Shot down in flames

03 June, 2016

Question: Which of the following is NOT a valid style of music? Grunge, grime or grit? It is of course grit, grunge being a somewhat passé form of scuzzy rock and grime a beat-based style evolved from British garage music and jungle. We all knew that, right?


Alright, I admit it – I looked it up. Because, truth be told, it doesn’t matter how down with the kids you think you are, they’ll find a way to alienate you. You expect that from youth and music. What you don’t expect is for teenagers to segregate the ages in the world of drinks, too.

Sure it’s the case that taste matures and your average 20-something is going to seek out sweet, flavoured drinks and an array of alco-pops. But it seems they’re also separating the older men from the boys in the way they drink, as I discovered to my embarrassment recently.

So there we were in Leicester to celebrate my football team’s coronation as English champions, enjoying the wildest city-wide street and bar party I have ever been to. And late in to the evening the teenagers among us decided they wanted to drink Jägerbombs.

You know age is creeping up on you when you put your date of birth into a drinks website and it says you are too old to enter it. With research, though, I found that Jägermeister is made with 56 natural ingredients and undergoes 383 – count ’em – quality checks to create a drink ‘that is not a matter of chance, but centuries of experience’.

The bottle is part 19th-century apothecary and part dodgy Alpine ski bar on the shelf next to the schnapps. Still not exactly sure what the drink is though. For all the claims of heritage, provenance and history, it is best known for being dunked in half a can of Red Bull and downed rapidly as a shot.

I brought out the drinks, went back to get my pint of cider and by the time I returned they had necked their shots and were ready for me. It turned out to be an expensive night… Not before I’d died a thousand deaths though. I know all about shots and chasers, I announced to my son and his teen friends. Oh yes. Ever heard of the Pickleback?

“The what?” one of them asked.

“Well you take a whisky – ideally Irish but any fruity whisky will do – drink it in one and follow it with pickle juice. It sounds awful but the pickle juice takes the burn off the whiskey and adds a smokiness that is the drinking equivalent of a Big Mac. They’re hugely popular in the cooler bars of New York and Chicago.”

I have no idea if the Big Mac reference is true as I’ve never had a Pickleback but it didn’t matter. My humiliation would have been complete either way. “You mean like gherkin juice?” someone asked. Otherwise there was silence, though I may have heard a snigger.

“That’s disgusting, dad,” my son said. “That’s totally embarrassing.” “Who’s for another Jägerbomb,” said my brother, who had rapidly established himself as cool Uncle Ben, and I shrank back on the pub bench and gulped at my cider. Who would have thought the age gap could be so brutally reinforced through shots?

I’m not finished yet though. Sherry Busters, anyone? You just wait…

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Tess Posthumus

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