History Lesson on the Rocks with a Twist

30 03 2010

Alcohol is rooted in ancient Egyptian times (BC), as Egyptians used fermented grains for making prototype forms of beer. They created the process when working to refine the production of raised breads by calculating how to add beer sediment to live yeast. I always though that wine would’ve come first, but in fact it was a close second to beer. Wine’s role in history was more ceremonial in it’s earnest beginnings, but later evolved to be used in culinary and celebratory forms. In later years (AC), the Latins perfected the art of distillation by using vaporization of alcohol to produce a higher alcohol level than the naturally ferminted liquid. In Europe, people generated wine for medicinal purposes and as distillation was perfected it was considered the “extraction of the spirit” of the wine which led to the name “spirits” for distillates. Not only medicine, but also the ancient practice of alchemy evolved from the European orgins of distillation. Alchemy is the science of transforming ordinary metals into gold, but in this case people believed alchemy could apply to alcohol by extracting the essential life force from it’s human shell bringing fourth eternal youth. Of course, today we know the truth is that abuse of alcohol brings fourth childish behavior.

In the process of man seeking eternal youth, the distillation of alcohol continued to be perfected and spirits grew in quality. Probably the first spirit to be taken seriously was Brandy (or Congnac) born of the Cognac region of Western France. People noticed that the spirits responded well to being aged in wooden casks and as the process grew in popularity so did the manufacturing of these wooden casks. Soon Irish and Scottish wiskey began to blossom under a different distilling process, as different regions of Europe each accquired their own unique distilling styles. Over time, many countries have tried to duplicate the Scotch Irish distilling process but their results still can not compare. The difference stems from the use of specially designed kilns where malted grain is dried as well as quality spring water used in the mash base. The distilled grain of cereals also produces other spirits such as Kornschnaps, which are sometimes flavored with berries to produce gin or some of the flavored schnaps we know today.

Spirits are also distilled from many fruits, such as grapes, apricots, plums, pears, peaches, berries … etc … True rum is distilled from ferminted sugar cane juice (but more frequently today we use a molasses based version) while true tequila mostly comes from the ferminted juice of the agave cactus. Where a distilled drinks stops being a spirit and becomes a liqueur is a bit hazy. The main difference is that a liqueur drink it must have some obvious aromatizing element. Some liqueurs have as long a history as the Scotch Irish whiskey, but most notably those produced by the old French monastic orders.

The great cocktail era was born in the 1920’s with the advent of the Jazz Age. As I’m sure you all know, a cocktail is a drink consisting of 2 or more ingredients mixed together by shaking, stirring or blending. In the past, all cocktails had a spirit base and the 5 main spirits that provided the base for a true cocktail were vodka, gin, rum, whiskey or brandy. Nowadays, cocktails may include both wine bases and/or non-alcoholic mixed drinks. The term cocktail is said to be derived from the tale of a bartender who poured left over drinks into a large container in the shape of a cockerel and then serve this mixture from the tap at the tail of the container to the hard up customers who could not afford to buy a pure drink, hence “cocktail”. The term cocktail can be traced back to the 19th century, but it’s true orgin is uncertain.

Two years ago, I got laid off from a job with a Fortune 500 Company facing failure.  My security was ripped away.  With the hard times that had fallen on this country, I took to bartending to make ends meet.  The last time I did this I was much younger and used the money to pay for my college education. It wasn’t an easy transition having sat behind a desk doing financial and admin type work for the last 12 years of my life but at the same time I enjoyed it.  The following is a story from a memorable night early in that second wind career in bartending.  I have since gotten back to what I know best, financial work in the building industry. But, I felt this story, as with many from my bartending era, was a keeper.

“Lemonade or Whiskey Double” by Suz November 19, 2008

Yesterday I saw a horrific car accident in which an elderly couple lost their lives.  Throughout the evening I contemplated the value of life and how truly short it is. That night the bar was slow with only a handful of us to chatter over a few drinks in the lull of at Monday night.  The car accident was a big conversation topic because it was front page news already and everyone knew about it.

I watch one regular customer who shuffles in every time I work.  He’s a well known man about town who once had a lucrative business and several assets.  Hurricane Katrina seemed to have stripped him of all of this as well as his will to live.  Each night that passes he drowns his sorrows and relays the same sob story of how he was once on top of the world with a young bride, fancy cars, multiple homes, a yacht and a valuable reputation.  He seeks sympathy for his losses, mostly bragging about scoring a woman half his age because of his wealth and how she is gone from his life like all of his other possessions.  At first, I sympathized with him… while serving him cocktail after cocktail, whiskey doubles none the less.  Then, after repeated subjection to his tales and indecent proposals I had to express to him that I was growing weary and my patience had run thin because it was ultimately clear that all of his suffering was his choice.  It wasn’t the love lost that bothered him so, but the status of having a trophy wife among his trophies that were lost.  Realistically what he had lost was his soul, long before Katrina.  I explained that he should take Katrina as an awakening, sober up and rebuild his life, and expect from life only what he puts into it… as a real person and not a status symbol.  Sadly, I don’t think he listened… he just started going to another bar where the bartender tells me that she suffers the same agony that I did in dealing with him.  Even more sadly, he doesn’t tip.

Life is what you make it.  Sometimes you are ripped from your comfort zone and you have to find yourself all over again.  The people of this whole area are struggling with that issue ever since hurricane Katrina.  Some show resilience and some end up like good old Mr. Used-to-be-all-that previously described.  Myself, I was to just be Little-Miss-Happy-to-be-Alive.

When Weyco closed down last year I was devastated… and jobless.   I thought it was the dream job because I was comfortable and making good money.  I thought I would never find a job a great as that.  When I sought new employment, I looked at dollar signs… and found a job that paid me a whopping $7 more dollars an hour! I couldn’t believe how much money I would be making.  Surely I had found the key to happiness… financial security.  Just a few months later, I was miserable… answering to 3 foreign bosses and 3 American bosses… which was a total of 6 bosses who contradicted each other and had zero business knowledge.  I managed purchasing, something I had done basically for 6 prior years and sadly, something none of my 6 bosses knew a damn thing about.  Every right move I made was criticized, every instruction I followed was discredited by at least half of my bosses (the half that didn’t instruct), every duty I had to do… I had to do in triplicate, in 3 or more different ways to reach the same result time and time again until everyone was satisfied.  At 6 months, I would wake up dreading my day and usually come home only to feel drained and go to bed early just so I didn’t have to think any more.  As time passed, I often found myself crying through my lunch break because I knew I had to return the office.  Still, some demon inside me said “Press on, you’ll never make this much money again”… but my soul was suffering.  I found myself unable to smile, unable to enjoy my loved ones, even unable to enjoy my dogs.  Launching out at everyone close to me and ultimately depressed and angry at the world.  Then one Friday, as I cried through my lunch, I realized… I didn’t have to live that way.  I wanted my life back.  So I did return to the office, just long enough to pen my letter of resignation and make my exit.  I took back the value of my life! I was free again.

As time passed, I shuffled into the Third Base Bar & Grill and before I finished uttering out  “I need a job…” the owner excitedly said “You’re hired!”.  I was blessed… we were blessed! They needed me as much as I needed them.  The bar had been struggling since Katrina and lost it’s good clientele, suffered an unsavory clientele and had to shut down.  They had just re-opened and were working toward a new success and needed a fresh and friendly face to assist them in their rebuilding process.  For us, it was all about being in the right place at the right time.  It seemed like overnight the bar turned around as I built up a great clientele and the income tripled during my shifts.  I really felt a part of something good as I watched the success of the bar turn around and relished in how grateful and supportive my new bosses were.  My ideas were welcomed and not a day passed that I didn’t get a pat on the back and a “thank you” for a job well done.  Though I was the fresh face there, it was them who gave me the gift of a fresh face for myself.  Outside the fact of earning good cash money and being a part of a successful venture, I received something even more valuable from the job… a new and improved life.  You see, since Katrina I have lost interest in meeting new people or social activity because I was disappointed in my surroundings as a whole.  Bartending pulled me back out of my social shell and gave me back the old Susan.  Once again I was a part of a social scene, making new friends and finding something to smile about… enjoying laughter again on a regular basis… hugging friends new and old… dancing out loud… being myself.

My life has dealt me many bad hands, but I have never lost my ability to prevail.  I just seem to keep turning lemons into lemonade… and the day I lose that ability is the day I will no longer know the value of life.   I pray that day will never come, and I pray that you all can also know the value of your life… it’s short, so when life hands you lemons make lemonade instead of drowning in whiskey doubles and contemplating what could have been… you never know when you may be handed your last glass.

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41 responses

30 03 2010
Dante Winters

ok cool!

30 03 2010
suzrocks

Thank you 🙂

30 03 2010
Dante Winters

Better days are coming I promise you

30 03 2010
suzrocks

Hello Dante! Oh, I am not complaining of bad days by any means. Better days are here, and bad days help us all to recognize better days when they arrive 🙂

30 03 2010
wordofabe

I remember this post! 🙂 Yeah, I’ve been reading your stuff for awhile, huh? Welcome to WordPress, now get some sleep!

30 03 2010
suzrocks

It’s actually 2 posts combined. I gotta lotta stuff to move…lol.

30 03 2010
Lover Lovingston

WOW, I love it. you do not know when you will be handed your last glass!

this is great! your page looks great too hun!!!

30 03 2010
suzrocks

Thank you. I hope you keep visiting my Lover 🙂

30 03 2010
Richardttu

If I had to sum up everything I know about you in one idea, one sentiment. It would be full of life. Even when I knew things were tough from our private conversations, you always exuded happiness and optimism.

I really find it hard to believe there was ever a time you were not interested in making new friends, but I am glad that time passed otherwise, where would I be?

I am very happy about your new job and the success you will certainly have. but, really did want to find some excuse to make it to your neck of the woods, and have a drink (or two) at your bar. We will just have to do it sometime with both of us on the same side of the bar *grins*

30 03 2010
suzrocks

Whew… after this weekend I may have given up drinking, lol. For you, I’ll make an exception! XOXO Great to see you here, Richard!

30 03 2010
Michael

Good blog. But I think I read this before.

30 03 2010
suzrocks

Yeah, I just set up the new page and wanted to run a test blog so I re-posted this. I thought it was old enough that no one would recognize it, lol. Thanks for visiting here.

30 03 2010
Richardttu

if life gives you lemons,you should make lemonade. And then try to find someone whose life has given them vodka, then have a party!

30 03 2010
suzrocks

Stoli if you please 🙂

30 03 2010
Sonyata

This was a wonderful blog, and informative. I think that is what I so like about you, and something we have in common. I found the same thing, about the same time as you, as I lost my second wife and career. I was devastated, and struggled to find the will to live again. It took me a couple of years, and I managed to sell both of my houses. It was all I could do, because my spirit was so crushed I couldn’t stand to deal with my responsibilities. And then I healed, living among the poorest of people for two years.

I finally started to work again, in a mini-mart. I had to deal with all kinds of people, from the poorest quarters. I could no longer feel sorry for myself, and being accountable for money again helped me to get my spirit back. And then yoga. Two years later, I am in my second year as a yoga teacher, and have a small but friendly group of students. The yoga is awesome, and I am in wonderful shape. This year will be better, and I am happier than I ever been.

Thanks for the post, Suz. Mucho Kudos.

31 03 2010
suzrocks

Experience helps us all to see the value in things, even the bad times have a relevance in our lives because they help us to recognize the better times, they are stepping stones really. I enjoy your story of perseverance and success and it is only getting better my friend. I am confident in your future. Keep the faith! XOXO

30 03 2010
uncle jailbird

i suppose you gotta experience crappy times to fully appreciate the good times.

31 03 2010
suzrocks

Precisely Uncle J!!! I was just saying that somewhere in here earlier. Thanks for following me. If ever I wanted a stalker, It’d be you babe!

30 03 2010
wolfshadesblog

So AWESOME that you’re here, Suz! Don’t know why but I don’t recall reading this particular blog before.

You must have met all kinds of people who would rather wallow in their sorrow, playing the same record over and over again. I know I have. Sad to say, my tolerance to listening to someone who has no intention of *doing* something about his situation is pretty close to zero.

To be fair, I was that guy for quite a few years too. Until- da da DA – the Awakening. *grin* Seriously though, I always wanted out of a very bad situation but just didn’t know how to do it. Hmm. Blog idea on the horizon over here.

I’m so jazzed that you’re here though! 🙂

30 03 2010
suzrocks

Yes, thanks for sending me here. It is very nice. I’m just learning it, but I like what I’ve seen. Actually, not many of my customers were miserable. It was mostly the working class folk. The miserable were always the ones who had it all and lost it and didn’t want to work for it, lol. So I’ve inspired you, have I? Yay. I have to figure out how to subscribe to you & Abe now that I’m here…

31 03 2010
wolfshadesblog

Hmm. There are a couple of ways to do that. One is to set up a blog roll for people you regularly read – it shows up along the side of your blog (depending upon which theme you use). That’s my method. The other method is to go to the top of Abe’s blog or mine, and you’ll find an option in the top header section for “follow this blog”. Then, when you want to check to see if anything’s new, you’ll see it show up on your Dashboard. That method is rather convoluted though. I’d go with the blogroll thing. it’s easier.

30 03 2010
Howie Janapol

Dear Suz, It is nice to see you here. I love this place. Great and interesting blog. Peace, howie

30 03 2010
suzrocks

Thanks! Send me a link to subscribe to you here. Or, is this the site you’re using?

30 03 2010
Mike Tucci

Hey Susan,
Nice to see you here! Hope you know there’s no way that I wouldn’t subscribe to your blog!!

Mike (2C)

30 03 2010
suzrocks

You should look at the poetry here and see how it goes. This site is very nice.

30 03 2010
J.C.

Good story, Ms. Rocks! 😉

(I lost almost everything in the mid/late ’90’s, but have re-established a life that I love.)

30 03 2010
suzrocks

Hi JC! Yes, I know a bit of your story and I have to say that you’ve done well for yourself. I sometimes envy you actually. This is a site for a more serious writer, I feel. You should check it out.

30 03 2010
Suzie

Hey Suz, it looks pretty good over here, I like it. I’ll nose around a bit more…lol!! I do like how you can comment back to each person too. The site I was looking at you can’t. You can comment at the bottom, to everyone, I like it to be more personal, as I’m sure you do. You may see me here 😉

Love the blog and I really, really like your positive attitude. There is so much in the world going on and in people’s lives that WE don’t know about, that it’s nice when people do realize that when life hands you those lemons…do something positive with them. I try to put myself around positive people and I’m glad to say you are one of them 🙂

30 03 2010
suzrocks

Hey Suzie!! I’m glad to see you here. This blog functions in many ways I enjoy and loses none of the things I enjoy from myspace. (Though I haven’t tried adding music or pictures to blogs yet, so that will be the ultimate test). I think this site is slightly more mature. I like it better than facebook because you can still be yourself here and blog, and the way things are going on myspace right now I like it better than that too.

31 03 2010
laura.ann40

Nice story Suz. I am still pretty new to this, so your story is not old stuff to me.

Your story is inspirational, but I’m not so sure that I can make lemonade out of lemons right now. I know first hand how short life is because I almost died this past autumn. I am very thankful that I lived.

My employer fired me yesterday. I made a mistake sorting a new report that I had no training on and no indication that it would behave differently than all the other reports I sort and submit using different data from the same application. I have been with the company just a few weeks shy of five years. I am human and I have made occasional mistakes, but prior to my family and medical leave I was not fired. Additionally, prior to my medical leave I never had any informal warnings. The company gave me three days after return from my two month medical leave before they gave me an informal write up because I didn’t have everything organized between the two desks and two jobs I was doing. I had only been doing the extra job full time for about two weeks before my leave.

The past four months have been filled with criticisms and accusations that I have been able to disprove. Finally, because I am human I made a mistake so the company fired me and it may be eight weeks before I have any kind of income, not to mention the lack of health benefits that I need for follow up as I continue to recover.

I have had bad times and good times before. Always in the bad times I maintained good health until now. I also didn’t live with pain and discomfort on a daily basis. With sepsis you either recover or you die. I am still at risk of it coming back. I know a positive attitude will help me stay healthy, but I am really struggling to get there.

31 03 2010
suzrocks

I share from experience. Surviving a devastating hurricane is quite a feat, but it’s nothing compared to fighting a battle for your health. I must admit, I’m completely unaware of what sepsis is exactly, but your words sadden me because clearly it’s a very serious illness. However, I think everything happens for a reason and I know that sounds so cliché to you at this point, but if the job was stressing you out that badly maybe you were destined to get out of there because that kind of stress is bad for your health and you need positive surroundings right now. The job I mentioned leaving in this story had driven me to illness, both physically and mentally. I was fortunate that I had my health before hand or it could’ve very well been the death of me. I realize that now seems to be a time to worry about finance and insurance and these things, but with faith you needs will be provided. I do hope you have your faith because God will provide for you, Laura. I will be praying for you. I will be praying for your emotional and physical struggles, you pray that God will provide. Without my faith, I would have no uplifting tales to tell.

1 04 2010
laura.ann40

Thank you Suz. I will be praying for you too as you grieve the loss of your childhood love.

God has a way of providing in the most unexpected ways. He also seems to have a way of testing us when we least expect it.

Sepsis is blood poisoning, or an infection in the blood. One can get sepsis from an open sore that gets infected, or during surgery if the environment isn’t completely sterile, or from an abcess. In my case, I had surgery that probably caused an abcess to develop in my pelvic area. The abcess either leaked or burst causing the infection to go into my bloodstream. I was extremely lucky because I responded to antibiotics. The infection was not resistant. If the infection is resistant, it takes longer to cure. In the meantime, the infection can damage any part of the body where blood flows. If the infection does not respond to any antibiotics, the patient will probably die. The body just starts shutting down. The main risk for me now is that the infection can lie dormant and reoccur anywhere in my body that received the infected blood.

Sepsis caused my whole body to swell. When I left the hospital I could not fasten my pants, or tie my shoes. The area affected by the abcess was really swollen and affected my ability to walk. As the swelling dissipated my legs got better, but still are not 100%. I still have occasional shooting pains that travel through my pelvic area. Last week, before I was fired, of course, I visited a new doctor to find out why I am still experiencing pain in my pelvic area, among other things. My term for the pelvic area used to be the pleasure zone. Now it is mostly the dead zone. Good news is I don’t think this condition is going to kill me. It may kill my boyfriend though. He may be happier than I am when I get another job and health insurance.

The other thing with sepsis is that it can affect any organ in your body. My kidneys were affected, but luckily only temporarily. Doctors took me off of any medication that impacted the kidneys. When I arrived in the emergency room I was prescribed an awesome pain medication. It worked and there were no side effects. Then my kidneys started to decline. Most of the pain meds I could take were mediocre at best and either left me with strange dreams, insomnia in between doses, or sweats. Not fun. My veins were also affected. Every few hours my IV would quit working because the vein would collapse. It usually took several tries to get a new IV in the vein. Plus my veins were constricted, so they were really hard to find. The nurses used an ultrasound to find my veins. I was in heaven when the doctor ordered a pic line. That probably saved my life because I received the full dose of antibiotics.

So that is sepsis. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

1 04 2010
suzrocks

This sounds similar (but far worse) to a severe blood infection I had most of my life. My story is very long, but I will try to keep it brief here. You see, I had severely infected and rotting tonsils from birth to age 18 when I finally had them removed, but because they had rotted in my throat and been a hot bed for infection for 18 years, I acquired a bad infection in my blood. Because of that infection, any wound on me would take ages to heal and also I was unable to reach puberty (until my tonsils were removed) and remained extremely underweight most of my life. I was dying basically, but no one knew. I lived in a area where the medical scene was bleak to say the least, any good doctor would’ve had my tonsils removed before I even hit kindergarten probably! Anyway, at 18 I went out on my own to seek help and when I found a real professional who looked at my tonsils he did emergency surgery on the spot. He was outraged that I had lived my life in such illness and misery when there was such a simple solution, he was also amazed that I had survived. But, alas, without a full body blood transfusion, I do still have infected blood it’s just not as bad as it was. There’s a lot to this story, but that is the gist of it. So, I somewhat understand your misery but it is truly no comparison to what you have described. I will definitely keep you in my prayers, Laura.

2 04 2010
laura.ann40

It is very tragic that you are living with that and were so sick at such a critical time of your life. I had my tonsils out when I was four years old. I don’t remember it. Knowing how easy a procedure a tonsillectomy is, it is so sad that doctors didn’t take care of it. I am glad that you are healthier now.

The worst of my infection only lasted a few months. I have been blessed with a lifetime of health up until the past year or two. I can’t imagine a whole childhood being sick.

I hope the infection in your blood doesn’t cause you too much pain and discomfort. Waking up in pain is just not much fun.

Take care and keep writing. Your stories are very interesting and enjoyable.

1 04 2010
Caroline

I have susbscribed Suz and now to find that confirmation email and then I will be back to read the actual blog posting. *smiles*

Huggggles to you ♥

1 04 2010
suzrocks

Yay! Caroline!! Find that email 🙂 XOXO

1 04 2010
Kevin

Hey Suz…just droppin’ in to say hello, and congratulations. Looks like a good blog spot, without all the drama crap. I’ll keep in touch…

1 04 2010
suzrocks

Please do. I really like it here. I like the appearance and the capabilities of this site. It appears to be for the more serious writer here. I think you’d like it!

5 04 2010
-slj

Just me catching up! Marked your site and will do my best to stay with you…can barely keep tabs on MySpace 🙂

6 04 2010
suzrocks

Well, I usually leave little reminders over there when I post here anyway. I just like the feel and appeal of this site better and there’s no drama here, plus you don’t have to sign up to comment. It’s pleasant here. I hope you return 🙂

11 07 2010
Richardttu

Well, I am coming back for seconds, any excuse to say “. I stand by my previous comment. One day, we will have a drink or two, now that we can both be on the same side of the bar. LOL

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