The Drunken Vegan, a.k.a. Patrick J. Hurley, is a full-time barman at the Civil Life Brewing Company and cocktail enthusiast about town. He's an unapologetic drunkard, a vegan and a bon vivant, and, no, he doesn't think those last two terms contradict each other.
The white-wine spritzer is a much maligned cocktail that brings to mind housewives rehydrating after shopping binges. It's the inspiration behind those awful bottled wine coolers that became popular in the '80s. But a quick look at the word "spritzer" identifies its origin. White wines cut with soda water originated in Germany, where they are still enjoyed in the summer. And now, you can also enjoy one at the Tick Tock Tavern (3459 Magnolia Avenue; 314-101-9999), where the drink is on its short list of house specials.
This is the perfect atmosphere in which to sip this quintessentially 1970s drink. The floors are peach and orange linoleum tile, the front wall is cinder block painted the color of guacamole, the bar is faced with olive shag carpeting and there is a dropped ceiling. Random clocks are stopped at 4:20 and various historical posters and sports calendars all show dates from the '70s to the early '80s.
Co-owner Fred Hessel dreamed up the drink especially for his wife, Amy Stringer Hessel, who has a special nickname for the drink, though it's not printed anywhere: "TT on the Rocks."
"When she was a child at the beach and had to go, her mother would tell her to, 'Go tee-tee on the rocks'," Hessel explains. Not the most appetizing name for the drink, but it's also a nod to the spritzer's terrible reputation.
But again -- don't let any of that stop you from ordering one! It's a simple drink, perfect for the dog days of summer. Usually a white-wine spritzer is just two parts soda to one part white wine. Tick Tock keeps this ratio but adds a dash of angostura bitters, which gives the drink some depth and a peachy tint, matching the tile floor nicely. The slick texture of the wine comes through the soda, along with a light floral note and a little stone fruit, and a hint of earthy spice from the bitters. The drink stays very light and bright, and it's a serious thirst quencher.
Down a few "TTs on the Rocks," and you'll feel like you're on a beach vacation.