Ellen Clifford
February 07, 2015 10:34 am

“Drinking with Men: A Memoir” by writer-bartender-bar-lover Rosie Schaap, is as much an homage to writers as it is to bars and booze

It is a history of a career bar “regular”. Schaap actually made a living  drinking and penning her adventures for the New York Times. In “Drinking with Men” Schaap uses her sharp insight to tell the story of her life through the bars that she loves and the bars that loved her.

What stood out to me most about this book is that to be a woman, by yourself, enjoying a beverage at a bar is a cry for freedom. A rebel yell. Women can take themselves out for a damn drink if they want to. I admit, I am shy about doing this. What will the bartender think? What will the patrons think? And worst of all, will I be safe amongst guys? These concerns are not totally unfounded, but it seems unfair that so much stigma surrounds a woman alone at the bar, or treating themselves to a drink anywhere, really. Schaap’s life of being a regular at bars, and the relationships she formed, inspired me to step outside my comfort zone. I have found the experience richly rewarding.

The first time I ventured into a bar by myself wasn’t exactly a declaration of independence. My boyfriend was working at one bar, and I was at the bar next door, studying whilst enjoying a chocolate martini. Yes, a chocolate martini. Eeek. Me in college. It was not until a couple of years later, transported to LA, that I found myself without a cohort and desirous of a glass of wine. And human contact. So I took a book to a nearby wine bar and found it was actually an excellent reading spot. I vowed to treat myself more often.

There is a literary factor that goes with this book. It inspires reading as much as drinking. My “to read” list multiplied as each glass emptied. James Connolly, Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery, Yeats, Marjorie Hillis and more have joined my library queue. Yes, I have a queue for the library. It’s the Netflix of thriftiness. My need to read echoes how each bar built Schaap’s education. In Ireland she learned the art of craic, pronounced like “crack” and as Schaap puts it, “major currency in a Dublin pub”. Craic is simply good, flowing conversation. In other bars the art and literature references used by patrons required that she do extracurricular research just to keep up with the conversation. So my inclination to pair wine with books is not so unusual.

Naturally I wanted to make a drink that was tailored to Schaap’s taste. She speaks of a deep love of Irish whiskey as well as red wine. The drink called the “New York Sour” sprang to mind immediately. That would pay homage to her tastes and location. I prefer it with bourbon but if you want to really be like Schaap, you might relish substituting an Irish whiskey. Jameson seems to be a favorite.

Now, if you wanted a New York drink geared towards women, I would point you to the WOMANhattan–get it? But for a drink to have with the guys, by yourself, or with a book (books are people too!) have a New York Sour. It’s gorgeous, it’s badass, it is durned tasty too.

New York Sour adapted from Bartender’s Choice app

  • 2 oz. bourbon (or Irish whiskey)
  • 1 egg white
  • 3/4 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz. simple syrup (I used Purely Syrup)
  • 1/4 oz. red wine

Chill a sturdy tumbler in the freezer and have some big old ice cubes on hand. Normal ice can work but bigger is better. Add the bourbon, egg white, lemon juice and simple syrup to a shaker and shake to get the egg white a-frothing. Add ice and shake more. Shake hard, shake good. You want the egg well incorporated. Strain over a large ice cube in the chilled tumbler. Hold a spoon, backside up, closely over the surface of the drink. Slowly pour the red wine in so it floats at the top. Cheers to you, baby, you did it your way.

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