I like cocktails.
I especially like classic, Old Man kind of cocktails, because I feel really cool and savvy when I order “a Presbyterian, on the rocks” or “scotch, neat.”
Cocktail lingo is the COOLEST. People who have highly specific and jargon-dense cocktail orders are WAY hotter than people who have highly specific and jargon-dense Starbucks orders, and that’s just SCIENCE. When James Bond orders a “vodka martini, shaken, with a twist,” that’s COOL. But if James Bond orders a “half-caff upside down caramel macchiato,” that’s LAME.
The thing about these hip drinks is they’re usually sort of lacking in cheer or color. Sometimes you get some half-assed garnish: a citrus rind, or a maraschino cherry. Maraschino cherries add color to cocktails, but they are also saccharine bullshit and they are full of bleach and red dye. SCREW THAT.
Of all cocktail garnishes, paper umbrellas are my favorite. I like trying to open and close their crappy cardboard spokes. I like putting them in my water when I’ve finished my cocktail. They’re kitschy, disposable fun.
I can’t order most of the tropical drinks that come standard with paper umbrellas, because I’m allergic to pineapple juice, and sugary cocktails give me a headache anyway. So I find that I’m forced to choose between plain cocktails that make me sound cool, or paper umbrellas in cocktails that make my insides itchy.
OR AM I?
In my lifetime, I’d like to be able to go into a bar and order “scotch, neat, in the shade” and get a straight scotch garnished with a paper umbrella. If I order a “Cuba Libre in the shade,” I want to get a rum & Coke with lime and a paper umbrella.
Tiny paper umbrellas are great because they’re functionally useless. Other garnishes claim to have a purpose, to add some sort of flavor to their host cocktail. But with paper umbrellas, their inclusion is a purely aesthetic choice. A paper umbrella shows up in a drink, and everyone at the table goes “What did YOU order?” Their only purpose is to add color and cheer, and I think the world needs more gratuitous color and cheer.
Let’s make this happen, people! Next time you’re ordering a drink in a bar, whatever it is, order it “in the shade.” If the bartender asks you to explain, be cool about it. If they don’t have paper umbrellas, say “I’ll just have water.”
Vodka martini, shaken, not stirred, with a twist, in the shade.