Season’s greetings festive people. We imagine you’re feeling a little the worse for wear after the last month’s indulgences. Your trousers may have shrunk, your liver might be acting up, your reactions grown sluggish. Perhaps you’ve sworn off drinking and are reading this while sitting on the stationary bike at gym or indulging in a wheatgrass-enema at the spas in an effort to kickstart your detox. We get it. The last few weeks of every year are traditionally a time of excess. We feed, we drink, we have fun… then we feel it. That’s why at Barcode we’ve devised a list of drinking resolutions designed to guide you to drink better. By better, we refer to all aspects of imbibing: from a better class of alcohol, to better preparation and presentation, to drinking more responsibly (drink smart not hard) and expanding your gustatory horizons. Cheers to a spirited 2012!
- Boot the alco-pops into touch. If you’re going to consume alcohol don’t drink sweet, fizzy pre-mixed concoctions favoured by Bieber-Lolita borderline kidlums. The sugar wreaks havoc with your digestive system, magnifies your hangover and the bottles make you look like an over-developed teenager. It’s time to grow up.
- Establish your own home bar. Nothing overly fancy, nor tacky (e.g. singing bass and an obligatory entrance exams involving naked Jenga). A cupboard or simple drinks trolley will do. Stock it with the basics: gin, rum, vodka, bitters and a few assorted mixers and you’re well on your way to offering friends a civilized cocktail or three.
- Discover local artisanal distilleries. South Africa is awakening from a booze monopoly where the only liquor that was available was produced by the local branches of massive multi-nationals. Now, more and more talented hobbyists are legally making their own liquor in backyards, on wine farms and elsewhere. Try Jorgensen’s Primitiv Vodka, Liqueurs and Grappa from the Wilderer Distilery in Paarl or the Sir Robert Stanford wine estate. There are also many incredible artisinal brandies produced by wine estates across the cape. Hunt down the 16yr Marbonne by Louiesenhof in Stellenbosch – you won’t be dissapointed!
- Learn the difference between aperitifs (before dinner drinks to stimulate the appetite), digestifs (after-dinner drinks to aid with digestion) and nightcaps (self-explanatory). Apply them correctly.
- Unless it’s a braai, where understandably you don’t want to be precious, try to drink your beers out of a glass. Not only does it give them a chance to develop a well-poured head, release their full aroma and breath, but it’s a bit more hygienic than sipping from the rim of a can that’s been sitting who-knows-where for ages.
- On the subject of beer, if you haven’t already done so, start exploring SA’s booming craft beer selection from Darling’s Bonecrusher to Triggerfish out of Somerset West, delectably-named Zulu Blonde and award-winning Robson’s – both from the Natal Midlands.
- Everyone knows sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and shiraz, but what about all the off-centre new-old wine varietals popping up across SA? Discover Pinot Noir, Viognier, Grenache, Carignan and open up your palate and your choices.
- Instead of serving everything half-full/empty in a dodgy old beer glass, invest in some decent cocktail glasses this year and use them with the right drinks. A few highballs for those thirst-quenchers, some tumblers or old-fashioned glasses for more concentrated recipes, a few flutes for those champagne cocktails (Kir Royal anyone?) and of course, martini glasses (the long stem ensures your hands don’t warm things up and your concoction stays cold).
- Discover and perfect the Negroni, arguably Italy’s most famous aperitif and a drink that’s experiencing somewhat of a renaissance since its beginnings in 1919. One part gin, one part vermouth and one part Campari, stirred into a glass of ice and garnished with a twist of orange peel, this bitter, deep Energade-naartjie-coloured beauty will get your tastebuds going before a meal.
10. Whether it’s Goodfellows or a similar you-drink-we-drive-you-home service or simply taking taxis or deciding on a designated driver, work out a system that gets you home safely. Anything else is stupid and will land you in trouble.