July 14, 2006
"This isn’t alcohol. Sloe gin. Vegetarian, you know." –George Bernard Shaw
I like a drink every now and then. I’m not a fan of wine, but I’ll take a beer or, heck, even a cocktail–as long as it’s a normal cocktail like a Martini or a Manhattan or a Mojito or a Mai Tai or a Mint Julep. It doesn’t have to start with "m", but a good cocktail should be mostly alcohol. It can have fruit juice or a dash of bitters. No one’s really sure what exactly "bitters" is, but it’s in every single cocktail ever invented.
Basically I’ll stick with the classics: something you can sip and enjoy. There are too many cocktails out there that, if you start the evening with them, you’ll wake up three years later in a hotel in Tijuana wearing nothing but a shower curtain, missing one of your kidneys, and with a tattoo that says, "I Do The Rock". I’m talking about mixed drinks that taste like candy instead of alcohol. I’m talking about Blue Buzzards, Flaming Hippos, Dirty Bananas, and Spiked Heels Dancing On My Face. I’m talking about Alien Secretions and Between The Sheets and Hexagonal Hippies. I’m talking about Sex On The Beach, the cocktail made for people who have never had and never will have sex on the beach. I used to know a bar that served a drink called a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. The bartender said he called it that because it was green and would kick your ass. Call me old-fashioned, or order me an Old Fashioned, but if you ask for a drink named after a cartoon you shouldn’t be drinking.
The same applies if you’re drinking one of the new brands of "malt beverage", which are basically soft drinks with alcohol. Maybe you’ve noticed that all commercials for malt beverages say, "Please drink responsibly!", which is their way of saying, "Candy is dandy but you can still end up tattooed in Tijuana if you’re drinking this crap." But I digress. The only thing worse than malt beverages is the Jell-O shooter. Let’s get one thing straight: Jell-O is not a dessert. When you think dessert the last thing that should come to mind is a clear, vaguely fruit-flavored vitreous mass. It’s an insult to puddings, custards, and creme brulee mixes that they share shelf space in the grocery store with Jell-O. My grandfather wouldn’t eat Jell-O because he said it was "nervous". I have an even better reason: it’s made from horses’ hooves. Did your mother ever say, "You can’t have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat"? Probably not unless her last name was "Floyd", but you get the idea. Dessert was the reward for eating your lima beans. When I got Jell-O for dessert, though, I thought I was being punished for something. I just never knew what. The only thing that can be added to Jell-O to make it worse, aside from cottage cheese, is alcohol. The Jell-O shooter is for people who shouldn’t be consuming alcohol in the first place. There’s only one thing worse than Jell-O: aspic. I don’t think there’s a less appetizing word in the English language than "aspic", and it gets even worse when you have tomato aspic. Whose idea was it to take gelatin and flavor it with ketchup? And, since I still see it in the grocery store, who buys it? There’s only one thing about tomato aspic I know for sure: you have to be really, really drunk before you’ll eat it.