Question for alcohol drinkers...

I am writing about a character who is a 30 year old, white male Marine who has recently returned from Iraq. He is in a serious depression over what he has seen in battle. As a result, he is trying to self-medicate with alcohol. Question is, what kind of hard alcohol would be be drinking?

(I was initally having him drinking straight from bottles of whiskey, but it kinda feels cliched.)




I'm Irish, but know very little about drinking :blush:
 

indietalk

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Straight from the bottle can be good. Maybe flasks remind him of canteens. Give it a story.
 
People actually drink from flasks? I thought only teenagers trying to look cool did that :lol:

I have a scene where he buys a bottle from the liquor store and drinks it alone in his apartment, so the flask idea doesn't make much sense (though that is a very good point about not showing the label).

Bascially, i need to know what kind of hard alcohol drink would be the most realistic. Whiskey? Rum? Scotch? Vodka? Do people even drink vodka straight from the bottle (besides russians)?
 
The type of alcohol could be part of his back story. For example, my friend from college did a semester of foreign exchange in Moscow. When he came back, he was a vodka pounder. My family has always been partial to scotch (we do have our own plaid, after all...) So now, if I want a harder drink, I opt for scotch -- I must have "inherited" the taste from my environment. I think the actual drink he drinks would be something that he has already acquired a taste for. HOW he came to drink the drink might make for some interesting back story -- what the drink is really isn't important.

However, some drinks so seem more "sinister" than others. Malibu Rum, for example, might seem a little silly. So a reasonable list to choose from could be:

Bourbon (ie: Jack Daniels), Rye Whiskey, Tequila, maybe Southern Comfort, Gin (really nasty from the bottle if you ask me, but hey -- to each his/her own), Scotch is not as obvious of a choice but could work. Vodka is also a reasonble choice.
 
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indietalk

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Don't get too deep into why he drinks a certain liquor, that'd be pretty boring stuff. I don't think it matters. Just get some booze. Paper bag to hide the brand if you want. Hell, that'll even hide the liquor type. There you go. Yeah, I contradicted my first post, but you don't need a story.
 
HOW he came to drink the drink might make for some interesting back story -- what the drink is really isn't important.
I couldn't agree more. Even though back story may never show up in your film, having it helps cement the character in your mind while you write it. If it's cliche you're worried about then have him get addicted to something else, Irish creme whiskey or maybe he drinks Amaretto and gets type II diabetes as well.
 
maybe he drinks Amaretto and gets type II diabetes as well.
haha, what the hell?


Thanks for all the tips! I agree that having a particular type of liquor of choice is important, if only for the backstory that will help me write and develop the character better... which is why i didnt just want to make it a "whiskey bottle".
 
I just consulted with my wife -- she has been a bartender for over 10 years. Her instinct was to pick whiskey, or a whiskey variety like bourbon or rye ... or else tequila.

She did bring up a good point though, that you need to take the character's financial situation into account. Does this guy come back from Iraq and land a killer job? If not, some choices would out of reach financially -- especially for someone who wants to drink a lot. Most name brands would probably be too expensive for a regular drinker with little/no budget.
 
I just consulted with my wife -- she has been a bartender for over 10 years. Her instinct was to pick whiskey, or a whiskey variety like bourbon or rye ... or else tequila.

She did bring up a good point though, that you need to take the character's financial situation into account.
Ah, good point. I should have mentioned his $$$ situation. He's unemployed and his life is pretty much spiraling downward quickly. So, if whiskey is the way to go, what does your wife think a good, cheap whiskey would be? Also, if it matters, he lives in Los Angeles.
 
What a guy drinks is determined by his background and well as his current financial situation.

But if the guy is an alcoholic and he's trying to hide his drinking, (to keep his job or his wife) then he's probably drinking vodka -- simply because lots of drunks believe that it's easier to mask the smell of vodka than something like whiskey or bourbon which really stands out.

You also need to think about how the long the guy has been drinking, what stage his illness is at -- because the drinking changes depending on how far down the slope the guy is.

It's like any other part of writing a script, all decisions have to be based on research and an understanding of what people actually do, otherwise you're right -- you do end up with cliches.

It might be worth doing some research into the ways in which people self medicate, especially ex-military -- you might find, for instance, that lots of people mix go for over the counter medications like Codine Linctus (a cough medicine), which has a massive opiate content, rather than booze.

Just some thoughts.
 
Awesome, Boz, thanks for the names of some good ol' cheap whiskey! I'm not too worried about showing labels... i'm assumming that as long as the label isn't clearly seen, then it shouldn't be a problem. It's not like I'm having him hold the bottle to the camera and saying, "Rot-Gut! The cheap way to get drunk!" :lol:

You also need to think about how the long the guy has been drinking, what stage his illness is at -- because the drinking changes depending on how far down the slope the guy is.
Good point. I didn't know that. Which is why I wanted to find the right kind of drink for his situation. He started really drinking soon after he got back about a year prior, and it's getting worse month by month. He's basically at rock bottom when we meet him in the story.

It might be worth doing some research into the ways in which people self medicate, especially ex-military -- you might find, for instance, that lots of people mix go for over the counter medications like Codine Linctus (a cough medicine), which has a massive opiate content, rather than booze.
That's an interesting idea about using medicine as well. I'll look into it.

Thanks again for all the info/tips everyone!
 
I am writing about a character who is a 30 year old, white male Marine who has recently returned from Iraq. He is in a serious depression over what he has seen in battle. As a result, he is trying to self-medicate with alcohol. Question is, what kind of hard alcohol would be be drinking?
Go with Mallort. It's the only legal drink in the US made from wormwood so not only does it get you drunk but it also can make you hallucinate. And if that isn't badass enough to make your character drink it consider the fact it tastes like Off (the bug spray).

Good stuff... :D
 
I am living in Austria, having my flat in a more hmm questionable district of my hometown. For a few years I every day could observe some alcoholics doing there daily business. They prefer to buy very cheap red wine (those in the tetra packs) and some cans of beer. They have only little money to spend. And the wine keeps them on the same alcohol level all day long. They just sit out there on public benches at the bus stop, talking with themselves or sleeping.
Maybe this helps you from a different point of view ...
If your character recently turned back from Iraque, he also might be drinking something typical from that country?

Btw, we do not have to paper cover beer bottles in the public - nobody cares.
 
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