January 25, 2007

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Nashua Publisher's Note: How dry I was
By Jeff Rapsis

This week’s cover story is all about where to go drinking up in Manchester.

As the focus this time is on the city to the north, it’s my duty to act as your guide to getting plastered in Nashua, my hometown.

Actually, I’m exactly the wrong person for this, as I’m not the going-out-drinking kind of person, and never really was. The only alcoholic beverages in our Nashua household when I grew up were an occasional magnum of Andre Cold Duck and a bottle of Passport Scotch that sat in the “liquor cabinet” (the dusty bottom shelf of a bookcase) untouched for the entire 1970s.

Booze? That was for those who hung out at Lenny’s Spa under the Water Street ramp, or what Foster Brooks drank on Dean Martin “Man of the Hour” celebrity roasts. When I was a teenager, the sour taste of beer on the Budweiser plant tour cemented my decision to abstain. Right up into college, I refused to drink alcohol, mostly out of the belief that I didn’t need artificial stimulation to enjoy life.

My one big high school memory involving alcohol (other than using a classmate’s vodka to keep our band instruments working in cold weather) was at a party at a friend’s house. The house was a big one, on one of those ritzy streets in the city’s south end named after writers—Shakespeare Road, Browning Avenue, etc.

I remember watching a large punch bowl being filled with everything imaginable. I didn’t indulge, but the general consensus was that the concoction somehow just didn’t measure up. Then, in a last desperate measure, someone dumped in a can of Minutemaid frozen lemonade mix and began stirring. After a while, a high school classmate who shall remain unnamed but who later went on to lead the city’s school board scooped up the results in a paper cup, took a swig, then raised his eyebrows. “Oh, that’s GOOD!” he exclaimed. So there’s my most pertinent advice regarding alcohol: if nothing else works, dump in a can of frozen lemonade.

And this is pretty pathetic, really, because I come from a long line of people who made their own. My Lithuanian grandfather, by trade a barber in Nashua, got through the Great Depression by serving his customers (including the local cops) “orange juice” during Prohibition. With roots like that, forget driving to Manchester. Let’s honor the old family tradition and build ourselves a still!