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As a member of a fraternity, I received my lessons in alcohol through a lot of bad experiences and confusing-as-hell nights. I learned that bourbon is a delicious nectar that may as well be made from the tears of a bald eagle, gin is for people who have run out of everything else, and malt liquor might as well come with a complimentary wife beater.
But for all the lessons you can learn with full bottles of alcohol, there’s truly nothing more savage than a man who finds himself with many miscellaneous bottles that are nearly empty. The real fun of mixing drinks does not come from an Old Fashioned, or Rum and Coke. It comes from the horrible feats of ingenuity that arise when a man has but a few shots of random liquors at his disposal, and is forced to come up with some insane mix that will send him plummeting into drunken glory.
Now, my first horrible story about these moments comes with a preface. Buying vodka happens when you’re creating a setting involving women. Buying Absolut Pepar only happens when you’re a stupid freshman who asks a senior with a penchant for practical jokes to buy you alcohol. I usually used it as a maintenance shot when I was too drunk to care, but did not have the fortune of having other liquors around. In fact, the only other alcohol in the room was some nice, sweet red vermouth from when I was making Manhattans earlier in the year. In my wonderful freshman mind, I had a genius idea.
“Wait…vermouth and vodka make a vodka martini right? I’ll do that.”
That’s right. Sweet red vermouth and Absolut Pepar came together to form a cocktail I will forever refer to as “Blood of the Innocents.” It had this really sickening faint red look, and the taste is best described as the physical grinding of peppercorns against one’s tongue while playing “slap the bag.” For not being very strong, it was very, VERY painful to drink. This is also why you should probably never stock vermouth — it will never turn out how you hope it will. I infamously passed out in a cemetery the night I drank this. I would advise you never to do so.
You would think that the nightmare of the preceding disaster would keep me away from ever stocking vermouth again. Well, it didn’t. In fact, I used it as an excuse to keep dry vermouth around instead, because that was clearly the problem instead of the literal pepper-flavored vodka that was used to create that hate crime against alcohol. I had almost ran out of booze while at home, and was limited to three choices: a hilarious malt liquor called “Tilt” that smelled strangely of shotgun weddings and Affliction t-shirts, which was given to me by a random hobo on the streets of Cleveland, a bottle of Monte Alban tequila and the damn dry vermouth.
Now, tequila is a bad bad thing. Tequila is what I drink when I want to break things or turn myself into some form of alcohol-fueled Kimbo Slice. My last incident with a nice bottle of tequila resulted in me being run over, knocked the fuck out and concussed while playing in a philanthropy whiffle ball tournament, spending $30 on drunk food at Sonic and deciding that stealing one of the dryer doors from the dorm’s laundry room was a fantastic idea. Needless to say, tequila and I have an understanding for our expectations of one another.
Keep in mind that this happened on a mid-level bottle of Hornitos. What I was drinking on the night in question was Monte Alban – the tequila that makes Jimador and Cuervo seem like sipping brands. Needless to say, this was not going to be drank straight for fear of vomiting, or worse. But what do I mix it with? The hobo liquor? That’s blue raspberry flavored and has as much sugar as a mountain dew, so I doubt it’ll be killing any tastes. Maybe the vermouth could tone it down? The damned vermouth.
Instead of a vodka martini, I made what I can only hope was the world’s only Tequini. The only fitting way to describe the flavor is “honest.” It tastes exactly like if you dumped tequila into a bad wine spirit. It will leave your mouth feeling like you ate a bag of bad Sour Patch Kids in one bite. It will ruin lives. I was discovered asleep on my best friend’s trampoline nearly two miles from my house that night. I don’t remember walking there, nor do I remember the two hour downpour that I slept through out in the open. This is what happens when the savage concept of finishing bottles sets in.
As I spent my last night of freshman year on campus, I had a grand total of one bottle left in my refrigerator – half of a bottle of Absolut Citron. After a few shots and a nice six pack of microbrews, I was fairly drunk and wandered over to one of my brother’s rooms as he was finishing a paper. After shooting the shit for a while, and him listening to me drunkenly rant about girls, he pulled out a bottle of Svedka we had discovered full in a corner of the room earlier that semester that was dark and murky. I knew something was up, so naturally I asked what it was.
He, being the ingenious bastard he was, had devised a new type of Twisted Tea. Rather than adding alcohol to an Arnold Palmer, he had taken the liberty of steeping tea bags in Vodka. That’s right, iced tea made with vodka instead of water. Combine this with the remainder of my citrus vodka and an ounce or two of normal Arnold Palmer, and you have what can only be described as a harbinger of death. In retrospect, there was easily 6-8 shots worth of alcohol in those drinks, yet we did the only thing one can do when preparing to leave college for the summer – reach peak blackout levels.
That night, two student bands were playing on the other side of campus. I don’t even remember leaving the room to walk there, but I apparently was not only at that concert, but made a lot of friends that night. I have some weird numbers in my phone under names like “aba nurals” and “hallpor.” I have no idea how I made it back to my dorm. I have no idea how I managed to walk past almost the entirety of the local police department and campus security without being written up. It’s a literal miracle.
So what should you take away from my misfortune? One of two lessons. Go to the store regularly enough that you consistently have compatible liquors, or liquors you can just shoot straight all night. Alternatively, prepare yourself for the moments when you’re desperate to get drunk and all you have is a bottle of Evan Williams and some Triple Sec, because you will drink the most savage and terrible things of your life in those moments, and it will be awesome.