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The Devil’s Triangle: Yes, another awful part of the Brett Kavanaugh shit show; no, definitely not a drinking game as he suggested. (It, um, means something very different.) Drinking games are, though, a staple among friends, roommates and floormates in college and immediately thereafter at post-college house parties, if generally forgotten by the age of 25. Still, no matter your age, combining games and alcohol can truly be a fun way to enjoy the company of strangers, especially when the focus is on the competition and not how many shots you can mow down in a row.

And so, here’s what some of my favorite fellow bartenders had to say about the games they used to play when they were younger (and dumber) — and the ones they play now that they’re older (and ostensibly more sophisticated) — as well as what kind of gamesmanship they see their customers partaking in while downing their…


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I know it sounds unbelievable, but trust me, there are several ways to order a drink that will cause your bartender to stare at you, head cocked slightly to one side, trying to figure out what it is you want for just long enough to throw off the whole rhythm of your night.

Some of these syntactical quirks are simple. You order a single liquor and mixer drink, like a Jack and Coke, just like that: Jack and Coke. Never, ever invert those two ingredients. Because Coke and Jack sounds like a felony and will grind the gears of a busy bar to a halt. This happens all the time with vodka cranberry — or as it’s often confused, cranberry vodka. …


They’re as bad as the Taco Bell you had just before you passed out last night

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If I’m hungover, the last thing I want to eat — assuming all food doesn’t make my stomach lurch — is something good for me, like a fruit smoothie or a big, leafy salad. Nope, I want something warm, something salty and savory, something with cheese and soy sauce. Eating when you’re hungover can be like eating when you’re stoned: What are you eating? A lo mein quesadilla, and it’s fucking delicious — so fuck you!

Obviously, I’m not revealing any real secrets here. Much like eating while drunk leads most of us straight to the Taco Bell drive-thru instead of Sweetgreen, that people eat shit for breakfast (or more likely, brunch) the day after a night of drinking is common knowledge. It’s now also, thanks to a handful of researchers headed up by Jessica Kruger at the Department of Community Health and Health Behavior at the University of Buffalo, scientific fact. …


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Cutwater Sprits

I first encountered canned wine in 2016 in a small market and liquor store down the street from the bar I worked in. Well, okay, let me rephrase that a bit: I first encountered canned wine in 2016 when my co-worker returned from this small market and liquor store with two cans of Underwood Rose and a smile. “I got us something for last call,” she laughed.

I was confused. We had pretty much everything one could want to celebrate last call already, and they were all within arm’s length.

“Yeah, but this will be more fun,” she said.

That’s how I came to shotgun half a bottle of wine at 1:40 in the morning. I’m not sure I recommend it. In fairness, Underwood’s canned wines are perfect for every (other) occasion: They’re easy to transport, don’t require a corkscrew and go down easy. If anything, they’re the perfect park/picnic/beach/music festival drink. …


Try cooling your heels with these oft-overlooked (and under-ordered) greats

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When I think of drinks that are considered underrated, I think of things like a gin and tonic which, presumably, is composed of three super basic ingredients: Gin, tonic and a squeeze of lime. However, the style of gin, brand of tonic and freshness of that squeeze of lime are all factors and flavors you can play with, turning what sounds like a simple beverage into a mind-blowing concoction. For example, the G&T the research chemist father of Toby Cecchini, co-owner of the Long Island Bar in Brooklyn, devised, which Cecchini wrote about for Imbibe magazine back in 2016:

“When I was young, but just entering adulthood, I would take a Greyhound bus up to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, several hours north of Madison, where [my dad] ended up with his second wife. Upon arrival, he would make us a pitcher of G&Ts in his idiosyncratic fashion, which very much blended his mastery of flavors with his knowledge of chemistry. Emphasizing how gin is really just a solvent, like many he used daily, he would cut and juice limes, and then julienne the rinds, which held the all-important citrus oil. He would dump these in the bottom of a large crystal pitcher and then add room-temperature gin to them. These he would muddle together for a few minutes to extract that aromatic oil from the rinds, so important to the end result, along with a certain measure of leftover juice, enough to make the mixture translucent and imbue it with a necessary tartness. This was, he later emphasized, all the juice needed; one was not to dump the juice already squeezed back into the mix. That, you could set aside for something else. …


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As I confessed in our Fourth of July roundtable, I rarely (by which I mean never) drink beer. This is usually fine, as a bartender I have plenty of other alcoholic options at my fingertips. But where not being a beer drinker can get me in serious trouble is during the summer. Because we all know what summer means: Day drinking. And if you think you can sip gin and tonics all afternoon and remain standing while your friends split a case of Bud Light, you’re wrong. So very, very wrong.

Bud Light has 4.2 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) while that gin and tonic, assuming it’s poured in a bar that uses 1.5 ounces of 80-proof gin and 4 ounces of tonic, a fairly standard highball ratio, is 7.3 percent ABV. In other words, that gin and tonic is far stiffer than any watered-down domestic macrobrew. (Not to mention, Bud Light bottles are 12 ounces, a gin and tonic is under 6.) …


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There are several combinations of alcohol that cause nearly every bartender to question the age and intellect of those who ordered it. Belvedere and Sprite is a good one (the whole point of top-shelf vodka is to appreciate its flavor). “The cheapest thing you have on draught” is a personal favorite. And anything with Red Bull (vodka Red Bull, whiskey Red Bull, Jager-bombs) makes me cringe. (They outlawed Four Loko because of the crazy shit that happened when people combined alcohol and large amounts of caffeine, remember?)

But nothing makes a bartender roll their eyes and ask for your birth certificate plus four forms of ID faster than a Long Island Iced Tea. …


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Bartending comes with more than a few occupational hazards. Three, though, immediately come to mind: 1) The hours are late; 2) You’re on your feet for up to 12 hours at a time; and 3) You’re surrounded by alcohol.

It’s the last one that gives me pause when I go to the doctor and I’m handed the survey that covers my basic health risk — e.g., sexual activity, drug use and cigarette intake. In particular, I have to stare long and hard at the question, “How many alcoholic beverages do you consume a week?”

The answer is always too many.

While I’ve never had an addiction to alcohol, I definitely classify as a binge drinker (that is, drinking to the blood-alcohol content of 0.08, …


That’s ‘Mo-ET’ to you, pal

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In 2009, Bulleit Rye was my drink of choice, and I could be counted on for a bottle at most gatherings. One evening — someone’s birthday party, I think — I overheard a guy I knew from college ask about the bottle of “Bull-ay” in the kitchen.

I wonder what that is, I thought.

Then someone else pointed at me, and this guy, let’s call him Steve, picked up the bottle I’d brought and asked, “Can I have a shot of the Bull-ay?”

“Of course, man. It’s Bull-it, but yeah, go ahead.”

At some point much later in the evening, once we were much deeper into that bottle of rye, Steve asked if he could have a shot of Bull-ay one too many times. “Hey asshole, if you can’t pronounce it right, you’re not allowed to have anymore,” I informed him. …

About

Haley Hamilton

Bartender. Booze nerd. Snack enthusiast. Columnist @WeAreMel & @DigBoston.

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