I just discovered an interesting new drink called Southern Comfort. This is a very busy week for me, so this new drink is a timely find. It tastes a bit like cough syrup but not even close to how much the Argentinean Fernet tastes of it. This reminds me of three funny alcohol-related stories I wanted to share with you.
My friend from Argentina always wanted to introduce me to her favorite Argentinean beverage. “Just wait till I bring real Fernet for you from Argentina!” she kept saying. “Then you will realize what good alcohol tastes like.”
After her trip back to Lujan, she asked me to her house and presented me with a bottle of Fernet.
“Oh, I’m so envious right now!” she said. “The experience of tasting Fernet for the very first time in one’s life is priceless.”
She opened the bottle and poured me a drink. I tasted it and gagged. It was the nastiest beverage I could have ever imagined.
“I’m sorry,” I told my friend. “I think they sold you a fake Fernet. Did you go to a licensed store to get it?”
“Really?” she asked. “This never happened to me before. Let me try it.”
My friend tasted the Fernet and gave me a look of a person whose most tender sentiments had been horribly insulted. “This is how real Fernet tastes. And it’s delicious.”
Nine years have passed since then, and I have a feeling she has almost forgiven me for that horrible faux pas. Almost.
In grad school, we were the hardest partying department in all of the Humanities. Our parties were legendary. Once, I arrived at one of our parties and discovered my male colleagues in a state of happy commotion. “We’ve been really lucky!” they announced. “We found some real aguardiente for our party. Aguardiente is so strong that very few people can drink it without dropping unconscious!”
As I observed my colleagues take small shots of this beverage, I realized it must have truly been a strong drink. After just one shot, each of my male colleagues would drop onto the floor and yell, “Oh my God! This is the strongest drink ever!” Within five minutes, they were acting extremely drunk. So, obviously, I also decided that I needed to try the aguardiente.
“Just take very small sips and breathe in before you do that,” warned me my colleagues who knew that I can’t drink undiluted hard liquor.
So I took a small sip of the aguardiente and felt nothing. Then I took a bigger sip and felt even less. I downed the entire shot glass of the beverage. It had a faint alcoholic taste but nothing more.
My colleagues were dumbfounded. They looked at me in horror.
“Wow,” one of them said. “These Russians really can drink. I’ve seen Latino peasants fall under the table after drinking this, and you seem completely sober.”
“Hey, everybody!” another colleague called out. “Come here! Clarissa will show you something amazing.”
Everybody gathered around me. I downed another shot and again felt very little.
“OK, give us back the bottle,” one of my colleagues said. “This aguardiente is wasted on you, Russians.”
After the bottle was finished, a quiet sober colleague picked it up and looked carefully at the label.
“Hey guys,” he said. “It says here that this isn’t real aguardiente. This is an aguardiente-based drink and its alcohol content is 5,5%.”
I’d never seen my macho colleagues look this embarrassed.
This story happened to my father when he was working on his dissertation. His thesis adviser lived in Russia, so my father had to travel to meet him. Once, when my father arrived at his adviser’s university, this kind old scholar took him to the university cafeteria for breakfast.
“So Michael,” the professor said. “How much should I order for you, 150 grams? Or let’s go all out and get 200 grams?”
My father was petrified. “I’m sorry, professor,” he said. “I don’t want to be bad company but I don’t drink alcohol for breakfast.”
“Good for you,” the professor responded. “I was just wondering how much sour-cream you wanted for your pancakes, but never mind.”