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Sep 6, 201708:00 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

Alcohol’s Realities

Laying on, not in, the bed and watching the room spin; hanging on to the grass while laying on somebody’s lawn praying we don’t fall off the earth; staggering to a car with keys in hand; or never leaving the bathroom floor awaiting the next episode in the body’s rebellion against too much of a good time – we’ve all been there.

The unpleasantness of the situation causes us to make promises to the Almighty that we almost never keep despite all good intentions and/or a total revulsion of the discomfort we have caused ourselves. No need here to bring up the anti-social aspects of our actions while the body tries to come to grips with the over-indulgence of a substance that is classified in certain quantities as a poison.

There was even a noble, failed effort to tinker with our country’s most sacred document in dealing with alcohol, an effort which in the end caused more damage than the banned substance itself. Today, alcohol remains the only product mentioned in the U.S. Constitution.

The challenge with alcohol comes under multiple headings: availability, consumption levels, personal ability to assimilate, mental attitude, and social pressures.

Most people approach alcohol with the right philosophy, at least in the beginning. We are only seeking a fun expression, a release from human pressures, the freeing of personal qualities, even false ones, to be a good-time-Joe or a good-time-Jill. In the clear majority of instances, those intentions are realized and we awaken the next morning without regrets or feeling the need to contact someone and apologize for something untoward expressed or for being a complete jackass. 

The joy and memories of another fun evening are appreciated, lessons learned albeit temporary in most cases, and we move on.

But there are some folks, most certainly not in the majority, who to varying degrees of behavior simply morph from decent folks to not-so-nice humans, or maybe just to people who make bad decisions after a couple of drinks.  

That takes nothing away from alcohol and the burden is ultimately placed where it needs to go, on the person involved. When we heard last week that Saints’ star, Willie Snead, was being suspended by the National Football League for the Saints’ first three regular season games for a Driving Under the Influence incident that happened in June, I think we all had the same reaction: that’s incredibly outrageous. If an NFL star, who can easily afford a cab ride home, is caught with a high Blood Alcohol Level, why would he not just lean on a friend or give the cab company a call? Personal responsibility should be taken seriously.

Alcohol gets a bad rap, but it’s the user who should be taken to task. There’s that “bad judgement” bugaboo popping up, which many people just don’t want to recognize or deal with.

Anyway, why do humans like fermented and distilled products? What is it about fruit and grain when shoved through a process that makes the next step so inviting to us? Does tasting good and making us feel better answer those questions? Hell yes.

More than 10,000 years ago, our ancestors found that heating grains brought about a pleasant result called “beer,” Not long after that, another ancient tribe learned that fruit left in a bowl in the sun for a few days changed the fruit and resulted in the conversion of those sugars into alcohol. Our ancestors, for the most part no fools, saw great fun and no harm in either process. Even then, some members of the tribe got stupid and went over the line with behavior issues, but overall, all was good.


Okay, class, what have we learned in 10,000 years:

  • Alcohol is alcohol, no matter how you ingest it. Mixing wine and spirits seems to change that “truism,” but it’s the sugars in the brew that make you drunker faster. See the opening sentence in this section. It’s true.
  • You can have a terrific amount of fun by drinking beverages that possess lower alcohol content. Wines that don’t exceed 14%, beers that hang around 5 percent, more ice and water in spirits mixtures, all can deliver a good feeling just not as quickly, but you remain in control of yourself longer.
  • Go slow. Give your body the time it needs to deal with the alcohol. Humans can handle the load but, like the New Orleans pumping capacity, we need the time. To be fair, humans are much better at this task than the New Orleans pumps are at theirs.
  • Drink water. A lot of water. Match your alcohol intake with equal amounts of water. The flushing, sometimes literally, mechanism of the body is up to the task of carrying away the alcohol, especially when the body’s efforts are assisted with water.
  • The minute you feel yourself going under the influence of alcohol, stop drinking the alcohol. It’s not anti-social. It’s not impolite. It does not signal the end of the evening. It’s just smart.




Read Happy Hour here on MyNewOrleans.com every Wednesday, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed as well as stored (podcast), at www.wgso.com. Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature every month in New Orleans Magazine.


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Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans


In New Orleans, when the subject is wine and spirits, it is very difficult to leave Tim McNally out of the discussion. He is considered one of the “go to” resources in the Crescent City for counsel and information about adult beverages and their place in the fabric of life in this great city.


Tim is the Wine and Spirits Editor, columnist and feature writer for New Orleans Magazine; the Wine and Spirits Editor and weekly columnist, Happy Hour, for www.MyNewOrleans.com; creator and editor of his own website, www.winetalknola.com; all in addition to his daily hosting duties on the radio program, The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, on the air at WGSO – 990AM, every weekday, 3- 5 p.m, and streamed live on www.wgso.com.


Over the years, Tim has proved to be an informed interviewer, putting his guests at ease, and covering tactile and technical information so that even a novice can understand difficult agricultural and production concepts. Tim speaks with winemakers, wine and spirit ambassadors, distillers, authors, people who stage events and festivals, and takes questions from listeners and readers, all seamlessly blended together in a program that is unique in America.


Tim’s love of wine actually came about many years ago from his then wife-to-be, Brenda Maitland, a noted journalist in her own right, and together they have traveled to the major wine producing areas in the US and Europe, seeking first-hand information about beverages that give us all so much pleasure.


They were instrumental in the founding of the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, a major national and international well-regarded festival of its type. They both continue to be involved with the planning and staging of this multi-venue, five-day event now over twenty years old.


Tim is also considered one of the foremost professional wine judges in the US, being invited to judge more than 11 wine competitions each year, including the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (the largest competition of American wines in the world, with more than 6,000 entries), the Riverside, CA International Wine Competition, San Francisco International Wine Competition, Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition, Indiana International Wine Competition, Sandestin, Florida Wine Festival Competition, the State of Michigan Wine Competition, the U.S. National Wine Competition, and the National Wine Competition of Portugal.


Tim is a guest lecturer to many local wine and dine organizations, and speaks each year to the senior class in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.


Staying abreast of the news of the wine and spirits world is a passion for Tim, and he is committed to sharing what he knows with his listeners and readers. “Doing something I love, with products that I truly enjoy, created by interesting people, coupling the experience with culinary excellence, and doing it all in the greatest city in America,” are the words Tim lives by.


It’s a good gig. 




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