Tuesday, April 10, 2007

HTT, our bar is well stocked and now some of our guests think we're lushes!

Dear HTT,

My husband and I have a well-stocked bar. Nothing to compare with what you'd find in a drinking establishment, but a greater variety of liquors than we usually find at the homes of our friends.

The sitch is that we like to entertain, and we like being the type of hosts that can offer our guests a variety of drink options, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Aside from drinking with friends, we seldom drink ourselves.

Recently, on several occasions, guests to our home have made comments that suggested it was weird that we had so much stuff. My husband's boss' wife specifically asked me how often my husband and I make drinks for ourselves, and it was said in a way that it was clear that she was wondering if either of us had a drinking problem. A full bar doesn't mean that she's going to find a half-empty bottle of Wild Turkey next to the toilet, but apparently some people think this way.

And it seems now we've become the booze couple: At pot-luck functions hosted by other people, we're getting asked to bring the alcohol instead of food, despite the fact that I am an excellent cook (you've had the cheesy potatoes). Can you offer any advice? Should I just ignore this?

Wrong Message in the Bottles

Dear Wrong Message,

How odd that the effort you’ve made to be considerate hosts has somehow cast you in a suspicious light! If your refrigerator were equally well stocked, and I suspect it is, would people wonder if you were binge eaters?

I, myself, am not terribly adept at hosting parties, at least not without weeks of advance planning. Well, I can whip up a party-music playlist like nobody’s business, but I do not have a well-stocked bar. I have a creaky, plastic lazy Susan in a corner kitchen cabinet with several dusty, half-full bottles of no-name brandy from the last time I made sangria. There’s some decent gin in the freezer, but rarely any tonic or lime, so unless you’re pretty hardcore, you’re out of luck there. At best, I might have a bottle of wine (red only) and a few stray beers in the fridge. (I don’t drink beer, so these are leftovers from six packs brought by friends who know I’m no hostess.)

In general, people just don’t throw parties like they used to. Think about all those classic movies; homes always seemed to be equipped with a bar…an actual piece of furniture dedicated to liquor and elegant stemware. You wouldn’t see Cary Grant breezing into a friend’s place with case of Yuengling in tow.

So, I’m guessing that your friends are simply unaccustomed to people who take pains to accommodate their guests to the extent that you do. It’s unfortunate that some of your visitors think you might be in need of an intervention and a 12-step program, but you’ve handled things just right. When people comment on your bar, continue to make off-hand pleasantries about how you like to be good hosts, rather than launching into any more lengthy, apologetic explanation. If repeat guests don’t get the hint, start offering them nothing but Diet Cheerwine and tap water. That’ll show them!

As for the potlucks: next time someone asks you to bring a bottle of hooch, why don’t you say something along the lines of “Oh, gosh, I’ve been dying to try out this new recipe for crab dip. Would you mind terribly if I brought that instead?” Or, “Back in North Carolina, I was famous for my cheesy potatoes, and I’d love for y’all to try them as well and let me know what you think.”

You can have me over for a drink any time!