Jade

Zoë's Pan-Asian Café, 4753 McPherson, 314-361-0013

The powdered sugar that cakes the rim of Jade (like Charo and Cher, sans the "the"), served at Zoë's Pan-Asian Café in the Central West End, is heavenly. Lick and lick and lick some more; pretend you're three years old at the state fair. Keep pressing your delicate tongue to the powdery goodness, all sticky and sweet and comforting. Your spit, now half sugar, will melt the powdery chunks, and when they dissolve onto your tongue, the taste buds rejoice.

Toss aside the double straws immediately. You won't be needing them. Clutch the huge glass, about the size of the Stanley Cup (and fun to hold over your head as though you've just won it, your drinkmates cheering), close to your lips, even when you're not drinking from it. Pretend it's not the glass that's huge but you that's tiny once again -- itsy hands, itsy knuckles, itsy fingernails holding a normal-size glass. Now drink.

But be careful, because the powdered sugar spreads like a virus. Soon enough you'll feel it on your cheek, then between your pointer and middle fingers. Then on your ear. Then on the back of your neck. Before you know it, you're as sticky as Jeff Goldblum in The Fly. Accept it. It's inevitable.

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Zoë's, which boasts the CWE's nicest dining space, offers a buttload of drinks, all fancy and colossal and priced accordingly: $6.75 for one of the dozen "specialty drinks." Sake, martinis, aperitifs, beer, wine and water are also offered.

Jade is sour, the result of some serious lime-juice action. The juice is added to a hefty portion of Bacardi Light rum and augmented with mint. The mint is cut into shreds about the size of your pinkie nail, and if you really were three, it'd be a choking hazard. But man, it's sour, and the sour mixed with the powdered-sugar rim makes for a fun game of back-and-forth. Last sip too sour? No sweat. Just take a little lick. Sip and lick, sip and lick. Pick a piece of mint from between your teeth, where it will inevitably lodge, and bite down on it while you're sipping, then lick the glass, for a crazy flavor combo.

One Jade is enough to lift your spirits; two, unless you're a lush, will get you too drunk to drive, so don't be silly. If someone else is driving, though, go for it. You're not a child. You can take care of yourself -- or can you?

 
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