There have been many noteworthy clubs throughout modern history. Ed Norton and Brad Pitt invited us to “Fight Club”. Then there is Bushwood Country Club from the movie “Caddyshack”. While calling it a club may be a bit of a stretch, but Chazz Reinhold founded “Wedding Crashers” and passed on that legacy to all of us.
Each of these clubs has rules, too. Fight Club has eight rules, but the first one (two, actually) are the most remembered: “you do not talk about fight club”. And, of course, gambling is illegal at Bushwood, sir (and I never slice). Wedding Crashers has lots of rules, such as rule #76: “No excuses. Play like a champion”.
So, when starting a bourbon club what kind of rules should we have? Should we pattern the rules of Bourbon Fellowship after any of the clubs I’ve mentioned? What if we follow the lead of Fight Club? “The first rule of The Bourbon Fellowship is you don’t talk about The Bourbon Fellowship” – that doesn’t really work. Even though this blog is not enjoyed by millions (yet) you can’t really blog about a secret club. Other Fight Club rules don’t work very well either. The sixth rule is “no shoes and no shirt”. I love these guys but I don’t care to see any of them without a shirt on and I know they don’t want to see me without one, either. There. Is. Not. Enough. Bourbon.
Ultimately, for inspiration on the rules of Bourbon Fellowship I turn to where I should have looked in the first place: The Bible! If you ask, “What could the Bible have to tell us about Bourbon? “, then you clearly don’t know your George Garvin Brown.
Debunking Prohibition aside, the Bible is also source for the simple rules (or should I say “rule”) of Bourbon Fellowship. Specifically, out of Matthew 7:12 which we all know better as The Golden Rule: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. I’ll make a slight tweak for our purposes: “Bourbon unto others as you would have them Bourbon unto you”.
When I previewed the one simple rule blog topic on twitter I got a couple of responses like “don’t be a jerk” or “don’t be a d*ck”. While those are pretty simple rules, they also set a pretty low bar. I can’t imagine any of us being excited by the prospects of “you are barely not a jerk, so I am happy to share my favorite bottle of whiskey with you”. I think we can and should aim a bit higher than that.
Bourbon unto others means if you want people to be generous with you then you be generous with them. In our group, whether it’s Shannon sharing a special bottle of Japanese whiskey or Tom bringing homemade bourbon balls or Bill connecting us with a Bourbon legend (more on that in a future post)…everyone is in the spirit of sharing. At a bottle share last December, Jared brought two 1970s era Old Fitzgerald bottles. He broke the seal on those with us like he was twisting the cap on a bottle of Dasani.
Being “bourbon tolerant” is another example of this “Bourbon Unto Others” rule. If you want to drink what you want and how you want, then you should respect others’ decisions to do the same. I’ve been known to drink Jack Daniels with orange soda (it’s not close to my daily drinker, but it happens). If I’m going to drink that…on purpose…even just once…then I’m in no position to mock anything someone else may choose to drink. At least not in a mean-spirited way.
Bourboning unto others also means being Bourbon Wise – maybe you can picture yourself as being the label on a bottle of Kentucky Owl for this one. Use your Bourbon powers for good and not evil. Sharing your knowledge in a humble way helps others learn and be willing to ask questions. That is a good thing for the dynamics of any group. Plus, when the conversation turns to a topic you don’t know as much about (home repair, insurance, fatherhood, ridding yourself of a stage five clinger) then the guys in the group with more experience in those areas will gladly help you out. If you find you need career advice from the guy you laughed at for putting Fresca in his Woodford, don’t be surprised if you get “the world needs ditch diggers, too” as a response.
If all else fails and you can’t rise to Bourbon Unto Others (or maybe Bourbon like a champion), at the very least follow Wheaton’s Law. It may not get you invited back to a Bourbon group, but it may keep you from getting kicked out.
If you have any suggestions on how to Bourbon Unto Others (or how to Bourbon Like a Champion), I’d be glad to hear them. I hope you’ll share this blog with your friends (maybe that is a way you could be “Bourbon Wise”). Enjoy the Derby! Cheers!Kevin Rose