This Week's Suspect: Considering Seattle has had a woeful lack of touchdowns recently, it felt like common courtesy this week to feature one in cocktail form, at least. For the uninitiated, the Touchdown is an increasingly notorious bomb drink featuring a shot of any orange-infused vodka dropped into a glass of Red Bull (which ought to have been awarded a Legal Speedballs MVP award by now).
Absolut Mandarin seems to corner the market on the first ingredient, but that's probably more out of mid-range brand recognition than any split-second hint of a difference in taste you'll experience. Likely the only people who are going to get angry at you for using Stoli Ohranj or Grey Goose L'Orange are people who'll think you're wasting expensive booze.However, in deciding to investigate the Touchdown for Legal Speedballs, I had to grapple with a very important question: What is there to say about it that hasn't already been said about the Jägerbomb?
The short answer lies in patriotism. While Jägerbombs have international notoriety and can only be made with the famed German aperitif (although Germany might not want much to do with it at this point), the Touchdown is a uniquely American drink. I don't say this in the wishy-washy marketing sense, as is so often applied to the Manhattan; what I mean is that the Touchdown is more or less the KFC Double Down of mixed drinks. It's simple to the point of deplorability while still somehow being totally excessive, like a dirty limerick in a pint glass.
The Bar: Fox Sports Grill seemed like a perfectly pun-ready venue for the Touchdown, but that was mostly because I'd never been there . As I entered the bar (excuse me, grill), I felt rather silly taking a seat around the circular counter, mostly filled with older, more serious-looking professionals having a quiet drink or two while paying a minimal amount of attention to the Lakers game.
Just as I thought I'd made a critical error, I opened FSG's cocktail menu. Not only was Red Bull in the mix, but there was literally an entire page devoted to Red Bull bomb drinks. This is the only cocktail menu I've ever seen, and perhaps the only one in existence, that refers to the Jägerbomb as "a classic." Suddenly I felt very stupid for starting with a sheepish pint of Haywire.
As much as I wanted to try the Vegas Bomb (Crown Royal and Peachtree schnapps dumped into you-know-what), I had a job to do.
The Effect: As you can probably imagine, the Touchdown's effect is almost exactly same as the Jägerbomb's--with the crucial exception of having even less stopping power than its grandparent. Jägermeister uses about 135 grams of liquid sugar per bottle, giving it the sweet overload that arguably allows it to fit so neatly into the modern American palate. However, Jäger is a distinctly heavy liquor, both in viscosity and flavor. Discounting the burnt-out tastebuds of mad Jägerbombers who put down a half-dozen nightly, the drink has a distinct recoil that stops most users from chaining them together.
The Touchdown, on the other hand, has an empty pleasantness that practically encourages a few more. There's no argument that both bombs beg the inevitable comparison to candy, but here it's the difference between a rich bar of chocolate and a tube of Pixy Stix.
The Verdict: Three out of Four Loko.
At first it might seem silly to compare the tastes of two nearly full drinks which, on average, take less than five seconds to consume. The important topic here is the impression both bombs leave on you. The Touchdown's initial impression is about as faint and amicable as a pat on the shoulder, compared to the ephemeral kick of a Jägerbomb and the utter stomach devastation left by a full can of Four Loko. The binge capacity of the drink is again limited by the fact you can only drink so many cans of Red Bull before your body starts to vibrate, but one Touchdown is all it takes to realize it might be one of the few drinks in the world in which booze is used to hide the taste of the mixer.
On a separate note, next week's edition of Legal Speedballs will be the de facto end of the column. In it, I will head to America's most egregious enabler of combining caffeine and alcohol--the grocery store. Feel free to suggest any variety of household caffeine and alcohol you want in my body by the end of this Friday. The winner will get the satisfaction of making me feel that much more miserable Saturday morning.