How Canadian Club Classic 12 has found its way into our hearts during COVID-19

My fellow inebriates,

Since the pandemic struck, we have been drinking almost every day. This puts us among the 18% of Canadians who report they’ve been indulging more often.

COVID-19 seems like a great reason to drink more. We’re not going anywhere (no driving). Alcohol has been declared essential by the BC government (yes!). So, come about 8:00 pm each evening, my parents and I will unwind with a glass of whisk(e)y. As we sip and work our way through reruns of Battlestar Galactica, and I’ve started to associate Canadian Club Classic 12 with Cylons.

In the before-times, we probably would have abstained on a weekday and then busted out on Friday/Saturday (not one glass but several). But we no longer socialize—meaning Friday/Saturday are just like regular days.

Effectively, we’ve spread the half a dozen drinks that would formerly have been consumed between Friday and Saturday over a seven-day stretch.

I wondered if this was the case for other Canadians. Are they drinking more often, but in lower quantities?

Not according to Statistics Canada. In pre-pandemic times, 11% of Canadians reported consuming five or more drinks at a time on the days they consumed alcohol. During COVID, it’s 18%.

I figured my mum would be a candidate for this kind of behaviour. Pre-COVID, she’d be up for consuming an entire bottle of wine in an evening. But now… a wee dram, Cylons, then bedtime.

I’m conflicted about this. Over the years I’ve been a huge proponent of binge drinking. [Insert disclaimers: I’m a bear, bears are stupid, we don’t even have opposable thumbs, etc.] But I kind of like this daily sipping behaviour too. I feel like I’m calming down a bit about drinking. I don’t have to wait till Friday to have a drink. I’m sometimes sad that no one comes over and a party never breaks out, but hey, those weekend parties sometimes led to douchebaggery of the kind my parents should have aged out of long ago.

So, what do other Canadians say about their drinking?

They’re bored. Over 60% are casting about for things to do, so why not have a drink?

They’re stressed. Over 57% have extra anxiety thanks to COVID. We know what that’s like. The kids are home climbing the walls. My parents’ work has increased, not decreased. They’re doing Zoom calls all day, freaking out about deadlines while coping with guilt at their failure with home schooling. Plus, my dad actually had COVID! I’ll tell you all about that in a later post.

Alcohol is convenient. In fact, there’s some on the kitchen counter right now. About 52% of Canadians are finding themselves in close proximity to alcohol. There it is, and they have nowhere they need to drive. No reason not to put some Bailey’s in the morning coffee and then hit that Zoom meeting.

Loneliness. You’d think you couldn’t get lonely, stuffed into a house together for over a year. But at LBHQ we’re lucky to have each other. Many Canadians live at home and are missing human contact. Almost 37% say loneliness makes them reach for the bottle.

Insomnia. This one is huge at our house. In the before-times, 5:00 am was gym time. Now there’s no gym (at least, no thank you to the gym, where people are panting away without a mask on the cardio machines). We get up later. We go to bed later. And there was no exhausting commute to tire us out. We may even have slacked off work a bit. No wonder we’re wide awake at 11:00 pm.

According to Nanos Research, lack of a regular schedule is a big factor. Another reason is cooking at home. And some people report they are just lucky to have a lot of alcohol in the house.

What about Canadians who’ve decreased their drinking?

Nanos says 61% of Canadians now lack opportunities to gather and socialize. Considering we’re supposed to be in a flat-out fucking lock-down, this number should be more like 100%, but it makes sense the fact that all we have to do is look out the window and see 10 neighbours partying on their front lawn. The next biggest reason Nanos gives for decreased drinking is a desire to maintain good health lest the virus attacks (36%). Other reasons include running out of alcohol, caring for dependents, and being too busy.

It’s one thing to read surveys and self-reports about alcohol consumption during COVID. But what do the liquor sales statistics tell us?

For one thing, it wasn’t just toilet paper we were panicking over. Check out the spikes in liquor sales at both private and government liquor stores last year.

Here’s a comparison of retail sales of beer, wine and liquor in Canada.

COVID kiboshed our annual Gin Shoot-Out last year. Instead of buying half a dozen bottles for guests to sample, we bought one big bottle of Gordon’s, and there’s still a third of it left.

Wine has a social association for us. No guests = no wine, except on holidays, and even then we’ve been moderate. In a couple of cases, my parents didn’t even finish a bottle they opened; they ended up cooking with it (criminal).

Liqueurs mean Christmas and a house full of people. That didn’t happen this year, hence no liqueurs. A small bottle of Bailey’s is languishing in the fridge. (I think it keeps forever?)

Dad’s beer consumption is moderate, and Mum stopped drinking it altogether.

Stratospherically up. Rye and Irish whiskey have become the wee dram of choice around here.

If you’re not exhausted by this round-up of statistics and the personal drinking habits of my boring parents, you may want to know a bit about Canadian Club Classic 12.

For starters, it’s $27.49 and often goes on sale (for instance, it’s $26.09, so we should probably gallop to the liquor store). You know how I and Don Draper feel about Canadian Club proper (10:00 am siren call), but Classic 12 is different. It’s more substantial, with a superior mouthfeel and longer finish. Notes are firm and heady—lots of caramel with some mellow fruit and a hint of spice and a wood finish. If you’ve been drinking Canadian Club and then switch to Classic 12, it’ll feel like you’re being clobbered over the head, but in a nice way. It’s an affordable bottle for anyone hunkering down during COVID, and fully suitable for a Battlestar Galactica binge. (Have you noticed how much they drink on that show?)

The 4 ryes I’m enjoying in my bear time

My fellow inebriates,

The rye aisle at my local booze shop is a wonderland, but I’ve been neglecting it.

don draperIf I had to blame someone, it might be Don Draper, with his relentless consumption of Canadian Club. Understandably, I thought Canadian Club must be reasonably top-shelf, and I drank it accordingly.

Turns out Canadian Club is fine for 10:00 am at work, but in our spare time (our bear time), we can do better. Back in December, Santa thought so too, and put this wonderful Northern Border Collection rye sampler set under the tree for yours truly.

rye mixer

I’d be lying if I said these little bottles were still around, MFI, by my memories of them linger. Over the next four blog posts, I’ll talk about each one of them while urging you to sip them at work. Stay tuned!

PS       What do YOU drink at work? Drop me a line in the comments.

CANADIAN CLUB—an appropriate response to a day at the PNE

We bears had the house to ourselves all day yesterday. Meanwhile my parents were observing carny people—not just the blue-shirted PNE ride operators, but other, more interesting people, squeezed into all sorts of unfortunate outfits, bouncing along feeding themselves corndogs. My mum saw a woman with four nipples, arbitrarily arranged beneath a stretched-to-the-limit-of-physics tanktop. And when she took the girls to the bathroom she met a new mother dressed as a stripper.

Needless to say, they had an awesome day, although they spent a great deal of our alcohol funds on PNE-priced items such as, well water, at $3.50 for a half-litre bottle.

Now who needs water?

The only time we really need water is when we buy CANADIAN CLUB instead of CROWN ROYAL. Which we did out of curiosity today. We had just chastised my dad for buying—at the PNE—a pan-flutist’s CD for $20, which was ultimately my mother’s fault because she spent 15 minutes coursing through the PNE prize home while my dad waited on a bench being wooed by the pan flute. My mother heard it too; he was playing “Unchained Melody,” and the teenagers behind her were grasping for the artist. “The Righteous Brothers,” my mother said, which they either ignored or didn’t recognize, then the girl told her boyfriend she was sure she’d heard her mom playing that song, which netted her some noises of disgust. And she added, she would never have a white kitchen, although the wine rack beneath the deer’s head was pretty dope.

My mother didn’t mean to buy CANADIAN CLUB today, but the liquor store is right beside the bank, where she had to go to spread a small cheque between two separate accounts to cover such liquor-unfriendly things as her gym membership and the car insurance. She was trying to be nice by buying a cheap mickey of rye so she could sip something guilt-free instead of getting into the more expensive CAOL ILA 12 my dad brought back from Vegas. She was trying to do a good thing, but you have to admit she just ended up looking like an alcoholic, especially when the mickey fell out of her gym bag at Steve Nash Fitness World.

I’ve come to the defense of CANADIAN CLUB many times, especially since it’s typically pitted against fit-for-royalty CROWN ROYAL, which is a nice, smooth rye. If you order a rye ‘n’ seven at the bar, the bartender will usually try to pass off CANADIAN CLUB on you for economy’s sake. And with 7-Up or gingerale, this is perfectly reasonable. CANADIAN CLUB is plenty rough compared to CROWN ROYAL, but who cares when you’re mixing it with pop? Neat, or even over ice, it’s a different story.

When I drink CANADIAN CLUB, I feel like a ruminant. I can taste grass and hay, along with some jagged alcohol, which I like. What it lacks in nuance it makes up for in straightforwardness. With a sweet, fizzy mixer, I actually prefer the rougher-edged CANADIAN CLUB; it asserts itself better, and the pop hides its earthier tones.

If I were a cow, like the one the kids observed giving birth at the PNE, I’d wonder what the hell humans were doing with grains, making things like CANADIAN CLUB. I’d also wonder why there was a set of crowded bleachers right beside me while a farmer stuck his whole arm inside me, tied a rope around my calf’s leg and yanked it out. (Miss P and Miss V did enjoy the whole business, but they thought it took too long.)

There are a lot of weird things at the PNE. It makes Walmart seem downright sedate, and apparently it takes a lot of energy to spend 10 hours there with a four-year-old and a six-year-old. I’m delighted it drove my mother to drink, even if it was just CANADIAN CLUB.