The Empty Nester: The Most Appalling Cocktail Ever Created

We get a lot of somewhat insane press releases at the Houston Press. From the "Muffin Man's" "penis-shaped" Montrose restaurant to a box filled with tuna and men's panties, we've seen it all.

But a press release I received today took the proverbial cake. It went a little something like this: "Moms, are you closet alcoholics who can't wait till the kids are gone to booze it up There's Something Wrong With Aunt Diane-style? Are you depressed that your college-bound children have left you alone with your miserable husband and mid-level managerial career, forcing you to question all of your life decisions as a result? It's not too late to become an alcoholic! Here's how!"

Actually, the real press release managed to be even darker:

We've created the perfect libation for those mom's battling (or reveling in) their Empty Nest Syndrome. Plus, you can't go wrong with red wine AND tequila. Trust me - it's delicious.

The kids are away, so mom will play! Whether you're feeling sorry for yourself or basking in the newly found solitude, the Sauza® Empty Nester is the perfect cocktail recipe for adjusting to Back to School bliss or blues.

That's right: It's a press release that is actively encouraging already-depressed women to abuse alcohol. It was simultaneously the most crass and most upsetting press release I have ever read. I cringed and winced with every sleazy sentence.

And somehow, the cocktail itself was even worse: essentially an amateur-level margarita mixed with red wine and garnished with the last, shriveling shred of your dignity. If you're keen to see exactly what agonizing, clawing desperation at the loss of your children tastes like, here's the recipe to try at home:

1 ½ Parts Sauza® Silver Tequila
½ Part Cabernet Sauvignon
½ Part DeKuyper Triple Sec
½ Part Agave Nectar
½ Part Fresh Lime juice

Not having children, I can't really speak to Empty Nest Syndrome nor its apparent drive to make mothers drink tequila mixed with red wine, Triple Sec and salty, bitter tears.

So I called my own mother, who -- I'm assuming -- experienced Empty Nest Syndrome when I left for college in 1998 to see if the loss of her one and only child drove her to combine tequila and Cabernet in horrifying, abominable ways.

My mother is much more qualified to answer questions on Empty Nest cocktails and press releases than I am anyway: She's a veteran red wine drinker, a chef, a mother (obviously) and a 25-year veteran of the marketing industry, where she worked for firms like Leo Burnett and Winius-Brandon as well as major corporations like Coca-Cola and Miller Brewing. Essentially, she knows her shit.

I sprung the call on her at 9 p.m. last night, and launched straight into the tough questions:

Did you experience Empty Nest Syndrome when I left for college?

Yes. I cried for three straight weeks.

Oh my God, Mom. Are you kidding?

No. I was lonely for you.

I can't have been very good company at 17 years old.

You were! I missed the life in the house, girls running up and down the stairs. Eighteen years of it. And it wasn't just you that was gone. It was all that life that was gone. All the giggling and the parties and the posters, you know? It was very quiet and I wasn't ready for it yet.

When I left, did it ever occur to you to drink?

No? I'm not one to drink my sorrows away. Why? It occurred to me to find something else to do with my time that didn't involve drinking.

Would you ever mix red wine and tequila? And I promise I'm going somewhere with this.

[Indignantly.] No, that's gross. Who the f*** would think of doing such a weird-ass thing anyway? Those things don't belong in the same meal.

I like that you referred to that as a meal.

Don't put the word "f***" in the interview.

Goddamnit, Mom.

Use "Who the hell," then, if you have to use a bad word.

Fine. Anyway, the reason I'm asking you about this [Note: It's a tribute to the weird stuff I call my mom about that she hasn't even questioned me about any of this so far.] is because of a press release I received today from Sauza tequila's PR company.

[I read the release to her, complete with description of the Empty Nest cocktail.]

That sounds like to me a chaser for a bottle of sleeping pills. It's pure desperation. You're hoping your husband will find you dead in bed when he gets home. It depresses me to even think about it.

I mean, it's essentially a margarita with red wine poured in. You know?

It's pathetic. Are you sure someone didn't hack their email?

Yes, I'm pretty sure. And are you sure you never considered mixing red wine with tequila when I left for college?

[Dryly, now.] As sad as it was, I didn't think about drinking. It never entered my mind. Especially not that shit.

What's disturbing about it, to me, is the idea that some young marketing guy is making light of what is a very upsetting time in many mothers' lives.

I haven't been in marketing in so many years... That, to me, shows the brain-dead 30-year-olds -- no offense -- in marketing today, the idiots who get their master's degrees and think they know everything. That's the level of marketing expertise that's out there. The days of marketing genius -- the days of David Ogilvy and Leo Burnett -- those were all over years ago. The ones of us who were good are out of it out of disgust. If I had to put something out like that, I'd quit before I'd release a press release like that. I'd be ashamed.

So you think a 30-year-old guy probably wrote that?

Probably. All the people my age are out of that business. Someone with age and experience is not valued.

What would your reaction have been if you'd received this press release while you were in your Empty Nest period?

I would be offended. I would think it was a joke at first, like something that The Onion had written. That might even warrant a phone call to the company: "Is your marketing department on drugs or did they just get out of junior high last week?"

So, you're sure you're not going to try it?

I'm pretty sure. My wine refrigerator is full of really good wine. I would never adulterate a good red wine with tequila, nor would I adulterate a good tequila with red wine. I mean, that's like saying: "Let's put Brussels sprouts and strawberries together." Let's put Brussels sprouts and strawberries together and call it a day.

Thanks, Mom.

You're welcome. Good night.

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Katharine Shilcutt