The classiest drink ever servedPosted on September 23rd, 2007 after 7515 miles by Dean Croshere.
The drive through New York was beautiful, boring, and efficient.
The trees on the sides of I 90 turn colors sooner than the trees elsewhere, no doubt due to the cars on the highway. This leads to a beautiful array of colors ranging from green to yellow and orange. I thought of stopping to get a picture, but didn’t want to pay the toll to pull off the tollway. That, and I’m really enjoying the new book I’m listening to, The Count of Monte Carlo. It is about 55 hours long, so I’ll be listening to it for a while.
From one side of the state until the other, 260 miles or so of straight, neat, tollway. There was a $10 fee for the drive. As a benefit, the road was flat and the speed limit was 65 miles per hour, a number that the frequent cops ensured was enforced. This led to great gas mileage. I approached 30 miles per gallon for the first time ever in this car. I figure the extra miles per gallon saved me $5 in gas, mitigating the cost of the drive a bit.
Speaking of calculations, I am approaching 70 degrees longitude, 45 degrees from where I left. That is roughly an eighth of the distance around the world by degrees. Since the circumference of the earth at 45 degrees latitude is cos(45)*25,000, or 17,000 miles, I’ve gone about 2,100 miles as the crow flies. According to my gas logs, I’ve driven about 7,500 miles.
With those numbers, I could have driven here, back home, then almost all the way back again were I going directly.
I got to Albany in the evening. My host was another forumite, Caleddin. He and a friend were sitting on the porch when I arrived, perhaps the least awkward greeting I’ve had so far.
During our conversations I found out he has quite a few similarities to me. He had just graduated college with degrees in philosophy and biology. My degrees are in philosophy and film. He had just finished a 2 month counter-clockwise road trip around the nation. I’m almost a month into my clockwise roadtrip around the nation.
We compared notes and methods of road tripping while we hit downtown Albany. Our first stop was a burrito joint. At first, I was reticent to get a burrito in New York. I’m from California after all.
I decided I’d like to see the New York opinion of a burrito. It turns out that I didn’t even really notice the burrito by the time it came, my taste buds had been so thoroughly destroyed.
We arrived at the place that was entirely different from any burrito joint I’ve yet been to. In California (and, to a lesser extent, Oregon), the Mexican restaurants are actually owned by Mexican families. There are the whole in a wall burrito joints and the nice taquerias. The former will only serve beer and the later may have a cantina, but it is primarily there to make margaritas.
This place was clearly American. It was loud, packed, and oriented around the bar. The bar made a lot of margaritas, but they weren’t the specialty. I know this because the specialties were interesting and intriguing and printed clearly on the wall.
I started off with a “hard cider.” It was Woodford Reserve Bourbon and fresh New York apple cider. Woodford is my favorite bourbon and the drink sounded interesting. Frankly, Woodford and New York apple cider are both better enjoyed in separate glasses.
While I was drinking this concoction, I tried in vain not to order the “old fashioned classic.”
Now let me first note that I believe a whiskey old fashioned to be the ultimate in drinks. It is simply the best way to bring out the complex flavors of the whiskey.
This was nothing like that drink.
It was a “40 oz Colt 45 served in a champagne bucket.”
I would never order this unless, well, ok, I would order this once no matter the circumstance. It is the ultimate in contradiction. Take the least classy method of getting drunk and serve it as you would the classiest method of doing the same.
Here it is, a 40 in a champagne bucket.
After dinner, (The burrito was unsurprising. It was not as large as I had been promised, kind of cold, and I don’t really remember how it tasted as I was drinking some of the worst beer ever brewed) we headed to the most genius bar I’ve ever been to. The guy who owns this place is a marketing guru.
First, it is a place with tons of different kind of beer on tap and in bottles. There was a huge range from tons of different countries. The place is clearly a beer drinker’s bar.
That, in itself, is not amazing. I’ve been to places like that before.
What was amazing was the computer in the back. There was a beer drinkers club. You put in your number and it prints out a list of all the beers you haven’t tried yet. It also prints the number of beers you have had to drink at the bar. After 40, you get a free T-shirt. After 125, you get a free mug on the wall to drink your beer out of and a discount on beer.
The opportunities in a system like this are amazing. You’ve actually made it productive to drink more beer. The next step is to add an Amazon style “you tried this, you may like…” suggestion system. The possibilities are endless.
The next morning I headed north to Vermont, to visit some of my mother’s friends. This is a wonderful place that I plan on staying at for a few days.
Shortly after arriving I got a phone call from a frat brother I had hoped to stay with in Chicago. While I was trying to get a hold of him, I was lost trying to figure out why his name sounded so familiar to me. It was in my head, something important, but I couldn’t figure out what. I wasn’t able to get a hold of him then, so I gave up and stopped worrying about it.
He called today and explained why I wasn’t able to contact him earlier, he had been at his cabin in Minnesota. I lamented missing the connection and told him I would give him a call if I ever came back through. It wasn’t likely, but you leave such things open.
Then it hit me.
He wrote “Over a Century of Brotherhood.” The history of the Gamma Sigma Fraternity. It is the canon that all the brothers memorize.
I called him back. He explained a couple of things that I was confused about and began to tell me stories from his pledging and his fraternity times. I decided that I could not miss the opportunity to meet this man. I will be driving back to Chicago after Washington DC. Such alumni are too important; such stories are too amazing to pass up. That is the opportunity of a lifetime.
So, I’ve still got this in my head. If you were to add a points system to the beer list, you could give away beers. Make the less selling beers worth more points and you can get rid of those while the regulars know to avoid them.
Why hasn’t this been done more often? It seems so simple and easy.