When I arrived in Colorado seven and a half years ago, there was no Stranahan's, no Colorado whiskey to speak of, and no war in my soul over what to order when I pulled up before the long oak with a taste for whiskey and some time to kill. I was a Jameson drinker then, tips to toes. Still am, as a matter of fact. And I love Jameson whiskey to this day the way a flower loves the sun or a pervert loves porn.
But I also have come to passionately enjoy a fine glass of that magic elixir created by Jess Graber and George Stranahan, that rough, lovely, heady spirit with which they captured everything they loved about Colorado in hard-liquor format.
It took some time for me to come around. This was not a lightweight, love-at-first-sip kind of thing. But even though I wasn't thrilled with my first, tenth or maybe even twentieth glass of Stranahan's, no one can call me a quitter. I kept at it doggedly, taking advice from bartenders and liquor purveyors, bracing my normal Jameson consumption with the occasional glass of Rocky Mountain whiskey and eventually cornering some of Stranahan's own staff and arguing with them in public over the best way to serve, sip and savor their beverage.
In the end, though, it was nothing that anyone told me that turned me into a fiend for the stuff, just a gradual awakening of my own palate to the subtle differences between the Irish and the American versions of god's favorite beverage. I like it now with just three ice cubes and drunk down fast, with one BIG ice cube (thanks Colt & Gray!) and drunk at medium speeds, or neat, with just the barest splash of water and sipped slowly, the water taking nothing but the shine off the edge off the burn and allowing the flavors of smoke and earth to bloom as the whiskey sits in its glass.
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In Colorado, I can get Stranahan's virtually anywhere. Every bar I go to, every restaurant, it's sitting right there among the call brands, with pride of place beside my beloved Jameson. I have some at my office. I don't know too many people who don't have a partial bottle sitting around the house. You know, just in case...
But in Seattle? Well, I've already been told (warned really, and by people who know me) that I'd better bring along an ample supply because Stranahan's can be devilishly hard to find in the state of Washington, occasionally impossible. My plan is to heed that advice and pack my trunk with it, get me one of those hats that usually hold beer cans and fill its holsters with whiskey bottles, to start carrying a hip flask again everywhere I go, and then to make very good friends with the owner of the closest liquor store and ask oh-so-nicely that he stock some.
Matter of fact, if the liquor-store owners of Seattle proper want to get a jump on things, they might want to think about ordering up some bottles right now. My move is only a couple weeks away, after all. And after all that driving, I'm gonna be thirsty...