Bar Beat

Long Island Iced Teas, Lone Star State-Style at Marquis II

In response to last week's paean post on the Long Island Iced Tea, commenter Chris suggested that I check out the Texas Teas proffered at Marquis II. He added:

Report back on the experience, because it's tough not to get wasted starting the night with one of those.

That, sir, is a challenge I must accept.

Although Marquis's famous intensely alcoholic teas are discounted on Tuesday ("Teasday"), I opted to visit with a few friends (also gifted with Irish livers) on a Monday in an attempt to escape some of the crowds.

Apparently Marquis II has benefited from some recent renovations, but since it was my first visit, I cannot speak to this claim. It certainly seems to have retained its dive bar character, with mismatched retro chairs, but nevertheless maintains a warm -- dare I say family-friendly -- vibe with huge, comfy couches; board games; and paperback books for perusing. The perfect environment, I think, for lounging and sipping a garish 32-ounce cocktail.

Early evening on a Monday, Marquis II was remarkably uncrowded. I scanned the few small groups of patrons so as to double-check no one with an immediate and pressing influence on my employment status was present, then bellied up to the bar to scan the chalkboard tea menu. Marquis offers regular and premium teas in a variety of flavors (strawberry, pear, blueberry, blood orange), all of which are supposedly so strong the management limits you to ordering just three. That's okay. I wasn't sure I could make it through one.

Even one sip of my premium blood orange Texas Tea told me this drink was trouble.

With only the faintest taste of alcohol, the Texas Tea was more like a ginormous glass of juice -- you know, the kind you used to pour yourself when Mom wasn't there to yell at you to drink water instead. A few ounces in, I felt the warmth of a nascent buzz creep into my limbs; halfway through, the phrase "deceptively strong" was flashing in my mind.

One of the reasons why I like drinks with a lot of volume (and, at 32 ounces, the Texas Tea certainly qualifies) is the protracted pleasure involved in frequent small sips. The challenge, however, with the Texas Tea, a drink so lightly sweet in flavor, is not to guzzle it as one does a large soda on a hot day, especially when you're simultaneously downing handfuls of salty cheese nips.

Glass empty, I did indeed feel pretty darn good. And I definitely wanted a second. I had a credit card, a designated driver, snacks on hand, good company -- why not indulge? However, something in my gut (okay, maybe my liver sending signals to my brain) told me that after two Texas Teas, my night would take a turn for the worse. "Sure, have another drink," said my gut, "but something else." I complied and had a merry old time.

Some day, some night, perhaps, I will ignore this warning voice and have two. Texas Tea-drinking readers, how does the two-tea experience compare to the single-tea foray? And, do I dare, or have you dared, pushing the three-tea serving limit?

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Joanna O'Leary