Monday, May 14, 2012

The Tale of the Cucaracha

Well, I'm back from Mexico.

I'm not exactly ecstatic about this, but I suppose I'm glad to be back. I've missed my friends and roommates. Now I have about a thousand pictures to go through and upload! But hey, I'm not complaining.

Before I return to my normal blogging schedule, however, I HAVE to tell you the story of the Cucaracha. ;)

We were at Los Arcos late last Friday night -- a restaurant/bandstand where people order food and dance the salsa. I'm a novice salsa dancer, but I was wearing flip-flops that night and not planning to dance much. So I didn't feel guilty ordering drinks at the 2-for-1 cocktail happy hour. But the thing about the drink menus was that they only listed the drinks...not what goes into them.

Lesson learned: DO NOT order the most dangerous-sounding drinks on the menu.

I asked for a Vampiro and a Cucaracha. Then I realized that, with the 2-for-1 deal, I'd end up with 4 drinks. I flagged down the waitress and asked her which one I should pick -- Vampiro or Cucaracha? She hadn't had either, and said she didn't know. So I asked her what was in each one.

THIS IS WHAT SHE TOLD ME: The Cucaracha had rum in it, and was stronger than the Vampiro. I figured, hey, rum is supposed to be sweet, and I was going to be eating a burger and fries, so the alcohol probably wouldn't bother me. I asked for the Cucaracha. She warned me that it would make me very "happy"...but I insisted.

She told me it had rum in it. She failed to mention that it also had tequila in it. In fact, the Cucaracha is just a shot of rum + a shot of tequila.

Oh yeah, and she never told me that IT WAS GOING TO BE ON FIRE.

So, picture this: I'm at the table with my friends and my food, chatting, and the waiter comes over. He's got a glass with a shot of tequila, and a shot glass of rum. He sets both down and I wonder, am I supposed to mix them myself? Or throw both shots back? I wasn't expecting this. Then he picks up the tequila...and takes out his lighter.

The waiter fires up the lighter and begins to move it around the rim of the glass, heating up the alcohol. I'm looking a little worried at this point. You drink it hot? I ask. Wait a minute, he says...and gives me a straw. I look at the straw in confusion, completely unaware of what is expected of me. Last time I checked, you don't slurp shots through a straw. Meanwhile, the waiter continues to heat up the tequila. He's got the lighter in the glass now -- and when the tequila reaches a certain temperature, it catches fire.

A pretty tongue of blue flame curls up from the glass, fading and then strengthening as the waiter continues to work the lighter. We clap and make appreciative noises. Up till two seconds from now, I've been thinking that this is just a trick he does, and I'll have to drink it hot once the fire goes out. But when he keeps heating the drink, and the flame becomes steady, two seconds from now hits and I realize I HAVE TO DRINK THAT. FUUUUCK.

Once the tequila is burning steadily, the waiter pours the shot of rum in and starts heating THAT up. Soon the Cucaracha is flaming and everyone at the table is watching in gleeful expectation. I'm sure my face at this point is absolutely terrified. You have to drink it through a straw, my friend explains, and suck it down fast, or else the straw will melt. Classy.

Finally the waiter asks Are you ready? I grab the straw -- YOLO -- and nod. He slams the drink down, I slam the straw down, and suck up the Cucaracha while my companions cheer me on. I CHUG it through a STRAW while it is ON FIRE.

I make it all down and I keep it all down, despite the burning sensation and the aftertaste. My face twitches a bit and tears start to my eyes. The waiter gathers up the glasses while my companions clap, laughing. I grab for the french fries -- anything to get that bizarre aftertaste of hot tequila + rum out of my mouth. I'm in a state of shock, my taste buds still not entirely sure what the hell just hit them. Now I know why they call it the Cucaracha -- it's strong enough to kill a cockroach.

Then I realize -- happy hour is 2-for-1 cocktails.

I've got another drink coming.

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