I had started drinking alcoholic beverages about 38 years ago: when I was 18. Recalling all this has jogged a lot of old memories. I remember Michigan permitted it's citizens to drink briefly before they turned it back to age 21 which holds to this day.
My first hard liquor was Bacardi Rum 80 proof. I got pretty sick on Bacardi Rum. It was fun at first, but as the evening progressed I couldn't get off the floor! That first bad experience left me with such intense memories of rum that I couldn't drink it for years. I could remember the sick feeling if I ever tasted rum in just a mixed drink.
Later, I went through a phase of wines. It was mostly because my friends had that interest. The early '80s had me attending a community college in Lansing Michigan. My first girlfriend made a habit of preparing a homemade spaghetti dinner in which other friends would join us. Wine was served. I developed a taste for 2 specific wines: Pinot Noir and Merlot. Can't stand much anything else to this day. I still tell my wife that all wine pretty much tastes the same. It's not my drink of choice. Some girls liked Champagne and I had to agree Champagne seemed to make one happy. Champagne was definitely better than wine.
I tended to copy others when it came to mixed drinks. As college students, we hit the bars to meet others. Mixed drinks were the next step. The taste varied with the mixed flavors that came with them. I remember the various names: Singapore Sling, Screwdriver, Mai Tai, Tom Collins, Seven and Seven, Kamikaze, Gin and Tonic, Whiskey Sour and Daiquiri. I think the girls we met always drank a Daiquiri or a wine cooler. That was the fad. My buddy and I would hang out at a bar in the East Lansing area called Dooleys and then once in awhile we'd head to a place called the Wayside Bar. These were the places I learned my mixed drinks.
My buddy would eventually move into the basement apartment to share the rent. It was kind of our bachelor pad. He liked to hit straight whiskey pretty hard. I never liked whiskey as it would leave me staggering around and I couldn't get my words out very well. It also had a nasty burn going down.
A move to the university in Ypsilanti Michigan with another college would have me trying what my dorm-mates were trying: Old English Malt Liquor, Colt 45, Meister Brau (Miller Lite). A friend of mine in the dorm had praised German beers, I let him try Old English Malt Liquor and I believe I converted him over to "OE". The stuff hit hard. On one night of inebriation, I don't recall any details. My buddy swears I passed out with my eyes open. I'm still not sure if he was bullshitting about it with the possibility that I had just fallen asleep.
Eventually, I progressed to straight vodka. It kicked my butt without the staggering and I could still get my words out. Lots of guys couldn't do vodka on the rocks. They'd do shots of whiskey.
My first marriage was a lot of work and things wouldn't settle down till I got to my second marriage. Busy with 2 jobs, I don't recall much drinking at all.
My 2nd marriage lead to more luncheon dates at the local bar/restaurant. At this time, I was older and more responsible. That was the time I tried Zima, a malt liquor. While everyone seemed to experience headaches from it , I seemed impervious to the ailment.
On one of the vacations with my second wife, I encountered a fine blueberry mead at the Cascata Winery at the Professors' Inn. The inn is located near Seneca Lake, one of the finger lakes in the middle of the state of New York. The owner is an accomplished artist and author, having studied in Italy. The home was something to see with the owner's paintings throughout the house. Later, I would taste a couple of meads made with honey. They were nothing compared to my New York blueberry mead experience.
I found a better beer. My second wife and I were able to take a number of short trips around the state of Michigan. A trip to Frankenmuth was worth it as I got a chance to drink Fred Scheer's beers. I'm glad I made it before the brewery experienced a tornado, then a fire and finally Fred's exit to another job. Fred Scheer must have had the same taste buds because he knew how to make beer. I was amazed and this was my turning point in life when it came to beer.
Then, some expensive ciders from a local orchard just seem to miss. The common Angry Orchard is not too sweet but just right. My brother's illness became my inspiration to try what he could drink: cider. It is the only cider I like when there isn't much to choose from on the beer menu.
In the last 10 years, I got a taste of Chartreuse. Smelling a little like aftershave, it had a unique taste with the extracts from 132 botanicals. Definitely, I will try this one again.
Sometime after 2002, I got a taste of Paulaner's Oktoberfest Wiesn. It is what I call beer made in heaven. It is perhaps the best tasting brew I had ever tasted. The following year it is available again. I could swear the brewer has given it a stronger hop presence which has brought down the experience for me.
In the last 3-4 years, I've been frequenting Odd Side Ales at Grand Haven on the west side of the state during an annual kite festival I attend. The first time I experienced spicy beer. A fruit and vegetable beer with papaya and habaneros. I just need to get some tortilla chips to pair with it.
Later, I also found gruit ale. A brewery local to the state makes gruit ale. From Mt. Pleasant Michigan, Sacred Gruit Ale is created by Mountain Town Brewing Co. with a very special kick to it unlike other alcohols.
At this time, I've also gotten involved with my first beer kits. I got the bug to try making more. Beer brewing is pretty awesome! Mr. Beer is my first, but I soon try other kits: Brooklyn Brew Shop and Craft a Brew. I got most of all the equipment I needed to start all grain brewing.
My wife and I also occasionally eat and drink at the Hopcat in East Lansing. Known for their beer menu with about 100 beers to choose from. You have to spend as much time looking at the food menu as you do the drinks. I've gotten to know other styles here.
Drinking is one of my many interests as well as great food to accompany it. Local restaurants have started making hot fresh pretzels with homemade mustard and cheese. That's been a real delight. My dad and I could probably both be considered foodies. His experiments put him closer to being a gourmet chef, whereas, I was the food critic. I didn't make as much food as he did, but I liked to try different foods to find the best. I remember trying to find the best tasting cheesecake in Manhattan with my wife. We also ventured to Mackinaw Island to bring home some of the best tasting fudge. If I could buy it why make it?
My only beer cocktail worth mentioning is the Moscow Mule. I started making this one at home in the last year. Pictured above it contains Ginger Beer, lime and vodka. Forget the Boilermaker. Maybe, I haven't found the right beer to go with whiskey.
Now, if I have a day off from work I'll turn on Sirius XM '60s pop hits before I start to homebrew. My parents must have brainwashed me with '60s music at sometime. No bad news involving government leaders, just 60s music: the Raspberries, Nancy Sinatra, Mamas & the Papas, Beach Boys, Cream, the Trameloes, Walker Brothers and the Lovin' Spoonful. Relaxed with no concerns. Isn't that what it's all about? Overall, I've tried lots of new things, found some great drinks and some not so great. Should we go places and drink things? Now, you've seen my long story short.
Get out and experience new things in life. Isn't life about finding out what you like and then getting it?