To drink is to consume something that’s alive on a molecular level. Or so they say. Life being thrust on another life. If I were to reflect on my personal drinking history, I’d say I’ve corrupted my body with too many lives. Body as vessel. Body as temple. Body as home. Body as data storage that holds all memory.
The warmest thoughts of Italy. My best friend Anna and I spent a nine blissful days between Milan and Tuscany, and it’s become a catalyst for how we’ve led our lives since then. There was life before Italy and life after Italy. Nine days is not enough, but nine days is a teacher, maybe an intensive short course that bears weight heavier than some years. We reveled in day drinking, two hedonistic personalities under the same sun sign—to abandon the idea that pleasure is earned as a prize for doing something that is less so. Goodbye to that psychic burden. This place understood us. Where have you been all our lives? Where have we been all our lives? I remember the sun, the instant rush we get from sitting at any establishment knowing there will be Aperol on the menu. Like a tickle. The fizz that makes the spritz. It really is as good as it sounds.
At a Grimes gig at Hard Rock Cafe, someone deliberately poured beer over my head from the floor above. Dark times. I don’t even drink beer.
My friend Judd and I were once in Tokyo at the same time. It was after Christmas and it was freezing, below and beyond our tropical thresholds. We started drinking with big cans of highballs from Family Mart. Judd is not a drinker; but we were both high off of the feeling of newness and the thrill of the city that adopted us. How polite and efficient and how fucking cold what’s the temperature now? Twenty pieces of chicken McNuggets at some point. On our hot chase for the next buzz (holidays trigger excess), we walked into a small wine bar, so small that maybe only four people can fit at a time, that was minutes into closing. We insisted. They said they couldn’t serve us wine anymore, and so I asked, “do you have cava?” I loved saying cava. Kaaaaah-vuhhhh. They did. The bar whose name I forgot was ran by a lovely couple who also happens to live just upstairs. They gave us a Christmas present. The bartender/owner looked exactly like Yohji Yamamoto. He didn’t know who he was.
I have a picture of me holding up two champagne bottles with sparklers. I was in a black tank top with a shark print paired with a full length faux leather skirt (also black). I don’t know where either of those pieces are anymore. I turned 21 that night, on a rooftop bar called Skye, back when I loved larger parties. Back when the standard EDM fare can beat me to submission. Back when none of us thought we’d mutually outgrow each other. In the coming years I would still stumble into Skye’s elevators until I reach the astroturf at the top of the W building; last stop for the New Year’s welcome, 8AM, already drunk from drinking since 2. Smudged eyeliners as the sunrise creeped up on us. Woooooo ! Cheers to every person I have ever been in all my lives. Cheers to every person I will be. Champagne bottles with sparklers swam through the crowd—on the house—paired with arroz caldo served in styrofoam bowls.
Four Loco gave me my first real hangover. I was in California, spending a couple of weeks at a family friend’s house. Sarah, one of my tita’s daughters, had friends over and they played Jenga while pouring a can of Four Loco into shot glasses. I didn’t understand why they couldn’t just drink straight from the can, it tasted like fruit juice—the kind of harmless taste I now know well enough to be the most harmful. I drank until I was drunk and throwing up and eating three packs of instant noodles. Woke up to an unbearable headache that to this day remains unmatched. So I took an Advil. Apparently I was allergic to Advil, the whole ibuprofen lot—and with my face swollen beyond recognition I took pictures on PhotoBooth.
I find out sometime later that Four Loco has been banned.
Gin and Tonic
Gin and tonics. No particular memory jumps. But has to be included.
I went to this Japanese restaurant once called Brilliant Corners, in Dalston I think. It had been weeks since I’ve been home, I wasn’t homesick—but I can’t even tell you how excited I was to be in an Asian restaurant. That communion and bond with any geographic neighbor holds me upright, like having a true north. I could use a tall one. Highball it is. The waitress seemed a bit cross that my request was off-menu, like she didn’t know what it was. Maybe she didn’t. A Japanese restaurant without a highball, I remember tweeting. It felt too fussy to explain in the company of acquaintances, one very good friend, and our server, that it was simply whiskey (Suntory if you have it), soda water, and a slice of lemon. Home was so far away.
My best friend got us into a couple of lambanog tastings at an old bar that no longer exists. Lambanog is coconut wine (a very potent one), and comes from three neighboring provinces in Luzon, Philippines. There’s Quezon, Batangas, and Laguna. It tastes like a cross between gin and vodka, you can sip it like proper tequila. There’s a sweetness to the aftertaste, almost like a lick out of a lollipop, and on the first sip, the immediate sensation of alcohol/acidity/strength kicks you from the inside out until your face curls. It’s all very mellow after.
Out of the three, Batangas lambanog was my favorite; it might have been the actual best, or maybe I was biased because that’s where my family is from. The older I get the more I feel the pull of the land that birthed me. It’s fucking physical—moon to a tide and all that. To drink something from that same land makes me feel like this lambanog and I are very very distant cousins. We are family.