In Buzz Veritas: An unscientific study of intoxicants

This is reprint from a column I ran back in 2003, but I love it, so I’m reposting it now for entertainment purposes.

In college, while funneling Crystal Light and vodka, we wasted precious study hours philosophizing about the various types of buzzes. The vodka buzz was different from beer was different from wine. But no final determination came out of the long hours of discussion. So I assembled a thirsty crew of editorial-types (smokers, drinkers, etc.) to establish, once and for all, whether or not buzzes vary. The experiment: 10 people, 10 choices of alcohol and a drunken string of thoughts from each participant, all written under the influence.

White Wine (Diana): A buzz can be elusive, like a female orgasm. It often depends on the mood. Fortunately, though there was little more available than Riesling, I was definitely in the mood for a buzz. I was also in the mood to bond with my co-workers. In the past, I’d always assumed that a white wine buzz was more elegant, higher-class than, say, tequila, but I learned that when one is dealing with sweet white wine, buzzed is buzzed. I found myself energized, talkative and vaguely blissful. Just like an orgasm.

Gin (Jim): The first thing to admire about a real martini is its efficiency. The first sip — turpentine flavored with juniper berries — catches your attention. A novice may be nonplussed, but an experienced drinker relishes the sting. The next sips go down more smoothly, but initial astringency — a vacancy of moisture from your oral membranes — provides a focal point for your buzz. That vacancy radiates outward. Cares fade away. Something purporting to be cleverness takes its place. I stop writing and start talking, which is just as well. For experience has taught me that the cleverness is fungible. The best thing about talking is you can’t check the written text in the morning.

Grand Marnier (Taylor): Sipping a cordial is like shimmying into a warm, soft sleeping bag on a chilly, open-sky night — the sweet buzz warms you from the feet up. Halfway down the glass, the shoulders relax, the vision gets a bit blurred, and you have an intensely mellow, floaty, smiley sensation. My belly warms to the occasion.

Vodka straight up (Susan): It starts with a little blurriness around the eyes — a soft focus that makes other people look better than they really do. A certain warmth flushes the cheeks and the urge to tell the truth wins out before the internal editor can stop it. A general fuzzy feeling sets in with the second drink. Good cheer and warm feelings about all assembled. People start telling secrets and I can only hope to remember them when I’m sober.

Red Sangria (Kelli): No, no — this is all wrong. I’m at a Latin restaurant, sure, but with a drink like sangria in my hand — I should be on a four-hour lunch break in the middle of a workweek in Mexico. But hell, it’s sweet fruity goodness for free, so who’s complaining? Actually, it’s super-sweet, syrupy goodness, but again, it’s free! First glass: delicioso! Going down like fruit punch and not a slipped brain cell in sight. Second glass: My, I’m feeling witty! Still not feeling buzzed but that probably speaks more to my consumption habits than Pipo’s drink-making abilities, but I’m smiling and laughing and talking like a New York socialite on meth. Third glass: The citrus is kickin’. Am I moving more fluidly? Oh man — tender pork on Cuban toast is a buzz killer.

Bourbon (Todd): I’m here on a freelance job. They invited me for the drinks. They gave me two bourbon and Cokes, and all I know is — I want to have sex with Eric.

Beer (Eric): The best beer buzzes come after working out. Get a sweat, get a buzz, get good. I went to the gym, cooled off and ordered two El Presidentes. I felt the buzz after I got through my second beer. My muscles loosened, my breathing got slower, my body got warm and my capacity to give a shit about most anything drifted away. I realized I am a shitty writer when I’m buzzed. Hemingway is safe.

Rum Mojito (Sara): 6:45 p.m., still coherent. 7:00, noticing the color of champagne and big pieces of mint. Starting to drop food on table and can’t figure out how to eat the sandwich without a napkin and thinking my drink is a little too mild. 7:04, starting to get a headache and wandering lonely as a cloud. Getting poetic. 7:25, people interrupting each other. 7:30, starting to get hairy, losing physical coordination, getting philosophical. 7:35, want to throw glasses, want to smoke. 7:55, cackling begins.

Tequila (Scott): Most tequila drinkers have that one torrid tale of indiscretion and expectoration. I am fortunate enough to have seven or eight. The tequila buzz is heady, extroverted and a bit aggressive — it’s an energetic high that can get ugly if one goes too far. Either enjoy in moderation, or indulge and forgo responsibility. Now, who can I kiss, then punch?

Red Shiraz wine (Tammy): Red, red, wine, makes me feel good. After first sip I am instantaneously more talkative and social. After a while, the chatter surrounds my swimming brain and I feel myself slowly slip into the background again as I take it all in. I begin to ask a question, then realize the topic may have been broached while I sat silently in a daze, so I decide to keep quiet and attempt to retain my cover of being intelligent and with it. I begin to dish all my secrets and then realize in a moment of clarity — my job is so cool.


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