Raw, adjective: 10. not diluted, as alcoholic spirits: raw whiskey.
Like I've mentioned before, I'm an unabashed introvert, a confirmed quirkyalone. And as such, I'm really good at flying solo. Prefer it, really. I'd rather travel alone, I'd rather go to the symphony alone, I'd rather breakfast alone. But the one solo activity I've never been able to tackle has been the whole drinking-alone thing.
It just doesn't do it for me. I'll pour a glass of wine while I'm cooking, and barely take a sip. Or set a glass of pinot at my desk while I'm writing, and it'll go untouched. When I first moved to the City and didn't know anyone, one of my favorite rituals was to wander downtown after work and discover hole-in-the-wall bars for happy hour, where I'd settle in with the newspaper and a pint and people-watch. And though I'd always finish the paper, the beer was inevitably left half-full.
I guess I just lose interest. Drinking for me is a social thing at best, and while a heavily-lubricated dinner party is always a blast, outside of that social context I have very little use for it.
In spite of that, I really love this little piece by Tom Chiarella (in Esquire, of all places) on How To Drink Alone. It's pretty great in a low-key, real kind of way. Especially as a bartender, I find so much of his advice to be spot on. Among other things, Chiarella recommends:
* Forget bar chatter, since it’s about drifting, forgetting, passing time without noticing. Instead, quietly pay attention.
* Drink liquor - whiskey.
* Ignore the television.
* Listen a little. Enjoy the muffled aural measures of a bar waking up. Watch the door or the window instead. Draw connections to the world outside, even as it recedes slightly from perception. Notice the angles of light, the pulse of the traffic, even the evolution of customers who drift in as the day twists down to its nub.
* Read a paper, sure. A book is good too. Crack the spine and lay it flat on the bar. Read, don’t pretend to read.
Go here to read the full list. I've gotta agree about the forgoing bar chatter bit, and the drinking whiskey, too - but a glass of red is always a solid choice, as well. And as that chick on the inside of the bar, I have to concur that one of the hottest things a dude can do is sit down, order Glenlivet on the rocks, and crack open a book right there. Immediate aphrodisiac. Projects such an ease, a comfort with oneself - you have no idea. Not that needy "talk to me talk to me" vibe you so often get from patrons. (The other day there was a couple at the bar for hours drinking a bottle of pinot grigio, lost in their own respective novels, speaking just a few words to one another over the course of the afternoon, and it was so beyond cute, I wanted to go over there and hug them.)
It's not surprising to me that this wound up in a men's magazine. Men are so much more commonly solo at bars. I find, at least at my bar, that women rarely sit down to stay without meeting someone or being hit on. My girlfriends and I often lament the fact that when we're traveling or out somewhere at a bar on our own, enjoying a nice glass of bubbly or a beer with a book, men somehow still see that as an invitation to be chatted up. It's not. Even if we're wearing red lipstick.
Anyway, read the list, and the next time you're in a foreign country alone or have a nice solo afternoon, sidle up to a decent dimly-lit bar, order a Scotch rocks and crack open your book. It's one of the simplest pleasures of being a grown-up.
People Like Us: The Quirkyalones
How to Drink Alone (Esquire)
(And that's "Evening Lounge," by Brent Lynch)