Category Archives: Alcohol

Memories: Sense of Smell Must Be Wired Directly Into the Hippocampus

Have you ever smelled something that instantly brought back a strong memory?

Whenever I smell wax-leaf ligustrum blossoms in the spring, it takes me back to my childhood in Houston, TX.


Here’s to you, Uncle Hank

I thought I’d try a whisky less expensive than Jamesons, so I brought home a bottle of Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The first whiff immediately transported me back to age 12, Baytown, TX, and thoughts of my favorite uncle, Hank Tarski.

I don’t know what Hank drank, but I’m guessin’ Jim Beam.

Hank was quite a guy. I loved him. He was Polish and worked as a chemist at one of the petroleum plants in Baytown. Was he a fighter pilot in WW2, or did I imagine that? He had a beautiful huge mustache, smoked a pipe, had a waterfront house on Black Duck Bay. Hank’s laugh was infectious, and got louder the more he drank.

One of my strongest memories of him was when he took me and his sons fishing in a small boat on one of the local waterways. I still remember catching catfish and croakers; they were small but that doesn’t matter to an adolescent boy.

I also remember falling asleep upstairs with my siblings and cousins while Hank and Kay and my parents downstairs stayed up late talking and laughing, sometimes shouting! We could only imagine the muffled topics of adult conversation. This was the 1960s.

Hank died of pancreatic cancer ten or 15 years ago. I miss him very much.


PS. I almost named my son Henry, and we’d have called him Hank.

Ongoing Debate: Moderate Alcohol Consumption Isn’t Dangerous 

From Competitive Enterprise Institute:

“Joel Achenbach, a science and politics reporter, once asked why “many reasonable people doubt science.” He should look at his own reporting on alcohol research for the possible explanation. Despite decades of overwhelming evidence that moderate drinking confers health benefits, Achenbach’s August 3 Washington Post piece asserts that the evidence is “murky.” The basis for the assertion seems to come from a single study published in April in the journal The Lancet. Not only is a single study insufficient to challenge three decades of research, but Achenbach (along with reporters at other major news outlets) completely misunderstood the what this study found.”

Source: Science Reporters Get it Wrong: Moderate Alcohol Consumption Isn’t Dangerous | Competitive Enterprise Institute

From The Lancet: Guidelines on Maximum Alcohol Consumption May Be Too High

No, I haven’t read the whole thing. You go first.

“The main finding of this analysis was that the threshold for lowest risk for all-cause mortality was about 100 g per week. For men, we estimated that long-term reduction of alcohol consumption from 196 g per week (the upper limit recommended in US guidelines) to 100 g per week or below was associated with about 1–2 years of longer life expectancy at age 40 years. Exploratory analyses suggested that drinkers of beer or spirits, as well as binge drinkers, had the highest risk for all-cause mortality.”

Source: Risk thresholds for alcohol consumption: combined analysis of individual-participant data for 599 912 current drinkers in 83 prospective studies – The Lancet

Recipe: Mojito

Mastro’s Steakhouse mojitos set the standard for my wife

My wife rarely drinks alcohol, but she does enjoy a good mojito. So I decided to learn how to make one. I learned a new term with this project: muddle. I didn’t have a dedicated muddler so I used the thick tip of a spatula handle instead.

This recipe serves two. For one serving, just reduce everything by half.


3 Tbsp sugar (4 if you like things a little sweeter)

3 Tbsp water

20 fresh mint leaves

1 lime cut into small wedges

4 fl oz white rum

4 oz club soda (or seltzer?)


Make a syrup by putting the water and sugar in a small saucepan and warm on the stove over medium heat, stirring intermittently until sugar dissolves. Just takes 1–2 minutes. Set it aside to cool.

Put the mint leaves in the bottom of a small pitcher or large thick glass (I used a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup) then add the lime wedges.  Muddle together gently for 20–30 seconds until the juice is released from the limes.

Add your syrup, rum, and club soda to the container holding the mint and lime. Stir briefly.

Fill two large glasses (2-cup capacity) with ice and pour half of your mix into each. Top off with additional club soda if desired. Enjoy responsibly.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Revised May 14, 2018


Red Wine May Prevent Tooth Decay & Gum Disease 

I’ve altered the original article’s headline because it’s misleading, making it sound like it’s proven that red wine improves dental health in humans.  But the allegations are hypothetical, based on polyphenol content of wine. Click below for the minimal details.

Source: Study: Red Wine Prevents Tooth Decay, Gum Disease | National News | US News

Mark Rippetoe and Matt Reynolds Talk About Whiskey

As I watched this, I couldn’t help thinking about “wine snobs.” Are these guys whiskey snobs?

Rippetoe is a famous strength trainer. The other gentleman, I don’t know.

They’ve convinced me to try Eagle Rare 10 year old bourbon, Buffalo Trace bourbon, Old Grand Dad 114, and Rittenhouse Bottle and Bond (?) Rye.

I didn’t know it but apparently whiskey has become a thing.

Jamesons Irish Whiskey.
Photo copyright: Steve Parker Parker

Does Alcohol Affect Body Weight?

Jamesons Irish Whiske.
Photo copyright: Steve Parker Parker

Jane Brody writes in NYT:

Prospective studies, which are generally considered to be more rigorous than cross-sectional studies and which follow groups of people over time, in this case from several months to 20 years, had varied results and produced “no clear picture” of the relationship between alcohol and weight. Several found either no relationship or a negative relationship, at least in women, while others found that men who drank tended to risk becoming obese, especially if they were beer drinkers.

The conclusion from the most recent such studies: While heavy drinkers risked gaining weight, “light to moderate alcohol intake is not associated with weight gain or changes in waist circumference.”

Parker here. “Light to moderate” drinking would be up to one drink a day for women or two a day for men, on average.

You can even lose excess body weight without deleting alcohol from your diet, as in the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet.

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