Your intrepid liquor reporter has a standard operating procedure that has served him well during this licentious and libertine annual event called Stampede Time.
Typically, that strategy involves a lot of drinking warm flat beer in a plastic cup and hitting on tipsy businesswomen wearing cowboy hats.
Yes, things are different during Stampede Time among the normally staid and virtuous denizens of downtown Calgary. They don ten-gallon hats, cowboy boots, and squeeze into a pair of blue jeans that somehow seem to get tighter around the waistline every year.
In recent years, Stampede has even served to bring out the inner skank in many of the fairer sex, with naughty cowgirl outfits that get more risque every year.
Indeed, the Calgary Stampede has become Alberta’s own Carnaval, Mardi Gras, and Las Vegas all rolled into one. For ten days a year, the normally conservative and buttoned-down Calgarians are whipped into a frenzy of lecherous excesses, where prim and proper accountants drink until they fall off their barstools, often into the willing and eager arms of a boot-wearing damsel not necessarily his wife.
Much like Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro is a celebration of the pleasures of the flesh prior to 40 days of abstinence during Lent, the Calgary Stampede is ten days of wanton depravity that releases those in the hardest working city in Canada from their self imposed workaholic lifestyles.
The sacrifices Calgarians make by working so hard the other 355 days of the year are all forgotten, and any behaviour is forgiven during the Stampede. Similar to the Las Vegas motto of “What goes in Vegas, stays in Vegas”, there is a collective amnesia that grants amnesty for all sins committed during those libidinous ten days.
The readers that only wear blue jeans when paired with a black turtleneck and a brushed aluminum iPad will be relieved to hear that yes, there is an iPhone app for the Stampede that will show you a full calendar of all events and attractions every day.
Naturally, an event of such saturnalian proportions is right up the alley of your long suffering liquor columnist, so I normally spend the Stampede living life to the fullest. From the tequila breakfasts that stretched from the morning to late in the evening, ending with pinching the bottoms of hot and bothered two-stepping cowgirls at Nashville North, I left all modesty behind for those sinful ten days.
After many years of washing down greasy sausages and tiny pancakes with warm flat beer in a plastic cup, your intrepid liquor reporter dedicated himself to seeking out the classier Stampede Breakfasts, where the warm flat beer in a plastic cup was upgraded to a Mimosa, or possibly the cowboy-ified version of a Mimosa, also known as a Screwdriver, or just plain old vodka and OJ.
Why vodka and OJ? Because, gentle reader, orange juice is widely available at Stampede Breakfasts, and when the vodka is not supplied by the host, your intrepid liquor reporter deftly shakes a dash or two from his well-worn hip flask into the glass for an instant cocktail.
To honor our local booze producers, your humble narrator has been drinking only Highwood Pure Canadian Vodka, made with loving care from fine Alberta wheat and natural spring water just south of Calgary at Highwood Distillers.
Surrounded by the ranches of cattle country, your intrepid liquor reporter considers Highwood Distillers the most rootin’-tootin’ cowboy-bootin’ purveyor of fine hooch at any Stampede-related event.
For the cowpokes looking for something a little more western than vodka, Highwood Distillers also produces a dozen styles of whisky, with one to satisfy every taste. My favorite is the Century Reserve 21 Year, a smooth Rye Whisky with hints of butterscotch and oak. It would be an insult to the whisky to defile it by adding a soft drink mixer, so your humble narrator drinks this straight up, or maybe over a few cubes of ice.
So, gentle reader, remember that the annual bacchanalia known as the Calgary Stampede isn’t just about drinking warm flat beer in a plastic cup. Take the opportunity to class up your Stampede boozing. It might even help attract a buckle-bunny or rugged rough rider for one of those delightfully common Stampede flings. Your humble narrator is counting on it!