My best friend Anthony (gentleman on the right with the cigarette and hat) joined the Air Force a few years back. Every now and again he'll come back to PA and I'll make it a point to return as well. We'll hang out and update each other about life, love, and other goings-on. Anthony is the yong to my yin. I consider him a more impulsive version of myself. I am a much more contemplative fellow prone to spending evenings alone reading an article in Collier's Magazine by the light of my lone oil lamp.
I was reminded recently of the last time he came to town. It was around Christmas and his mother was hosting an event with family and friends and I decided to make the trek up to Collegeville. I got to see a lot of people I haven't seen in a while, meet some new people, and politely decline Ant's insistent invitation to accompany him to Pat's Steaks at 1:30 in the morning. I had a fantastic time and I won't bore you with a ton of specifics about it, but one thing I want to touch upon is Anthony's taste in alcohol.
The only reason I ever tried Jagermeister was because of this man. Jagermeister is terrible. Go ahead and argue with me but it is. Why would anybody voluntarily drink something that tastes like expired cough medicine? But Anthony swears by the stuff. Jagermeister is a party liqueur and requires a certain type of atmosphere. At bars you see bottles of it hooked up to a machine that looks like it might resurrect someone from the dead in the style of Frankenstein’s monster. You can drop Jagermeister into a Red Bull and get a Jager Bomb: a very social and unholy concoction that turns my stomach. But that's the kind of man Anthony is--a celebratory drinker. It's an aspect of his personality that I really enjoy. At this particular Christmas party, the beer that was featured happened to be Bud Light Lime.
It would be so easy for me to just dump all over Bud Light Lime as a bad idea or a terrible gimmicky beer--although I do think it is--but I think it’s indicative of a broader pattern of American culture. Plus I spent enough time dumping on Jagermeister. If you’ve never tried Bud Light Lime, it tastes like seven parts Bud Light and one part Rose’s lime juice or some other sweetened lime mixer. There are many beers that are traditionally served with citrus be it Corona with lime, Hoegaarden with lemon, or Blue Moon with orange. I’m generally not a huge fan of those beers but I like the idea of enhancing the presentation with fresh fruit. It adds a sense of ceremony, ritual, and occasion to an otherwise ordinary drink.
There are ways in which I like the idea of Bud Light Lime. It markets itself on convenience. Now you don’t have to run to the store and buy fresh limes for your party only to buy too many and have them go to waste. The lime is already in your beer and will stay fresh until you’re ready to drink it. There are so many things that I love in my life that market themselves on convenience that I love. I order from places like Dominos and Pizza Hut. It’s not that I think the pizza is a delicacy but it’s satisfying and it will be at my door in about a half hour. If you order online, you barely experience any human contact and there is something about the whole process that is appealing.
Bud Light Lime isn’t entirely unpleasant. It won points for its novelty, but ultimately wasn’t something I could see myself drinking again. The flip side of the convenience coin is that something is lost in the exchange. When you order clothes online, you don’t get the opportunity to try them on first; when you read a newspaper online, you don’t get the tactile feel of the paper in your hands or the smell of newsprint. When brewers try to “juice” up their wares in order to imitate something ceremonial or festive, what they are left with is a mass-produced lowest-common-denominator facsimile. Budweiser is a beer that prides itself on its "drinkability." To me that says, "just good enough." This beer is able to be consumed. You can drink this beer and you probably won't throw up or die. Drink up Pansies; can't you read? It's Drinkable.
As for Anthony, I value his friendship above anyone's (with the obvious exception of Heather. Marital obligation fulfilled.) Though I do worry what my bachelor party will be like with him at the helm. I predict I will go missing for a period of no less that three days. I'll come back with no memory of any of it and my clothes will reek of vomit, chloroform, livestock and possibly Bud Light Lime.
Bud Light Lime isn’t the only beer of its kind out on the market. Miller has its Miller Chill which has lime and a dash of salt. I suppose it’s an attempt to create a kind of bastardized margarita. They’ll both sell. They are very festive. I suppose as long as there are people like Anthony in the world, these beers will have a market. I’m also not so sure that’s a bad thing. I look forward to the new, novel, stupid, and downright crazy advances in beer technology. Who knows? Maybe Budweiser will come up with a beer that’s right up my alley. Stranger things have happened.