Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The 30 Day Challenge - Halfway Home!!

Yesterday was my 17th consecutive day without a drop of alcohol!!  I'm halfway to my goal of 30 days!!  It definitely hasn't been easy.  In fact, yesterday was my first really tough day at work where I really would've loved to relax while sipping a bourbon when I got home.  Right now things are really busy at work and I have a ton of stuff to do and keep getting distracted or nagged by little things that prevent me from making any real progress on the bigger things I need to get done.  It's really just annoying but all those little annoying things led to a mini-meltdown of sorts haha.  Now that I'm over the halfway mark, I'm a little comforted by the fact that this is almost over.  My life hasn't really changed much.  Here are some new observations:

  • I still feel full all the time.  I doesn't matter if I eat a little or a lot.  I feel full and bloated or something.  Maybe alcohol was helping to break down the food and aid in digestion?
  • Energy is slightly up and I've gotten a little more accomplished on the weekends thanks to getting an earlier start on my day.
  • Pooping is down considerably which could explain the full feeling all the time.  I just haven't been regular.  I'm thinking that while I'm on this no-alcohol kick I might do a little cleanse to clean me out.  I know you will sleep better now knowing this.
  • In the past 6 days since my last update, people have applied a little more peer pressure or suggestions that this challenge is a bad idea and that I should just have a bourbon.  It's been tempting but I've held strong.
  • I've become somewhat more irritable and at times can't figure out why.  I think maybe I'm just stressed from having to force myself to NOT do something that I love to do?  Maybe I feel exiled from my regular social life because I'm not going out as much or for as long?  I don't know.
  • I met a friend at a bar for the Heat game on Sunday and almost took a sip of her beer because I was thirsty when I arrived at the bar and I wasn't thinking for a second.  It was like I was a robot that had been reverted back to its original programming.  Luckily I caught myself before making that mistake.
  • I did a weigh-in on Day 16...  I've lost one pound.  Conclusion - drinking has little to no effect on weight loss over the period of 16 days.  That was frustrating to learn, if only because it gave me another reason to quit on this challenge.  I told that reason to go F itself shortly after though so it's cool.  Nothing is stopping me from getting to Day 30 at this point.
A funny thing happened to me too over the last six days...  I went to dinner at Joey's in Wynwood on Saturday night, Day 14, with a friend and some other people she knew.  Dinner was disappointing and I learned to stick with pizza and pasta at that place.  We wrap up dinner and everyone decides to go to a bar for a drink.  I opt to head home because I'm tired and off the booze so I've really got no motivation to stay out.  I begin walking to my car which was about a block away.  It's about 11pm.  A woman is walking in front of me with whom I presume are her two little girls.  It's late so I'm not surprised when she pulls them closer to her side when she sees me, a stranger, walking behind.  Just before I catch up to them at the street corner, I scuff the bottom of my shoe on a crack in the sidewalk.  I get to the corner and the woman says to me, "You gonna make it to the car?"  "Huh?", I reply, having somewhat of an idea what she said and why but pretty shocked to be hearing it.  She repeats herself, "You been drinking a whole bunch, huh?  You gonna make it to the car?"  I am a tad angered by this but it's late and she's walking with her two daughters in a not-so-great neighborhood so I tell myself she is probably just being protective of them.  I look her dead in the eyes and politely say, "Lady, I haven't had a sip of alcohol in 14 days.  I just finished some dinner with my friends and will be getting on my way now.  You have a nice night."  She apologized, smiled, and wished me well. 

I still thought it was pretty messed up that the woman would make an assumption like that but I guess I understood.  At least it made for a funny story to tell.  The strange part is that has never happened to me on a night where I've been drinking.  The situation reminded me again of that feeling I got when I was driving home late at night for the first time on a night where I hadn't been drinking at all.  The paranoia of getting pulled over was still there even though I knew there was not one drop of alcohol in my system, of being hassled because an officer might assume I'd been drinking simply because of what hour it was.  I guess we are all capable of being stereotyped or profiled regardless of the situation. 

Today is Day 18.  At midnight tonight I will have 12 days to go and 3 of them will be Memorial Day Weekend.  I'm almost there, so close I can taste that Day 31 bourbon...

Friday, May 20, 2011

The 30 Day Challenge - The Next 6 Days

Well, I've made it through 12 days!  I've been perfect through 12 and haven't succumbed to any urge to have a sip of alcohol.  It hasn't been easy the whole time though.  As a matter of fact, the journey has been the complete opposite of what I thought it would be.  I thought that the first week would be the toughest since I would have to get out of my routine of having a drink when I got home from work or went out for dinner.  It really wasn't.  I thought that as the days went by that not drinking would get easier.  It hasn't.  It's gotten harder.

I've been on the road for a week now.  I had to work a trade show and then hit the road driving from Boston to Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, Lockport, and Buffalo, New York.  Here are some observations over the past 6 days:
  • Even though I'm not drinking, I still manage to meet interesting people at the bar when I go out to dinner and engage in hilarious conversations with them.
  • Driving home at midnight completely sober is really strange.  The whole time I'm thinking, "I really don't feel much different than I do after a few drinks.  What if I get pulled over for some reason?  Will the officer think I've been drinking?"  It's pretty comical that the paranoia is still there.
  • People have been real supportive of my quest.  I really haven't faced much peer pressure. 
  • At the same time, when people learn that I'm not drinking it seems to cue up a response of, "Oh yeah, I've done that before." Most of the times I don't know whether to believe them or if it's just something they say to feel better about themselves.
  • I had my first O'Doul's last night!  It really wasn't that bad but I couldn't have more than two.  Only reason I had one was because I stopped at a friend's charity event and she was working so I was on my own and there were no seats at the bar.  I didn't know what to do with myself hahaha.  I saw someone drinking an O'Doul's and figured I'd give it a shot. 
  • O'Doul's is great when you want the flavor of beer without the alcohol and don't feel like waiting until the next morning for the beer farts to kick in.  
  • I've noticed that I like something sweet after dinner now.  Maybe a cookie or an ice cream.  I never used to do that and instead had a bourbon.  I like the old way better as it doesn't make me feel even more full and helps digest.
  • Club soda with a little lime or lemon is actually pretty good even though it doesn't really quench my thirst much.
So, I'm now 40% of the way through my 30 day challenge!  I have to admit, last night I was having doubts on whether or not I could make it all the way to the end.  I miss bourbon so much it hurts.  I sat at the bar having dinner looking at the bottles of Maker's Mark and Knob Creek behind the bar and it was hard.  I pictured myself giving up at some point along the way, right around Memorial Day.  You know what though?  I won't give up or give in.  I got willpower like that.  Plus, I would rather suffer through not drinking for 30 days than listen to people talk shit to me about how I couldn't do it.  Today is day 13 - 18 days left and I am free to have a bourbon again!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The 30 Day Challenge - The First 6 Days

Well, the first five days of my 30 Day Challenge are behind me.  It's been an interesting experience so far.  Here's some observations:
  • I went back to having some tea at work.  I'm not sure if this is a result of not drinking alcohol or if it's just because one of my co-workers has a great french press that I just discovered for my loose leaf tea.  
  • I'm peeing a lot more, probably because I'm drinking tea and when I go out to a bar to eat I drink water like crazy.  Water with lemon or iced tea.  Crazy stuff
  • It is awkward sitting at a bar and not drinking alcohol but once I get into conversation it's not so bad
  • In the absence of alcohol, when I eat I feel full really quick.  Last night I went to dinner with my family and some family friends.  We had apps and I was satisfied.  Didn't even need the pasta dish that I had after (which kinda sucked too)
  • Not sure if this has anything to do with alcohol but I've been getting dry skin on my fingers lately, more than just the normal callouses from playing guitar.  Feels like when I go to Vegas or LA and my hands get all dry.  Weird...
  • Sporting events just don't seem right without a beer in hand.  After a few minutes it wears off though
  • I've had some of the lowest dinner bills ever thanks to no booze
  • I still drag ass getting out of bed in the morning.  Sleep is about the same with me waking up every few hours but I feel like I'm having deeper sleep when I do conk out.
  • Traveling without drinking booze is a little tough.  I like to have a few pops before I get on a plane to help me relax and sleep on the flight.  Being on the road this week for work will definitely be a test
  • I might be saving money by not drinking but I'm spending more freely elsewhere with the mindset that I'm saving by not drinking.  I used to be awesome at saving money.  Now I suck at it.
  • People are pretty surprised that I'm committed to not drinking.  Even my Dad said to me, "Have one bourbon if the Celtics win Game 5 and 2 if they lose!!".  I thanked him for his support haha.
  • Even though I'm on the wagon, I'm still reading about bourbon every day and even purchased a few bottles for a tasting when I complete my challenge.  It just proves that I can be around alcohol and not have to drink it.
The first six days without alcohol haven't been that bad.  I mean, there have definitely been times where I've wanted to have a drink but it really hasn't been hard not having one.  A couple times I've questioned why I'm doing this in the first place and thought it was a dumb idea but I think that's just me thinking impatiently.  I'm already 20% of the way through this ordeal and then we will see the end results and any effect, if any, not drinking has had on my life.  In the end, it's a good practice for self discipline and it really can't hurt so I'm looking forward to the next few weeks and the new challenges and temptations that arise.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The 30 Day Challenge

I have a pretty simple lifestyle - go to work, pay my bills, eat and drink as best as I can, try to have as many good times as much as possible.  My daily routine usually involves an adult beverage at some point, typically of the bourbon variety but occasionally I'll have a beer.  Why?  Well, I guess it helps me unwind but really I just love bourbon.  I love the aroma, the taste, and the bite of it.  Unfortunately, one can sometimes turn into two, then two turns into three or four and...well you get it. 

I wouldn't say I have a problem with alcohol.  I don't "get drunk" on a daily basis.  In fact, most of the time I only have one or two.  Lately, however, I've been wondering if having a drink has a hold on me.  When I start thinking like that, it's time for a test.  That test is what I've dubbed the 30-day challenge.

For the next 30 days I will be off the booze!!  It's kinda like Lent but without all the religion and stuff.  I'm going to try to stick with my regular routine of eating out almost every night and trying to keep my lifestyle as consistent as usual just minus the booze.  I think it will have a positive effect.  I'm looking to track a number of things to see how not drinking effects me:
  • Will I lose weight?  How much?
  • How is my average restaurant check affected?
  • How is my monthly credit card bill affected?
  • Will my sleeping patterns be affected at all?
  • Will I get off to an earlier start and get more accomplished on the weekends?
  • Will I put in more time on this blog?
Wow, can't believe I didn't have a drink during that Heat/Celtics game!  What a doozy!  I made up for my lack of drinking with excessive tweeting.  I have a feeling it's going to be a long 30 days but I'm confident I can do it.  I got strong willpower and shit. It's now been 48 hours since I have had an alcoholic beverage.  Two days down - 28 to go!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Derby Day Sweepstakes - The Final Winner

2011 Kentucky Derby Winner: Animal Kingdom w/ jockey John Velazquez (photo credit:

Yesterday, we wrapped up the Derby Day Sweepstakes at Bourbon Steak in Aventura.  It was an awesome time.  Ladies came correct wearing some really cool hats!  John Riccardo, General Manager, set us up at a few tables in the bar area and Lisa took care of us all night, from Derby pre-race all the way thru the end of the Heat/Celtics game.  Behind the bar, Monique was whipping up some fantastic Mint Juleps.  Even people that were not there to watch the Kentucky Derby got into the spirit and ordered a Julep and thought it tasted great.  Nice and refreshing.

I decided to do the final $25 gift certificate giveaway at the event so I could get everyone involved in the big race.  Numbers 1-20 were handed out (excluding 18 who was scratched from the race) to the group and to total strangers and the Bourbon Steak staff so everyone had a horse in the race.  The gates opened and the horses were off!  My horse, #17 Soldat, got off to a nice start and was good thru the first 1/2 mile but then faded.  In the end, the #16 horse, Animal Kingdom, turned on the jets in the last 1/4 mile and blew by everyone, taking first place by nearly a three horse margin.  Monique had the #16 and won the gift certificate and a round of applause!  It must've been good karma for serving delicious Mint Juleps to everyone.

An interesting fact about the winner, Animal Kingdom.  The horse was bred mixing a turf champion sire from Brazil and a blue-blooded stout mare from Germany.  It was the first time the horse had ever run on dirt!!  Plus, it was the first time the jockey, John Velazquez, had ever ridden the horse!  He got the call two days prior when the regular jockey was injured after being bucked from his horse and kicked in the face, resulting in a broken nose.  The breeder remarked that, in Germany, horses are not allowed to be bred from sires and mares that have run on drugs, so you're getting a pure thoroughbred built for stamina.  These horses are bigger, faster, and stronger.  With Animal Kingdom, it showed.

A big Blind Tastes "thank you" to the entire staff at Bourbon Steak for hosting us on Derby Day.  It was a great time and The Chowfather and I are already in discussions for the next race for the Triple Crown - The Preakness.  Will Animal Kingdom win and be one step closer to the elusive Triple Crown?  We will have to wait two weeks and see!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Derby Day Sweepstakes! Trivia Question #3

The Kentucky Derby kicks off Thoroughbred Racing's "Triple Crown" this Saturday at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.  The next two races that round out the Triple Crown are the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland and the Belmont Stakes which is held at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York.  These horses are for 3-year old Thoroughbreds.  Should a horse win each of these races, it is bestowed the award of the "Triple Crown", the highest achievement a racehorse can receive.

Q: What is the name of the last horse to win the Triple Crown?

First correct answer in the comments wins a $25 Gift Certificate courtesy of!! 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Derby Day Sweepstakes! Trivia Question #2

Ok, well apparently the first question was too tough because no one even attempted to answer...  Oh well, we're raising the stakes!!  Today will be treated like a Skins Match - since no one won yesterday, today's correct trivia answer is worth TWO $25 gift certificates to!!!

Ok, let's get to it...
Q: Bourbon Whiskey is made up of a mash that consists of corn, barley, rye and/or wheat.  What percentage of corn must the mash contain in order for the distillery to classify the whiskey as Bourbon?

First correct answer in the comments wins TWO $25 gift certificates courtesy of!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Derby Day Sweepstakes! Trivia Question #1

Ok folks, here's today's Derby Day Sweepstakes question!  First correct answer in the comments gets the prize, a $25 Gift Certificate!

Q: The Early Times Mint Julep has been the official Mint Julep of the Kentucky Derby for over 16 years.  Other than being a nice cocktail to sip while you watch the race, what is the official connection between the Mint Julep and the Kentucky Derby?

Here's the recipe for the Early Times Mint Julep to get your thinker thinkin':

Early Times Mint Julep
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • Sprigs of fresh mint
  • Crushed ice
  • Early Times Kentucky Whisky
  • Silver Julep Cups
Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight. Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of Early Times Kentucky Whisky. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Derby Day Sweepstakes!

The 137th Running of the Kentucky Derby is a mere four days away so I decided today was a good time to let the festivities begin!

Blind Tastes presents: the Derby Day Sweepstakes!  
Here's how it will work - Each day, starting tomorrow and ending on Derby Day on Saturday, there will be one trivia question posted at a random time, i.e. whenever I remember to do it.  The first person to reply with the correct answer will win a $25 Gift Certificate!   Check out their list of Miami locations!

Check back daily and win!


The nice people over at Bourbon Steak have gotten into the Derby Day spirit and will be opening up the bar area a little bit earlier than usual.  Wear your best Derby Day attire!  The Kentucky Derby will air on the big screen and all Mint Juleps will be half-priced!

click photo to enlarge & salivate (photo credit:

They've got awesome burgers there, too!  In fact, Bourbon Steak's Bar Burger was recently named as a Top Tier Burger by The Chowfather in his Tiers of a Burger post. 

So, remember to check back here daily for your chance to win the $25 Gift Certificate and then check out Bourbon Steak this Saturday starting at 5:00pm for the Kentucky Derby!