We got a pitch the other day from the publicists for Three Olives brand vodka. The over-tanned chiacchierones who can't shut up on the show "Jersey Shore" apparently teamed up with Three Olives brand vodka and came up with a list of cloying, revolting drinks that, ostensibly, represent the Jersey Shore.
Well, I grew up in central New Jersey, I used to work on Point Pleasant Beach, I went to parties in Seaside Heights just like everybody else I knew, and I call bullshit.
Here's a sample of what they suggest:
The Snooki Bubble-Up
3/4 oz. lemon-lime soda
3/4 oz. cranberry juice
1 oz. "Three-O Bubble" (bubble gum-flavored vodka)
Combine ingredients with ice and garnish with a lime wedge.
Words cannot express the horror that crossed my face when I read about a mixed drink involving bubble gum-flavored vodka. I know no people who would make this their "summer drink of choice".
So, if they're not into Cocktails by Slutpuppy, what do people in New Jersey drink, anyway? Exactly what people all over the United States drink: beer both good and bad, wine both boxed and bottled, and relatively normal cocktails.
There are, however, some drinks that scream "Jersey" more than others. and if you actually want to watch this sorry excuse for a show, you should consider drinking the following instead.
Yes, it's from Pennsylvania, but it's the first "real" beer most of us cut our teeth on after graduating from the horrors of Mickey's, Natty Light, and other carbonated waters claiming to be beer, and Yuengling (say "ying-ling") signs beckon invitingly from bars from Clifton to Cape May. Good luck finding it on the West Coast, though.
Specifically, red wine. New Jersey has a hell of a lot of Italian-Americans, and they've drunk wine since they got off the boats from Napoli's Beverello Wharf. New Jersey has some truly screwy liquor laws, but one of the better ones is that restaurants can declare themselves BYOBs by owner fiat. Most mom-and-pops don't charge corkage, and those that do keep it low--$3 or $4 per bottle, so wine is a big part of even a spaghetti-and-meatballs dinner out.
3. Jäger Bombs
Yeah, yeah, yeah... post-college Jägermeister phase, tastes like crap, whatever. Jäger bombs (where you drop a shot of Jägermeister into a glass of Red Bull) are still immensely popular. One of the drinks on the Jersey Shore List of Execrable Admixtures was the JWOW [sic] Bomb, which is created by dropping a shot of grape vodka into an energy drink. Nonsense: if you're going to drink a Jäger bomb, accept no misspelled substitutions.
This might be dying out, and it's definitely more a South Jersey thing than a North Jersey thing, but wishniak (Polish for "cherry") is black cherry soda that's a little bit less sweet. It's extremely popular in
sub hero hoagie shacks, you can get it all over the Shore, and it's a great accompaniment to a cheesesteak. It's non-alcoholic, of course, but if you wanted to add a little shot of vodka after you take a couple sips out of the can, I doubt anybody would stop you.
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If you want to be taken for a Jerseyite, start chugging the caffeine. Sit down in a diner at 9 p.m. and order, say, a burger and disco fries (that's fries with cheese and brown gravy to you) and two seconds later, a waitress in orthopedic shoes will pause at your table, coffee pot in hand. "Ya wanna cawfee, hon?" Look around you--half the people, even at that hour, will be drinking it, and not decaf either. Seattleites might be more into fine espresso, and Minneapaulitans might leave the pot on just in case company shows up, but in terms of gallons of coffee drunk per capita, there's noplace even close to New Jersey.
You want to drink vodka drinks that look they were invented by people whose moms just weaned them off juice boxes? Knock yourself out. Just don't call it "Jersey". The above is what Jersey drinks, no matter what those morons on the Jersey Shore may say. As they say down the Shore, BENNY GO HOME.