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Bar Life, Salt Lake City

Fireball is for Losers

I don’t drink from pints nor do I consume from handles. Having limitations in your liquor consumption means having standards. That is not to say I won’t take a nip off your bottle or have a monkey pull from the handle—I’m not uptight or anything like that. I just think that it is better to consume from purchased fifth, poured into good glassware with decent ice and nice water.

When given a choice between enjoying hooch like a gentleman or sloppily trying to make a cocktail with a cheap handle of booze, I fear most people error towards the latter. Not one who goes to a lot of house parties, I can’t say for certain but watching people at the club for the last four years has given me a pretty good insight to how people like to drink. Folks like to get tight and get there quick. The cheaper the better with little concern how the bartender or the other patrons think of them. In a nutshell, I think this is why people drink Fireball.

Fireball, to the blissfully uninitiated, is Canadian cinnamon-flavored whiskey. I’m not like a lot of Americans—I don’t have a problem with Canadians or most of the products they manufacture. Crown Royal and her lesser brother Canadian Club is not bad whisky. I could honestly take a bottle of maple syrup to the brain in a few swallows. I like hockey, poutine fries, Rob Ford and women dressed in Mounty uniforms. They’re the best neighbors we could ask for and these crazy people to the north just claimed the North Pole for their country. All of the fun of Putin without the tanks but Fireball isn’t cool.

Not cool at all.

Fireball is why people like me who care about making good drinks and actually working a bar will be selling used cars or teaching junior high English before the end of the decade. It tastes like candy and because it doesn’t need any modification, people chug Fireball with reckless abandonment. While my employer loves folks spending $5 for a shot that cost us less than $0.23, I have reached a maximum overload with the levels of malarkey this seemly harmless schnapps has caused the club.

Because I can never properly serve Fireball, I always feel like I am shortchanging my guests. Technically, Fireball should be served regurgitated over a urinal cake but I usually just have to put it into a shot glass. That would be fine but too often people are asking me for water chasers as if it was actually whiskey. Not one to brag about my drinking prowess but if it took me more than three gulps to polish off a bottle of Fireball, I am going to assume that I am suffering from an abdominal gunshot wound.

Now Fireball does have a time and a place with 8th grade dances the top of the list and defunct LDS folks having their first drink. And that is the end of the list. When I had to pour Fireball and serve it with strawberry wine coolers at the club, I realized it is time to get that teaching certificate or learn how to wear a plaid sports coat.

The last straw for me tonight was three guys arguing with each other on who was going to pay for the next round of Fireball shots. That’s like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed demanding to know who was going to waterboard him next. Okay, maybe not that bad, but listening to grown men debate on who is going to buy the next round of candy shots is pretty absurd. Even with wedding bands on their hands and laugh lines around their eyes, they acted like schoolgirls jostling each other wanting for the other to pay for the drinks. Presumably they had mortgages and families and people that cared about them at home but none of the social safety net necessary to yank them away from these ridiculous conversations were readily at hand. Clearly no one cared enough about them to suggest that they should try a Kentucky straight bourbon or open-hand slap their face.

It’s times like this that I don’t drink from pints or handles and I have a caring partner as well as friends that tell me that I am not a 15 year old boy trying to catch a buzz without tasting the alcohol. I just wish I could have helped these….men?

In the end, it’s just sour grapes. Tonight was slow and tedious and I’ve had laryngitis for the last week. A bartender without a voice is like a long haul trucker without MiniThins—ineffective. Playing a five hour game of charades with drunks is really, really tiring. Presumably, I get them tomorrow but tonight I am sitting in the office, sipping on honey water and feeling sorry for myself. I miss having a solid cocktail glass with a chunk of ice and bourbon to ease the night’s distress away. Instead, I’m hopped up on couch medicine and listening to MST3K and not a drunken buffoon ready to wrestle the dog.

Yeah, hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Ben Raskin bartends at Keys On Main Wednesday through Saturday. Follow him on Twitter @BennyRaskin. He once drank Fireball at a concert and he ended up hating Taylor Swift in the process.

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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.

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  1. Pingback: On Fireball, Jägermeister for Millennials | Aaron Falk - July 30, 2014

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