I woke up Sunday morning/With no way to hold my head that… didn’t hurt
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad/So I had one more… for dessert…
Thus sang Johnny Cash in his memorable cover of Kris Kristofferson song, Sunday Morning Coming Down, perfectly describing the way I felt one Sunday morning recently after an epic poker night. I hadn’t had a hangover this bad in years, but was glad to be avoiding the anxiety and depression I usually get, in spite of the pounding headache that replaced it being debilitating.
I got up when leaning too far to one side of the air mattress led to me being deposited on the floor, and headed straight outside for a beer and a cigar, hoping one would make me feel better, but suspecting the other would probably add a healthy dose of nausea to my fragile state.
In contradiction to the song I quoted earlier, the beer actually tasted awful and I didn’t finish it. In spite of that, John saw me drinking the beer and said, “This is why I like it when you come on the golf holiday; it doesn’t stop.” I took that as a compliment rather than a chilling warning about my drinking habits.
Back to the hangover… how had I let this happen? I remembered that I’d reached a point of being so hammered that I’d just slunk off to bed without telling anyone. It had been a hardcore, booze-laden night. I’d forgotten to take precautions like drinking water – at any point. All manner and quantity of spirits were consumed. Let’s see if I can remember them all…
David was still determined to foist his baiju on everyone he knows because, presumably it’s important that everyone knows how minging it is. I acquiesced, but insisted on being given “just a drop”, since I’d tried it so many times before. I still ended up with more than a double. We all necked it anyway (with the exception of Chris, who was sensible), and pulled a variety of faces and did a variety of reactive dances to express our disgust. Time for the second hardcore minging drink…
John read out a list of poker rules he’d come up with, and I quickly made sure that drinking a shot of absinthe before each game was added to the bottom. Once it’s on the list, it is law.
Instead of my bastardisation of the Bohemian Method, I decided this time we’d set light to a shot, cover the glass with our palms, inhale the fumes and then neck the spirit [known as the Backdraft method because smothering the flame with your palm causes the glass to suck up… for want of a better term]. This has the not insignificant benefit of reducing the amount of time you actually have to taste the spirit for.
In general people seemed to struggle with the palm thing – trust me, it doesn’t burn (unless you wait too long) – and let the vapours escape, but the absinthe went down quite well. This brand has clearly been artificially sweetened, which probably wouldn’t go down too well with absinthe aficionados, but none of the attendees was one of those, and it actually made it fairly pleasant to drink without the addition of sugar. It makes sense really – if adding sugar to absinthe is a normal thing to do, why not just make one that is already sweet?
I was pleasantly surprised then, but next time I’ll try to get a brand that is considered more true to the genre.
I have to say, by the time the poker started we were all well on our way to being smashed. The poker was a bit of a mess really, but we still all had a lot of fun – except John’s brother, who showed up late, was determined not to drink, didn’t join in any conversation or jokes, and took the whole thing too seriously.
Oban 14 (43% ABV) /JackDaniel’s Old No 7 (43% ABV)
Adam brought both of these. I didn’t have the JD, though you can read a general post about it here. The Oban was the last of the bottle, but there was enough to go around. I was surprised by how many people took it with ice. I don’t think I’d had it before, and I’m afraid I can’t give it a full appraisal now as the baiju and absinthe were still exerting their considerable influences over my palate. I had a beer playing its part there also.
Jim Beam Black 8 year old (43% ABV)
The second of my contributions, and despite Adam pining for the opening of the Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, I was determined to start with this one – there was a litre of it and it was significantly the cheaper of the two so I wanted to make sure it took a hit.
I liked it, and as far as I can remember, more so than the standard Jim Beam. I’ll have to give you a full appraisal another time though.
Woodford Reserve Double Oaked (45.2% ABV)
I only recall having one glass of this, but clearly it was very popular with someone – the liquid was depleted all the way to below the bottom of the label when I picked it up the next day. From what I remember, it was superb and I’m looking forward to delving much deeper into that bottle.
Aultmore (That Boutique-y Whisky Company 53.2% ABV)
This was David’s other (and much more welcome) contribution. He’d been raving about this since a Manchester Whisky Club tweet tasting it had been part of. I remember enjoying it during that tasting also, but I was unable to enjoy the event to its full extent at the time as I was trying to prepare for a dinner party at the same time, and just ended up having a massive barney with Mrs Cake.
At well in excess of 50% alcohol, it might benefit from a couple of drops of water but seriously; this is a remarkable malt. Easily the best of the night.
Laphroiag Quarter Cask (48% ABV)
Way back when my experience of whisky was a primordial soup, I received a bottle of this as a gift and was disappointed that it appeared to lack all the qualities I had enjoyed so much in the 10 year old. I hadn’t tried it since, and given that my whisky education has evolved a couple of billion years since then, I was clamouring to try it again – without having to buy a bottle. So here we are, and this time I enjoyed it and it actually tasted the way Laphroiag should… though it must be noted that it has been a long, long time since I’ve even tried the 10 year old. I’m just going to have to buy a bottle of both.
I’m not sure I actually drank any of this, so er… moving on.
The poker was fun, as it usually is, and it was great to imbibe all those spirits. I think though that we all got far too smashed far too quickly, and the poker suffered as a result. I was out quite early in the first game and the final three players for some reason all agreed to a draw… which made me livid. I know it’s allowed, but I just don’t see the point when you’re playing with friends for fun and insignificant amounts of money. Sure, if the game was looking like going on all night, but it wouldn’t – the whole system of increasing the blinds every 15 minutes means that can’t happen.
Whatever. I finished third in the second (and final) game, and that meant I got my £10 back, which meant I was happy enough. My poker skill did seem to have deserted me in the main though.
Well, back to that Sunday morning… I was glad I’d excused myself from the round of golf that had been scheduled for later that day although, to be fair I felt great once I’d popped to the shop to pick up breakfast items for everyone. I actually had one of those hangover highs that I’m going to assume you are also familiar with – when you’re knackered and ropey but full of good cheer and joy. I heard later that those who had elected to play golf only managed about four holes before giving up.
I’d been drunkenly flirting with Mrs Cake by text the night before, so I headed home, happily proceeding towards a little playtime…