Someone must close down the bar, but I am through volunteering for the position. This is not to say bourbon has lost its bloom, or that work days do not begin with brief foamy fantasies about the first cold beers to be cracked eight hours later. I can say (with a straight face) that serious carousing is an occupation for swollen wallets and spare time, and claim that, as of late, I have neither. I can rationalize moderation because I wake up very early and tire before last call the following morning. I can insist that going out is harder than staying in, especially when it's raining and there's work to do and Netflix in the mailbox. I can affect a jaded outlook, yawning that the sport of drinking doesn't hold the appeal it had ten years ago. I can label it a secondary activity, something I associate with games to watch, gigs to play, food to eat, and good conversations with friends. Big nights happen, yes, but usually on accident, I can say -- candidly, with no regrets.
Those are all parts of the problem (if embracing moderation can ever be considered one) but the real reason, the one that really has me avoiding bars and heading home early when I can't, is that these days, when I drink too much, my hangovers hit like Mike Tyson circa 1986. After a few too many, I wake up stuffy, morose, disoriented, ugly, and sore. I don't ever get sick, but I forget details about where I went and who I saw. I don't have the energy to do the things that the day ahead demands, and my mood plummets correspondingly. When I was 20, I could shake off boozy sweats, dehydration, and body aches, and spring out of bed after five hours of sleep to bound around the house, read, study, and socialize -- all miraculously on an empty stomach. Now, on those increasingly infrequent occasions where I over-indulge, I am discovering that I desperately require food -- breakfast maybe, or at least a snack of heroic proportions -- to piece myself together again.
Restorative noshing is welcome immediately after the party, or hours later, upon waking. The fact that I've only really realized this in the latter half of my twenties probably says something about my learning curve in general. If hunger pangs strike on the way home from the bar, possibilities are limited. Most restaurants aren't open. Chorizo tacos from El Farolito and Taqueria Vallarta hit the spot. I haven't been, but Nombe, the new-ish izakaya on Mission St., has a late-night take-out window selling ramen to revelers staggering home. Sometimes, an attack on the refrigerator is the best and cheapest recourse. I went out on Saturday night and stayed out -- gasp -- until 1 a.m. When I came home I realized nearly everything in the house that I felt like eating was being saved for a dinner with my dad the following night -- sausage for pizza, bread for croutons, and olives. Instead, I microwaved some leftover white rice and added salt and a few squirts of srirachi sauce. Something with srirachi sauce usually does the trick. Lately, I've also been especially enjoying plain corn tortillas roasted on a cast-iron skillet and then topped with srirachi and a few creamy squiggles of Kewpie mayonnaise. I do two at a time, folded over like miniature fusion-y quesadillas, and eat them fast, usually burning my mouth in the process.
For those disinclined to wallow in gastronomic gutters, there is also, of course, street food -- bacon dogs, tamales, and the ever-growing assortment of heavily Twittered carts that tend to pop up on corners outside the doors of drinking establishments. As good as some of this stuff is (I'm thinking about you, gumbo guy), such trendy offerings come with long lines, and waiting fifteen minutes for a grilled flatbread behind a bunch of ravenous drunk people is rarely an attractive option when you're ravenous and drunk yourself. Fifteen minutes? I could be home by then, putting the final drizzle of srirachi on a corn tortilla, wearing the sweats, watching a little Larry David before passing out with a smile on my face.
Tortilla with srirachi and Kewpie mayonnaise. You won't see this in Saveur.