A Shot in the Dark

Is there a problem that alcohol can't fix?

By Mara Zepeda
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Aug. 22, 2007

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Behind bars: Bartender Lulu (right) dispenses wisdom along with beer at Grace Tavern

Since losing my hard drive to a spilled glass of sancerre (and consequently seeking solace in a bottle of bourbon), the topic of drinking in times of crisis (and the crises to which drinking leads) has gained a new poignancy. And I'm not the only one interested in the age-old phenomenon of drinking away one's sorrows, as evidenced by the recently published book Cocktail Therapy: The Perfect Prescription for Life's Many Crises.

Written by three bartenders who believe there's a "cocktail suited for each and every calamity," the book presents hypothetical catastrophes followed by recipes for the appropriate libations.

Condom break? Try a Ginger Ginseng Martini. The ginger will calm your stomach and the ginseng will relieve the stress as you "head out for that pregnancy test."

Caught on a Friday night with hairy legs and grandma panties? Buck up and slam a shot of tequila.

Or my personal favorite: Dating a guy who's into S&M? A kamikaze shot will loosen up your inhibitions, although, "if a huge strap-on dildo makes an appearance, triple the recipe."

For those times you have to work late and your colleague "gets his midnight lift from the dealer down the street," why not whip up a glass of Liquid Cocaine--the next best thing--with rum, Goldschl�ger and J�germeister?

As Cocktail Therapy progresses, the crises get worse. Just reading the book is enough to make you hit the bar. Take the sobering circumstances that lead to the preparation of a Momtini: "You look around and find you and your friends went from a wild flock of social butterflies to a group of overworked moms." Nothing says "bottoms up" like play dates.

After 15 years in the business, Lulu, the day bartender at Grace Tavern, has heard her share of sob stories ("Too many," she says), but she's skeptical of the impulse to pair crisis with cocktail. "It doesn't really matter what you drink so long as it's alcohol," says Lulu, who in her times of need prefers a straight shot of Jameson whiskey and Barry Manilow crooning on the jukebox.

In Lulu's experience the predicaments necessitating the comfort of a stiff drink include unemployment, health issues and, most commonly, breakups.

"I've got customers that will give me daily updates," she says. The widespread custom of breaking up over phone, email or text message has only made Lulu's job as an adviser more complex. "At a certain point I'll say, 'Well, you have to talk to her about it. I don't know what she meant by that.'"

Lulu says when regulars opt for something harder than their usual, it's a tip off they've had a rough day. A customer claims nervous DUI defendants will stop by Grace to calm their nerves before heading over to traffic court at 13th and Filbert. And Lulu sees seasonal trends as well. She knows at least six couples that broke up when spring arrived. And grieving offspring start coming in around Mother's Day.

In your time of sorrows, you can arm yourself with Cocktail Therapy and take your woes into the privacy of your own home. Or seek solace with Lulu.

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