Busy Times

After spending a great Christmas at home, gorging on seafood and Tom & Jerry, and wondering if the snow was ever going to stop, I roused myself this morning to go online and do a little self promotion. While things have been pretty quiet here on the blog, I’ve been extremely busy this past month, and some of the projects I’ve been working on are now coming out.

First, the new: I’ve got a piece posted on the New York Times‘ opinion blog, Proof. The blog covers “Alcohol and American Life,” and my piece, “Drinking Outside the Temple,” is a brief and personal look at the country’s cocktail landscape (be sure to check out the comments to see the kind of visceral reaction engendered by any discussion of alcohol — especially a discussion that deals with enjoying the moderate and responsible consumption of alcohol; and please, leave a comment of your own). And as happy as I am to have contributed something to this conversation, I need to offer a mea culpa to many of the country’s bartenders: as with any other time when you try to describe an entire city or region’s cocktail scene in the course of one or two sentences, I made gross generalizations, and I’m sure that there are plenty of bartenders in San Francisco, Seattle, New York and other cities who’ll take issue with the way I’ve depicted their region’s approach to drinks (or failed to depict them — as much as I’d like, there’s no way I could mention every city’s bar scene). Apologies if my comments seem to overlook or ignore your work; my intent was to paint a broad picture of the country’s cocktail patterns for those outside the mixology loop, in hopes that they might start exploring and discovering the same things I’ve come to enjoy about so many of your establishments. The tool may have been blunt, but my intent was a good one; please get in touch and let me know if you have questions, comments or rants.

UPDATE: The comments section at Proof must be experienced, if only to see the vitriol that’s laid on by self-described recovering alcoholics (who apparently have plenty of time to troll alcohol-related sites on the Internet). My favorite comment so far, though, is from someone named Tim, who if I should ever have the pleasure to meet, I’d be happy to buy a drink; read Tim’s comment here.

Second, I wrote a story on hot (boozy) drinks, “A Warming Trend in Winter,” that appears in today’s San Francisco Chronicle. Thanks to Craig Lee, the paper’s photographer, for getting such a cool shot of a Bishop with a flaming clove-studded orange shell in the serving ladle.

Third, and I’m running a bit late on this, but last Friday a story I wrote on unconventional American whiskies came out in the Chronicle; read the story here: “Newfangled American Whiskies go beyond rye, bourbon.”

Fourth, and I’m placing this down the list because I haven’t even seen the magazine yet (the mail truck is probably stuck at the bottom of the hill — thanks, Seattle, for your near-total inability to clear the city’s streets), I have a short article on Cherry Heering in the January issue of Imbibe. Article, sans recipes, is here: “Cherry Crush“.

Apologies for the extended silence here at the blog, but as you can see, I’ve been really freakin’ busy. Hopefully things will even out in the New Year, but in the meantime, happy holidays to all–

14 Responses to Busy Times

  1. Congratulations, New York Times writer Paul Clarke!

    It’s also a good thing to have more people who actually drink writing for Proof, as previously at least two out of the six contributors did not.

  2. Great piece in the Times ! The current cocktail trends remind me of the bartenders circuit in the late 1800s. Bartenders would often show up in the great drinking cities of the day (SF, New Orleans, Chicago, NYC, London, Paris, etc…) Many of the greatest cocktails were invented at this time in cites all over the world.

    I guess a good cocktail is popular the world over.

  3. Wow, I see what you mean about the NYT comments!

    I have to wonder if people hate drinking so much, why are they reading a blog about it?

    Oh, that’s right. It’s the Internet.

  4. Congrats on the Times piece, linked to it today. But if you really want to see nasty Puritanical comments, try writing columns suggesting there ought to be some places where smoking is allowed indoors. Then duck.

  5. Paul, what a Christmas present this is. Just read your Proof piece this morning (it was fantastic) and that’s how I discovered this blog which I will now waste the rest of the weekend catching up on all your old whiskey wisdom. Never mind the comments, just consider the source. ……. And in Seattle no less. Cheers!

  6. Nice blog post in the NYT:)

    I was wondering as I was reading it how long it would take the savages to pipe in with their two cents’ worth. They did not dissappoint:)

  7. Wow! What a great collection of links for cocktail enthusiasts, and to think that they all come from the same person. Paul, I must say that you are one of my favorite cocktail writers. Congrats on all your recent successes and keep up the good work. Oh, and neglecting the blog is fine by me, as long as you keep giving us these links so we can track down where your brilliant writing can be found instead.

  8. Great work Paul! As for the comments, I was once the subject of a Seattle PI article, and I recall the writer of the column explicitly telling me NOT to read the reader comments, as he described them as a forum for fringe elements and borderline personality types. Of course I read them anyway, suffered some sort of aneurysm, and then got on with my life.

  9. I went against my standard policy and read the comments at your suggestion, Paul. Nice article, but those petulant, sanctimonious windbags always find a way in to ruin the party.

    It’s not enough that I am reminded every day that manners are dead when people close doors in my face, chew food and talk, and ignore that whole “please” and “thank you” thing—the internet has to bring it on home to me that I was apparently the last person in the world who took to heart that I shouldn’t say anything if it isn’t nice, or at least constructive. Oh well. At least we nerds have each other for support.

  10. I feel like the Comments section (present company excluded, of course!) is sometimes like a tech-era equivalent of the coffee shop bathroom graffiti in that it gives the part time poets and pontificators a venue. Your Proof piece really brought them out of the woodwork–I am indicting myself here as well, as I could not resist putting in my two cents’ worth. As I do not troll around leaving self-righteous comments on the AA and recovery blogs, I was disappointed to find out that members of that community do not afford us the same courtesy.

  11. What I don’t get is how and why all these negatolics found this site and got on board so vociferously and so quickly. Knowing what I do about how social media happens it struck me as quite unusual. My initial hypothesis was it’s a function of NYT readers and their seemingly high percentage of recovering alcoholics. But that doesn’t explain why they found this site and felt compelled to comment when we see very little of it on all the other “regular” cocktail sites. I would be interested in hearing others’ opinions.

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