Drinking Is the Best Part of the Day. Is That Unhealthy?
One writer’s defense of the Covid-19 cocktail hour
April is the cruelest month, breeding daffodils and gin and tonics.
If we survive, I will forever associate this period of our lives with the sacrificial slicing of the lime, the pouring of the holy inebriant lightly tinctured with the presidential miracle, tonic of quinine. (Quinine, a treatment for malaria, is also found in tonic water.)
Fleeing New York like rats, my husband and I decamped north to socially isolate in a drafty house in the middle of what the locals call mud season, a time of grassless muck by day and treacherous plains of brown ice as the temperatures dip at night.
In the first weeks, we were giddy, if disoriented. It felt like setting sail on an exciting voyage, an odyssey, with our stores of grain and amphorae of olive oil and wine. And what voyage isn’t inaugurated with a pour for the gods?
For most of my adult life, my drinking habits have been — by my college standards, anyway — quite moderate. Back at Tulane in 1980s New Orleans, frat-crawling with Brett Kavanaugh clones, five or six gin and tonics a night was just right. Since then, I’ve mostly eschewed spirits, sipping a glass or two of wine with dinner most nights a week. I know doctors believe that’s still too much alcohol for the female body, but mine has weathered it fine.
Mornings, I eye the levels of the bottles, count the empties, and shake off a slight unease. Surely some gremlin has been in here pouring?
Waiting out the apocalypse, though, called for something more… numbing. As one of my friends sheltering in place in Brooklyn and switching to the hard stuff put it, “These are not white wine spritzer times.”
Every night around 6:00, then 5:30, now sometimes 5:00 or even 4:40, my husband or I edge over to the counter by the sink and grip the Hendrick’s by the neck.
“Ready for a demi-tasse?” my husband might say. (Destroying French with our homebound high school junior amuses them both.)