“I thought that alcohol was just for those with nothing else to do
I thought that drinking just to get drunk was a waste of precious booze”
– Barenaked Ladies “Alcohol”
Around the second double shot of Popov in half an hour, I realized that my esophagus might never forgive me. When you can no longer feel the slow dissolving of the lining coating your throat as you gulp down something-resembling-vodka after toasting with your plastic cup, you’re probably a bit worse for the wear.
After that night, I swore I would never touch plastic-bottle vodka again. My resolve lasted exactly 22.7 hours. But even while I chugged an entirely-too-strong screwdriver the next night, I began to think about the possibility of drinking as more than just getting drunk. If there were so many multicolored, shiny bottles of alcohol in the supermarket aisles — yes, there are places in the world where you can buy alcohol in the supermarket — then there had to be more to life than Dubra-cranberry and grain-Jungle Juice.
My foray into life A.P. (After Popov) began innocently enough with a bottle of blue curaçao. Then my entanglements progressed and I found myself seduced by various imported vodkas, until finally I fell in love with my first top-shelf bottle — a liter of Tanqueray 10. I was thrilled that even in our puritanical society — where drink is the devil and the devil is drink! — it is still possible to find a cocktail, even multiple cocktails, that can create an enjoyable experience BEFORE intoxication.
Alcohol suddenly became a vast new culinary frontier to explore. It could be savory or sweet, surprising or disappointing, quality or Georgi: In short, everything that good food can be, and more. Granted, alcohol’s neither nutritious nor particularly good for you, but that hasn’t stopped us yet!
I’ll admit that one of the most popular reasons to drink is to get drunk, and if you don’t mind wasting that awkward 20 minutes while you wait for the alcohol haze to set in, then please, continue consuming whatever vaguely drinkable concoction you can find. But if you have any interest in what you’re drinking, it really doesn’t take much to make a good cocktail — no pots, pans or cooking required.
If you’re still not convinced that you should be drinking better alcohol, you should at least consider learning about it as part of your Yale “pre-professional” training. Our education allegedly gives us all a good grounding in what-to-say-at-your-cocktail-party. The least we can do for our future guests is give them a decent drink to sip while listening to all the topics in which we have an annoyingly high level of conversational fluency.
In the service of this lofty goal, this column will provide you with a new cocktail every other week. Some are traditional, others more experimental, still others entirely conceptual. This post-shopping period drink falls between the last two categories, and is named in honor of the American “pharmacology” history survey that is this semester’s winner for Best Class Title: Magic Bullets and Wonder Pills.
The Magic Bullet is a powder blue variation on a White Russian eerily reminiscent of the “Valley of the Dolls.” The chocolate and crème complement each other while the citrus provides a hidden contrast.
1 oz. vodka (Smirnoff is fine,
Stoli is better)
1 oz. crème de cacao
1 oz. blue curaçao
2 oz. half and ha1/2 oz. Godiva white chocolate liqueur
Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into tumblers.
Half and half can be found in most dining halls but you can also substitute whole or reduced fat milk. Increase the amount if using a lower-fat liquid. The Godiva Liqueur can also be replaced with 1/2 oz. crème de cacao and 1/4 oz. half-and-half. The half-and-half and Godiva can be replaced with 4 oz. tonic water for a fizzy, dairy-free variety.
Cream version — Wonder Pill: Omit blue curaçao, substitute 1 oz. triple sec if desired.
Pink version — Pepto-Bismol: Omit blue curaçao, add red food coloring. You could use 1/4 oz. grenadine, but only in the fizzy variety; otherwise, it will cause the cream to curdle, and that’s just really unattractive.