By Amy Phillips Penn

“A lady came up to me one day and said ‘Sir, you are drunk’, to which I replied ‘I am drunk today, madam, and tomorrow I shall be sober, but you will still be ugly.” –  Winston Churchill

New Year’s Eve and the drinking is fast and hard, underage, overage, and over the top.

Ahh, the pseudo-sophistication of one’s first drink, when one is underage and a “booze virgin,” just waiting for the first metaphorical fraternity high.

I remember my first drink, but I don’t always remember the next one.

I was on an ocean liner, en famille: just my parents, myself, their closest friends and their son Richard. He was blond, suave, handsome, and two years older than me, which in itself made him god-like to me. He had always treated me as a little sister, an annoying little sister at that.

Then he called me, and asked me to have a drink with him.

I was over the moon times a spoonful.

Leaving the stuffy side of First Class, we snuck into Second Class, where the lights were dim, and the company dimmer.

Richard asked me what I wanted to drink.

“Booze virgin” panic set in.

I searched for the name of any liquor that I might tolerate.

My parents drank scotch, and the smell of it coupled with smooshed out “I am Joe’s lungs,” cigarettes made me seasick, even anchored.

“Ho, ho ho, and a bottle of rum,” resounded in my head.

“Rum, I like rum,” I managed.

“How do you like it?” he asked.

In a toffee bar?

Clueless took over.

“A rum punch,” he told the waiter.

I was in.

Years later in New York, the party’s still a-bubbling.

Just think and drink of the memories of erstwhile haunts, and debauchery.

Trader Vic’s with its Tiki décor and Polynesian punches; El Morocco swathed blue and white striped Zebras and memories of Streisand and Redford in The Way We Were; the Stork Club, ”with guns, diamonds and champagne that never stops,” and Le Club, the Kennedy clan’s party hub.

No more of this “stay at home, can’t afford to go out, do shots and beer stuff.” Leave that to the Clydesdales and your remote control.

Cocktails have gone psychedelic, no drugs needed.

Chocolate martinis, “diabolic cointreau” with satanic chili ears; best whiskey blends and mentions of wine cellars are back. Decades of pedigree and prestige meets…the Duck Dynasty.

Gone country? The “Classy Ladies” have just the elixir: The Tipsy Pig cocktail: Bitters, vermouth, candied bacon, and chopped bacon. Bwahahaha.

The etiquette of drinking is apparent: don’t drink so much that you either, puke all over anyone; tell everyone what you “really” think of them; pass out someplace conspicuous; bitch-slap the help, or post those slutty little selfies online.

Everyone drizzles or drops a little; I no longer wear white when I drink red wine.

My mother gave a dinner party years ago. Her dinner partner spilled a drink on the table cloth and was mortified.

“Don’t worry about it,” she assuaged him.

“What a really great hostess does is to immediately spill her own glass on to the cloth,” she said, choosing not to illustrate the point further.

Then there’s the intellectual rationalization, that an occasional artist or writer wrap themselves around. Musicians are more prone to, well you know… think Led Zeppelin.

“I drink to make other people more interesting, “said Ernest Hemingway at his most “Ernest.”

Enter drinks and the single girl.

“I like to have a martini.

Two at the very most.

After three, I’m under the table,

After four, I’m under my host,” which is so Dorothy Parker.

Happy New Year! It’s 2014 somewhere!


Featured image courtesy of Breezy Cheetah Pop

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