by VWC Member Rusty Evenson.
I heard the strangest question the other day. “What is the proper occasion to drink whiskey?” Well, I’d have to weigh that. I can think of plenty of times it seems proper. The most proper occasion seems to be when the mood strikes me. But I’m sure that’s not what the inquisitor meant. Truthfully, I think it may be easier to think of times when it is not proper to drink whiskey (i.e. driving a car, while on duty, whilst handling firearms) than to identify occasions when one should. I find the occasions to drink whiskey nearly as ubiquitous as the drink itself.
In the 1969 western classic, “The Undefeated,” Rock Hudson’s character states “If I can find the time, I’m gonna sit down and write the social history of bourbon.” I find that scene particularly poignant because it happens at a point where two men are sharing a bottle of whiskey while learning from each other they were former enemies but must now find a way to work together and eventually become friends. On the flip side, in George Thorogood’s 1985 hit, he proclaims, “I drink alone…” I’m sure art is imitating life and vice versa all around this crazy world of ours.
I prefer to drink with friends. But I will fill, and subsequently drain, a glass when it’s just me at the house too. Family get-togethers, holidays, and BBQs seem common with most folks. My favorite occasion is a get-together we call Whiskey and Freedom. Why Whiskey and Freedom? Why not? But seriously, it seemed like a fitting title as a few of us get together to celebrate both. Our Whiskey and Freedom nights do have a singular qualification, though. You must be active, reserve, retired, or honorably discharged from military service (it matters not which branch…even the Coast Guard); a current or prior law enforcement officer; or a firefighter. Basically, if you have ever worn the cloth of your nation, or a badge, or both, you’re welcome. We reserve these evenings for these particular qualifications so we don’t have to explain anything to anyone and we can just enjoy our night of camaraderie. Our spouses are always invited to join us. But they generally tend to gravitate towards each other and leave us to our devices.
Our Whiskey and Freedom nights don’t have a particular venue. They don’t have a particular time. They don’t even have a particular whiskey. They just give us an opportunity to enjoy some whiskey, the company of like-minded people, and the freedoms we all share in this great nation. At the beginning of the night, one glass is poured which sits undisturbed on the table in the center of us for those who couldn’t be with us. Our topics of conversation range anywhere from our time in service, current events, remembering the guys who didn’t make it home, and the demons with whom some of us still dance. But no matter the topic of conversation, there is always some interservice banter. The Navy guys pick on the Marines. The Army guys grunt at the Air Force. The LEOs give the hose draggers grief. And everyone picks on the Coast Guard. At the end of the night, the contents of the glass from the center of the table is shared between us all thus letting us all know those who didn’t make it back are still with us and we are there for each other.
I encourage all of you to consider your favorite occasion to drink whiskey. I’ll wager the types of occasions are as varied as types of whiskey…and that’s a good thing.