I have never been very good at picking college football games, as evidenced by my 29-51 record in this year's ATQ Jersey Contest. And the bowls are that much more of a crapshoot; it's unclear which teams are actually invested in the game, and the long layoff following the regular season means anything is possible. Given my past track record, and the general unpredictability of things, a different approach seemed to be in order. And what better way to recapture the swagger then to return to my journalistic roots? Those roots, you might ask?
Football and booze.
So, in the spirit of the season, I embark on a quest: find seventy beers, liquors, or cocktails that can gamely represent all FBS schools participating in bowls this year, and pick winners based on which drink I like better. Wish me luck.
New Mexico Bowl - Nevada vs. Arizona The Nevada Wolf Pack make their home in Reno, so unfortunately I can't use the official drink of Las Vegas, a vodka and Red Bull packed to the gills with roofies. Instead, I turn to the Nevada Cocktail: white rum, grapefruit juice, lime juice, sugar, and a dash of bitters. A greyhound with a tropical twist, perfect for enjoying while chain smoking Viriginia Slims and playing penny slots while you die slowly.
There are a number of cocktails with the moniker Arizona (Something), giving me plenty to choose from. Now, Arizona State still has a game to come, and I've got the perfect cocktail for the Sun Devils. For the WIldcats, I'm going with the Arizona Aztec: Bacardi Limon, tequila, spiced rum, and Coke. Yeesh. Drink four or five of these, and you'll either forget you live in the desert, or wander out into the desert. No in-between whatsoever.
Winner: Arizona, because I'm a sick and depraved man, and I don't really like grapefruit juice.
Idaho Potato Bowl - Toledo vs. Utah State Toledo Punch is a clusterfuck of a concoction: cognac, brandy, claret, white wine, champagne, and virtually every fruit you could possibly think of. I'm reasonably sure no one has made this punch, let alone wanted to drink it. Meanwhile, only two hours south of Logan, Utah, lives High West Distillery and Saloon, who in 2007 became Utah's first legal distillery since 1870. And that's change I can believe in.
Winner: Utah State, a gajillion to zero.
St. Petersburg Bowl - Central Florida vs. Ball State Downtown Orlando features Wall St. Plaza, a sanctuary for Central Florida's party-happy citizens. The Plaza features a bar called Hooch, which is just ripe for bad jokes of the "Man, could this Hooch have any more guys inside?" variety. Ball State, one of only two Indiana schools in the bowls, is represented by Upland Brewing Company , which features twenty different varieties of beer, and locations in Bloomington and Indianapolis for all your drinking convenience.
Winner: UCF. Tasteless jokes always win.
Poinsettia Bowl - BYU vs. San Diego State Winner: San Diego State. Thanks Mormons, you just saved me 3-10 minutes of research time.
New Orleans Bowl - East Carolina vs. Louisiana-Lafayette East Carolina resides in Greenville, NC, in case you didn't know. Just outside of town in Farmville (seriously, Farmville), you'll find Duck-Rabbit Brewery, who earn bonus points for having Duck in their name, and utilizing a perception puzzle as their logo. In searching for Greenville distilleries, I came across 5th Street Distillery and Annex, which is not so much a distillery as it is the greatest bar in the world. 25 cent drafts on Tuesdays? Come on. The Lafayette cocktail will grow hair on your chest: rye whisky, dry vermouth, Dubonnet, and a dash of bitters. That actually sounds pretty tasty.
Winner: Surprisingly, LA-Lafayette. As much as quarter beers sound like a great time, I'm curious as hell about the Lafayette. Off to the store to find Dubonnet!
Las Vegas Bowl - washington vs. Boise State I tried to avoid the obvious choices for the rival huskies, and chose to instead pay homage to Seattle's coffe-drinking heritage with the Espresso Martini; simply shake up vodka, Kahlua, and a shot of espresso, and serve. Plus, like washington's black uniforms, it looks awful. And for the Broncos, only one drink need apply: The Donkey Punch. With orange and pineapple juice, ginger ale, Bacardi, and grenadine, it goes down easy. Just like Byron Hout.
Winner: washington. If I were an eighteen-year old girl, I'd have picked Boise State. Contrary to popular belief, I am not an eighteen-year old girl.
Hawaii Bowl - Fresno State vs. SMU If you've ever been to Fresno, CA, you'll know that Another Hot Day in Fresno (vodka, sprite, grenadine, triple sec, and sweet and sour) is an appropriate representative. And for SMU, the Death Penalty, a heinous and dastardly concoction (gin, SoCo, curacao, coke, and a dash of Tabasco).
Winner: FSU, because I might actually drink theirs. I'd rather drink the wrung-out bar towel than a Death Penalty.
Little Caesars Bowl - Western Kentucky vs. Central Michigan Given WKU's place in the state that gave us bourbon, and its recent hire of known motorcycle crasher Bobby Petrino, the bourbon sidecar seems fitting. Representing the Chippewas is Mountain Town Station Brewery, who named a beer, and apparently a river, after Chip Kelly.
Winner: I love bourbon.
Winner: Bowling Green. As strange as Scotch and white wine sounds, it doesn't involve sambuca, so it wins.
Belk Bowl - Cincinnati vs. Duke First up, the Bearcat Special: peppermint schnapps and Bacardi 151. All Cincinnati citizens must drink one of these every morning, in order to make their city tolerable. The Duke is a frothy champagne spritzer, with an egg, OJ, triple sec, and maraschino liqueur, and the Blue Devil is essentially a Long Island Iced Tea with blue curacao and pineapple juice instead of Coke. Both are acceptable, as ordering either in a bar will cause everyone to hate you as much as they hate Duke.
Winner: Cincinnati. Good lord, peppermint schapps and 151? I'm scared to vote against that, because it might hunt me down.
Holiday Bowl - Baylor vs. UCLA It's the Waco Rattlesnake for Baylor: corn whisky and absinthe, with lemon juice, sugar, and an egg white. Shake hard and serve. And for the Bruins, a Westwood: Pimm's cup, port, pilsner, ginger ale, and lemon juice.
Winner: Baylor. The Rattlesnake actually sounds pretty good. The Westwood sounds like a hot mess that only pretentious people drink. I have Pabst Blue Ribbon in my fridge, and are therefore ineligible to drink such a snooty beverage.
Independence Bowl - Ohio vs. Lousiana-Monroe Now, the Internet has alerted me to a thing called the Ohio Bobcat 77 Pounder, essentially shot after shot of rye whisky and 7-Up. Are there any Ohio fans out there that can verify that this is, in fact, a thing? Seems flimsy. ULM will be represented by the Ramos Gin Fizz, a favorite of former Louisiana governor Huey P. Long. Gin, cream, lemon and lime juice, an egg white, sugar, and three drops of flower water, shook to hell and served with club soda. Only order this from the most trusted of bartenders, otherwise you could end up with meringue in a glass.
Winner: ULM, until this 77 pounder business can be confirmed.
Russell Athletic Bowl - Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech The Jack Rose is a drink made with applejack, concentrated cider that is known in slang terms as "Jersey lightning". It goes up against the Hokie, which is essentially a beer with a shot of gin and some sour mix tossed in. Lazy, and gross.
Winner: Rutgers, easily.
Meineke Car Care Bowl - Minnesota vs. Texas Tech The Golden Gophers get two: the Bootleg, a country club cocktail supposedly invented in Minnesota, and a Greenie from Tony Jaros' River Garden. The Red Raider is bourbon, triple sec, lemon juice, and grenadine; it sounds like a Tequila Sunrise with way more hangover. Sounds awesome.
Winner: Minnesota. Both drinks sound delicious in their own way, and mixing bourbon and triple sec sounds like a terrible idea.
Armed Forces Bowl - Rice vs. Air Force Since it's made from rice, the Owls will be represented by horchata, spiked with brandy. Speaking from experience, this is not something you should imbibe in excess. Rice football falls into that same category. And Air Force will be drinking Jeremiah Weed, 100-proof bourbon that has a long history with the Air Force, and fighter pilots in general.
Winner: Rice. Jeremiah Weed is described as tasting "like kerosene". That's cool I guess, if you're into that kind of thing.
Pinstripe Bowl - West Virginia vs. Syracuse West Virginia, you're in the middle of the Appalachians. You had to know this was coming. That's right Mountaineers, you're drinking moonshine. Before Prohibition, there were a number of cocktails that bear Syracuse's name, The Syracuse Shake Up and the Syracuse Punch, to name a couple.
Winner: West Virginia. Can you really ever argue with moonshine?
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl - Navy vs. Arizona State For the Midshipmen, Navy Grog. I know I know, it's not actually a Navy drink, and was created during the 1950s Polynesian Tiki fad. Still, who can say no to some juice and crapton of rum. And for the notoriously promiscuous Arizona State coeds, the Arizona Anti-Freeze. Vodka, midori, and sweet and sour? Sounds like the drink of someone who doesn't wear underwear in public.
Winner: Navy. Psssh, like I want to drink Midori and contract Hep C. Please.
That's all for this week, stay tuned for the rest of the bowls in Part 2!