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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Extolling the Virtues of Alcohol: Part Dos

I took on a personal challenge a few days ago, I decided that I should tackle the Tower of Margarita at my favorite local restaurant, El Sombrero. This is a three-foot tall monstrosity that holds about three liters; enough Margarita to stimulate your pineal gland. The Tower caught my attention when I saw a group of about five people sharing one. I did some quick calculations and, knowing my appetite and capacity, came to the conclusion that I could take one of these things down. El Sombrero is a very nice establishment with a professional and friendly staff and I couldn't think of a better place for this kind of thing, so the location was chosen. I wanted to approach this project like the professional that I am, so I knew I had to have a research team. I needed experienced drinkers whom I knew I could count on to comport themselves with dignity and grace, no matter what condition that we wound up in and, more importantly, at least one who was responsible enough to act as our driver. The team came together easily, two friends, Carla and Cheryl, said they were up to the challenge so the plan was set. We would take on The Tower on Sunday, September 16.

As a statement, it speaks for itself

Carla and Cheryl chose to eat first, feeling hungry and not wanting to attempt this on an empty stomach; they ordered food, I ordered The Tower. There was a momentary uneasy exchange with our server, Angel, as he was trying to make sure that he understood what I was ordering, “Yes, The Margarita Tower, yes, I'm sure...absolutely”. When they bring this behemoth to the table, it is like staking a claim; planting a flag that means We Are Serious And Not To Be Trifled With. Yes, when you are sitting in a bar which is situated in the middle of a restaurant filled with families and amateur dabblers, a three-foot-tall Tower of Margarita on your table gets attention. We began to notice nervous looks from some of the patrons but I find that the best way to handle gawkers is to ignore them, let them amuse themselves by observing what it is like to be in the presence of pros, but never get caught up in trying to perform for them. We did notice that the man at the table next to ours was amused at our conversation, but that is just a statement to our talent with witty banter. Unless you approach and crowd them, wolves don't give a shit who watches. Just go about your business because an undertaking like this requires concentration, determination and commitment.

We began our ascent immediately, slowly climbing through the layers of inebriation until we hit cruising altitude. This happened about halfway through the tower. this kind of maneuvering can be tricky, the drinks are delicious and tend to go down easily, especially if you are thirsty and get distracted.  You have to maintain focus and keep a firm grip on the throttle. There were two of us who were going to really tangle with this thing, our driver was hanging back safely. I had asked the manager, Roberto, who is Costa Rican and a fine and hospitable gentleman, whether many people get through The Tower.  He said, "Yes, but it is usually groups of five or six". This is about what I expected.  I felt that it was important to have a gauge to measure our progress against, for research purposes. The Margaritas were cold and tasty, the way they should be but I could tell early on that this wasn't going to be the Herculean feat that I had anticipated, The Tower was already getting light and I still had plenty of reserves left. We had loosened up and were enjoying ourselves, comfortably encapsulated in our space and surrounded by a protective layer of alcohol. My daughter, Jenifer, was working in the restaurant this night and she and her friend, Raven, visited our table frequently to check the atmosphere. Jenifer knows that I am a professional and, as an Ordained Clergy Person, I would not do anything to offend the Gods of Inebriation and would keep the experiment under control. It's always a good idea to have an uninvolved party in these situations to observe, take notes if necessary and to make sure that everything stays on track and there are no unintentional "drifts".

Jenifer and Raven

When we got to the end of The Tower we realized that it was only eight o'clock and that we still had an hour-and-a-half before the bar closed. It was then that a better idea struck me and I spoke the words which ramped this up to the next level, “You want to drink another one? I think we can do it.” This set off a small flurry of anxious activity, Angel was a little taken aback and the manager came to check on us to make sure. Since they know me well in this establishment and could tell that we had things easily in hand, we were approved. They brought the second Tower to the table and, if the first one was an attention-getter, the second one was a game-changer. If you want to be spectacular, sit at a table with two lovely co-researchers and two Towers of Margarita.

The research team

They had a pool going in the kitchen by this time and were getting regular updates.
“Dos! Dos Torres!”
"¿Está borracho todavía?"
They had taken an interest in the proceedings but didn't realize that what they were witnessing was a controlled experiment by professional researchers and were sorely underestimating my ability to function with a gallon of Margarita on board. So, as we came into the home stretch and we ambled to the finish line, the second Tower fell with a mellow gurgle. Needless to say, we came through unscathed and won the admiration of the staff. There has been talk of a Hall of Fame being instated there for those of us who drink copious amounts of alcohol responsibly and handle it admirably. That is the important part, many could handle this feat physically, but to do it with dignity and charm was the challenge.  How many people would you trust to pull this off and not wind up being kicked out for being sloppy drunk and causing a ruckus?  If you're going to drink, do it like a pro.

Our server, Angel, was great, we never went without fresh ice or a regular check-in to see if we needed anything.  Everyone was gracious and friendly and made us feel welcome.  There were no casualties, although, after checking in for after-effects I did learn that there was a small bout of amnesia, nothing serious.  There were no painful hangovers, which leads me to believe that they had used quality materials for our endeavor.  Overall, I'd say that our experiment was a success.

Jenifer and Angel

Jenifer and I left El Sombrero when her shift was over and decided to do a wind-down to finish the night. So, we went to another bar and had a few beers and a couple of Irish Car Bombs. That ends the tale of the Two Towers but, since you're only as good as the last thing you did, I think that next time, we'll start earlier and go for three.

This is how to do it right

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