No, I am not talking about a painful experience in an awkward position not knowing what you were doing. I am not talking about a guy breathing so close in your ears you could hear what he had for breakfast two weeks ago. I am also not talking about minutes of sweaty palms and you fumbling around trying to figure out what you are doing. Those are stories you can keep locked up in a vault and never speak about again. Besides, no one puts their internship experience on their CVs now do they?
This is about the first time you danced with the devil’s honeydew. The tears of angels. The Devil’s sweat. The great equalizer, the bringer of headaches, king of nausea, and the crippler. Do you remember it? That first time your lips touched a bottle, glass, or plastic cup filled with a concoction of alcoholic miscreants.
Mine’s blurry. As it should be. You don’t get to dance at the entrance of hell and walk away with memories. But, for some reason, this tinker decided to bring up some of those memories and I thought, why not take you guys down that alley. It’s pretty dark, we were broke and had no idea what we were doing. So forgive me if my recollections are foggy but here are some of the first alcohols I encountered and what I remember about them.
1. Blue Moon
Vodka aficionados will tell you that the best way to appreciate it is to take it neat. Actually, any alcohol aficionado will tell you to take it neat. But nothing about Blue Moon was neat. If anything, think of a campus guy’s single room, mattress on the floor, wires strewn all over, the putrid smell of dirty socks hanging in the room like a body dangling from the ceiling. This cheap drink had nothing else to offer but memory lapses, poor judgment and once in a blue moon a good story.
Not sitting too far away from Blue Moon these guys could be cousins. The ones that show up at family gatherings like lone wolfs waiting for the other to arrive then cause a ruckus together. No one pays attention to them or asks them to chime in to anything. But see in this scenario Jezlin was the pretty, tattooed, badass, the weed-smoking cousin that smelled nothing but trouble. If you danced with her in your hay days you now know better. Is it even still in the market?
Nothing, and I mean nothing could be added to this drink to make it palatable. If you were at the end of the rope, a sip of this drink would remind you that there are worse things out there.
AKA Kibeng AKA Kibreezy.
Now this one is sort of a living legend. How it survived the great alcohol shift I will never know. But Kibao, was one of those drinks that did not even try to look fancy. It would not dress up for a date if you called it for one. It was loud and rowdy – a high school rugby match packed into a bottle. On the plus, if you had excess nose hairs, two sniffs would have them all burnt out. I can’t say it was all that bad though. You just needed lots of hot water, lemons, and you will live to enjoy it.
4. Flying Horse
Forget the name, there was nothing mystical about this drink. First, it came in a plastic bottle and cost no more than a loaf of bread. It looked like a dehydrated man’s pee and smelt like the pathetic ending to Game of Thrones. Nothing, and I mean nothing could be added to this drink to make it palatable. If you were at the end of the rope, a sip of this drink would remind you that there are worse things out there. Not sure if this still exists but if it does, tomorrow we march, on a quest to kill this creature. We cannot allow it to breed.
5. Kenya King
AKA Machozi ya simba. The origin of the name I will never know. But, my guess would be every sip would be accompanied by tears and anyone brave enough to lift up the bottle to put it into their mouth was definitely a lion. If it were anything it was those streets in downtown Nairobi where shops close by 5 and no one ventures after 5.01 PM. An alley in the hood where only the “known” can pass. You would take a look at this drink, put your head down, and walk away.
This drink had a logo of a Moran warrior on the bottle. Legend had it that after two sips, the Moran would either disappear or lift one of his legs putting it across the spear. The drink felt like an illegal relationship between a slave and a slave master. No one was to ever know about it. You kept it hidden and even in conversation it was in hushed tones. If you ever shared this drink with a friend you kept it a secret. Carried it to the grave – that’s if it did not carry you to the ditch first leaving you exposed with an empty bottle laying next to you like an indiscretion.
If you walked into a party and saw a Popov on the table you might have as well written your suicide note and gotten it over with.
7. Furaha Brandy
The only happiness this drink brought was to the distributor because if anything it was just a looming cloud of darkness for the drinker. Furaha was like those guys that come to a party well dressed, looking like they are out to have a good time then after a while you realize the music stopped and the only blackberry in the room playing music out of the Ampex speaker is missing.
This was the dangerous rich kid. The one that hangs around hooligans, shunning their family’s wealth for a frisky dance with the wild side but could swing a mean left hook if provoked. This drink though a bit palatable could take down two horses and an elephant. If you walked into a party and saw a Popov on the table you might have as well written your suicide note and gotten it over with.
Much like the French military leader, this drink waged war and started a revolution in your head. It had a policy “every man must fall”. You literally could not stand in it’s way. It charged like a possessed army and ravaged through your blood stream leaving no single sober cell. Guys drank it not because it was good, by God it was putrid, but because it was popular. It was the guy with a weird name but a cool short form – Naps. Even the cool kids liked it and christened it “black and yellow”. Now who would turn down anything affiliated to Wiz Khalifa?
10. Black ice
Yes, black ice. The saving grace. This was the girl you take home to your parents because she is “presentable”. It was sweet, rarely had a pungent smell, and packed quite the punch. This was a fan’s favorite especially if you wanted to have an afternoon in town without raising suspicion when you briskly walked across the sitting room to put a heavy head down on the pillow.
Now indulge me, what drink from back in the day do you remember?