In Defense of the Nightcap

last word

  • Category
    Eat & Drink
  • Written by
    Rich Thomas
  • Illustrated by
    Christine Georgiades

Sooner or later we all cross the threshold of middle age and begin to foolishly bargain with ourselves in an attempt to effect change— usually of a physiological nature. “I will get to bed earlier so I have more time and energy to exercise in the morning … I will eat more vegetables and less processed foods … I will cut out unnecessary carbs.”

Oftentimes this means reexamining our vices, rationalizing what we need less—or more—of to survive. Recently I’ve had a few friends who have gone dry, either swearing off the bottle completely or simply taking a “hiatus” to either cleanse their system or prove to themselves that they “could live without it” … whatever “it” was. I tried this too. It didn’t work.

The nightcap is 59 cc’s of therapy for a fraction of the cost. It’s also a singular proposition. Whatever you’re attempting to work out starts and ends in one glass, or else you’re no longer enjoying a nightcap. I am a whiskey drinker. My parents teethed me on it. It is my go-to, my outlet pass, my huckleberry; an old-fashioned or a Manhattan when I’ve got the time and the ingredients to prepare one, or just two fingers neat when the vicissitudes of life require you to immediately pull the ripcord.

If you’re doing the math, you’re looking at about 100 calories per jigger—or roughly 200 calories for a cocktail. Or you could have half an English muffin with 2 tablespoons of cream cheese.

Sound appetizing? Maybe 10 baked tortilla chips with a half-cup of salsa is more your style, apart from the fact that no living man has ever consumed just 10 chips.

The fact is, none of these bland comparables provides the satisfaction of sitting in your comfiest chair at 10 p.m., cradling a heavy-bottomed glass of bourbon and wondering how you managed to muster up the self-restraint to not throw hands at Kyle, the admin who continues to submit invoices without checking for redundant P.O. numbers.

Life is hard. People are complicated. No one can take a joke. Uber drivers stop in the middle of the goddamn road even when there’s parking on the street. The nightcap is my trump card, and I reserve the right to play it. After all, I did say I’d cut out all “unnecessary” carbs.