We spent Easter in a family owned restaurant in Erie Michigan, and as we placed our drink orders at the bar before taking our seats – as Catholics are wont to do – I became intimidated by the requests for Manhattans and Whiskeys on the rocks and Dry Martinis, so I panicked and ordered a frozen Pina Colada… on purpose… at 1pm… and celebrated the day Jesus came back with a glass shaped like a boot filled with frozen coconut and rum and at least three colored umbrellas and a pile of fruit on a sword. I don’t even like rum.
I am desperately good at drinking around bonfires or pools, but I am woefully inept and insecure when ordering in a bar setting. I mean, I have go-to drinks when it comes to certain life situations:
Before 11am: Mimosas or Spicy Bloody Marys.
After 11am: White wine or hipster beer, no IPAs or Guinness.
Mexican restaurant or bar: Red Eye Margarita on the rocks with salt.
Outside of that, I have no idea how to drink like an adult. I can certainly eat like an adult, enjoying sashimi and caramelized brussels sprouts as much as I enjoy Jell-O pudding cups or fried mac n’ cheese. The exception being any kind of pesto or olive, hard limit there. But, drinking in a mature fashion is beyond my skill-set. Maybe it’s because I grew up drinking Southern Comfort and Busch Lite through beer bongs? Maybe it’s because I’m part of a generation who was indoctrinated by Sex & The City and made to think we’re supposed to order girl drinks like Cosmos even though they taste how Bactine and KY Cherry Lube smell? Or maybe I just haven’t found a drink that makes me happy yet?
A couple of days ago we went out with Andy’s co-workers to a fancy restaurant, and as an aside, I looked adorable in a cute white dress and had zero fucks to give that it wasn’t Memorial Day yet. We sat at the bar while we waited for our table to open up and my anxiety raised as the company around me ordered variations of drinks people with ascots know how to make, so I panicked and ordered the first adult sounding drink I could think of…. a Negroni.
A Negroni is an Italian cocktail made from gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. I know this because I recently watched some random youtube video about how to make them at 3am in my underwear when I couldn’t sleep and was researching at-home laser hair removal systems, and in that exact moment, it is the only drink that popped into my head. And I have to say, everyone was pretty fucking impressed with my order.
I was feeling pretty bad ass about the whole thing, even confidently dipping my hand into the pool of salted nuts resting on the bar, and sharing educated commentary about things like the Ukraine, my love affair with Lupita Nyong’o, and what Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge has been wearing on their Australian Tour. Then my drink came. We all chuckled at a shared joke, and I casually sprinkled salt onto my drink napkin so that it wouldn’t stick. I was doing amazing. We raised our glasses to cheers, and I threw caution to the wind, pouring the drink into mouth. And that is as far as it got, as the bitter, putrid liquid immediately ran down my face, out of my open, horrified lips.
“I’m so sorry,” I choked, grabbing napkins to blot the red liquor from the front of my dress, “I can’t drink this, it tastes like burnt arm hair and helium balloons.”
Andy looked as if he might die.
“That’s not good,” his co-worker said as he awkwardly handed me tiny bar napkins, unsure if he should, in fact, help blot the Campari from my chest or not. “What can we get you, sweetheart?”
“Ummmm I don’t know, a frozen strawberry daiquiri, maybe?”
Because apparently my idea of being a fancy adult includes an ice cream headache, and when put on the spot I have the liquor palette of Doogie Houser, M.D.