It’s Cocktail Hour here on NGOTB! Belly up to this post and have a crossword-featured drink with us.
As a former bartender, I am expected to know the answer to all clues booze-related. The revealer for this past Wednesday’s BuzzFeed puzzle by Alex Eaton-Salners was MIND ERASERS [Concoctions equal parts vodka, Kahlua, and tonic water… which four answers in this puzzle obviously drank]. I worked in a fancy bar that didn’t have Kahlua so I had no idea what a Mind Eraser is– but I found the idea of coffee AND “tonic water” to be intriguing enough to want to give one a try.
Do I keep Kahlua in my liquor cabinet? Oh hell no– but my boyfriend Brayden has some Galliano Ristretto (a fine coffee liqueur twice the abv of Kaluha, clocking in at 42.3%). He also has some Crystal Head Vodka (I didn’t ask why), a brand conceived by Dan Akroyd. And, finally, “tonic water.” The recipe on the Kahlua website says club soda. I don’t care what crosswords say about regional definitions of carbonated mixers, so we went with the ’93 cluing [quinine water].
Notre mise en place
This is a half bottle of Galliano; imagine the displeasure of bartenders everywhere who are faced with the conundrum of storing this on a shelf. The skull was nice for keeping with the “mind eraser” theme.
This is a layered drink with the sweet coffee liqueur sinking to the bottom and the vodka/tonic resting on top. We cracked the ice for increased surface area and chilling capacity, as this drink is supposed to be rapidly sucked down with a straw.
Obviously your first mouthful is going to be the sweet coffee liquor, for better or worse (worse). The tonic doesn’t add enough je ne sais quoi to the vodka layer to create any kind of gustatory dissonance or harmony with the coffee flavor, and in the end your mind isn’t going to be erased enough to want another. The drink is depicted in a rocks glass, but we agreed that the overall experience would be better if the layers followed more closely on each others’ heels in a smaller volume– and there would have been less of it to drink. With only ice and chilled tonic water, and no stirring in order to preserve the layers, the drink was unpleasantly tepid. In the name of cocktology, we have reassembled the drink in two 3oz shot glasses and put them in the freezer for a heavy chill before topping with the tonic water. Then we will ready ourselves, aim and shoot.
Consider this the first of an ongoing series here on NGOTB, as long as constructors keep serving up interesting cocktails in their puzzles (MAI TAIs don’t count). Cheers!