My parents are old fashioned. They love each other unconditionally and treat one another the way a husband and wife should. I think a big part of them being this way has to do with the fact that neither of them drink, ever. I know, right? How the hell is that even possible? Don’t worry, it baffles me too.
They both came from broken homes in which alcohol was the forefront of their parents’ problems. So, I’m sure this is the reason my siblings and I were raised in an alcohol-free home. Though there were times I resented them, I look back now and am blessed they did so. I had a peaceful upbringing in which I am very fortunate for today.
As fate would have it, my parents being Old Fashioned resulted in my drink of choice to be just that. Bourbon, two dashes of Angostura bitters, one sugar cube, a few drops of water (maybe), orange peel, topped off with a cherry and I was the happiest (and usually loudest) person in the bar.
I’d approach the bartender with a certain smirk and confidence I had developed from years of drinking and would say, “Hey, how ya doin? Old Fashioned, please…bourbon, hold the water.” Then I would casually look around to see which fellow bar mates caught a glimpse of my egocentric self ordering what I called “a man’s drink”. Yeah, real manly I was.
There are several tales as to where the drink originated, but for the most part, the story begins in Louisville, Kentucky. A private social club, called The Pendennis Club, is credited for making the very first old-fashioned (thrillist.com). That seems about right to me.
The feeling that came over me every time I drank an Old Fashioned, and met someone else drinking one for that matter, always projected me into a place bigger than myself. It was as if I had my own social club, with its private set of rules and standards. I saw others ordering their ‘lame’ whiskey cokes or vodka sodas and soon developed a smug, almost arrogant, demeanor whenever I ordered mine. Though I was merely in my 20’s, I soon believed I was in an elite class of sophisticated gentleman who only drank crafted cocktails built for the privileged. Superrrrrrr lame, right?
Looking back, it amazes me how egotistical I became. There I was, ordering drinks I couldn’t afford trying to impress people I didn’t know just so I could gain acceptance from my peers. I wore expensive clothes, cleaned up nice, and flaunted money (I surely didn’t have) trying to fit in with people who I was never born to fit in with.
That one drink alone changed me entirely. I became very angry, self-righteous, and viewed the world around me as if it owed me something. I lost my compassion and genuine love for people. Who knew a simple “Old Fashioned, please” would result in not only losing a business I envisioned being a world class event company one day; but all five of my best friends too. On top of that, all the people I invested so much time into pleasing over the years jumped ship too.
When I experienced my rock bottom, I decided it was time for me to change and be sober for a while. Now, I’ve gone back and forth a hundred times with whether or not I should encourage you to do the same (if you’re a drinker), and I finally decided it’s not up to me. That one is up to you. Sobriety did change my life, but that doesn’t mean you must go sober too. It was a goal I wanted to accomplish for me because it was the root of all my problems.
Some people can have a glass of wine or two and call it a night. I would have a bottle and then hit the bar to order my Old Fashioneds (yes plural). Balance and knowing when to quit were not my strong suit (by any means). I knew quitting cold turkey was out of the question because going from the amount I was drinking to quitting overnight for the rest of my life was just not realistic. So, I made a goal for 30 days completely sober. It was nearly impossible, but I did it. And let me tell you why it was the coolest thing I ever did.
As fate would have it (again), when I sat down and counted out the days to 30 and wrote on the calendar “30 Days Sober”; in the right corner of that little box said “National Peace Day.” I’m not joking. This really did happen and it still gives me chills to this day. Talk about the universe aligning and giving me some clarity.
That 30th day, on National Peace Day, was a defining moment in my Peace Quest. It was the first time I had changed and conquered a goal that I set out to accomplish. Sure, I’ll be honest with you; the next day I went out on a Yacht and drank with some “friends”, but that doesn’t matter. I had made it to 30 days and that’s exactly what I had set out to do at the time.
Though I am ‘attempting’ at being completely sober now, if I ever decide to drink on occasion again; I made a promise to myself to always do 30 days out of the year, 3 times in that year, completely sober. If you’re not one of those math geniuses out there, yes, that means 90 days total completely sober broken down into 30 day periods. If you decide sobriety just isn’t realistic for your lifestyle (which is 100% okay); I do recommend trying to do 30 days without a drop once or twice throughout the year just to keep a level head. I believe 30 day periods give you the clarity you need at the end to continue on living a happy life. Regardless, whatever you decide is for you to decide. This is an area of your own life that I, or anyone else, cannot decide for you.
But, if you need some help with it…I may know a guy. Some might call it Old Fashioned, but I now order my drinks with bourbon and water…hold the bourbon 😉