Mezcal Old Fashioned & My Relationship with Alcohol

This is a post about my one of my all-time favorite cocktails… but it’s also a post about my relationship with alcohol, and how the last few months have changed that. So if you’re just looking for the recipe, scroll all the way down and I got you covered. The mezcal old fashioned is smokey, sweet, bitter, and, in my opinion, the perfect cocktail. Anel and I perfected our recipe at home and back when going to restaurants was a thing, we used to order them on date nights.

Ok now onto the meat of what I want to say. Let’s start back in my college days…

In college, my friends and I would go out 4-5 nights a week. We’d play beer pong, take shots, drink way too much, and stay up way too late multiple nights a week. Basically, we destroyed our livers but somehow still managed to not only wake up for class but keep up our GPAs. Unreal. I look back at that time and cringe but also it was so much fun.

After graduation, I moved to New York and it was much of the same, but only on the weekends between workweeks. My friends and I would go out to bars and clubs (what?!) and each year, the hangovers got a little bit worse.

When I met Anel, we were 24 and he was the only person I knew who didn’t go out and party. He might have one drink at dinner but that was about it. Fast forward 10 years and I’ve only seen him get drunk maybe 3 times ever. So when we started dating, I slowed down a lot.

We were both working in nutrition and surrounded ourselves with relatively healthy people so drinking wasn’t as prominent a fixture in my life as it had been in the past. So for years after we met, I didn’t drink very much at all.

But then I had a baby…

My postpartum anxiety was so bad with Amalia that I would have to have a glass of wine at 4 pm every day or I would completely spiral out of control with intrusive thoughts. This was before I had started therapy or gone on medication and it was the only way I knew how to cope. I now know that this was self-medicating but at the time, it felt necessary.

My friends and people online talked about “mommy juice” and their nightly glasses of wine so I figured this was just a normal thing. But unlike other moms, my baby blues just got worse and worse and I kept trying to tamper it down with alcohol. I never really got drunk, I would just drink to take the edge off, as they say.

Then I’d wake up with anxiety about the fact that I had had a drink for however many nights in a row and it was not a good situation anymore. I’d beat myself up and then started to panic thinking I had a drinking problem.

When I started therapy, my therapist told me that a lot of people with mental health issues drink often to be able to cope with life when they feel out of control. When I ultimately decided to start taking medication for anxiety, I realized it was working when I didn’t have a drink for a week and hadn’t even thought about it.

Then COVID hit and I started getting breakthrough symptoms and drinking more often again. I wrote about this last week but want to reiterate my new mantra because it’s helped me so much:

Drink when you’re feeling good or if it’s for fun. Don’t drink if you’re feeling anxious or stressed and need it to cope.

A lot of people can have a drink when they’re stressed and it’s not a problem for them. But for me, and many people who live with anxiety or depression, it makes things worse in the long run.

Having a glass of rosé at a beautiful lunch in the south of France, for example, is very different than a glass of rosé at 4:30 on a Tuesday with a screaming toddler running around you in circles. I will always love grabbing a cocktail and laughing with girlfriends or having a glass of wine with my husband on date night, but I’ve found better ways to cope with my anxiety on tough days.

I’ve been trying to live this mantra during quarantine but really committed to it fully in the last week and a half and have had a major major shift in my anxiety. I’ve always been really sensitive to everything from Advil to alcohol, so I’m not sure why it surprised me so much, but it has been unbelievably noticeable.

Here is how it is working for me now: if it’s a beautiful Saturday and we’re having a great day as a family and Anel suggests a cocktail before dinner, we make one and enjoy it in the sunshine with bare feet and a smile. Or if we order in for our weekly date night at home, we might have a glass of wine and really enjoy it. And as soon as we’re able, you bet I’ll be going out for drinks with my friends. To celebrate life and seeing each other again.

For now, I’ve also noticed that if I have only one drink, it’s in a positive setting, and it’s not after 8pm, I don’t wake up with any anxiety at all. So that’s where things stand today. As the pandemic progresses or doesn’t and my anxiety ebbs and flows, that may change, but it’s working really well for me and I hope that in sharing this, it opens some of your eyes in the same way that it opened mine.

And without further ado, here is a recipe for a cocktail that always makes me smile.

Mezcal Old Fashioned Recipe

Ingredients:
– 2 oz reposado tequila
– 1/2 oz mezcal
– 1 tspn agave nectar
– 2 dashes Angostura bitters
– Orange peel (or clementine peel if that’s all you have!)
– Ice

Directions:
1. Pour all of the liquids into a cocktail shaker with lots of ice.
2. Shake until chilled (don’t forget to put the top on first!)
3. Pour over ice
4. Enjoy responsibly!

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  1. Barbara Owens-DeWitt said:

    So many of us have complicated relationships with alcohol and talking about it so that we can identify with each other is the only we can make sense of messy topics. Especially now-oy! Thank you for being brave-it took me a long time to come to a place of peace with my anxiety and alcohol. Often, they don’t play well together. When they work battle we take a time out, refocus and start over. Mazel.

    5.14.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Definitely especially now. Every time I get on a Zoom, everyone is drinking and I feel pressured to as well. I hope this helps that and allows me to stand my ground xx

      5.14.20 · Reply
  2. Sarah said:

    I really identify with this post. Thank you for being so open.

    5.14.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      You’re not alone. Thank you for commenting xx

      5.14.20 · Reply
  3. Valerie said:

    Thank you for very much sharing!

    5.14.20 · Reply
  4. I live in Louisville, where literally half the people I know work in the bourbon/spirits industry in some capacity. It’s very common for every type of meeting or event to include wine and liquor, even on “school nights.” A couple of years ago, I was trying to lose a few pounds and started to forgo booze at some of these events; a friend saw me decline wine two nights in a row and immediately asked if I was pregnant! It was a wake up call for me that so many in my circle were just mindlessly drinking wine that wasn’t even very good, just for socialization’s sake. I never turn down a glass of wine if I want it or think it will enhance my meal/ reaction, and I certainly never turn down a chance to sample a good bourbon, but I’m far more discriminating and judicious these days. I can’t begin to tell you how much better I feel for it!!

    5.14.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Oh wow that is intense. Although every time I don’t drink I feel like I need an excuse to people don’t think I’m pregnant… Totally get it.

      5.14.20 · Reply
  5. Anja said:

    Thank you for being so honest about your past and present relationship with alcohol. I can 100% relate. In college it was fun. As I got older I started to worry – especially when I woke have some drinks to “ease” a bad day and wake up with anxiety worse than I’ve ever had it. It took a while for me to learn it’s ok to have a drink on a good day and not smart on a bad day but it has helped me tremendously mentally. Thank you for sharing and being so relatable ❤️

    5.14.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I’m so glad this mantra has helped you too. I feel so silly that it took me so long to figure it out!

      5.14.20 · Reply
  6. Amy said:

    100% relate and agree, Julia! When I was induced and had a subsequent epidural with my first baby almost 11 years ago, I realize how sensitive I was to medication and the like. I had always been a one-Tylenol-to-cure-a-headache kind of girl! Over the last 10 years, I’ve realized that same about alcohol. In a social setting when I’m feeling great, it’s all good, but to deal with stress, it doesn’t work for me. Interestingly, the same with caffeine. I quit coffee for six years but I really love the taste and ritual and have slowly incorporated in back in my routine. But I can’t drink it on days I’m feeling really exhausted because it just makes me jittery and anxious. But when I can sit down and sip it with some breakfast, it’s heaven. Thanks for this post — I am sure it resonates with so many, especially during this time.

    5.14.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I can’t drink coffee either! I can maybe have one or two sips of Anel’s in the morning but beyond that I’m jittery and anxious from it. It’s annoying to be so sensitive but it also opens our eyes to what is working for our bodies I think!

      5.14.20 · Reply
  7. Hannah said:

    Thank you so much for being open & sharing this piece of your life! Quarantine has definitely changed my drinking habits, so I love your perspective & personal insight on how to better handle it!

    5.14.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Thanks so much for saying that! x

      5.14.20 · Reply
  8. Kristin said:

    This is so honest and so important right now and I love it. So many people I know have carried over their college drinking habits into adulthood, myself included. I really try to do better and most of the time it works but I find it’s hard to balance. I tend to be “all or nothing” when I drink. It’s easy for me to go months without a drink, but when I do, I usually overdo it and feel terrible the next day. Quarantine has found me overdoing it more than I normally would. This is a good reminder that I need to make a conscious effort to cut way back.

    5.14.20 · Reply
    • Maddie said:

      I relate to this so much… usually all or nothing and the anxiety is soooo bad the next day. Wish it was an easier balance.

      5.14.20 · Reply
  9. Jackie said:

    Thanks so much for sharing Julia! I also struggle with anxiety and I’ve tried to make it a point not drink when I’m feeling anxious (which is actually something I learned from Vinny on Jersey Shore) but it’s not always easy! I’m glad you found something that worked for you!

    5.14.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I love that Vinny is on board with this too! So funny but also great that he spread that message. Glad it’s working for you too xx

      5.14.20 · Reply
  10. Maggie said:

    Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing this. I Peter ways with alcohol (for the most part) two years ago to support my partner who was overwhelmed with mental health issues and substance abuse. I now have a drink or two a year, usually on vacation for the fun of it. Ever since I’ve cut it out, I feel happier, healthier, overall just better. I also came to notice how much pressure our society puts on alcohol as a coping strategy, without even knowing it.

    5.14.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Totally. It’s in every movie/TV show and part of almost every conversation with other moms. I didn’t realize it either!

      5.14.20 · Reply
  11. Francesca said:

    Love this post!!

    5.14.20 · Reply
  12. Completely agree with your perspective!! Thanks for putting it so eloquently. Cheers for a beautiful weather weekend here in Fairfield County <3

    5.14.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Cheers to that!

      5.14.20 · Reply
  13. Alex said:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I can totally relate to everything you wrote.

    5.14.20 · Reply
  14. Jen said:

    Your thoughts and feelings are so common from college through postpartum and quarantine. My husband and I lived it up in college. We never drink at home unless we are having people over. No one ever really knew that. Now with zoom calls I find that people are bothered if I am drinking a sparkling water etc. it does not stop me from not drinking but even from good friends I find that i think it makes them uncomfortable that i am not drinking and them saying they drink every day. I honestly do not judge them at all. I am not with anyone besides my immediate family right now to know if it is too much. But i find at least in my world the bias is there must be something off if you are not drinking. I just do what is best for me.

    5.14.20 · Reply
  15. Amanda said:

    This hits so close to home. Thank you for putting the words to an all-too-common issue for so many moms. Definitely makes me think about my relationship with alcohol…

    5.14.20 · Reply
  16. Drew H said:

    THANK YOU for your courage to share so openly! We need more of this honesty in the world. Your message is relevant and helpful on many levels.
    Wishing you wellness.
    xx

    5.21.20 · Reply
  17. I have been going through as well. It is super hard right now. I just had my meds increased as the anxiety is getting out of control. Thank you for being so honest and making us feel like we are all in it together.

    5.29.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I’m so sorry to hear that but glad you’re on top of it with your meds. You’re definitely not alone xx

      5.29.20 · Reply