A stiff drink

[Edited to change the title to something pithier]

So between the blog posts and tweets of Dr. Crazy and Flavia lately, and Bullock’s adventures with alcohol and the iSi Whipper (infused vodka!) and iSi Twist ‘n’ Sparkle (carbonated margaritas!) here in our house (not to mention our well stocked liquor cabinet that we drink without the modernist cuisine gadgets), there seems to be a lot of drinking going on in this corner of the blogosphere.  Like Flavia and Crazy, Bullock and I like to unwind from a bad day or rough week with a good cocktail, or a quality glass of wine or bourbon or scotch or gin.  Or a beer.  We’re equal-opportunity drinkers when it comes to the type of beverage, though we’re a bit picky about the quality. (Btw, Dogfish Head’s Chateau Jiahu is a really tasty ale-like concoction. We just had that for the first time the other night.)

And recently Bullock and I re-watched the entire run of Sports Night, which often featured Isaac pouring himself a stiff drink from the elegant little liquor cabinet in his office, years before (in broadcast time) and after (in narrative setting time) Don Draper was doing it on Mad Men.

So I keep wondering, what do you think would happen if I put such a liquor cabinet in *my* office at school? Would anything happen (assuming I didn’t show up to class drunk and didn’t offer it to under-aged students)? This is all hypothetical, since there isn’t *room* in my office for such a cabinet, but I still wonder.  In plenty of other higher ed contexts it wouldn’t even be noticed — for example, among the ubiquitous sherry hours, Pimm’s-soaked garden parties, and subsidized student bars of Oxbridge (where the drinking age is 18) — but I wonder how it would go over in a place like Rust Belt U., or in US public higher ed in general.  And would it read differently for a woman to have such a cabinet?

Fellow drinkers, would you ever be tempted to do that? Have you ever known a US professor with well-stocked liquor cabinet/beer fridge/wine cellar in his/her office?


16 thoughts on “A stiff drink

  1. I have a grad school friend who’s on the TT at a public institution, and her department has an extremely boozy culture. Her department chair has a fully stocked liquor cabinet, and apparently their department meetings (which I presume happen after class hours) always involve wine.

    Her department is a mix of old and young, so it doesn’t sound like it’s just a hold-over from The Old Days. However, the fact that they’re located in a big city with an extensive, 24-hour public transportation network probably contributes to their booze culture. A lot of my own colleagues are drinkers, but I and the ones I drink with all live 20 miles away from campus. So though we do indeed go out drinking after classes, that activity is geographically if not psychologically separate from our work lives.

  2. Ah yes, whether or not you have to drive makes a big difference! I could walk home if I had that stiff drink in my office, but many people on campus couldn’t — some live in another state! — so that would influence whether or not they have drinks on or off campus.

  3. Notorious beat me to it. I’ve only known profs who have liquor in their filing cabinets or desks, a vaguely shameful “secret” drinking practice. For me, while I enjoy an occasional wine and cheese reception at school every now and again, I have no interest in drinking there regularly, particularly not now with the Curriculum Clusterf— Nah, I’d rather get as far away from there as possible as quickly as possible on working days, or I think I’d end up sleeping in my office, and that’s just sad.

  4. I’m pretty sure I could name three faculty members in my grad department who kept and drank in their offices (and elsewhere). And I’ve helped a faculty member where I work celebrate his retirement by helping a bit with a bottle he’d kept in his office. While I don’t (because I’m the most boring person in the world, but occasionally useful as a driver), I’m pretty sure a couple current colleagues have bottles in their offices.

    But where I used to work, small town, small slac (for emphasis), I heard that the college president got a call one day when a community person saw a faculty member buying a bottle at the grocery store. /sigh.

  5. Mmmm..in my expereince bottles of sherry were kept behind books in bookshelves or bottles of single malt whisky were kept in filing cabinets. Glasses were kept in the same places. …this was despite the fact that there were bars/drinking establishments nearby…and people had to drive home.

  6. OK, all this secret drinking is depressing me, not just because it sounds like the drinkers were drinking just to get drunk, but also because I suspect they probably drank the cheap stuff. Bleh. If I ever do have something in my office, it’s going to be open and beautifully stored — perhaps even *displayed* — and it’ll be worth showing off!

    Bardiac — that small town, small slac story makes me glad I’m not in such a place!

  7. No room in my office, and since we are a ‘religiously affiliated university’ it’s a strictly no-booze campus. However, when I first got here, a group of like-minded women had periodic parties. Once I realized I was the host 90% of the time – and no one else ever even offered their homes – I quit providing the place. Since then, we’re lucky if I unbend once a year for a get-together. If I were at another, less restrictive locale, I’d surely have not only a file cabinet but even a bottom drawer loaded with spirits.

  8. Oh, I was also going to add that my dissertation director was a *serious* wine collector and drinker (some he sold when it matured — it was a futures game — and some he drank), but as far as I know, he never had any in the office. But then he generally only did teaching related things in the office and worked more from his home office. And his office neighbor was said to be a connoisseur of single-malt scotches and fine bourbons, but I don’t know if they were in the office or not. But my grad program was in a *very* car-oriented place where no one lived near campus.

  9. My advisor just moved to a new (temporary) office, which I noticed had a rather prominently-displayed collection of wine in a wine rack beside the chimney. No idea if those are his or left over from the previous occupant, though. And there is a somewhat boozy culture here–by which I mean that no lecture/seminar/afternoon event ends without a wine and cheese.

  10. I’ve known some serious drinkers in my academic career, but I never saw anyone keep a bottle in their office, either openly or surreptitiously. All drinking in the office was done only during departmental parties, and then the booze was ‘hidden’ only in the sense that we tried to keep it out of sight of those humorless killjoy douchebags in the department upstairs from us. The serious drinking, more often than not, was done entirely off-campus.

    For the most part, the only academics I know whose offices could possibly accommodate a mini-bar or liquor cabinet are administrators. Everyone else seems to be drowning in books, journals, papers, computer paraphernalia, etc.

    Finally, I also want to stump for Dogfish Head’s 60-minute and 90-minute IPAs. The first is very good indeed, and the second one is bloody fantastic. Since Ghosttown U. is located in a state that forbids beer any stronger than 5.5% ABV, I need to encourage other people to drink Dogfish Head ales so I can live vicariously through them. Sigh. It’s tough being an alcohol snob in a dry county.

  11. When one colleague retired, he gifted me with his corkscrew and some wineglasses. They’d seen frequent use over the many years he’d been on faculty, believe you me. Haven’t been used once since I got them!

  12. I have a slightly awkward relationship with alcohol, in as much as I don’t think I have a problem but other members of my family thought that and were wrong, so it may not mean much to say, I would not keep booze in the office (and don’t). I’m very happy to drink with colleagues (just as well given where I am) but drinking alone is a bit ethically dicey for me. Of course, a happy marriage means you hardly ever face that dilemma… There are, of course, drinks cabinets in *many* of my colleagues’ offices, but you kind of knew that without needing to know, I assume. Not the women, as far as I have so far observed, though, nor the younger men, and it’s far from universal even further up the patriarchy.

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