The most refined beverages of life are abrasive: coffee, absinthe, scotch, oúzo, glögg, IPAs—and the rowdier the better. They are most inspiring when poured into unadorned cups in unadulterated ponds.
Aesthetic monasticism is the key to libational enlightenment. Like rugged prayer there must be nothing to distract when liquid modicums of nature’s fluids perceptibly channel their objective truths of existence.
Coffee has been banned throughout history and continues to be a vice in some religious cultures today. What is better proof of a drink’s existential worth than dictatorially moral censorship? Coffee is best colored a soulless dark brown like a burned mahogany, which is why the cosmic deity responsible for coffee also shepherds writers behind their wooden desks late at night sculpting poems ringed with coffee cup stains. May white papers forever soak up black ink and coffee water colors.
Absinthe is best taken neat without the suggested melted sugar, and especially without the corruption of a demagogic water majority. La fée verte is the liquid muse of poetry, and its wormwood burn down a poet’s pipes tingles with greater delight the later the hour at night. De Maupassant, Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Van Gogh, Wilde, and Hemingway all incorporated absinthe into their artistic routines, but of course their collected genius owns no patents on its consumption to dissuade you from trying it. It will take some getting used to, of course.
Scotch is single malt whiskey exclusively from Scotland, and it used to be drank only in whiskey blends because it was assumed no one would ever want to drink it alone. Unsurprisingly, a culture of sophistication has developed from its gustative unfriendliness, and the scotches distilled on the island of Islay are particularly noted for their smoky peated flavors. Drank slowly with olfactory emphasis, scotch should not be diluted with rocks, and only the fewest drops of water are permitted in order to chemically release its full-bodied taste and scent.
Oúzo is similar to absinthe—minus the wormwood—and is culturally loyal to Greece and Cyprus. Sip social shots slowly before meals as its taste is strong, and its high sugar content delays ethanol absorption so be careful drinking it on an empty stomach. Oúzo makes for an excellent aperitif complement to appetizers, and one can add water drops or ice cubes so that the water reacts into a cloudy white color. Greeks serve it very cold so that ice crystals decorate their glasses.
Glögg is mulled wine from Nordic countries and packs a serious wintery punch. Recipes vary, but the best climb impressively high in alcohol content measurements, and generally are cooked blends of red wines, grain alcohol, various spices, and raisins. No glögg is ready to drink until it has been ceremonially set on fire a few times throughout the cooking process, and it is not for the weak-hearted. Served hot and steamy, it is great for cold holiday feasts.
India pale ales were first developed by the British after noting that bitter hops kept their beer fresh throughout the long journey to the Indian colony. A bit of an acquired taste, many people are turned off by the hoppy flavor of IPAs, and that is why a devoted culture of beer snobbiness surrounds them. Because they are stronger in intensity, IPAs are best appreciated early in the night rather than later, and the drunker one gets the harder it is to pound them. No one should—and most people can’t—shotgun an IPA, and that is why IPAs have a high rank within the elitist and pretentious hierarchy of beer styles. Learn to like them.