May is a busy month for me — a wedding, a bachelor weekend, a graduation, not to mention simply being out and about in the spring weather. A lot of flask-toting happens in the warmer months, so I would like to kick off a multi-week series addressing these scenarios by re-printing a flask-ing listicle from last Summer in the first installment of what we’ll call:
Episode 1: Flask In The Glory
Today, as Summer Wedding Season is fast upon us, we shall discuss The Flask. A useful tool with a specific niche, the flask is great for discreetly carrying and consuming alcohol, but its instantly recognizable form (and metallic gleam) means it cannot hide in plain sight. Pulling it out at the right moment can be a very useful social device, revealing it at the wrong moment, caddish. So let’s talk about how to do this right.
1) Thy flask must be concealable in thy back pocket.
You are not always wearing a jacket — you ARE always wearing pants. If you find yourself estranged from your pants, you are probably not in immediate need of more alcohol anyway. Your flask will be an extra incentive to reunite with them.
2) Thy flask must be inexpensive enough to throw away.
I don’t spend more than $10 on a flask; they are easily lost or confiscated. Don’t be the guy who has to go back to the reception hall to look for Grandpa’s engraved, silver-plated, art deco flask — it’s a display piece, what were you thinking? And it would be a damn shame to lose it to the usher who notices you sneaking pulls at the football game. The $10 flask serves you, not the other way around.
3) Know thy flask and seal it well.
Always. Even when someone closes it tight and hands it back to you, give it the old half twist back and forth to make sure it is sealed properly. It is not amazing that some $10 flasks will develop quirks over time — don’t be the idiot with a pocketful of brandy stinger leaching across his linen suit pants because he was too lazy to check his tools.
4) Thou shalt observe flask etiquette.
There is an unspoken code among men and women who are packing pocket-liquor: A flask is politely (and inconspicuously) tipped in offering toward anyone who observes your discreet tippling. An additional note on this: In my experience, a man with an interesting flask is perceived to be an interesting man. A mouthful of hot vodka endears you to no one worthwhile.
5) Thy flask must be potent.
Two reasons. One, if your flask doesn’t pack a punch, what is the point of bringing it? Two, when you get home and carelessly toss it back in the cabinet still half-full, there must be enough alcohol to keep it from going rancid until you reach for it again next month.
6) Thy flask must be well-considered.
If you are simply transporting your alcohol in a breast pocket to be emptied over a glass of ice or lemonade at some specified point in the afternoon, there is not much more to consider. If, however, it is your intention to be bumping off your flask over the course of several hours in the July sun, remember that your liquor will be as warm as you are. Exactly no one wants a drag of bottle-strength, arm pit-temperature scotch. At the very least you will want to dilute your flask ahead of time. And this brings us to our most important point…
7) Thy flask must be tasty.
I view the flask as a drinks category all its own (since it has such unique considerations), and I use my knowledge of other cocktails to inform my flask-filling. First and foremost is dilution. There is no way to keep a flask cold, and warm, strong alcohol is just nasty. A little water or seltzer (say 15 to 20% by volume) goes a surprisingly long way toward reducing the post-swig shudders. Sometimes this is all I do, but usually I indulge in a little practical potion-making.
I make a flask in much the same way I make a sandwich: I grab a base spirit (like gin, whiskey, rum, or cognac) and then modify it with whatever I’ve got around — some citrus juice and a little honey, some Italian vermouth and bitters, maple syrup, nutmeg, and cider. You get the idea — thoughtful but nothing complicated. No one expects to have their best-drink-ever from a flask; we are going for drinkable, at the very least, and aiming for enjoyable, experience-enhancing. Match the taste to your mood and the occasion, and pocket something you are not embarrassed to share. Drinking from a flask is no reason to drink poorly. Now get on out there, get saucy, and make a few friends.