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Don’t Drink Angry

February 19, 2018

Monday. It’s Monday. And I’m starting the week writing about drinking. Actually, it goes beyond that. I’m starting off the week actually drinking. And not just drinking. I’ll be drinking whiskey.

Believe it or not, but it has nothing to do with today being Presidents’ Day. Although perhaps there is some logic to drinking whiskey on the holiday that used to simply be the celebration of George Washington’s birthday. He was a distiller after all.

Nope. Monday’s are special because this is the day bartenders have off. Which means they can all come together for a night of camaraderie and competition. That’s right. Tonight is the Battle of the Bartenders at Savoy Taproom, and I’ll be one of the judges.

I fully expect the cocktails to be great. We’ve got some very talented bartenders in the Capital Region these days, and competition has a way of bringing out people’s best. That said, cocktails aren’t always great. So today I wanted to tell you about the time this weekend that cocktails made me irrationally angry.

Do you remember how Mrs. Fussy and I were going to spend Valentine’s Day?

The original plan was after dinner one night this weekend, to leave the kids at home and go out for a fancy drink at a place walking distance from home. I was actually really excited to try out a cocktail from Black & Blue because I met a fellow who worked there and learned a bit more about the restaurant’s spirits program.

There was just one flaw in our plan. After a pre dinner drink and a glass of wine with dinner, Mrs. Fussy wasn’t quite feeling like an after dinner drink. Drat.

Still, I was not deterred. The plan was to go out, so go out we would.

Dessert! Dessert would save the day. Since this is the age of the Internet, before heading out the door, we just decided to double check to see if the Black & Blue dessert menu might have something delightful to tickle our fancy.


I’m going to say this now, and maybe I can expand on it later. But a restaurant that has entrees priced as high as $75 should not have a dessert menu that contains either the words “Reese’s peanut butter cups” or “Oreo crust”. Let’s just call that dessert menu not up to the standards of the very interesting cocktail menu, and move on.

To make a long story short, we ended up at TGI Fridays. At the very least the toffee cake with candied pecans, vanilla ice cream and butterscotch Jack Daniel’s® whiskey sauce didn’t seem out of place on their menu. And actually, we thought it might not be that bad.

Well, the company was lovely. The dessert, not so much. But what really got my knickers in a twist was the cocktail menu.

Dear God.

It’s not a menu as much as it is a book. A book. It’s got a hard cover on the front and the back. And in the middle it’s filled with pages. Multiple pages. It’s huge. It’s expansive. And its front proudly boasts of the “handcrafted cocktails” listed within.

Imagine, if you will, a wine list in this format. And you open it up to reveal page after page of chardonnay. Maybe one page is chardonnay from France. Another one might be chardonnay from America. Another page still might be sparkling chardonnay.

But it’s all fucking chardonnay.

That’s pretty much the TGI Fridays Handcrafted Cocktail program in a nutshell. Cold and fruity. Some might be fruity and spicy with ginger beer. Others might be fruity and blended. Some are fruity and tart with sour mix. Others are fruity and creamy. If there’s anything that isn’t fruity on the menu, I couldn’t find it.

Let’s not even get started on the idea they have a “Classics” section that contains “Regal Apple Sangria” “Frozen Lava Flow” and “Peach Honey Smash” among others. If you’re not familiar with those drinks, don’t be alarmed. You’ve probably never heard of them because they aren’t freaking classic cocktails. Anywhere. Ever. Nor will they ever be. Bastards.

Oh yeah. And actually classics like the Manhattan or Old Fashioned aren’t anywhere on the list.

Now, to be fair, they will gladly make you anything. So, I thought I would give this place a chance to redeem itself. I mean, it shouldn’t be hard. All I wanted was some kind of whiskey based drink to go with the toffee cake, that would help offset the dessert’s sweetness.

I wish I could remember the full build of the bartender’s suggestion, but when I heard they wanted to serve me a drink with lemon and lime in it, I blocked it out entirely. An old fashioned might have been nice, but at this point I doubted their ability to execute a drinkable one.

So instead I opted for the safest bet I could: a Jack Daniel’s chilled and strained.

Simple enough. I suppose I could have ordered it “up” but I felt the need to be a bit more specific. What I got back was unexpected. My drink was a jigger full of Tennessee Whiskey so completely shaken that it looked almost creamy when it came to the table, in a glass completely full of tiny broken shards of ice.

So much for straining.

All the same, it wasn’t bad. And it did help to cut the sweetness of the toffee cake and ice cream, which was what I was really looking for in the first place. Still, while I was trying to enjoy this lovely outing with my wife, that cocktail menu kept staring at me from the table. And every time I looked over in its general direction, I felt another pang of sweet and fruity anger.

Seriously, I cannot begin to tell you how much I’m looking forward to tonight. The whiskey will be Suntory Toki. I’m not sure which bartenders will be competing, but if you cannot make it, I’ll certainly tell you more about how it all went down later this week.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 19, 2018 12:45 pm

    Friday’s is just terrible. You should’ve gone to Provence, where you’d at least have a fighting chance at a decent cocktail, and could’ve gotten a scratch made dessert.

    • February 19, 2018 1:21 pm

      According to their dessert menu online, there were only two choices at Provence. Neither was particularly appealing to my date. So that option was taken off the table too.

  2. Dave permalink
    February 19, 2018 1:43 pm

    I was at Friday’s the other day! First time in years and years. I had that meatless burger which wasn’t awful I guess…

    I find chain restaurants in this era fascinating. Places like Friday’s are struggling to fill some niche that I don’t think even exists anymore. I remember enjoying Friday’s about 25-30 years ago, so maybe they should just put the crap back on the walls, charge a bunch more, and start serving decent food.

    Those menus are fascinating to me… So much stuff.

  3. February 20, 2018 8:17 pm

    I was driving by the Friday’s in Saratoga the other day and for some reason it occurred to me the last time I was in one was sometime in the 1980’s. Guess I won’t be going back anytime soon.

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