Tag Archives: Frank Thompson

CHEAP DRINKIN’ WEDNESDAY – WEEK 2: COLT 45

by FRANK THOMPSON

Admit it, we all wanted to be him.
Admit it, we all wanted to be him.

If you can’t trust Billy Dee Williams, friends, who can you trust? I mean, this man brought an intergalactic Rat-Pack-style cool to the Star Wars saga. Han Solo may have been the growling Sinatra, but Lando was Dean Martin, baby, all the way down to his patent leather space boots. And you know he would have been getting Princess Leia drunk if he’d had half a chance. And then there are the commercials…

With this in mind, I decided to try out Billy Dee’s favorite brew, Colt 45 Malt Liquor, only $2.85 for a 40 0z. bottle. (Yes, I could have gone with the tall boy can for about a buck less, but if you don’t drink Colt 45 out of a fawty, it just doesn’t count. )

Not the same.
Not the same.

The lovely Shell Station On Beltline, my usual stop for supplies when doing research for Cheap Drinkin’ Wednesday, was running a special on Uncle Ray’s Sour Cream & Onion chips, so I decided just to make a hootenanny of the whole thing and go all in. My total outlay was right around $4.00, which seemed right reasonable for an afternoon of fun and refreshment.

 

Breakfast Of Champion Drinkers
Breakfast Of Champion Drinkers

Taking the Colt 45 bottle in hand makes one feel at one with Billy Dee. Indeed, it inspires one to channel one’s inner Billy Dee; to hold the golden flagon slightly aloft, beckoning the fates and the slinky beauty at one’s side to come hither and partake of life, of sustenance, of the elixir that is…COLT 45…

"Works every time..."
“Works every time…”

I have, if I may, shot the 45 a time or two in my youth, (of course those were the days in which getting very drunk very quickly overrode all other concerns) but did not recall much about it either way as I began the sampling. The aluminum twist-off cap didn’t inspire a great deal of confidence, but its scratchy metallic palm-bite was familiar in a nostalgic way.

One thing I had completely forgotten was the amount of foam these babies can produce. Along with a yeasty odor with vinegar undertones, the uncorking (as it were) released a great deal of effervescence, topping off the pour with a head about half the size of the glass. I realize it may be a bit dandified to pour Colt 45 into a glass, but I just can’t see Billy Dee swigging from the jug and passing it to his lady friend.

Mr. Bland, we've had some issues with your specimen...
Mr. Bland, we’ve had some issues with your specimen…

The aroma is, as described, overwhelmingly yeasty, but with an underlying sharpness. You know how sometimes something that stinks also smells oddly good in a weird way? Colt 45 smells rather like cat pee, but not in an entirely unpleasant way.

Now, for the taste test…

 

Bottoms up...
Bottoms up…
At first it perplexes...
At first it perplexes…
...then the whang kicks in...
…then the whang kicks in…
...then you fear you may be ill...
…then you fear you may be ill…
...followed by a skunky stank that makes you pucker...
…followed by a skunky stank that makes you pucker…
...the bitter finish catches you by surprise...
…the bitter finish catches you by surprise…
...leaving one unsure how to feel about it all.
…leaving one unsure how to feel about it all.

…and that pretty much sums it up. Although not really.

You see, the odd thing is that after a couple of sips, I found myself strangely enjoying it. It’s almost as if the first wave of taste-numbingness had to do its business before I could settle into the drink. It became crisp, almost citrus in its nature, and after about half a glass I found myself quite cheery, indeed. I had a sudden urge to call up old friends I hadn’t seen in years, just to wish them well. I was filled with vast, expansive impulses…to write the world’s greatest novel, to solve the problems of society, to…to…

db

…and after a few minutes I just wanted to sit down and close my eyes for a bit. This stuff lives up to its name, managing to be cold, steely, explosive, potent, and likely the cause of more than one violent incident. Approach with caution, and don’t try to down the whole thing unless you’re in training. You have been warned.

The Uncle Ray’s chips were quite tasty, albeit with a definite chemical zing beneath the crispy onion-flavored goodness. In fairness, this may have been a residual vapor burn from the Colt 45, which was, by then proving itself to be persistent, indeed. Half a bag of chips, a couple of bites of cold rice pudding and a glass of water had yet to eliminate the 45’s lingering fumes.

notbad

In all, I just can’t bring myself to give a full thumbs-down to the Colt 45. It’s a cheap-ass malt liquor that’ll sneak up and punch you in the back of the head, but that’s not always a bad thing. If you’re young and bulletproof and/or just looking to get messed up fast for not much money and devil take the consequences, I recommend giving it a try. Tell ‘em Billy Dee sent you.

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Cheap Drinkin’ Wednesday – Week 1: Happy Juice

by FRANK THOMPSON

Welcome, friends, to the kickoff of Cheap Drinkin’ Wednesday! This no-doubt-soon-to-be-famous weekly look at the less expensive beverages on offer around our fair city will hopefully enlighten as well as entertain. The Girl and I will be purchasing, taste-testing and evaluating various libations that will appeal to the budget-conscious as well as those simply in search of a cheap buzz.

Our maiden voyage begins with the insouciantly-named HAPPY JUICE. Marketed as a “premium malt beverage”, this crimson elixir comes adorned with a smiley face…or is it?

HJ3

The casual imbiber should take note of such subtle clues as the devilishly leering grin on the seemingly innocent logo. There’s evil in that bottle, friends. Pure alcoholic malfeasance in a non-recyclable. Note the malevolent cast of the eyes; the expression that says “you may have the time of your life, or you may wind up pantsless in a dumpster behind a Popeye’s chicken.” Adventure awaits, but you pays your money and you takes your chances…

…which brings us to the economics of the whole thing. Let’s be honest. If you’re anything me, the only reason you might consider drinking this glorified day-glo turpentine is because you can’t afford Chateau Lafite. (If it makes you feel any better, Happy Juice could also be called Chateau La Feet for its very specific bouquet, but more on that in a moment…) A buck-eighty gets you a full 24 ounces of this Jus Du Joie, leaving enough change from a fiver for a big-ass bag of pork skins and a Chunky.

HJ4

The color of Happy Juice is not one generally found in nature, which adds significantly to its allure. A murkily iridescent red, it glows with a sort of evil seductiveness, promising much more than it will likely deliver. (The hot tattooed stripper of cheap beverages, if you will.) There’s also something vaguely medicinal about it, beyond the taste similarities to store-brand Robitussin. It’s Dr. Jekyll’s devil’s brew, or perhaps something in a hypodermic in one of the shitty Star Wars prequels nobody liked.

HJ5

To call Happy Juice a heady concoction would be not only an understatement, but far too lofty a description. A powerful smell of premium unleaded mixed with Fruity Pebbles head-butts those whose noses get within arm’s length of an uncorked container.

HJ6

This is rocket fuel, friends. Make no mistake. This is the overture for a little performance we call Jo-Jo And The Amazing Technicolor Throwup, playing nightly in parking lots and municipal trash cans across the land.

After giving the Happy Juice a few moments to breathe, The Girl and I decided to give it a shot. (No, seriously, we both considered getting a gun and shooting it while we still had time.) For a moment we were befuddled by the etiquette of the whole thing. Does one decant before pouring? Is Happy Juice considered a wine? A beer? A mixer, even? (I must tell you all sometime about the wino my college roommate and I feared we had killed after giving him an extra-large cup of MD 20/20 and Skol vodka, which he promptly chugged. But I digress…)

We settled on tumblers, which seemed appropriate. A jaunty clinking of glasses, and bottoms up…

HJ2

Imagine if you will, a base of cold, flat off-brand lemon/lime soft drink. Something sold by a down-at-heel grocery store and called Melon Yellout or Mountain’s Day, in cans with color schemes and logo shapes identical to the real thing. Open it up and leave it out overnight. Now add some rubbing alcohol to the point that you start to develop anxieties from childhood associations with that smell and the proximity of a doctor’s needle. Got it? Now think of the Jello served in individual cups in grade school lunchrooms, melt one down and throw it in. Top off with Zima, Old Spice, and Listerine yellow.

Happy Juice is neither happy nor juice. Angry Chemical Slurry would be much more accurate.

HJ7

The Girl and I looked for something to kill the aftertaste of stale Pop-Tarts and Windex. I went with salsa, she with dill pickle chips, which proved the most effective. Neither of us can attest to the intoxication brought on by Happy Juice, as a single sip was enough for both of us. I can only guess, but I don’t imagine it leads to a good drunk. Swilling Happy Juice is never followed by smartly dressed Gatsbyesque misbehavior and witty repartee. Undershirt-clad louts in doorway shouting ineffectual threats at grubby neighbor children, yes. Noel Coward around the bar at Antibes, no.

After giving the rest of the bottle a proper burial, we noticed the sink draining much more quickly and efficiently than before. Make of that what you will.

HJ1

The verdict? Happy Juice is likely to appeal to those for whom such dandified concerns as taste, smell, and overall palatability are immaterial when compared to getting smashed quickly. May be of passing interest to teenage girls, who will abandon it for Boone’s Farm after the first good hangover. Again, only speculation, but a Happy Juice hangover has got to be beyond painful. If you ever experience one, please don’t tell me about it.

NEXT WEEK: Colt 45…BANG!!!

AN EVENING OUT – PART II

BY FRANK THOMPSON

Well, it’s been about a month since I last posted, but with all the plasma “donating”, yard sales, scratch-off lottery investments, negotiations over day-old pastries, fighting winos for discarded garments, and other activities related to being Broke In Columbia, I’ve been rather busy. If memory serves, we left off with the first half of the “Cricket/Thicket Whoop-De-Doo” having just finished, and The Girl and I were headed for our next stop…

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The ubiquitous Lizard’s Thicket, that gustatory temple to all that is fried, cooked with bacon grease, and/or slathered with butter, beckoned with its promise of down-home goodness and mouth-puckeringly sweet tea. Its desserts, each gooey and carrying a truckload of calories, awaited us, as did the warm, buttery corn muffins reminiscent of those grandma used to make (if your grandma made better cornbread than mine did). As heart-stoppingly tasty as the food is, what really drew us to the Ticket was the potential for theatre verite. If one is inclined to people-watch, the Thicket offers a cultural and societal cross-section which can provide hours of free entertainment. But first, the food…

lizard-s-thicket-restaurant

If one is vegan, overly health-conscious, or simply not into southern/soul food, there are salad options, but the pickings are admittedly slim. For those of us who have long adopted the “to hell with it, something’s gonna kill us all eventually” mentality toward eating, however, the cornucopia of choices is bounteous, indeed. The Girl went with what I like to call the “gravy plate”. Country fried steak with gravy, mashed potatoes with gravy, and some other vegetable I can’t recall, largely because it was either gravy-colored or hidden beneath the gravy. She was kind enough to share, allowing me to reinforce my long-held belief that (all together now) BROWN FOOD TASTES GOOD. You could put Lizard’s Thicket gravy on an old tire and it would taste good. Maintaining the monochromatic theme, I followed suit with fried chicken, rice & gravy, blackeyed peas and fried okra. I suppose the okra was technically green under the fried part, but that still counts as brown. Actually, it was red after I put ketchup on it. (Stop making that face. It tastes good.) The corn muffins did not disappoint, each giving off the faint scent of bacon retained from what I envision as ancient muffin tins, greased liberally before being filled with cornmeal mush and popped into the oven. (I frequently imagine the kitchen staff dancing around in cheerful Disney-inspired kitchenwear and singing musical numbers about the joys of cooking. The world in my head is a jolly place.)

chitty14

I doubt this really happens

The grand total for this feast was around $20, including tip, which would be enough to qualify the Thicket for “Broke-Friendly” status, but we haven’t even started to talk about the entertainment factor. You see, EVERYBODY goes to the Thicket. Cutting across social, economic, and cultural lines, this melting pot of humanity provides almost limitless people-watching opportunities.

Of particular interest to me was the rather large woman tucking into a cheeseburger two tables over while maintaining an ongoing monologue about her (presumably) husband’s shortcomings. Referenced only as “Earl”, this poor soul is apparently unable to get ahead at work, maintain his youthful physique, communicate intelligently, sexually satisfy his wife, tie his own shoes, or “do a gottdamp thang rite” in the eyes of this woman. She was accompanied by an anorexic octogenarian whose obvious deafness gave her the ability to bear the monologue cheerfully, interjecting a vague comment of attention every few minutes.

“Well, ah’ll tellya pore ole Earl just caint. Do. Sheeut. I done tolt that man a hunnerd times if he don’t stann up ferhsself, ain’t nobody gonna. He just won’t listen. He. Will. Not. Listen. He hangs out all nite drankin with them boys from the tire plant an thennhe jus’ cain’t thank clear the next day and gits all messed up at work an’ I told him, I did, I says Earl. Earl, I says, you cain’t drank like that no more, and he just sit air n’says uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh. Idee Claire, I’m ‘bout done withim…”

“My, my.”

“Oh, that ain’t the HALF uvvit! Last weekend as soon as the race was over, I tried to get him inner ested in you know…gettin’ bizzy. He just fumbled n’ pooted around fer a minit and FELL A-DAMN-SLEEP! Now how am I s’posed to feel ‘bout a man whut I cain’t even git to stay awake? An I had on that new Snoopy nightgown I got from the Walmart an’ everthang.”

“I see…”

“An lemme tellya sumpin’ else. He was s’posed to get his psoriasis checked out last time he went to the doctor, and he didn’t even do that rite! I mean, he got the rangworm looked at, but didn’t say nuthin’ bout the other. I swear ‘fore gawd, Earl could screw up a one-car funeral…”

26-universal-nagging

how I imagine Earl’s homelife

…and so forth. After a few minutes the novelty of hearing Earl’s shortcomings catalogued in detail grew thin and I shifted my attention to the group I called the pissed-off Cleavers. Remember the family on LEAVE IT TO BEAVER? Well, they were there, but each was angry with the other three. Mom and Dad and two sons sat in strained semi-silence. At a glance they appeared strikingly normal. Very middle class, well-dressed and polite, they could have posed for a Chamber of Commerce ad or church brochure had it not been for the stony-faced irritation that radiated from their midst. Monosyllabic responses to similarly brief questions were offered in a semi-grunt and no eye contact was made by anyone. Amazingly, given their palpable disdain for each other, they all ordered dessert after their meal, only to consume it in a presumably angry silence. Of course The Girl and I gave them a backstory including wildly unlikely infidelities, drunken brawls in the manicured front yard, and domestic violence that generally ended with gunfire.

Old people tend to enjoy visiting the Thicket, which gives rise to the inevitable Old Guys Drinking Coffee table. Usually the largest table in the room, this oasis is the opposite of that shared by Complaining Large Woman and Deaf Companion. Here merriment and jolly laughter reign supreme, as do old stories of exploits back in the day. Well-worn cardigans and snazzy driving caps are de rigeur, as is at least one medical ailment which will be discussed in great detail. I believe they get extra points or an honor of some sort for working the terms “goiter”, “the gout” and other such references into the conversation. There was a time in my life when the members of the Old Guys Drinking Coffee table seemed unspeakably ancient and decrepit. Now they just seem old. Give me a few more years and a pair of yellow sansabelt pants, and I’ll be slurping Sanka with the rest of them.

coffee_l

Having finished our meal and people-watching, The Girl and I passed on dessert, knowing we would be back…for we had other thrifty adventures and cost-efficient merriment to pursue. Stay tuned for more…

-FLT3