Discerning Drinking, Chapter Twenty-two.

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Originally posted 4th April 2013

What is the best way to drink Coca-Cola with alcohol?  Screw back a few years and UniMike would have told you that a double Jack Daniels and Coke is the future – however the future is now here – and for modern me, drinking that particular drink is like chugging back ice-cold maple syrup (to clarify, this is not a good thing).

Journey even further back, to when we finished our GCSE exams and general consensus between my mates and I would have been that tequila is the way to go.  Measurements (proffered by my mate Dan) needed to be specific:

  • Take a pint-glass.
  • Pour in tequila so the glass is two-thirds full.  No ice.  Ice is for ‘benders’.
  • Top with Coca-Cola
  • As the Coke adverts say – Enjoy!

We didn’t really enjoy it.  As I recall (vaguely, due to brain-cell genocide and the fact that this happened over a decade ago), there was no pleasant stage of drunkenness, simply five lads who had hardly touched alcohol before, climbing up garden fences, shouting soup into overflowing toilets and answering the questions of bemused or angry parents such as “why does this car smell of neat sprit?” and “Mike, why did you see the need to clean the loo at lunchtime?  That’s very thoughtful of you

Back in those care-free school days, we sometimes found that the best way to Enjoy Coke was to not drink it at all.  When we played our daily two-versus-two-in-hitting-a-tennis-ball-against-a-wall competition at Sir Thomas Rich’s Grammar School in Gloucester, my partner and I would celebrate any victory by spraying Dr. Pepper (my tipple of choice) ‘Champagne-style’.  How we laughed.  Turns out Dr. Pepper is more challenging to get out of hair than gum.  Another time, I attempted to open a two-litre bottle of Coke by taking a Ninja-swing at it using my father’s fourteen-inch chef’s knife.  I was lucky that a ruined shirt was the worst of it.

Fast forward to a cold March evening in 2013.  My housemate is out and it looks like I will be drinking alone tonight (cue World’s Smallest Violin).  An impulse-led trip to Tesco earlier that day had yielded a bag of ice and a bottle of Coke so I thought I would test – once and for all – which spirit is best to add to Santa’s favourite soft drink.

The three shortlisted contenders?

  • Tequila, chosen for old time’s sake
  • Rum, chosen for the sake of tradition
  • Pisco, chosen as the new favourite and ‘up-and-coming’ liquor of the century.

The methods?

Tequila and Coke (Batanga)

  • Highball glass
  • 2 shots Tequila
  • 0.75 shot Lime juice
  • Topped with Coke

Rum and Coke (Cuba Libre)

  • Highball glass
  • 2 shots Bacardi white rum
  • 0.75 shot Lime juice
  • Topped with Coke

Pisco and Coke (Piscola)

  • Highball glass
  • 2.5 shots Pisco
  • 3 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters
  • Topped with Coke

For all three, just combine all the non-Coke ingredients over ice, add Coke and stir.  Grab a notepad and get analysing!

The outcome?

Batanga, definitely.  The sweetness of the Coke contrasts beautifully with the unmistakeable tang of tequila and the lime polishes the whole effect into a refreshing, moreish long drink.  The Cuba Libre is not without its charms, and you cannot ignore the tried-and-tested pedigree of a drink born out of the Cuban War of Independence.  But even with the (necessary) addition of lime, things are a little too boring.

The Piscola was revolting.  The strength of the Pisco (and the increased measure to the other drinks) worked in harmony with the Angostura in the same way that North Korea is working in harmony with the Pentagon.  I would have tried a reduced measure to give the drink a reprieve but thought that four drinks consumed by myself in an otherwise empty apartment was pushing me  a little too close to fitting the bill of a dangerously quiet and unpredictable recluse.

So whaddya know?  Dan had the right idea.  Well, concept, at least.  The kid was a projectile-vomiting visionary.

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