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Bar Life, Prep Sports, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Tribune

Fireball Tastes like a Pyrrhic Victory

Ever want to know how good sleeping till 10 am and not wetting the bed feels like? Try not drinking for a week. I took a hiatus from pounding cocktails and draining DABC beers for a week and felt…great? Well, in fairness, my sinuses were as compacted as an untreated stray dog’s backside and I began my week sobriety after an evening of gin and tonics. In lieu of sipping herbal tea or drinking water (what kind of monster do you think I am?), I settled on NA beers. That’s right, the near beer cousin of Utah’s 3.2%.

I started with St. Pauli Girls non-alcoholic and was surprised how good they were. They had a crisp, malty taste that didn’t disappoint in the mouth but disappointed horribly in the getting wrecked feeling. They tasted like an import which is to say they were skunky but they really weren’t that bad. I would definitely recommend St. Pauli Girls as a wean-you-off-the-teat from sauce. That six-pack lasted almost an hour before I decided to switch to water.

The next day I tried a 12-pack of O’Doul’s selection. Talk about a Pyrrhic victory. They have a hint of malt and are overly carbonated. Imagine club soda with a bit of whiz in it. We were watching a “House of Cards” and I found myself literally chugging these bad boys. Mind you, the taste isn’t bad but I was downing each can in about three swigs. Probably not healthy but the caloric intake from a 12-pack was less than a couple of DABC beers. The only real downsize was that I woke up a little hungover. I don’t think it was the booze that did me in but rather the amount of carbonation I consumed in a sitting. The only upside is that I will always associate that feeling with Kevin Spacey’s performance. “House of Cards” is really good.

The last selection was Busch NA. Yep, a beer that already tastes like it is NA has an NA option. Are they good? Probably not the right question, let’s try, are they bad? I offer an emphatic no. They remind me of a time in college where we would wake up from a house party and walk the house polishing off any wounded soldiers. Minus the cigarette butts and chew spit, Busch didn’t disappoint. After a week of not drinking, I found myself actually enjoying the Busch more as a beverage as oppose to a means to an end. Because you never get drunker than when you are boating, I think Busch might be my new beer of choice when I hit the water.

*******

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse won’t come on pale white horses or a horn-tooting on Gabrielle’s trumpet—it’ll come the day when I show up for work and pour nothing put Fireball shots and Coors Light drafts. This weekend was a nightmare. We hosted a Fireball Headbanger’s ball and it brought out some of the best in SLC or I should say, Taylorsville. Dressed in my best Iron Maiden T-shirt, I witnessed a Bacchus debacle that reminded me that I do have a bachelors and I would make a decent junior high teacher.

After a week of NA, I realized that I would rather spend the rest of my life pounding O’Doul’s than taste a Coors Light. The silver bullet makes people dumb. I don’t know if it is some sort of altitude sickness that they put into every keg or if it is because Pete Coors once kicked my rugby team out of his Palo Alto home 20-years ago, but I hate Coors Light. Fans of the watered down Rocky Mountains are extremely fickle and would rather go without instead of drinking any other beer. Their brand loyalty is disturbing to me—it’s not like they are addicted to Beluga caviar or Kobe beef—they’re addicted to a beer that taste best when poured directly into a toilet.

The only thing worse than Coors Light drinkers is this new phenomenon of Fireball drinkers. My issue with Fireball is very simple—it is not a whiskey. If they marketed it as a cinnamon schnapps, I would be pushing this God awful concoction with a shit-eating grin. Instead, I have grown men (ADULTS!!!) ordering a whiskey and being disappointed when I give them a shot of Bulleit bourbon. What’s happen to the greatness of the American West when people think cinnamon schnapps is a whiskey? I wish John Wayne was still alive so he could go Rooster Cogburn on anyone who even thinks Fireball is a whiskey. Half-blind and drunk in the other eye, he would pistol whip the lot of you if the Duke ever heard you mislabeling a kiddie cocktail as whiskey.

So here is your perfect storm—like Mickey meeting Mallory—the bar became a bozo-fueled nightmare that kept me guessing why I pour drinks for a living. There was a combination of stink and fear in the air that would cause the bravest souls to run for cover. Instead of taking the coward’s way out, I stood my ground and barely made it through the night. The bar looked like the North Koreans made good on bombing the US at the end of the night. It was nights like that is why I can’t be on a NA diet for more than a week.

*******

Here’s a thought that doesn’t get expressed enough. If you can’t start a tab because you’re afraid you’ll leave your credit card at the bar then you are an idiot or a drunk or both. What kind of adult is so irresponsible that they can’t start a tab and remember to close it out? If you are too stupid to remember you handed a complete stranger your credit card, try bringing cash to the club.

What’s the fear? That I’m going to abandon my position and run to a computer with your card to make a bunch of online purchases? Afraid that I am going to ring up a butt-ton of drinks you didn’t order? Or that I’m going to hand it over to a wandering minstrel who is jumping the midnight train to Boise?

Starting tabs saves time and my boss money. Cash and carrying waste time and costs my boss money. Ever wonder why I look like I am dinking around by the register when you’re waiting for a drink? It’s because some idiot who has the sense of a Portuguese waterdog is afraid that he is too stupid to remember that he is paying for drinks with a credit card.

Grow up or drink at home.

********

You never go to work to make friends. You go to work to make money but if you meet friends along the way, all the better. I work with a fellow named Brandon and he definitely falls in to the latter half of this equation. He is the general manager of the club and a benevolent dictator. Brandon and I go twelve rounds on most everything but I think we are better because of it. You might think that we are just pouring drinks and running food but we both know we are doing something more.

Last summer, I had the pleasure of performing Brandon’s nuptials to his wife Jennifer. It is probably because I am an ordained minister or the fact that they couldn’t find anyone else. Nonetheless, it was my pleasure and definitely an honor. On Tuesday, they will be having their second child. For a guy who has a whacky schedule and sleeps like an over-caffeinated parakeet, I am sure he will be ready to welcome the new kid into the clan. More than anything, he’s already had a lot of experience being a great dad.

*******

I took a break from writing the blog because I have been busy at the Salt Lake Tribune. Unlike the blog which costs me money, the Trib actually pays me a couple of shekels a week. You do the math. My first love is writing inflammatory columns about the very customers that pay my bills but writing prep sports is a very close second. I just got done with the winter sports and faked my way through a season of basketball. I love the hardcourts but I am not much of developing storylines regarding basketball. The game has an ebb and flow that I have difficulty picking up on. I think it comes from the fact that I spend too much time worrying that the concession stand might be out of hot dogs at the half and not enough looking for nuances to explore. Gracefully, my editor didn’t can me halfway through the season.

Even though it doesn’t feel like spring, baseball is in the air. Here is a sport that I love and understand. I feel like I was born 30 years too late for sports writing. I love baseball, prize fighting and horse racing—all three of which are on the decline in this modern era. Baseball is the game of my grandfather and he taught me the beauty of spending a lazy evening watching kids round bases and turning two.

I covered my first game Friday night. It was a one-sided affair between last year’s 4A state champions, Skyline, and Woods Cross. Skyline didn’t disappoint with good pitching and excellent execution of small ball. They worked pitch counts, bunted efficiently and ran the bases well. The story line could have been the Eagles scoring 8 in the top of the fourth but I focused on the team effort and Skyline looking forward towards a success season.

The weather was brutal. I wore adequate warm clothing but the sun was blocked by ominous clouds and the wind came off of the Great Salt Lake. My fingers were so cold that they contracted into James Coburn’s paws by the second. It could have been a nightmare if I didn’t take the initiative and buddied up with a woman who had a propane heater in front of her. I introduced myself as a reporter for the Trib and asked which of her kids were playing. Her son was on Woods Cross’s JV team but I started asking enough questions as if I was writing a 13,000 word column on the promising outfields. In sitting down next to her, I kicked the heater my direction and spent the rest of the game making small talk.

It was arguably my most resourceful moment as a sport’s reporter.

With that said, I am going to make time to knockout a blog at least once a week. Hopefully it won’t disappear the way of the podcast.

Ben Raskin bartends at Keys On Main Wednesday through Saturday. Follow him on Twitter @BennyRaskin. He once had a podcast—once. He feels really bad calling Portuguese waterdogs dumb. They’re not.

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About Ben Raskin

Born in El Cajon, raised in Las Vegas, educated in Reno and living in Salt Lake City. I bartend, write, box and live in Sugarhouse UT.

Discussion

2 thoughts on “Fireball Tastes like a Pyrrhic Victory

  1. Ordained Minister??? WTF??? You never cease to surprise.

    Posted by Mike Crnkovich | March 10, 2013, 7:52 pm
  2. Fireball Is proof that if you discount it, anyone will drink it

    Posted by johnny electric | March 11, 2013, 2:24 am

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