Alcohol Detente

FNM_040110-Weekend-043_s4x3_lgSeveral weeks ago, I was in a New Jersey bar with Keith, Bobby and Michael. My best friend and two of my brothers, respectively. The waitress came to our table balancing four tall, pink drinks upon her tray. The drinks were Alabama Slammers and the result of a mixup on our part. Kind of.

A little more than two years ago, Keith and I composed a list of “old man” drinks. These were drinks that neither of us had had before but were popular at some time in the past. One difficulty we ran into was drinking is kind of my hobby. Martinis and Manhattans are among my favorite drinks and, as we began naming “traditional” old man drinks we found it difficult to name 10 that fit our criterion. Eventually, we expanded it to 10 drinks we’d heard of but never had:

1. Gin Rickey
2. Rusty Nail
3. Sidecar
4. Rob Roy
5. Old-Fashioned
6. Frisco
7. Canadian Zombie
8. Rock and Rye
9. Harvey Wallbanger
10. Alabama Slammer
11. Singapore Sling
Very few bars in my area were capable of making these drinks, which have exotic liquors like Drambuie, Benedictine, and Galliano, which apparently aren’t required in the Orange Crush, the Eastern Shore’s national drink.
We’ve tried all but three (Sidecar, Canadian Zombie and Singapore Sling) and only the Gin Rickey and the Rusty Nail have been worth drinking. Many of the rest could be called “girly drinks.”
I detest the term girly drinks because it is derisive. It suggests there is something manly about having a palette for alcohol, as if being rugged leads somehow to appreciating the subtleties of a well made cocktail. Moreover, it buys into the notion that getting drunk is the point 0f drinking.
I recently found an unlikely ally in this belief–my daughter’s boyfriend Rich. He doesn’t find the term offense to women but rather finds it offensive to men. Particularly him. Rich likes girly drinks. He drinks Rock and Rye, for example, which is more likely to give you tooth decay than an alcohol buzz.
He proposes they be renamed “metro” drinks in deference to the turn-of-the-century metrosexual fad (which may be returning). In case you don’t recall, metrosexual was a fashion fad men of a certain age and income paid more attention to grooming than had been normal. “Metrosexual” is also derisive. It’s a thinly-veiled way of saying “dress like a gay guy,” which is a thinly-veiled way of saying, “dress like a guy who works in the New York fashion industry.”
I know we’ve entered a kind of a gray area here. Let’s stipulate that drinking Mai Tai’s in Tahiti or Pina Coladas at your neighbor’s Tacky Hawaiian Night Theme party is all in good fun. In fact, this goes generally, “all in good fun” drinking kind of requires enjoying stupidly complicated mixed drinks.
Metro drinks, then, aren’t theme drinks or participatory drinks. They are not something you whip up at home before dinner. Metro drinks are concocted in such a way as to remove the alcohol taste. They are a vehicle for getting drunk rather than a drink featuring alcohol, the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down.
But I’ll take “Metro” over girly any day, because it is perfectly descriptive. Just as with the triple entendre upon which it’s based, a Metro drink chooses style over substance in the name of substance over style. And, at the risk of sounding like a prohibitionist, is a way of popularizing drinking among people who do not like it.
Another reason they were called girly drinks is they allow people who don’t like alcohol to participate in the bar scene without having to order a soda. In fact, I believe a strong case could be made to refer to Metro drinks alternatively as soft drinks, but it would screw with the packaging industry.
Unlike Voltaire, I will not fight for anyone’s right to drink a Metro drink. But that said, going Metro is more a statement about taste than about virility and, as the father of daughters, I don’t think my children’s taste in alcohol should be limited to the shitty because of their gender.
This week’s Todcast blog is based on Todcast Episode 127, found here.
Tony Russo
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Tony Russo has worked as a print and digital journalist for the better part of the 21st century, writing for and editing regional weeklies, dailies and destination websites including OceanCity.com and ShoreCraftBeer.com. Tony has written two books on beer for the History Press. Eastern Shore Beer (2014) and Delaware Beer (2016). He lives in Delmar, Md. with his wife Kelly and the only of his four daughters who hasn't moved out. Together they keep their dog and cat comfortable.