The Brunching Shuttlecocks Ratings

Ah, the drink of choice for the pseudo-sophisticate who considered Jell-O shots the height of glamour until "Swingers" came out. You can tell the real losers because they specify whether they want their Martini shaken or stirred, but they don't bother to ask for name gin. Whatever difference shaking supposedly makes, it's not going to hide the fact that well gin is the most god-awful substance ever to sterilize a cigarette burn. D+

Harvey Wallbanger
With most oddly-named drinks ("Long Slow Comfortable Screw in a Rusty Black Cadillac, José") the name is, shall we say, the best part. Not Harvey, though. A well-made Harvey Wallbanger is like a Wampa: strong, cold, and quite capable of knocking you unconscious. I wouldn't recommend the Galliano on its own, though. By itself it's a disconcerting bright yellow, and it smells like licorice jelly beans. But combined with vodka and fresh orange juice, it becomes something truly remarkable. A

Cuba Libre
A good choice for those who find all this froufing about with shakers and sword-shaped toothpicks to be distasteful, and who long for the days when strawberry-kiwi wine coolers were considered a sophisticated beverage selection. What is it? It's a rum and Coke. With lime juice. But it sounds good. Pronounce it KOO-bah LEE-bray and you'll fit right in with your painfully retro palsie-walsies. B

Tequila Shooters
The whole shooter craze never did much for me, but a tequila shot done in the classic style -- salt, tequila, lime, involuntary neck spasm -- is more than a shooter. It's a brief drama, a tragic opera of spirits that fits in the palm of your hand. Pain and passion, sweetness and tears, citrus and sodium and fermented cactus juice. B+

Bloody Mary
Delicious when well-prepared. And according to federal school lunch guidelines it qualifies as a vegetable. One incredibly important note: a Bloody Mary does not contain V-8. I don't know what kind of blasphemous watercress-infested stew you get by combining V-8 and vodka, but a Bloody mary it isn't. A

Mmm...breakfast booze. It's wonderful how Western culture has produced such a transparent, yet socially acceptable method of getting a buzz before noon on Mother's Day. Champagne drinks tend to be a little affected for my tastes, but any port in a storm. As it were. C

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