“The September neighborhood drink of the month helps you say ‘adios’ to summer,” read the cheerful Applebee’s news release. I wasn't particularly eager to say goodbye to summer, this year’s having been a pleasant one as summers go. On the other hand, I will pretty much say goodbye to anything when a $1 cocktail is involved — my dignity, my liver, and yes, my knee-jerk aversion for Applebee’s.
Given that, it wasn’t long before I found myself wheeling into a nearby Applebee’s. (It doesn't have to be long for anyone. There are at least 18 Applebee’s on Long Island, and they’re sprinkled as liberally as the barbecue sauce on a rack of double-glazed baby back ribs). Even by fast-casual standards, a Tuesday happy hour at Applebee’s can be a sobering experience. The dining room seemed like it was desperate for someone to tell a joke, and the only other person at the bar was a woman staring forlornly at a plate of three tacos, each standing at attention and daring her to take a bite.
The Adios cocktail swiftly set before me purported to be “a colorful twist on the traditional Long Island iced tea.” Also, a “fusion of vodka, rum, tequila and gin with tangy flavors of blue Curaçao, sweet & sour and Sierra Mist.” Hmm. I judged that a 10-ounce mug filled with ice would likely contain room for just an eyedropper each of so many ingredients. That it was colorful, however, there was no doubt. The festive concoction was bluer than blue, sweeter than sweet and imbibed within seconds. No appreciable effect on my blood-alcohol level was detected. Another, please!
Minutes later I was saying buenas tardes to my second Adios. “Want something from the menu?” asked the bartender.
Maybe just a plate of fries, I replied. Not long afterward, an expediter took one step out of the kitchen and proclaimed “fries” in a voice suggesting that she’d called out numbers at the DMV in a previous life. I raised my hand.
“Just so you know, there’s a three-drink limit on dollar drinks in New York State,” said the bartender, tossing me the stink-eye and shoving a third Adios my way.
I left my stool feeling a bit troubled, a bit tipsy, and also a bit thrilled that my entire bar tab could have been paid with loose change from the car.
The Adios cocktail is available at participating Applebee’s for the month of September. It costs $1.