December 28th, 2007

The ’80s – decade of dumb drinks

Cocktail - the movie A recent email from a restaurant manager friend said, “We’re throwing an ’80s bash on New Year’s Eve in Sister Sorel and I’m trying to research what cocktails were popular at that time. I was thinking Sex on the Beach, Blow Job shots and White Russians, but that’s where I ran out. If anyone has any thoughts on this, please send them my way!”

Since, unlike my friend, I came of age in the decade that popularized blender drinks, wine coolers, DeKuyper Peach Schnapps and cocktails with sexual names, I readily responded to her first three stabs at drinks of the period. “Oh, yeah, those qualify. And don’t forget about Sombreros, Mudslides, Slippery Nipples, B-52s, Woo-Woos, Kamikazes, Alabama Slammers and California Root Beers.” Aaah, the sweet nectar of spring break — another ’80s phenomenon. (Yeah, I know, spring break has been around at least since Where the Boys Are, but it didn’t become a huge, regularly televised event until the MTV decade.)

In the ’80s, cocktails were climbing out of an era in which innovations in inebriation focused on drugs instead of booze. Courtesy of Ronald Reagan, it was “morning again in America,” and a new generation of young adults entered college with the intention of launching high-paying careers. They toasted to their bright future as yuppies with a new crop of appropriately cheerful (but naughty sounding!) drinks based on vodka, schnapps, Kahlua, Bailey’s Irish Cream and any other sweet liquor meant to be speed-poured into a glass a la Tom Cruise in Cocktail (“Where he pours, he reigns.”).

Those of you who remember the Decade of Dumb Drinks: What were your faves? Did the Sex on the Beach and its ilk pave the way for today’s candy-flavored martinis, or does every era simply have its own ridiculous cocktails?

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7 Responses to “The ’80s – decade of dumb drinks”

  1. Frederic

    Not a favorite per se but Fuzzy Navel (peach schnapps + OJ) was what got me drunk for the first time on my 18th birthday (late 80′s) thanks to my older co-workers at the time. Don’t think that I’ve had peach schnapps since… Everything after that in the late 80′s/early 90′s was pretty much beer-based (standard college beverage).

    I wonder what the common low brow cocktails of the early 1900′s (or earlier) were…

  2. ljclark

    Getting drunk on Fuzzy Navels — never a good idea. All that sugar and acid, ick. I’m guessing lowbrow cocktails of the early 1900s contained rum, which had a bad reputation at that point.

  3. Adam

    Ugh, I’m glad I wasn’t of drinking age then. As someone I used to know was fond of saying… “that’ll bring up the big chunks!”

  4. MC Slim JB

    Ooh, this is embarrassing. Sutter Home white Zinfandel. And we thought we were so chic drinking it. It was Miami, in the Miami Vice days. Some awful sport coats and hairdos, too. Burn those photos!

  5. Craig

    California Root Beer… is that what we called a Flaming Doctor Pepper in college? Root beer schnapps, Barcardi 151 in a shot glass, lit on fire and dropped into a glass of beer and chugged a la Irish Car Bomb? I went to school in CA, so I wonder if it was called something else outside of the state…

    Not that I’m really adding to the erudition or anything, just curious. ;-)

  6. ljclark

    Craig, OMG. A Flaming Doctor Pepper?! Aaahhh! That’s way scarier than an actual California Rootbeer, which is equal parts Kahlua and Galliano topped off in a highball glass with soda water. It actually tastes like rootbeer.

  7. Craig

    This drink usually ended up just tasting like root beer, too, but sometimes it actually did have a hint of Dr. Pepper going on. And remind me to tell you about the Sambuca shots we did… I’m surprised I survived college!

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