Today was National Lobster Day and I do not like lobster. I’m not allergic to it. It doesn’t make me retch. I can see it, I can touch it, I can even eat it. I just don’t like it. I know that part of this quest is to venture outside my comfort zone and to try things I wouldn’t normally experience, but I’ve tried lobster before. Boiled lobster. Lobster salad. Lobster rolls. Lobster bisque. I’ve tried it all and haven’t been sold yet. Lobster just tastes bland to me. The best bites I have ever had have been the ones most soaked in butter. I just don’t understand the craze some people go into when you mention lobsters. I could have sucked it up today and tried some in some new kind of form – I keep hearing about lobster mac and cheese which intrigues me – but lobster ain’t cheap. I didn’t want to have to spend a ton of money on something I knew there was a big probability I would not enjoy. It was the economical choice and I was ok with that. So for the third time this month, I fell back on the backup plan: celebrate with whatever was being celebrated for the month. I decided on Iced Tea because it’s National Iced Tea Month and I skipped National Iced Tea Day last Saturday when I opted to celebrate World Gin Day instead.
I should have started my Iced Tea celebration by buying a can of 4C Powdered Ice Tea Mix. That was my first foray into the Iced Tea world. I wouldn’t have said I knew what kind of powdered Iced Tea I liked as a kid, but when I thought about it, the 4C brand popped right into my head. I feel at some point we declared as a family that this was our favorite. I think it was extra sweet, which is what I like about iced tea. I’m not much for actual tea flavor – it needs to be sweetened up. 4C had this down and if my mom made a pitcher of iced tea, she would use 4C. She probably used other brands too – Wyler’s, Lipton, Nestea, whatever she had a coupon for – but in the end, we all preferred 4C. Oddly enough, that’s our favorite grated parmesan cheese brand too. What’s happening over at 4C? What came first – the cheese or the tea? And who decided that they needed to branch out in the other direction? No matter, I didn’t buy any 4C today and it has been a longtime since I have stocked a can of powdered drink mix in our cabinet. Still, 4C was the reason why I first started to enjoy Iced Tea, so I tip my cap to them for being my gateway powder.
I came up with two ways to celebrate National Iced Tea Month. First would be the Iced Tea that I have probably had the most over the last three decades: Snapple. It’s the classic iced tea in a bottle that has delivered a consistent product since they first hit the market with their tea made from the best stuff on earth. My second way would be to enjoy an adult version of the drink which meant making a Long Island Iced Tea. If you ever want to tell a bartender you are an underage drinker, order one of these concoctions. It’s an easy tip-off. I was considering my options on my drive home from work. Getting the supplies I needed to have both was simple. I had all the booze I needed for the Long Island Iced Tea, I just needed some Coke for it. I could pick that up along with a Snapple at Cumberland Farms which I did. Then I just had to figure out what order to have them in. I had to mow the lawn, so that was going to take up a chunk of the evening. Did I want to reward myself afterwards with a nice refreshing iced tea or with a well-deserved cocktail? I opted to have the cocktail first and then have the Snapple after the lawn was done (and I would be sweaty and thirsty).
A Long Island Iced Tea is a combination of five liquors (vodka, rum, gin, tequila and triple sec) mixed with some sour mix, shaken and then topped with Coke. The coke adds a slight carbonation to it but really gives it the color to make it look like tea. It has a funny reputation because the usual person who orders one is someone who doesn’t want to taste alcohol. That’s why it is (or at least used to be) popular by underage drinkers. They wanted to get drunk fast with as little interaction with the bartender as needed. I can’t say that I have had one of these drinks in a long time, but I was game. I made it in a pint glass. When you are making one behind the bar there’s a certain flair to it because if you’re good, you can pour four bottles at once. At home, I didn’t have speed pourers (which help you control the pour) and all my bottles were different sizes so pouring four at once was not possible. I had to go one at a time. When it all came together, I added the sour mix. Then I shook it up and added the Coke (always shake before you add the carbonated beverage). It actually looked pretty good.
I offered Lola a sip. She had never had one before. I asked her why and she explained it was because, “She didn’t want to get roofied.” That’s Lola’s take on drinks that you would associate with underage drinking and frat parties and all that fun stuff. I’m glad she’s ever vigilant. I didn’t tell her what was in a Long Island Iced Tea until after she took the sip. Knowing what was coming could spoil it. She actually liked it. It is surprisingly a pretty tasty drink if you ever have one. The booze blends together nicely and they kind of round each other out so you don’t get any too much liquor in any one sip. The sour mix is the predominant flavor, but cut with the sweetness of the Coke. To be honest, it was a great drink. It went down dangerously fast (which I suppose is another part of the allure). It was refreshing too. Maybe next time I won’t be so judgmental of someone ordering a LIIT.
I then suited up for some serious lawn mowing. I know they tell you to not to operate heavy machinery after having an alcoholic beverage, but that lawn wasn’t going to cut itself. Any buzz I caught from the drink was sweated out within twenty minutes of pacing the lawn. It ended up taking me about an hour and a half to finish after which I was dirty, sweaty and thirsty. I hopped in the shower first because that had to be taken care of, but then I came down to the kitchen to quench my thirst. My Snapple Lemon Tea was waiting for me.
There’s a ritual to drinking any Snapple. First you shake it. I take an inhaler for my asthma that is supposed to be shaken before each use and I am more fastidious about shaking a Snapple than I am about shaking that inhaler. Snapple shaking is almost an ingrained body response – maybe it’s the feel of the bottle, but put a bottle in my hand and I start shaking. Some people turn the bottle upside down and hit the bottom of the bottle. I don’t go that far. I trust my shaking will do the job. Then you pop the cap which reliably comes off with an audible pop. Before you even take a sip, you flip the cap over and read the message on the bottom. It’s usually a fun factoid. Today’s message was somewhat relevant, if not eerily personal. It read:
“Real Fact” # 1290 – Love blueberries? Celebrate them all year round, but especially in July, National Blueberry Month.
Once you digest the factoid, it’s safe to proceed to drink your Snapple. If you keep the cap off, you don’t have to shake it anymore, but if the cap goes back on, then you are obligated to shake it again. Sorry folks, I don’t make the rules, I just follow along. I really have been a fan of Snapple for a long time. I once got a letter from Wendy, the Snapple Lady. This was before social media and the internet allowed you to just message people randomly. I wrote her an actual letter and mailed it. It was when her commercials had become a sensation and she would respond to actual letters in the ads. I was working with a guy who was particularly fond of Snapple but whenever he would buy them at the store, the bottles would break as he rode his bike home because they kept smashing into each other. Wendy wrote me back and suggested we buy him a basket for his bike. I was hoping she’d make a commercial from my inquiry, but instead she just sent me a letter with some actual useful advice. That letter is somewhere in my archives. I’m hoping that someday when a distant ancestor uncovers it, it will be like finding a letter from Abraham Lincoln.
Snapple is still as tasty as ever, especially their lemon tea. It has good sweet tea flavor that’s mellowed by the addition of some lemon. It did its job today because it quenched my thirst, just like any iced tea should do. I know that Southerners have a whole culture of Iced Tea and Sweet Tea that they serve on trays to callers in seersucker shirts on the swing that hangs from their front porches. I know it goes well with Southern cooking too. I can’t speak to any of that. I noticed that McDonald’s started selling Sweet Tea a few years ago and I still don’t know what the difference is between that and Iced Tea. I wasn’t really concerned though. Snapple is the perfect iced tea for me. The perfect package, nice and sweet, easy to chill and even some sage advice under the cap. That’s a fine iced tea in my book. Incidentally, because the fun fact seemed to speak to me, I immediately ate a handful of fresh blueberries in celebration. Wendy would have been proud.
Next up: National Fudge Day