Matt's Juice 

CBGB, 3163 South Grand Boulevard, 314-773-9743

Those of us who have drunk Matt's Juice, who have sipped from the well of the mighty, mighty Matt Wagner, understand. The rest of you -- well, stick to your pansy martinis and froufrou frickin' lollipop drinks. We are more alive than you will ever be; have the strength of two men, two women and a couple of huskies; and are able to perform feats heretofore unimaginable. We are the strong. We have endurance. We roar. Our tongues have touched the nectar, and they will forever tingle.

Wagner's liquid, which he manufactures at the unfortunately named, pleasantly populated South Grand institution CBGB (no, for the billionth time, there's no connection with the NYC bar), contains four ingredients. Explains Wagner: "Cheap bourbon, cheap amaretto, good cranberry juice, good orange juice."

Cheap bourbon: Wagner's rail brand, QT. Cheap amaretto: He refuses to divulge his brand (or maybe we forgot to ask). Good cranberry juice: Schnuck's cranberry-juice cocktail -- the cocktail part being why it's the "good" stuff. Good orange juice: the expensive kind, relatively speaking -- Tropicana, in the white plastic bottle. No, Wagner's not actually hand-squeezing any of his juice, which maybe he should consider doing if he really wants to call the drink his own. But oh well. He puts it all in a shaker with the requisite ice and pumps the magic vessel three or four quick times, and it's ready.

Matt's Juice is strangely invigorating; it tastes like something -- what is it? we've tasted it before ... well, it tastes familiar, anyway. Although cheap bourbon by definition tends to overpower the taste buds -- and the back of the throat, and your liver -- in Matt's Juice it magically, mysteriously disappears beneath the sweet/sour/swanky competition. So then what you've got is this drink, chilled, fruity, tasting nearly good for you, or at least not terrible for you.

Drink it and feel ready to conquer the world. Feel virile, feel like a man, even if you're a woman -- especially if you're a woman.

"I like it when a girl orders it," says Wagner, "and her boyfriend asks what she's drinking. She says, 'Matt's Juice,' and you can see him squirm a little." Wagner smiles. "Then he tastes it and has to order one -- and I make him order it by name. 'I'll have Matt's Juice, too.'"

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