Children of the internet, I have some advice for you. Don't make up drink names and order them from the waitress with an instruction to the bartender to "just make it up and I'll drink it". You're only turning up the burner on the bartender's most sadistic instincts.
The decisive moment came when Friday threw her lime wedge into a friend's beer. Thinking more of cooking than alcohol, I croaked out the phrase "Drunken lime!" It was agreed that the Drunken Lime would be a great name for a bar. Or a drink. Which led to the obvious question - what kind of drink is a Drunken Lime? The less obvious question, What kind of drink does a lime get drunk on, was not addressed. I thought that maybe any kind of hard liquor with a shot of lime and a lime twist would qualify. Somebody else thought of a lime-heavy sangria, which would make a nice summer patio drink.
In a move that does not speak to the wisdom of crowds, we decided to order one and see what we got. Our server was a woman in a black dress whose booth-tanned flesh had shrink-wrapped itself over stringy muscle and bone. She seemed to be smiling when we outlined what we wanted, but I think that was the natural result of not having enough skin on her face to cover her teeth.
The drink came in a short tumbler, a syrupy, almost milky, green-on-green liquid holding a short purple straw and a few cubes of ice. I took a sip and was confounded: the tang of lime hit the roof of my mouth, but a sweet licorice flavour rolled over my tongue. Lime and ouzo? Lime and anise? Who the fuck thought that one up? Sven, who's worked in plenty restaurants and bars, took a sip and decided that it contained melon bull, or melon ball, or something like that. Nobody else would try it (I think the mention of ouzo scared them off). I kept drinking.
After a few minutes the waitress stepped over to ask what I thought of the drink. We ventured our guesses and she actually looked impressed. Bear in mind that any expression on her face is a remarkable feat, considering the limited amount of coverage. 'Good guess!' she chirped. Clearly the melon bull, or melon ball, had indicated some expertise on Sven's part. She swivelled towards another table full of people who ordered non-fictional drinks.
"Wait" I called. She turned back. "What's in the drink?" I asked.
"I'm not telling," she said, and zipped off. Or maybe she turned sideways and we couldn't see her anymore.
I kept on with the drink, which seemed to be taking an awfully long time to finish. It actually came with a natural braking mechanism; if I didn't pause at least a minute or so between sips, the licorice-tasting liquid would tear off a layer of epitheleals on its way down my throat and leave me raw-voiced. I got the hang of it after a bit, chasing the foul stuff with sips of beer. The waitress came by periodically, taking orders and good-naturedly refusing to tell me what I was drinking.
Eventually I decided to go and find out from the bartender what I'd been putting in my system. It turned out that I'd been knocking back a glass full of absinthe with a bit of lime to mask the horrendous fucking bitterness of the stuff. Without the traditional burnt sugar, the drink didn't carry the weird crystal-edged alertness that keeps the alcohol from rubberizing your limbs and makes the experience worthwhile. On top of that, this was tamed absinthe, the thujone-reduced stuff that's legal in Canada. No dreamy drugged hallucinatory flights for me. Stupid bartender.
Today I feel depleted, pithed and thrown out. I feel midden-heaped. Beer hangovers leave you bleary and mumbly, your brain coated in sugar crust. But absinthe can drain you out completely. I will never go back there for a Drunken Lime.
I will, however, go elsewhere for one. I've decided, over the next few weeks, to go to various bars and order a drunken lime. I'll take photos, provide ratings and report back on the best places in the city to get a good made-up drink. In the meantime, I encourage others to do the same. It doesn't have to be a drunken lime. It can be a Golden Toad, or a Short Stack, or maybe a Pope's Wang. I totally dare you to order a Pope's Wang at an Irish bar. See what happens.