A recent Freshly Pressed post, http://cold-glass.com/2011/02/21/what-was-your-first-cocktail/, made me remember the story of MY first cocktail, and this being Sunday morning, and I being charmingly irreverent, thought I would share the tale today.

When E-Bro went to college, he moved about four blocks away to a dorm on Duke University’s East Campus.  I was still a refreshingly innocent 16 year-old.  Back then, while you couldn’t really buy beer and wine at 16 (you had to wait until you were 18), it seems we did, because I remember sharing bottles of Riunite Lambrusco with various friends from time to time, and a picnic Sarah and I had at Duke Gardens one summer in which we had little bottles of pink champagne. 

At any rate, one fine fall day, E-Bro invited me to his dorm room after I was out of school.  Let me preface this by saying that we did not come from a family of drinkers.  My Dad had bottles of unique liqueurs gathering dust in the basement, and there were bottles of Boone’s Farm and Manischewitz in the basement refrigerator that would show up empty by the back door from time to time.  (Sheltered by the washing machine, when I was very little, I would tipple the dribbles in the bottom of the bottle in secret when no one was looking – yes, a lush in the making – and I liked the blackberry wine the best.)  I never ever saw my parents drink at home.  Not once, until E-Bro and I were adults, and would bring home our own beers and wines.  Even then, my Dad would only have a few sips or a small glass, and my Mom none at all.  But the tales of drinking with my parents are best left for another post.

So on this fine fall day, as I say, I paid E-Bro a visit.  Hard alcohol was not quite as new to E-Bro as it was to me at the time, but that part of his shady past is something I know little about, so we’ll just leave it in the shade, shall we?  I’m sure Erik Le Rouge could supply some background, if I wheedled it out of him.  (Wow, I do seem to distract myself this morning, don’t I? It’s not like I have ADD or something….oh, look, a chicken!  Wait, what was I saying?)

We visited a while.  Even though he was close to home and brought occasional friends and laundry by, I missed him.  As much as we had fought during our childhood, it was really hard for me (and for my folks) when he went to college.  I remember they snipped at each other ALL the time after he left, to the extent that, one morning over breakfast, I basically yelled at them and told them that I didn’t care if they were suffering from the “empty nest syndrome” because I was still here, he was gone, that was a fact, and to stop picking at each other all the time, or I would be gone too.  That shut them up, made them think, and improved things.  You have to understand that I NEVER spoke to my parents like that.  Now see?  There I went again.  Distraction action.

Back to our story….  Somehow or other, as we were listening to some ELP, E-Bro’s and my conversations came around to partying.  He said – and mind you now, this is what older brothers do, as all you little sisters out there well know – “Hey, I want you to try something.”  Words every little sister dreads to hear, but accepts with a brave facade and a resigned internal sigh.  He got some juice glasses (no doubt “borrowed” from the Student Union – didn’t we all do that?) and poured me the following:  a glass of gin, a glass of vodka, a glass of whiskey, and a glass of rum.  We’re not talking a full glass, but we’re talking about two shots per glass.  “Okay,” he said, “see which one you like best.”

And so I drank them all.  One by one.  And by the time I was done, I was pretty darn happy.  And pretty darned reeling.  And the whole world looked pretty darned good. 

I liked the gin the best. 

I was invited to several of his dorm parties while he was in college and I was still in Durham.  I drank a little (not too much), met some nice people, set some carpeting on fire, watched girls compare scars from their suicide attempts.  All fodder for other tales.  Sometime in E-Bro’s sophomore year, at one of his parties, I asked for my usual gin, and whoever was pouring said, “Whoa, don’t you want some tonic with that?”  I looked at him, most puzzled. “Tonic?” I asked, “What for?  What’s that?”

Yes, I had been drinking straight gin for over a year.  E-Bro neglected to tell me that there was such a thing as mixers.

I consider the whole experience early weight-training for my liver. 

I have since passed far away from gin, went through a whiskey phase, will turn to vodka as a coolant on occasion, and dearly love rum.  I’m pleased to say that, even with all the stress and sorrow of the last few months, I never drink alone, and I only drink once a week or so, in a social sort of way.  So the lush life has most fortunately passed me by.

But I still treasure the memory of my first cocktail – okay, as much of it as I can remember.

Bar at Neptune's Treasure