Every time you see an advertisement for alcohol, the advertiser will be careful to remind you to drink (insert booze here) responsibly. To me, this means a lot more than just consuming alcohol. Drinking responsibly does mean that when you drink (bourbon in this case), you should enjoy the bourbon for the bourbon. It spends great time waiting in a barrel for you, so folks ought not to defame it by guzzling it down and puking it all up. What good is your mother’s chocolate cake if you eat the whole cake and pray to the porcelain gods for the next three hours?
That said, bourbon is a drink that (in my experience) comes with a lot of stigma attached to it. Many times, I have entered a bar, and been glared at by a bartender for ordering a whiskey neat. Perhaps I look suspicious, but I think that most people are just suspicious of folks that drink whiskey straight up. In my opinion, it’s the gentleman that comes up to the bar and announces “Jack and Diet, and keep ‘em comin’,” that I am most afraid of as a bartender. But, that is just a rant from the bartender in me.
What is most important to remember about drinking bourbon is that what somebody drinks tells you about their taste buds, not their character. Period. If you are at the bar while you are enjoying your Eagle Rare straight up, and the person next to you orders a Maker’s and ginger ale (or a Blue Motorcycle, for that matter), you have no right to start hurling homophobic or misogynistic slurs. Drinking that Eagle Rare neat does not make you more “manly,” “American,” or “Republican” (or any of the other absurd things I’ve heard at the bar). The ethical thing to say to the person with the Maker’s and ginger is, “If you like Maker’s Mark, you should try out W.L. Weller 12 year some time. Try it with a bit of water first, and if you like it, give it a whirl neat.”
Drinking bourbon responsibly means respecting the bourbon, but more importantly, it means respecting the people around you while you enjoy that bourbon.