There are a great number of people in the United States who served in the military in the last two decades. Given the War on Terror was fought in several countries since before someone who enlists today was born, we veterans are frequently reminded of the great duty and responsibility we have to the generation that comes after us. We pass on our experiences in the military in order to guide them through enlistment, make them better service members, and to keep them from being taken advantage of. We also have a duty to ensure that they hit certain milestones the best way possible.
While all of this comes as a built in part of the veteran experience, it doesn’t prepare you for the moment someone comes into the infantry as a young Private who WASN’T BORN YET when you first stood on the battlefield. This empty sponge of youth must be filled with technical and tactical proficiency, of course, but also with the traditions of field knowledge. In addition to teaching the younglings field games like “Black Magic”, having them fetch a PRC-E5, and generally giving them anxiety by always knowing the worst time to quiz them on their book knowledge, after they are legally of age to drink so no one violates the uniform code, we must teach them the three drinks they need to know to mature past thinking anyone drinks Natty Ice for the flavor. Taste can be subjective, but only to a degree.
Okay, boot, take out your note taking gear and write this down. Some basic principles apply to drinking that often take a few years to pick up on your own.
- Drink what you like – Just because some bitter, twice divorced NCO wants to look down his nose at you for drinking something besides PBR or Jack Daniels straight, doesn’t mean he’s right. You’re not always drowning demons, it’s okay to enjoy the experience instead of trying to dull the roar of your bad decisions.
- Drink responsibly – Not to be a public service announcement but take it easy. The most blasted you should EVER get should still leave you the ability to speak and walk. The opposite sex will not consider it hot when you’re falling over things and slurring like you had a stroke.
- Drink with Friends – This advice comes in two parts; drinking alone is okay but don’t make a habit of it, and when you drink with people make sure they are people you trust. If you’re going to drop your guard, make sure someone is there to watch your back.
Alright, now that we’ve covered some basics, here are the three drinks you need to know to catch up to your pre-9/11 seniors.
Old Fashioned – A Classic Cocktail with Whiskey Like the Good Lord Intended
1 Sugar Cube (or 1 teaspoon granulated white sugar)
1 Teaspoon Water
3 to 4 shakes Angostura Bitters
2 Ounces Bourbon
1 Luxardo Cherry (optional)
Orange Peel (also optional)
Aside from the fruit and the bourbon, mix and muddle (smush with something) all the ingredients. Then add the bourbon and ice, add the cherry, and squeeze the orange over the top and around the rim of the glass. Is it a little extra? Sure. Is it awesome? Also, yes.
Jungle Bird – A Drink as Tropical and Dark as a Goth Girl in Florida
1.5 Ounces Dark Rum
3/4 Ounces Campari
1.5 Ounces Pineapple Juice
.5 Ounce Lime Juice, Freshly Squeezed
.5 Ounce Simple Syrup
This is an easy one to put together, just mix everything and serve over ice, but take it easy on the Campari as it is pretty bitter. If you want to be fancy, a chunk of pineapple on the glass and a paper umbrella goes a long way.
Jack and Coke – Simple to Make, Classic, and Easy to Remember
1 Part Jack Daniels
2 Parts Cola
One of the easiest parts of this drink is that you just put double the Coke that you do Jack Daniels, pour over ice, and you’re done. This drink is also the cheapest, so if you’re a boot on a budget it won’t break the bank.
Those are the basics, go forth and prosper. One last piece of wisdom to keep in mind; more often than not, if you’re old enough to drink, then you may have been in long enough that you have junior enlisted under you. Just as this knowledge has been passed to you, you must pass it to them. Without tradition, after all, what would we be?