Bourbon, like many liquors, has its own rhetoric. I’m not referring to advertisements, labels, or sales, but of the drink itself. You’d never order a margarita in a biker bar and you’d never order a hot-toddy on the beach. What you order and how you order shows what types of rhetoric you utilize. Really, there are two hopes for this post. The first is to define a bit more of what it means to say “the rhetoric of” or reveal your rhetoric ownership. The second is to explore bourbon’s rhetoric and how it relates to a bigger discussion of everyday rhetoric.

I pay attention to Google Alerts on “everyday rhetoric”, like the meh blogger that I am. In those weekly alerts, the two words are separated between sentences (not grouped together like I hope) and often-enough “rhetoric” is denoting a specific politician or group i.e. “Trump’s Rhetoric”, “White Supremacist Rhetoric”, “antifa’s rhetoric”, etc.  There is a certain amount of negative connotation surrounding each ownership and I’ve found that many of these people using “rhetoric” don’t particularly understand the depth of the word, but I could also care less on how they use it. This is especially important to note this because, for this post, I will wrap “bourbon” with the same colloquial expectation to see what comes from it.

Several points concerning rhetoric ownership:

  -One does not own rhetoric, merely utilizes specific devices within a situational context

  -It’s lazy to say “—–’s rhetoric”. If you can’t identify specific key points, learn them!

  -What you utilize/own for rhetorical devices says a lot about you. The same can be said of what you order to drink.

I learned a great deal about my rhetoric devices and bourbon when I was at the age of 25. I think I was 25 anyway. I didn’t start drinking until after I was 24 and can’t place my memory before that time. Anyway, I took a road trip with my stepfather down the Oregon Coast. We hit every tourist trap and roadside attraction between Spokane, WA and Redding, CA. It was at Crescent City, a beautiful seaside town on the border of Oregon and California, that I found what it meant to have “your drink”.

The rhetoric 25 year old’s have towards alcohol is typically that of “the more the merrier”, but I was more resistant and had my own 25 year old rhetoric. I had been an athlete, a scholar, a man dedicated to avoiding “toxins”, but that night in Crescent City, I would learn that bourbon was my drink.

My step-father was a man of business and believed that social events were also a time to conduct business. Our house had multiple bars and included a bit of everything. He, and my mother, believed that you should have your guest’s favorite drink on-hand and ready to mix, stir, pour, and muddle at an instant. So, it wasn’t much of a surprise that evening when he suggested that I “find my drink”. He explained that when I go to someone’s home for an event or dinner, they will learn what you like and will have it on hand just as they do. He told me that it’s rude to say, “whatever you got” or “water” to the question of “would you like something to drink”. These answered he said, appear “apathetic” and “uncaring” to the host. (Note: he is much older and I don’t believe anyone really operates like this anymore, but it was an interesting notion about how other perceive your answers). In any case, he instructed me to order a few drinks and see what I would like.

Telling me “there are no wrong answers”, I ordered a tequila sunrise and then a sea-breeze. Both were mistakes. He insisted I try his favorite drink of bourbon and ginger ale. “The proportion has to be right for you. Some like more bourbon, some ginger ale. “You’ll know what kind of person you’re spending your time with based on what they ask and what they assume”, he explained. “Some people are cheap and won’t pour you a stiff enough drink. Others will want to get you drunk by making the drink too strong. A person that cares will ask your preferences before hand, but you need to be able to speak up when they’ve made your drink wrong”, he continued. The exchange of ordering a drink seemed crazily overthought at the time, but I see now what he meant. He wanted to teach me that setting boundaries is perfectly fine and that asking questions was a way to show your interest/concerns for others. Listening and knowing when other’s are listening to you is the most important part of life and alcohol.

Ordering 3 bourbon and ginger ales of different ratios, I had more than my fill of liquor for the night, but not without learning several more important lessons on the rhetoric of bourbon.

  1. Learning the details of others is a way to show you care
  2. Ordering a seabreeze in a small town turns a few heads
  3. Knowing high-shelf bourbon’s like Woodford Reserve, make you look sophisticated
  4. Knowing how to order a bourbon is almost as important as the quality of bourbon itself Ice is a big deal.
  5. How you order and how you take orders make a world of difference to those listening (this is more in-line with the definition of rhetoric)
  6. Never mix your liquors or have more than your limit, but that’s just good advice

I’ve since learned that I’m not much of a drinker. I had a Corona a few weeks ago that knocked me on my butt, but I digress. The point I want to make about the rhetoric of bourbon is this: the way you order, correct others, drink, and repeat shows what rhetoric you own. Your “drink” is who you show others you are and it shows a bit more about where you belong. Simply put, you can’t order a martini at a Chuck-E-Cheese without having someone think you’re being sarcastic a-hole.

For me, I learned that I prefer an RC and a pizza. Preferably, I would like to stay away from establishments whose purpose is solely to serve drinks. If people think that makes me a “party  pooper”, then I know I need to change my rhetorical situation by changing my location. My rhetoric is just fine. As always, thank you for reading. I hope you find your drink and the people to drink it with.