From my seat perched on my front porch one particular Friday night, I watched throngs of students walking by. Maybe it was the time of day, maybe because it was the weekend, but a vast majority of the people had one thing in common.
They had water bottles. Good, promote hydration! Eight cups a day! Not quite. It’s the water bottle cocktail, as I like to call it. A necessity for any party, simply add alcohol to juice, iced tea, Kool-Aid or whatever you have and you’re ready to go. Two ingredients. No more, sometimes less.
Over my three-plus years here, I’ve seen it all. Blue raspberry vodka mixed with peach iced tea? Go for it, even though it turns the drink into a dark gray sludge and tastes awful. Wild cherry brandy and lemonade? I took a sip of that once; it tasted like thick, acidic cough syrup. I’d rather have the gray juice that tasted like a rotting fruit basket. Both of these drinks will “do the job,” but why bother?
It’s an appreciation that we as college students often overlook. Quality and flavor are put on the back burner, while sheer alcohol content and a cheap price steal the show. On a recent trip to Stewarts, I saw a sign promoting their store brand beer and comparing it with Budweiser, reading “Cheaper than Budweiser and more alcohol!” or something of that sort. 5.5 percent versus 4.2 percent? That’s all I need to hear. I’ll get drunk 1.3 percent quicker! Well, more like 20 percent, but that’s not the point. It doesn’t matter that the beer tastes bad, when it’s cheap. Sorry Mountain Brew, you’ll always have a place in my heart.
But I don’t blame them for advertising like that. They know their audience. They know what we, in general, think is important. Your taste buds won’t like you, your liver will hate you, your drunken brain might like you and your wallet will love you. At least until the morning.
Now I am not calling for an end to the water bottle cocktail or the case of cheap beer. They have their purpose, and I embrace that. I’m not immune from their siren song. I still pick up racks of Extra Gold from Kinney Drugs, (which is currently my favorite cheap beer of choice, a title previously held by Pabst Blue Ribbon and Genny Cream.) As much as I would love to drink double IPAs all day and wash it down with a tumbler of Scotch, that simply is not going to happen.
But try it once. Appreciate the craftsmanship and flavor of a true, quality product. For me, it’s a proper gin and tonic, with a slice of cucumber that sums up summer. But whatever it is for you, be it a mixed drink or a properly pulled pint of beer, spring for the good stuff, even just once. It’s worth the price, I swear. Put the water bottles down and have a drink. You just might like it.