A Little Drunk in Albany
Do you know how often I go out to drink? Well, before this past Friday, I could safely say “never”. The statute of limitations has to run out the shenanigans of your early 20s at some point, right?
Which isn’t to say that I don’t attend beer pairing events, or enjoy a cocktail before dinner, or go out for a drink with some friends. But usually, I’m a one and done kind of guy. And it’s not because I see anything wrong with drinking. Largely, it’s for practical reasons.
When I lived out west, it was easy to get back home at the end of the night. For starters, there were plenty of watering holes within walking distance. But there was also some pretty solid public transportation infrastructure. Oh, and reliable, honest, taxi service.
Recently, I met a fellow who insisted that the culture of the Capital Region has changed for the worse since there was more public awareness and police enforcement of drunk driving laws. Apparently, at some point in the city’s not-too-distant history, everyone drove out to the bars, got wasted, and then drove home. Those days were apparently full of camaraderie, community, and a cadre of colorful characters.
Maybe I’m more modern and cut from softer stone, but that seems like a bad idea.
Anyhow, last Friday I had two booze-centric events back to back, and I decided to throw restraint out the window. So instead of driving downtown, I took the bus. It’s alway easy to get into the city. Getting out is another story entirely.
The first event was the 26er Celebration at Nine Pin Cider, jointly hosted by Slidin’ Dirty. Ciders and Sliders, baby. It was a grand old time. And it was a treat to meet some of my fellow 26ers. We all now have spiff metal cards, which are good for a lifetime of happy hour pricing.
Frankly, I don’t even know what that means. But I love the card. It has my name on it and everything.
For the most part, I spent the three hours drinking the wet hopped cider, which was one of my favorites from the program. But I tried a bunch of different ones too, including the hibiscus lime which was nicely tart, the vanilla chai which surprisingly didn’t suck, and the peach tea which I regretted almost immediately. I think it was a good call to end on the classic ginger, because that’s always a palate cleansing treat.
After all that cider, it was off to a wine tasting at a friend’s house. There were ten wines to get through. But I just couldn’t quite do it. I tried. I gave it a valiant effort. But what really slowed me down were the conversations with my friends, both old and new. My hope is that my new friend who studies food safety was serious about her offer of writing a guest post on the blog. I can’t remember the third thing she doesn’t eat, but I recall it being an interesting list.
So here’s the funny thing about being unaccustomed to drinking heavily. I kind of forgot how drinking can impair one’s judgement. And it tripped me up on a couple of fronts.
For starters, I completely neglected to keep track of time, so I missed the last bus back. No big deal. I’d walk down Lark Street and catch a cab.
But then I thought, “Oh, here’s the Savoy! I’ve been meaning to stop in for a cocktail, and now I’m here, and it’s open.” Man, that would have been a bad idea, but it seemed almost sensible at the time. Somehow, I resisted the siren song of what appears to be a crazy good cocktail program that doesn’t seem to be getting the attention it deserves.
As it turned out, there just happened to be a bunch of cabs hanging out on Madison right by the Lionheart. So I asked one if he could take me to where I lived, near Stuyvesant Plaza. I’ve avoided cabs in this region like poison for years, so I’m unaccustomed to the unique quirks of our livery laws.
I thought it was odd that the back door didn’t seem to work. But I was invited to sit up front. And I thought it was odd there was no meter. Still, it was a short trip. I had plenty of cash on me. It was late. I just wanted to get home. Money was of little concern to me at the moment.
How short of a trip? Less than 5 miles. At night, it takes under 12 minutes.
Turns out, that’s $20. Which was about as expensive as the worst case scenario I had played out in my head. And I suppose it could have even been worse. Nobody was smoking. The cab didn’t stop to pick up any other passengers. I never felt unsafe. And it took me straight home.
Which, incidentally, makes it probably the least sketchy of my Albany cab experiences. Broken back door and all. But still, in the parlance of our times, this was sketchy AF.
All in all, it was a great night. Regardless of what was happening in the world around us, people were happy. It may have been a chemically induced happiness, but these days, I’ll take what I can get. Although Saturday, after a restorative dim sum brunch, and a celebration of new life at a baby shower, it felt as if everyone I knew and respected in Albany was either out marching locally or in Washington DC. That was a good feeling too.
While it had nothing to do with booze itself, I saw both my local distiller and some of my favorite area beer sellers. But there were also designers, bakers, journalists, clergy, Yelpers, professors, DJs, and a staggering number of creative and witty sign makers.
The gathering was huge. It was peaceful. And it was hopeful. As a member of a minority group that currently finds itself under attack, I’m glad to live in a community where it feels like lots of people have my back.