“I found the mother lode,” Scott shouted as he burst through the door. “The Treasure of the Sierra Booze-Madres!”
We sat him down, gave him a beer, and got the story out of him. He had stumbled upon the drunkard’s dream: A full bore liquor auction. A vast horde of 800,000 bottles of alcohol, all being auctioned off to the highest bidder. It was going down the next morning and we had to act fast. Over more beer we devised our grand plan. We would call every drunk we knew and pool our money for one big score. We would descend like wolves on this fattened calf, we would seize enough booze to keep us drunk for months on end.
After a two-hour frenzy of shouting at drunks over the phone, we managed to raise $700. To celebrate, we stayed up drinking all night and passed out to dreams of bottles of insanely cheap rum dancing in our heads.
The Calm Before the Storm
At 9 am sharp, we registered at the door and walked into the auction warehouse. It was a far better thing than we had imagined. Table after table, shelf after shelf, case after case of mother alcohol, in all shapes, flavors, sizes, and proofs. Mixed shelves of everything from Maker’s Mark to Crème de Cacao, cases of scotch, piles of gin, and pallets of whiskey. Trembling with glee, we roamed the warehouse and devised our strategy. We would mount an aggressive assault on the high-end mixed shelves and, once we captured a nice, fat one, we would shift our keen attack to the low-end pallets and go for quantity.
Breathless, one of our scouts ran up to us. “There’s a whole other fucking warehouse,” he gasped. We ran over to the other warehouse and, yes, it was full of pallets of beer and wine.
The Battle For the Booze Begins
After what seemed like an eternity, the bidding started. As the least hungover, I was elected to do the bidding of our drunkard consortium.
There are few events that compare to an auction. It’s akin to standing at the crap table, only here you never really lost: If you didn’t make the winning bid, you were out nothing, if you won, you got something for your money.
The auctioneer started rambling away in some manner of coked-up, insanely drunk Creole, but I’d spent enough time in New Orleans to be familiar with that tongue and I picked up on it quickly. I jumped in immediately, lobbing bids at several of the more promising mixed shelves, all to no avail. I wasn’t worried, however, I knew the crowd would settle down as we waded deeper into the palettes and pockets started to empty.
There was one batch in particular I was eyeballing. A few bottles of Maker’s Mark and Stoli lurking like lost dauphins among a motley crew of mixers, cognac, and middle shelf. The closer we got, the more the palette shined, and I knew I must make those beautiful orphans my own.
My stomach churning with anticipation, we came to the shelf and I leapt full-heartedly into a vicious bidding frenzy. My eyes fixed on the glittering bottles of bourbon, I would not let go, I fired my guns until my enemies fell silent.
Sold! the auctioneer shouted and I took a deep breath. I’d got a little caught up in the excitement of battle and admit I went a little higher than I had wanted. Still, it was a decent score. A quick post-purchase inventory discover we were the proud owners of:
750ml of Amaretto.
750ml bottle of Wild Turkey.
750ml bottle of Hornitos Tequila.
750ml bottle of Stoli 100 Proof.
750ml of Ansac Cognac.
1.75l bottle of Jim Beam.
1.75l bottle of Knob Creek.
1.75l bottle of Bombay Sapphire.
1.75l bottle of Old Weller Bourbon.
1.75l of Canadian Club.
1.75l bottle of Old Taylor.
1.75l bottle of Stoli.
Two 1.75l bottles of Maker’s Mark.
Two 750ml bottles of Jim Beam.
Two 750ml bottles of Sauza Gold.
Two 1.75l bottles of Ten High Bourbon.
Two 1.75l bottles of Taaka Vodka.
Three 1.75l bottles of Seagram’s Gin.
Bottle of gimlet mix.
Bottle of margarita mix.
Price paid: $140.00. Not counting the mixers, it came out to $5.60 a bottle. A good deal, but I knew I could do better.
Seizing the Low Ground
Now that we had quality, it was time for quantity, I started bidding like a madman, although I made certain that I didn’t top the $6 a bottle level. Again and again, I was frustratingly outbid, then finally, I sunk one. Fifteen mixed bottles of gin for $80. Roughly $5.34 a bottle, not bad. I surveyed my haul. Everything from Seagram’s to the stunningly suspect Phillips Light. Light gin! What the hell? I grimly examined at the label and my horror was confirmed: “Less Alcohol, Less Calories.” What sort of crazed madman would invent something so horrible, so vile? I was tempted to throw away the bottle but calmed myself It was booze, after all. I could use it as some sort of horrible prank on my friends. I could see it now:
“Could you put more gin in this?”
“Oh, sure, pal. Just say when!”
Third and Fourth Buys
I was getting the hang of it. I had an excellent system, after all: Bid early and low, then cagily drop out if it got too high, jab and duck until you landed a solid punch on the chin.
It wasn’t long before I landed a real donnybrook: 28 bottles of Popov vodka, various sizes for $100. Around $3.57 a bottle, a good price even for Popov. I was on a roll. A few shelves later and I landed another one: 19 bottles of Ron Llave rum, all 1.75l bottles: $60. Around $3.16 a bottle.
The Fever Takes Hold
I was in the zone, I was fully in the grips of bidding fever, I felt like I couldn’t lose, I was getting cocky. The auctioneer droned on in a mesmerizing tone and it was the tune to which I danced, jumping in and out until:
I snapped out of my delirium and found myself in possession of five 1.75l bottles of 2-year-old Cruzan Rum for the price of $70.
Fourteen bucks a bottle? What the fuck just happened? I was positive I had been bidding on a boatload of whiskey. Badly shaken, I stumbled out of the crowd. I had to clear my head, I needed a drink badly, but there were phalanxes of security personnel to ensure I didn’t do just that. Oceans of booze and not a drop to drink. I sank down on a bench and put my head in my hands, feeling like a hungover Grant after the wholesale slaughter of Gettysburg. Sure, I’d won something, but at what terrible price? I tried to figure out what went wrong. Fourteen bucks a bottle for rum, I kept telling myself. I didn’t even really like rum. I hoped at least that it was good rum. I knew that I had to get a hold of myself, this was no way for a veteran drunkard to act. It was alcohol, I told myself. Someone would drink it.
I had to regroup. I walked to the van and looked at the bounty acquired so far. Boxes and boxes of gleaming bottles. I caressed them. I whispered lovingly to them.
Suddenly I knew what it was all about. I understood perfectly. Taking a deep breath, and wishing for a cold beer, I jumped back into the fray.
On the Ropes and Swinging
I landed in the middle of a cheap whiskey feeding frenzy. There was blood in the water and people were going nuts. I watched in horror as 15 bottles of Ten High bourbon went for $150. Were they mad? “That’s retail!” I wanted to scream at them. I gritted my teeth and decided to ride it out’ Lean against the ropes and keep throwing out those jabs, I would use Ali’s rope-a-dope tactic, I knew my opponents would tire eventually. Finally, at the end of the row, I landed one square to the chin: 22 1.75l bottles of Cabin Still Whiskey and Usher’s Scotch for $70. $3.19 a bottle. That was more like it.
After Work Insanity
We had $151 left, a very lucky number in any drunk’s book. It was time for a break, we decided to relax until they got to the second warehouse, and then we would try to pick up a horde of cheap beer or wine.
A decision we lived to regret. When 5:30 pm rolled around. the after-work yuppies swarmed in, wine snobs and scotch sniffers all. They instantly queered the gorgeous spin, shelves of cheap wine started going for $250 a pop, pallets of non-alcoholic beer and a case of decent scotch traded hands for $400.
Knaves! I thought as I watched eight boxes of crap wine go for $60 dollars. I knew what was happening. No one wanted to leave empty handed, even if it meant paying above retail.
It was over. For a few golden hours a world of booze had lay at our feet, whimpering softly, and we had had our evil way with it. We retired from the field of contest and went to our local bar to spend the rest of the money revel in our deeds.
Our overall haul: 114 bottles of liquor for $542.88, which works out to $4.72 a bottle. On our way I home I looked over our haul and felt contentment. We had ventured boldly into the heart of darkness and pulled out enough loot to last us a few months. Once we got home, after much bickering and name-calling, we divvied up the loot, some of which had to be consumed on the spot, to prevent fistfights.