As spirits enthusiasts, it’s vital to be vigilant over the amount we drink. Ralfy is good at reminding us once in a while. In the spirit ‘Dry January’ [the opposite of Scotch-tober], today’s spotlight is on a musician friend & violinist extraordinaire called Pascal.
Pascal was put-off booze from a young age. Pascal’s parents had a penchant for alcohol as did his two alcoholic grandfathers. Furthermore, the general drunken behaviour of punters in bars he worked in during his late teens, did little to quell Pascal’s negative associations with alcohol. Then take into account Pascal’s propensity for sweet sugary things, and you can understand why Pascal might have been unconvinced by the virtues of alcohol. Indeed Pascal has experienced alcohol only eleven times in his life thus far. Here are his recollections of those scant experiences.
Aged 3: Medicine
The only time Pascal was ever drunk is when he raided the medicine cabinet for the Tixylix. His raid was successful as he consumed the sugary alcoholic medicine at will. Even at such a young age, Pascal recalls all the stages: the buzzy stage, the giggly stage, the angry stage, the crash, the crying,…. Ultimately he was rushed to hospital to have his stomach pumped.
10 years pass without a drop
Age 13: Sacramental wine
Pascal experienced a Catholic background during his youth. He even met the Pope, though these facts played no part in his near 100% abstention of alcohol. Pascal’s second experience with alcohol was with red wine during a Holy Communion. He tells me that he held onto the overall memory of events that centred around eating the ‘body’ and drinking the ‘blood of Christ’, than the wine itself which he says was nothing wildly exciting.
Age 17: Cointreau & Tequila
Whilst many teenagers at seventeen are working on their ability to consume beer, wine & spirits in quantity, the only time Pascal enjoyed alcohol was with Cointreau liqueur poured over a Peaches & Cream Sundae-type dessert. After all, Pascal does have a sweet tooth. Furthermore, he tells me it was served by a beautiful woman in a private abode. Irresistible conditions I’m told.
Also at 17 came Tequila accompanied by, you guessed it, salt & lemon. Classic! Like the sacramental wine, it was the social occasion Pascal savours. The drink itself was inconsequential.
Age 18: Whisky
At aged 18, Pascal won a limbo competition! The prize was a dram of [undisclosed] ‘single malt’ whisky. Taken as a shot, Pascal tells me it was “a neutral-to-interesting experience”. He reveals that “it went down very well”, and that he felt the warming heat of ethanol slide all the way down.
Age 18: Korean beer
Pascal tried his first beer at 18 after performing in Korea for an NYE show. One of the band members was Korean. Using ‘when in Spain’ reasoning, the band member’s “very hot girl-friend” [I spot a girl & > alcohol theme developing], persuaded Pascal to drink Korean beer. That night, she ended up stretching over the bed she was in with her girlfriend and snogging Pascal. The half pint of beer in question, Pascal drunk rather rapidly. He says he didn’t enjoy it – the beer that is.
Age 19: [Diageo] Kilkenny stout
After a local gig, Pascal asked ‘Jerry from Glasgow’ for a lift home. Jerry, who was being served a ‘one for the road’ pint at the time, told Pascal to down the pint for the price of the lift. Jerry knew Pascal didn’t drink and was only joking, but in a flash Pascal had downed it. Pascal tells me the only reason it was physically possible for him to down a whole pint in one go is because he was so incredibly hot, sweaty and parched after the gig. He got his lift home but felt awful for the rest of the night.
Age 19: Champagne [x2]
Pascal tried Moët & Chandon champagne on NYE 2000. He says “it was ok”. It turns out this was actually Pascal’s second champagne experience. The first had come earlier in the same year after a performance of a song request [Maggie May], that was followed by the offer of a complimentary glass of champagne – whoopee! Pascal decided to accept this second champagne experience in order to compare it with the Moët, given all the fuss over the stuff. He recalls this champagne being significantly lower in quality to the Moet, it being a ‘pub champagne’. On reflection, Pascal tells me that the Moët was easier to drink, being less oppressive and with smaller bubbles but concluded with “I’ll take an Appletiser any day“.
Aged 21+: Vodka
Aside from his medicine cupboard experience, this is the only other alcoholic drink Pascal has consumed unwittingly. Throughout Pascal’s life, ‘for laughs’, many of his friends & colleagues have attempted to spike or lace his soft drinks with stronger stuff. When Pascal was 21, he was in an Irish band in Ibiza who’s members would constantly try to sneak vodka shots into his fruit juices. Accidentally consuming it, he said it was never a fun nor memorable experience and tasted foul. Failing however to intoxicate Pascal during a three months season, the Irish band and bar staff decided, ‘if you cant beat them, join them’. One night near the end of that season, everyone had virgin ice-cream floats in celebration of Pascal’s abstemiousness.
Age 25: Guinness [more beer, more stout]
Pascal tells me he loved the Guinness tour. Accompanied by his wife, he tells me that whilst the sun was setting over Dublin, he got swept away by the associated historical romance of the brewery – helped by all the ads that had subconsciously yet inevitably permeated his brain to build up an emotional picture of provenance and grandeur. Pascal duly succumbed to the complimentary pour at the end of the tour. Comparing it with the Kilkenny he’d drunk six years earlier, he exclaimed “oh no, that’s awful”. Pascal had assumed Guinness would at least be palatable/passable, but tells me this particular alcoholic experience was a one-sip wonder. He maintains that he loved the whole Guinness experience apart from the actual product.
13 more years have passed without a drop
So far, our friend Pascal has never experienced genever, gin, rum, port, ouzo, amaretto, mead, cider, brandy, cognac, armagnac, sake, sherry, cider, absinth, chacha, cachaca, pisco,….
Possibilities for the future
Pascal mentioned absinth and sake as mild curiosities, but maintains that that is all they are – famous/renowned drinks reduced to mild curiosities. I’d recommend Drambuie or Bailey’s to my friend because I know he has a sweet tooth, and I’d probably pair them with sweet foods. Lately, Nocino walnut liqueur has rocked my world, and if there’s any left, I might offer it to him.
In reality, there’s hardly a chance that this young man will drink again, and good on him. Don’t watch this space!