Liam Deegan

The Death of Cool Pt. 2

In Fermented Thought on October 22, 2009 at 5:33 am

So I was in a bar a while ago, and I was talking to a guy who was in his late 40s, who was looking around at the young crowd and telling me in a condescending voice how stupid the kids are with drinking these days, and I could feel a stereotypical digression into 5 cent candy bars and double feature picture shows for a Quarter and walking out with coin still in pocket. This gentleman shared my judgmental perspective on Red Bull and Vodka as the drink of choice for the people in my age group.  I don’t want this to come off as me advocating the Willy Wonka-esqe plethora of cocktail available at a bar.  (a Root Beer flavored vodka? Ok. Tasty but c’mon are we drinking or trick or treating?) But still, I felt offended.  He was talking about my generation.

His sentiments were basically on the Red Bull and Vodka as being in essence an idiotic and contradictory cocktail.  Something to the likes of “these kids get so fucked up but then they can’t pass out cause they’re all hopped up on Red Bull.”  During our conversation I observed he was sipping a Jack and Coke. One habit if not compulsion that I have picked up while bartending, is the underwhelming ability to immediately identify and memorize what anyone I come into contact with drinks.  It’s use, while limited, has some importance to this story.

A Jack and Coke is as much of a classic an American cocktail can get without scratching the subject of true American cocktails.  That is to say a piece of coal is a diamond without giving it more agitation than just a rub of the thumb.  The Jack and Coke to me, is more of a neo-classical cocktail.  As I thought this over, I realized he was insulting my generation, and the burn began to sink in, so I felt I should have defended or at least have had a witty comeback ready.  The French call it espirit d’escalier, thinking of the perfect response much too late.  We all have these moments when the brain lapses, and if not for this human flaw, such incredible things like the Belated Birthday card would not exist.

My comeback is neither quick nor witty, however it may ring true.  While a Jack and Coke to him is the Rosetta stone of drinks, the generation before him may have looked at his contemporaries, running around drinking soda pop with the same disdain.  What is Red Bull if nothing but the next revolution in youth beverages.  It is the Coke of the next century with equally stimulating and controversial ingredients.  Substitute the heavily branded Grey Goose vodka, with the equally branded No. 7 whiskey and you have in your hand the same speedball of a cocktail.

The true original cocktail is a blend of bitters, and liquor and in some cases sugar. If one must mask an “unpleasant” flavor, some fruit juice could be added.  Fruit juice mixers became popular during that dark period of time in American history when our predecessors had no choice but to choke down bathtub gin in speakeasies.  Without branching out into cocktail history that has been explored much more in depth and much more eloquently, I will simply say, a classic or original cocktail has roots much deeper than what a soft drink can bring out in a whiskey.

Now keeping all this in mind, in the course of the night, I did a shot with him.  I think I got the last laugh and scored some classical points for my generation.  Mine: a Jameson, his: a Jagerbomb.


  1. Ldee, Very true and insightful. It is funny how time and relevance get lost in objectivity. If a buss goes by and your standing on the corner and I am standing across the street, we both see the bus go by, but dont see it from the same angle. To me , mixing softdrinks and liqueur is that bus and you and this gentlemen are on opposite sides of the street. Either way…you got a shot out of the deal, and that what the French call Le’ Bomb

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