The first time I got drunk at a bar was at Fitzgerald's in the Heights. Many years later, I'm sitting at a picnic table and drinking a Gin Rickey down the block at Onion Creek (3106 White Oak Dr., 713-880-0706), thinking about how things are different now. Mainly, I'm not wedged in a bathroom stall with a fellow 15-year-old downing a Mickey's hand grenade between bands at a punk show. I remember leaving that night in my friend's Mercury Cougar (digital clock, analog speedometer) feeling pretty adult, for some reason. There was probably a Kevin Arnold voice-over in my head soliloquizing about how nothing would ever be the same, etc. I prefer the actual version of adulthood, though, and not just because of the legal risks I'd face if I still drank malt liquor with 15-year-olds in bathroom stalls. The alcohol is much better, for starters.
Take the aforementioned Gin Rickey, one variation of a type of 19th-century drink that features only liquor, soda water and lime. It's great for people who actually enjoy the taste of booze — the tart lime and fizzy soda bring out the flavor of the gin. It's especially refreshing when the air is so sticky you develop sweat stains after sitting out for a few minutes at night. And if you drink enough of them, you apparently start writing sentimental memoir columns like a degenerate version of Leon Hale.
Juice of ½ a lime
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1½ ounces Tanqueray gin
(or whatever brand you prefer)
Splash of club soda
Squeeze the lime half over ice in a highball glass; drop it in when finished. Add gin, top off with club soda and garnish with a lime wedge.