drinks

How to Feel Classy When You Have No Money

Are you unemployed? Do you have a limited (or no) income? Do you reject the idea that people should know that you have no money? Well, you’re in luck, because I’m here to tell you how to feel special as your bank account dwindles.

First of all, put a bra on. No one takes a woman seriously if she hasn’t even put a bra on today. Change out of your pajamas—maybe even put on a skirt. As part of the “fake it ’til you make it” regiment, dressing the part has a huge impact on your point of view. You may no longer have direct deposit, but you’ve got a pencil skirt. Wear it.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, it’s time to drink. You may not have enough money anymore to buy $20 bottles of wine on a weekly basis, but you can’t afford to look cheap. That’s why you’ve got the white wine spritzer.

Trader Joe’s sells boxes of cheap (and not horrible) Chardonnay at $10.99 a pop. Buy yourself one. Not only are you getting over three bottles of wine for the price of one low-end wine, you’re going to water it down anyway, so the taste doesn’t really matter. From Target (or any other chain grocery store) purchase a 10-pack of La Croix seltzer water (preferably a complimentary flavor—I chose mango, but I’ve noticed passion fruit and even lime work well). Most white wine spritzers call for club soda or even ginger ale, but we’re cheap, so we’re taking a step down. Add half a glass of chardonnay, half La Croix, a handful of ice, and a few berries (if you’re extra cheap, frozen berries work just as well—I used fresh blueberries), and call it a day. Voila—class in a cup.

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After you’ve made your white wine spritzer, set the mood. You’re wearing a pencil skirt after all, you can’t listen to just anything. Billie Holiday radio is a wonderful start, and most sites offer it for free if you don’t mind the ads. iTunes has a pretty good catalogue, Spotify is weak, and Pandora is fairly consistent. If you’re struggling with Billie (which, who are you? GET OUT) other choices include Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, or Mildred Anderson (if you’re feeling particularly melodramatic, “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me” is wonderful). More contemporary artists are Jamie Cullum, Madeleine Peyroux, or (the classics) Michael Bublé and Norah Jones. The one things to keep in mind when you’re classing it up? Jazz is not an option. You cannot replace it with Mumford and Sons or Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. It is a nonnegotiable. (Unless, of course, you’re replacing it with Nicki Minaj, which I probably couldn’t argue.) 

Next, make yourself a meal. BudgetBytes is a great place to start (last night I made the Southwest Mac ‘N Cheese), but Pinterest is also full of classy recipes on the cheap. In fact, for the most part, cooking for yourself is pretty cheap. Is eating homemade truffle butter every night cheap? Not so much. But canned foods are hidden well in pantries, and if you want to class it up a bit, the lovely gentlemen at Sorted Foods make high end cooking easy and impressive. It’s all in the presentation. Work hard in the kitchen, feel classy.

Finally, spend the rest of your evening reading. Best way to read extensively? The library (argue that you’re supporting local nonprofits—without you, we’d lose all of our libraries!). Almost every county library has an online catalogue that makes it easy to search and request almost any book, usually available at your local library within a week. Not so big on reading? Many big cities (Minneapolis included) are part of an audiobook sharing program that makes downloading an audiobook for free to your iPhone or Android easy and painless. Just enter your library number, download the OverDrive app, and start listening. If your library isn’t quite with the times, podcasts are a great way to keep learning while you’re cleaning, or driving or riding the bus (shhhhh—we don’t do that! We have Uber!). Some of my favorites include This American Life, RadioLab, The Moth, The TED Radio Hour and The New Yorker Fiction podcast. Remember, you want to exude a sense of intelligence and cultural prowess, and getting in touch with NPR never hurt anybody.

And remember, class is a state of mind. Exude it enough, people have to believe you sooner or later. Good luck!

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Summertime Fun: Last Minute Beers

Last week as I was driving on the highway, I noticed a great big billboard for pumpkin ale. And I started screaming.

“PUMPKIN ALE? IT WAS JUST JULY LIKE LAST WEEK, YOU DAMN MARKETING BASTARDS. I WILL NOT BE DRINKING YOUR TERRIBLE PUMPKIN ALE WHEN IT IS 80 DEGREES OUTSIDE. I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU THINK IT IS ALMOST FALL. STUPID PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE MARKETING HYPE!”

Suffice to say, as a resident of one of the coldest states in the country, the oncoming storm of Fall just makes me shiver. Fall is a lovely season, we’ve romanticized the overcast skies, the crisp morning chills, the spicy seasonal flavors and treats, the beautiful blend of colors—ad nauseam. Fall is probably one of the most marketable seasons when we compare actual length of Fall weather to actual length of Fall marketing and income. Fall is great when I’m romanticizing it. But since the marketable, colorful-leaves-let’s-eat-tons-of-apples Fall is only about three weeks long, I tend of find it more heartbreaking than warming.

Let’s hang onto the last bits of summer. Here are my favorite summer beers to combat the onslaught on pumpkin ales and Oktoberfest.

1) Brooklyn Summer Ale

Beautiful bastard.

I mean, it’s summer in a can. It is SUMMER IN A CAN. It’s crisp and smooth and wonderful and I want everyone I’ve ever met to have a sip of it when I’m out. “Hi. You just brushed my elbow–care to try my beer?” The color scheme is lovely, the beer is bright and sweet, but not sugary like a shandy. It’s complex, but not overpowering–you can drink several in a row. Brooklyn Summer Ale. Can I date you? I mean, if you’re available and interested, that is. Go get it still if you can!

2) 21st Amendment’s Hell or High Watermelon

I’m not like other fruit beers.

Ok, I know, it seems like a girly beer. (Which, is an issue in-and-of itself, but let’s not get me started on that right now.)  For the most part, I drink a lot of really heavy beers–when I’m out my first question is “what is your IPA?” 21st Amendment’s Back in Black is beautiful–so I know they are a great brewery. Hell or High Watermelon is a great beer because the watermelon flavor is more of an essence. Again, no extra flavors or sugar like a shandy, just a nice little boost of fresh watermelon in the second round of fermentation. It is refreshing and beautiful and I wish I had had more than two sips of it this summer.

3) Indeed Shenanigans

Always go for tap.

Minneapolis is home to a plethora of amazing microbreweries. One of my favorites, known for their highly complex beers and strange yet adorable can art, is Indeed Brewing Company. I have loved almost every beer I’ve had from these guys. Their beers are intended more for sipping, hoppy and full-bodied—they are beers that beg to be talked about, to be discussed. When a friend told me they had a summer ale, I doubted Indeed’s ability to compete in the summer circuit. I bought a six pack of their cans and I was unimpressed. Indeed’s fondness for hops overpowered the beer, making it difficult to enjoy as a summer drink. A few weeks later this friend texted me to try it on tap. Somehow, this saved Shenanigans from being a forgettable beer—the tap version greatly surpassed the can version. The hops were toned down, and the citrus had been turned up. Again, like a good summer ale, there was a sweetness to it that made it easy to drink. If you’re out in downtown Minneapolis and you see the Indeed tap, order it. You won’t be disappointed.

4) Bell’s Oberon

I can’t pronounce this beer to save my life.

I feel like Oberon was Bell’s Brewery’s attempt at making Blue Moon. And they kicked its ass. Again, like all the other beers on our list, Oberon is a great, simple beer. It’s hoppy enough that you don’t feel like you’re drinking flavored water, but calm enough that it isn’t like eating the hops. Oberon is a wonderful standby when you are at a strange bar and have no idea what you should drink. It’s easy to drink, refreshing, and just all around lovely company.

What do you drink in the summer? Have more suggestions? Let me know!