I drink whiskey because of Deadwood.
In the mid-2000s, I was depressed, divorced, and devoid of basically everything. I had two young children who depended on me, a few half-finished novels, fading dreams of becoming a filmmaker, and little enough cash that my days were spent chasing consulting work in an attempt to derail my increasingly successful pursuit of indebtedness.
One night, late at night, late in the summer or early in the Autumn, lights out, kids asleep, with perhaps a candle burning, I decided to watch the first episode of Deadwood. I don’t remember why. I had never been particularly inspired by Westerns.
Thus my surprise when I fell immediately under its spell. Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok came rolling through the Black Hills into town, and my life changed a bit. The music, the sets, the cinematography. It smelled of sawdust and squished with the sounds of horsehooves on muddy streets. There was Reverend Smith’s descent into madness, Alma Garret’s dreamy voiced eloquence, Al Swearengen’s often incomprehensible soliloquys. It was all so lovely. And violent. And brutal. And brilliant. And unlike anything I’d ever seen on TV.
At some point, somewhere in the middle of season one, I thought I’d increase the immersion and partake in a shot of whiskey while watching. I had none in the house, because I was never a big drinker. So I bought a bottle. I can’t recall the first brand. Makers, perhaps. Or Gentleman Jack. But it raged down my throat. I coughed. It burned. My face contorted. My eyes watered. I laughed and wondered how anyone could suffer shot after shot of the stuff. I also got a wee bit buzzed.
But I tried again another night. And I experimented with other whiskeys. For years, whenever late summer rolled around, I bought a new bottle and spent a few weeks watching all three seasons of Deadwood.
Since then, I’ve consumed more whiskeys than I can name, and I’ve tasted them all over the world, from a speakeasy in San Francisco to a private whiskey club in Scotland to a rooftop hotel bar in Ho Chi Minh City. I’ve taken them neat, with an ice cube, or even mixed in delightfully concocted cocktails. As life improved and indebtedness waned, whiskey came along for the ride.
So… Seeing as how I like to imbibe the barrel-aged amber spirits, and seeing as how I like Deadwood, and seeing as how they go hand-in-hand, and seeing as how Deadwood is returning all these years later with an HBO movie, and seeing as how my kids are teenagers now driving cars and dating and considering colleges and forcing me to accept “middle age”, I think a special bottle may be in order.
So cheers to HBO. Cheers to everyone responsible for Deadwood. I can’t wait to raise a glass when the movie airs. A toast to reminiscing, to nostalgia, to art, to cinema, to profanity, to life, to alliteration, and to a goddamn glorious glass of whiskey.