Booze: a personal history

Alcohol played a pretty significant role during my formative years—members on both sides of my family knew how to enjoy a drink. Or a few.

In my mother's parents' home, the selection was usually wine or beer—both of which flowed freely at parties or as a nightcap.

On my father's side, drinks were more of the Mad Men variety—elegant cocktails consumed with little regard to the clock. I have a distinct memory of my grandmother nursing a martini as she watched me ice-skate.

Hey, it was the '80s. Those kinds of things still happened then.

Both of my parents drank regularly, too. There was beer and wine, and, occasionally, my father poured whiskey from a decanter. Sometimes, on my birthdays, I was served a snifter of brandy.

Again, it was the '80s. That kind of thing was still OK then.

Despite its familiarity, alcohol seemed like a mystery. Not surprisingly, perhaps, as a young adult, I drank as a way to feel grown-up. Eventually, however, I learned to appreciate the nuances of well-made drink—and not just the buzz it produces.

Sacramento's drinking scene has similarly matured. While it's always been something of a beer town and enjoyed the riches of regional wineries, it seems like only recently that we've graduated beyond cheap well drinks and froufrou pink cocktails.

These days, local bartenders mix impressive and imaginative artisanal drinks.

Starting Wednesday, August 21, the city celebrates the best in craft cocktails with the sixth annual Midtown Cocktail Week. A good drink, of course, is served year-round and citywide, and SN&R's Cocktail Issue (see Feature Story, page 20) spotlights some of the area's most interesting creations, bartenders and traditions.

Drink up, drink freely and, as always, drink responsibly.