I love premium whiskey. I’m no purist, mind you. I need an ice cube – or at least a few droplets of water in there – to let it breathe. And I like it cold. But I start every drink neat, so I know who I’m dealing with.

I’m also a lifelong practitioner of “bueasure,” the confluence of business and pleasure inherent in many professions. Simply put, it means making work fun. That can come in many forms, and drinking is but one of them. As a publicist and marketing director, schmoozing was a big part of the job. I’m social by nature but sometimes, admittedly, a little sumfin sumfin took the edge off my nerves and helped me become the life of the party.

When I got back into standup, I experienced a rude awakening. There’s a difference between holding court and performing a show. In my early 20s, I didn’t really drink, but I’d nurse a rum and coke (that’d never happen now, with my cultured palate and middle-aged body) as I sat at the bar with Colin Quinn, Denis Leary, Dave Attell and Louis CK (whatever happened to those guys, am I the only one who made it??). In those days, there were no open mics; you just waited til 2:30 in the morning to go on at Standup NY, ComicStrip or the Cellar, or wherever/whenever Barry Katz told you to come over. Anyway, back then I was innocent. I hadn’t accrued years of experience being the funniest ad guy at client dinners and award show after-parties.

This time around, I fell back on booze – mostly mixed vodka drinks – because I thought I needed it. I noticed two things:

  1. I didn’t feel the alcohol until after I got offstage;
  2. Once I got offstage, it really hit me; and
  3. My sets were better sober, regardless.

Great Moments - ManatawnyFor a while, I drew a sharp line: I would not drink on nights I was performing. Then, I allowed myself a glass of white wine. Things came into sync for me when I was exposed to some very good whiskey. First, on a film shoot in Iowa, I was introduced to Templeton Rye. Wow. They’ve had some controversy about distilling in Indiana – much ado over nothing, because I can tell you if you enjoy TR wherever you drink it…who gives a shit where it’s distilled??

Then I did a show out in Pottstown, PA, sponsored by Three Bitches Wheat Vodka, called “Three Bitches Ain’t Enough”. Great show, wonderful vodka. The same distillery, Manatawny Still Works, makes a fantastic Small Batch Whiskey, and once I tasted that, I knew I’d found my pre-show sip. And then I had to do something for them, cause they’re a young outfit and you gotta pay it forward. Hence, the new campaign via YES, BRAND. It was a labor of love, with a great team including director Paul Mooney of Tomahawk Pictures. The tagline, “Great Moments Come in Small Batches,” means a lot to me. As a comic, and as a human, I’m desperate to be loved. For most of my life, I’ve been apologetic about that, and I think that’s kept me from really savoring those great moments.

But I’m savoring it all now: every laugh, every smile, every touch…and every sip.