poor grad student, it was affordable (most bars sold it for a buck).  Also, my nights here usually start with one (it’s a buck!).  It sloshes in my backpack as I run through corn mazes (Google it, Texans).  It chills in snow while we drink outside before shows.  It’s in the front pockets of my sweatshirt while I walk to friends’ houses and sunset concerts.

My personal favorite is when my PBR floats in a net bag next to me while in Lil’ Grassy Lake—in water so clear I can see fish chill beneath me, not judging my cheap beer choice.  The lake is next to a bald eagle reserve and they fly over me. It’s the most-American thing to do.

My point is this: Sometimes it isn’t the choice taste of hops and notes that make a beer great. It’s the location. Like how the scent of your favorite comfort meal takes you back to your childhood, a PBR will forever taste like Carbondale, IL. Like my doctoral years, my first years away from Texas, the years that I got really wasted too often and long after I should have stopped doing that.

The years I became the adult that I wanted to be. It’s quite mature of me, I believe.

Dr. Brew, PhD

*His brother John was in it and Jim was a heavy consultant for it.  SIU has spent much of the new millennia trying to shed this party-school status.  And I see you rolling your eyes… don’t give me that “every school is a party school” bit.  This is a REAL party school.  Schools all over Illinois used to bus into Carbondale for Polar Bear Weekend and “Unofficial” Halloween and St. Patty’s Day.  “Unofficial” because for decades prior, nights of the actual holidays listed would produce such large mass debauchery—riots and fires—that all bars are now closed on the actual days.  We don’t fuck around.