10222017Headline:

For Those Who Love History . . . and Drinking

 

Alcohol doesn’t exactly have a reputation for making us smarter.

But I have to admit that when a cute bartender served me bourbon while telling me about the history and distillation process of said bourbon . . . it made me feel more intelligent while I drank the bourbon.

I had clearly made a sophisticated choice, and was obviously one of the smarter lone drinkers reading a book at the bar.

And you know what? Now when I order a drink, 7 times out of 10 I’ll order that particular bourbon by name. I already liked the bourbon, and the fact that I know something about it makes me feel a greater appreciation for it. It makes me feel smart and sophisticated.

Not that I give all my friends lectures about bourbon when I order it, but still.

So when my friend Keegan told me he was involved in creating a podcast about the history of cocktails and alcohol, I was excited to check it out.

It’s called Bar None, and I was impressed at the level of research that Keegan and his cohort in alcoholic history, Greg, had done.

As Greg, a professional bartender, points out in Bar None’s second episode, “Sazerac,”  researching the history of cocktails can be difficult. A lot of drinks “have a vast amount of information circling around them that is categorically, verifiably, false . . . For every story you think might be true, there’s bound to be at least half a dozen others that look just as plausible.”

So the crew of Bar None has done a lot of homework.

And they took all that research, mixed it with their storytelling skills (Keegan is an actor and writer), added a dash of sound design and interviews with professional sources, and created a killer podcast that both entertained me and made me feel smarter.

For example, Greg debunks one of the most prominent and persistent misunderstandings about alcohol:

“Absinthe is one of the most consistently misunderstood spirits in the entire world. Even in its heyday when the nation of France was consuming almost 10 million gallons of the stuff per year, it was blamed for everything from laziness and depression to violence and infanticide.”

But Greg makes a great argument in favor of absinthe:

“Yes, absinthe contains wormwood and yes, wormwood contains a chemical compound called thujone, and yes, thujone is a dangerous substance which can cause convulsions and brain damage in human beings. BUT it appears in such miniscule quantities in both modern day and historical absinthe as to render its ill effects completely moot. So what about the green fairy? Well, absinthe is generally an overproof spirit bottled around 120 proof which means it clocks in at roughly 60% alcohol.

“Now think—what chemical do we know of that causes people to act irrationally after they’ve had just a little bit too much?

“Think of thujone like the tryptophan in your Thanksgiving turkey. Yes, turkey does contain a compound that causes drowsiness but so does chicken and beef and a handful of other common foods. This means the real reason you’re always so tired on the 4th Thursday of November isn’t a mysterious sleep aid hiding in the main course; it’s your practice of eating enough calories in one sitting to feed a medieval European village for a week. By the same token, people who drink a lot of absinthe aren’t drooling and falling over because of some spiteful psychoactive lime green demigod. They’re just drunk.”

I must admit, I am a drinking dork.

I am the chick sitting alone at the bar with a book, who thinks the bartender is actually flirting with her when he tells her stories about the drinks he’s trying to serve her. I can’t actually handle much more than one drink before I fall asleep . . . which is why I try to make that one drink count. I want something interesting and delicious.

Which is why I like this podcast. I like that it teaches me the history of what I’m drinking.

And I like that I can listen to a show about alcohol in my car.

Find the podcast and listen for free here:

Website: https://barnoneradio.com/breadcircus/

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/episode-bar-none/id1114394782?mt=2

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/podcastbarnone/

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/vlijypml4uuw/foreword?utm_source=soundcloud&utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=facebook

* © Mythraeum LLC 2016. The content of this article, except for quoted or linked source materials, is protected by copyright. Please contact the author at the above links to request usage


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