As a young adult, I slugged down many a Midori sour. When I finally realized Midori is actually kind of gross, I moved on to the more classy Amaretto sour. My best friend thought white Russians were the way to go. He always ended up barfing at the end of the night, and I drove us home (note to kids in bars: the milk is old). We were young and dumb, and we'd have drank Windex if they'd put it in front of us.
But before the rise of cocktail culture, actual grown-ups also drank screwdrivers. This was before muddled, gently stirred, and lovingly handled drinks sat their long-winded, damp behinds down, smothering bars all over the country. I hate cocktails. I hate them not because they taste bad, because they are typically delicious. But rather, because they've made going out and boozing a chore. I hate them because I have to wait 30 minutes for someone to lovingly pick at wilting leaves, light things aflame, and sniff their way through the creation of a $20 drink before I can get sloppy. Let me elaborate.
Sure the simple drinks of old sucked. They tasted like mouthwash, if mouthwash tasted bad. But you got served quickly enough that you had time to get laid before the bar closed.
Nowadays, most of the night is spent standing 50 people deep at the bar. You're all looking anxiously at your iPhone and trying to make eye or waving-hand-to-eye contact with one of the five bartenders. They're busy smashing organic kumquats and folding something into cognac, ever so delicately with a very long spoon. If all you want is a beer, you still have to wait on the dude who ordered 13 bacon maple cronut cocktails or something. Then he's gotta get by you to serve his 12 friends sitting outside who aren't even talking anymore, because they're too sober. Every few minutes, one of them rises and says, "I'm going to check on the drinks." And that is why bars have to charge $20 a drink. Because how else would they make money?
You, the mixologist-loving drinker, you think I just can't get laid, and I'm blaming the cocktails. Maybe that's the case. But I also miss the time when everyone got tipsy enough early enough to dance before the place was closing. There are like five thousand people in the world who dance sober, and they're all ballerinas. And when you are raised drinking one way, it's hard to adjust to this other kind of slow but heavy drinking. Alcohol-induced diarrhea of the mouth doesn't start to splatter until like 4 a.m. now -- before it was 2 -- and then no one has time to make up with sloppy hugs before dawn.
The thing is, these cocktails taste so damn good, it's ridiculous -- well, the ones without like sea anemone or rib-eye in them. I'd be lying if I said I never ordered cocktails at the height of the night (cause I am part of the problem), but I try to have them at off-hours, as so not to totally loathe myself.
If you want a beautifully handled cocktail, order it at 5 p.m., not 1 a.m. Seriously, you can't even taste anything after a certain point, can you? You can't remember your own address. Be honest with yourself. Height of the night cocktails, you're thumbs down in my book. But I'll gulp down a few dozen of your delicious asses on any Sunday afternoon.
Liz Tracy is the New Times Broward Palm Beach music editor. Check out our music blog, County Grind, for more stuff like this.
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