The clock strikes midnight on your 21st birthday, and it’s time to hit the bars. You finally feel like a grownup, waltzing up to the bartender and ordering the first thing that comes to mind. For some it’s a watery Bud Light, for others it’s an overly sugary cocktail like a Sex on the Beach, for most it’s nothing good. Don’t worry, we were no better.
If you’re just starting out on your newly legal drinking adventures, know that you’re not alone in your weak, cloying, and objectively poor alcohol choices. We’ve all been there, and we’ve all experienced the hangovers to prove it. So we here at Supercall decided to take a trip down memory lane and reminisce about the gross libations we loved to sip at 21. Because even professional drinkers have to start somewhere.
“Chillable Red. Franzia's most self-explanatory offering, this box of pale fuchsia ‘wine’ was constantly in my mini fridge. It drank like Capri Sun, came in five liter boxes and seemingly renewed itself whenever it got close to empty. Honestly, I do not remember ever buying it. It just kept showing up in my fridge, refilled. Runner up: Any shitty beer with a couple capfuls of Rose's Lime Juice poured into the mouth of the can. It started as a way to mute the dirt-like flavor, but I ended up getting hooked on the low-grade Shandy.” —Justine Sterling, Deputy Editor
“Jack & Coke. It was a metaphor for the transition I was making at 21, from a young, starry-eyed soda drinker to the wise, all-knowing, whiskey-sipping adult you see before you today. It was also the only cocktail I knew.” —Kevin Schlittenhardt, Managing Editor
“Diet Rite Cola (off-brand Walmart Coke) mixed with a gallon jug of cheap vodka. I should also say that these things were kept under my bed at room temperature. Did it taste good? Not particularly. Was it cheap as hell? YUP. It made me feel light as a feather. I got a jolt of caffeine from it. I also knew I'd be drinking beer for the rest of the night, so pregaming kept room for the bubbly drinks. Class act right here.” —Zoe Barton, Audience Development Manager
“I have ‘fond’ memories of the Peppermint Patty (aka the Dirty Girl Scout, aka the Nasty Santa) which is a shot of peppermint schnapps chased with chocolate syrup poured straight into your mouth. (I believe it's technically illegal to administer the syrup yourself.) It's one of those literally sweet, figuratively bittersweet shots that starts the night off on a high note even though everyone in the room knows it will end tragically. If someone offered me one right now, though, I would definitely partake. It's like the Junior Mint episode of Seinfeld: 'Who's gonna turn it down? It's chocolate, it's peppermint, it's delicious! It's very refreshing!'” —Nicholas Mancall-Bitel, Editorial Assistant
“Aside from the usual cringeworthy suspects—Jungle Juice, Screwdrivers, Apple Pucker—my most embarrassing/regularly consumed pre-gamer was Southern Comfort mixed with Sprite. It makes me gag a little thinking about how sweet and soapy it was—and that truly terrible time I spiked it with cherry vodka—but man was it easy to chug.” —Anna Archibald, Senior Editor
“Anything with the word sour attached to it—Midori Sours, Amaretto Sours, Whiskey Sours—were all tops in my book. And these weren’t the sophisticated versions by any means. Forget about egg whites and fresh lemon juice. It was the cloyingly artificial Rose’s Lime all the way.” —Amanda Gabriele, Senior Editor
“My freshman year roommate introduced me to Pinnacle Whipped Cream Vodka, which, when mixed with orange juice, tastes like a Creamsicle. Inconspicuous masterminds that we were, we’d fill up a water bottle of the stuff before getting on a Rutgers bus and going out to house parties. Because drinking regular orange juice out of a Poland Spring bottle at 11 p.m. is a perfectly normal thing people do, officer.” —Laura Reilly, Editorial Assistant