Death of a Disco Dancing Cocktail
It was a warm Saturday night in May and mobs of people were packed into Bar X, trickling out onto the patio. Cocktails in hands, conversation flooding every silent corner of the bar, the cacophonous shaking of cocktail tins. The ringing and beeping of the cash register tinkered on with every exchange of money. I smell the oil of mint and watch the droplets float into the sky. It's nirvana, it's entrancing, it's heavenly. These noises keep me focused and for a brief moment, I remember why I do what I do.
But just before I can get lost in the zen of my craft, it happens. “I NEED THREE WET PUSSIES” comes crashing into every one of my senses and my heart breaks back into reality of misogynistic dumbassery. I stand aghast face-to-face with a thirty year old grown man with macho, stupid, dead eyes. I was really hoping it was an employee off the clock fucking around with me, I probably would've entertain them and tried to make the joke-drink, but instead the conversation went as follows.
I'll use UD (Ugly Drunk) for me, and MDA for misogynistic dumbass:
UD// “Sorry, we don't make those here, man.”
MDA// “What, you don't know how to make a wet pussy?”
UD// “We just don't have the stuff for it man, sorry.”
MDA// “Then you don't know how to do your own goddamn job."
UD// "No, we just don't make dumb fucking cocktails with dumb fucking titles that degrade women."
MDA glares momentarily, speechless.
I return his glare with a smile, "So can I get you something else?”
MDA// “I'll take three Pilsners."
UD// "You got it."
MDA received his beer, paid with a credit card, and tipped me fifteen bucks on three beers. Finally, I was able to return to the sounds and sights of shaking tins and ice cracking.
It's astonishing how often people will walk into a craft cocktail bar and ask for a fuzzy navel, a cum drop, or an Irish car bomb and proceed to treat us like idiots because we refuse to make their 'I want everyone in this bar me to hate me in thirty minutes' sugar-filled, diabetes shot. One of my favorite moments was when I heard a customer ask for three different types of 'bombs'. After being denied the third, he exclaimed to the bartender “Fuck! Just bomb me in any way you can!”.
The ear-stabbing requests for these horrid and vomit inducing 'cocktails' led me to question who the jackasses were that thought a “cowboy cocksucker” (yes, it's a real shooter) was an adequate name for an alcoholic beverage. As is typical with my Ugly Drunk ramblings, I went on the hunt. I went back before Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail, navigated past Blue Oyster Cult, stopped and stared with envy at John Travolta's white disco suit, and landed at the time just before the Vietnam War.
The stretch between the early 1970s to 1990s were known as the 'dark ages' for cocktails. Drug culture had taken over and the younger generation didn't want to be caught dead with a brown spirit in an unadorned glass. That simple, classy shit was for their parents and pig-headed Big Brother Nixon. When the young disco dancing fools were done snorting coke off of the Pong machine at the local arcade, they'd buy more drugs and let their mood rings decide which club they were going to be disgracing next. It was rare to go to a bar or club during the 1970s and not stumble on someone doing pretty white lines off of the ass of whoever they could put their hands and noses on. All the sex, cocaine, and disco aside, cocktails (the only redeeming parts of the 70s) were dying as quickly as the cast of The Godfather. As I previously mentioned in my article on the Old Fashioned, the introduction of Vodka to America in the 1950s started to leave drinkers with a bad taste in their mouth if they imbibed anything that didn't look pink, light blue or green.
The Old Fashioned and the Manhattan were out of the clubs and left to the old fogies watching the Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour at home. For the young folk, large quantity blenders whirled endlessly to the thumping groovy tunes of the Bee Gees and ABBA. Blenders replaced shakers, bartenders got rid of jiggers, cocktails got rid of spirits. Sugar-liqueur-schnapps shit was becoming the key ingredient in most drinks -- replacing real booze and saving companies a dime or two. Three hundred calories of peach, citron, lime, and whatever flavor humanity can use to hide any resemblance of alcohol was in. With the invention of the Walkman and cassette tapes of the 80s, people had all but forgotten the Tom Collins and couldn't wait to choke on Tom Cruise's 'Sex On The Beach'. No, Tom Cruise didn't invent the cocktail -- he just glorified it like the devious bastard he is.
Why the movie Cocktail never won an academy award still confuses me. Before I move on from Tom Cruise, please watch the clip referenced below -- 'The Last Barman Poet' -- starring Tom Cruise and that one guy who kills himself at the end because the movie needed more depth than Tom Cruise's bulge could provide. I hope I didn't just spoil a movie from 1988 for you. Go watch it.
All caught up? It's beautiful, right? That, ladies and gentlemen, was what bar-tending had become and how it all went so bad. It went from a well-respected profession in the golden age of cocktails to transient laziness or flare bar-tending in the dark ages. Bottle spinning and poetry.
“I am the last barman poet / I see America drinking the fabulous cocktails I make / Americans getting stinky on something I stir or shake / The sex on the beach / The schnapps made from peach / The velvet hammer / The Alabama slammer / I make things with juice and froth / The pink squirrel / The three-toed sloth. / I make drinks so sweet and snazzy / The iced tea / The kamakazi / The orgasm / The death spasm / The Singapore sling / The ding-a-ling / America you've just been devoted to every flavor I got / But if you want to get loaded / Why don't you just order a shot? / Bar is open”
I know you just watched the video, but I really want to drive this point home because frankly, I don't need to say any more about what the 80s did to cocktails after all is said and done by Tom Cruise -- the video and poem gets my point across just fine. “Getting stinky”? “I make drinks so sweet and snazzy”? You get the point, and the point is horrible.
There you have it. I figured out the who and when, but what I still didn't know was WHY. WHY did people enjoy these then, and why do they still enjoy them now? Never having had or made an 'Orgasm' myself...
Yeah, okay, I know -- I set that up intentionally because that's exactly why douchebag bartenders named them that. It's so they could give creepy responses in the Tom Cruise 'Cocktail' style of, “How many orgasms would you like? ...teehee” or “I can give you a few of those... teehee”.
After all of this eye-rolling research, I decided to go undercover. If I was going to write about these, I needed to drink a 'Gummy Bear' or a 'Surfer on Acid'. I needed to be a part of the exclusive and ever-so-gentlemanly world of shooters. I sent a text out to Shadna, Editor-in-Chief for UGLY MAG, that read “You better not have plans tonight. We have an undercover mission to do -- meet me at 8:30, be well hydrated, well fed, and rested. Club attire is necessary, so wear that shirt you have with the condom pocket on the sleeve and maybe we can stop by Trails to grab some glitter.” We like to keep things profession at Ugly HQ.
Thankfully, Shadna doesn't actually own a shirt like that. I was testing him all along -- and he obviously passed.
We convinced another friend (who will remain anonymous for her own protection) to join our mission, met at 8:30, and planned the bars we would go to. I won't name these three bars out of respect and fear of getting my ass kicked. At each bar, we got two rounds of three different shots for each of us. The list of shots included the following:
A Gummy Bear, Starburst, Irish Coffee, Scooby Snacks, Naughty Angel, Haymaker, Leprechaun's Business, Surfer On Acid, Washington Apple, Lady Gaga, Mind Eraser, Sex On The Beach, Orgasm, Brain Hemmorage, and of course, a Wet Pussy. There are a few others that I forgot to write down because take a look at that fucking list.
Seeing as how this was an undercover research mission, I unbuttoned my top two shirt buttons, ruffled my hair a little bit, and thought about popping my collar but almost vomited at my own new-found broness. Boy, was I cool that night. As baffling as the collar popping fashion statement is to me, it was nothing compared to my confusion upon entering each bar that night. Each one smelled like candy, women were hardly wearing any clothes, lap dances were being given at random, there were red stains in the urinals, and there was a severe lack of depressed lollygags -- the list goes on and on to the point of absurdity.
One bar even had a hookah laid out on every table -- a hookah? Right, because that's definitely still a cool, worldwide trend. Another bar had big, beautiful book shelves -- completely devoid of books, which I believe spoke volumes about that specific bar. Not even one copy of The Bro Code? Shame.
Now, don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with these bars. I respect those bartenders just as much as any Bar X bartender working next to me on a Saturday night. In fact, I respect them more because they have to deal with shitheads with popped collars ordering two 'Wet Pussies' "because I've only had one in my mouth today... teehee” night in and night out. Simply typing those words makes me want to call my mother and apologize for my terrible language.
Friday night taught me a lot: it taught me that yes, you can have fun ordering 'shooters' and going to the Gold's Gym bars, but it also taught me that this trend should come to a close quicker than bell bottoms and platform shoes. I'm not blaming the bars, and I'm not blaming the bartenders just trying to make a living in this or any other city. I'm not even blaming Tom Cruise, his bulge, Nixon, or the Colombian cartel for practically shoving cocaine up the noses of almost everyone in the 70s.
I'm blaming the consumers. Yes, the 70s, disco and cocaine started this shitty wave of drinks, but we're the ones who are still ordering 'shooters with a side of eventually getting kicked out' at bars. Do me a favor: Stop. Stop right now. Put down your peach schnapps and blue Curacao thingamajig beverage and go to a cocktail bar. I promise you won't be disappointed. We can even make you a sugary or fruity drink -- just stop with the shitty, disrespectful names and your stomach will thank you. As an added bonus, you can call your mother tomorrow and not have to apologize for saying phrases like 'Wet Pussy' ten times or trying to do lines of cocaine off that grotesquely hairy person who bought you six Naughty Angels.
Like I said -- we learned a lot on Friday night. Maybe a little too much. Stay Ugly.
All Photography and GIFs shot and produced by Joey Jonaitis (@joeyjonaitis)
with Studio Elevn - studioelevn.com
The Ugly Drunk bar tends at Bar X (155 E. 200 S. SLC, UT)
Edited by :: Kari Marie Keone