Check One, Check, Check. Is This Thing On?
Hi, my name is Erik Ellestad, and I write this blog.
Up until a couple years ago I wrote a Cocktail Blog called “Savoy Stomp“, worked as a bartender at restaurants like Heaven’s Dog, The Coachman, South at SF Jazz, &c., and helped host Savoy Cocktail Book nights at Alembic Bar.
However, as I was getting older, for various reasons, I was finding the balance of my ambivalence about cocktails, spirits, and drinking, was tipping towards, “You know what, the cons are now outweighing the pros.” So when The Coachman closed, I also decided to take that opportunity to take some time off drinking.
A sucky first month of not drinking turned into a good second month, and pretty soon it was a year. Now it is almost two years.
Up to this point, my strategy for not drinking has been primarily, to stop buying booze, stop making drinks at home, and to stop going out to bars. Period. Effective, easy; but I have friends and family that drink and I have friends in the bar industry that I miss, so I’ve started to slip back in, and sit at the odd bar stool. I’m talking again to friends I knew while working in the industry and realizing I do miss the social aspect of working and hanging out in bars.
However, the first thing I notice as a new teetotaler, is, outside of Food and Bev, myself and my old friends in the industry often don’t have a lot to talk about. Or we need to find new things to talk about. We worked together, navigated tough Saturday night after Saturday night, but small talk was more often about the drink nerdery, than what the kids are up to or what our hobbies or interests are. I mean, booze WAS my primary hobby there for the 10 years I was writing the Savoy Stomp blog. Partially my fault for being a bit of an obsessive personality.
Another thing I notice as a new teetotaler is that non-alcoholic drinks are often relegated to “Kids’ Menu” status in most bars and restaurants. If you’re lucky, a few lines at the end of a menu, and mostly drinks that are not very interesting to an adult palate. Literally, “Kid Stuff”. Sweet saturated fruit flavors with little challenge or bitterness.
Finally, I am noticing more that there are quite a few people who work in the Food and Bev industry who don’t drink for one reason or another. Or who are at the very least trying to work out a way to cut down on their drinking.
So, while learning to play clarinet at a grade school level is satisfying on some levels, I felt like there was something interesting to do with the experience I had with cocktails, the drink industry, and the fact that I was no longer drinking.
Maybe I could go out to bars and restaurants and look with new eyes at what they offered for non-drinking patrons, and be an advocate for giving more respect to non-drinkers on the menus and in the drinks they serve. Talk to some friends who didn’t drink about their choices while working in an industry that is pretty well pickled. Maybe post some recipes for actually tasty ADULT beverages without alcohol.
And most of all, kill the term “MOCK-TAIL” with fire.
Join me, won’t you?