Geeks Who Drink, for those who don't know, is an organized pub quiz for teams of up to six, spanning pop culture categories from foreign currency to two-hit wonders to dog breeds to whomever James Lipton might be creaming over during an intro to Inside the Actors Studio (and those are just from the last few weeks). There are several nights and locations in the metroplex, and my team had been playing regularly on Sundays at the Amsterdam Bar with quizmaster Tony, but with the heat and recurring schedule conflicts, we were stoked to check out Barley's Monday nights with George.
And things are certainly different. For one, it seems the Amsterdam crowd is one of the few in the vast Geeks Who Drink realm who actually keep their team names from week to week: Our team was typically Downtown Sasquatch (teen-geek points to those who can ID that without Google), and I gotta give a shout-out to Minoriteam and The Doctor and Her Companions. At Barley -- and grant it, we've only been there two weeks -- there's only one team (STEVE HOLT!) who've kept their name alive.
Second, there were lots more popped collars. But then we realized that last week was just the first week of school at SMU, so those collars will surely die down as A) guys have to do their own laundry and don't want to bother with starch, B) they get weary from hazing and C) everyone's indie/country beards (which they started growing after hearing the Avett Brothers) start chaffing against their collars and they decide that the former is the trend they're gonna stick with (in that case, you'll see them again at Barley, but after they form a band in their junior year).
But the biggest difference? No, not that we've actually won more than once. That's right, the inaugural week, our Lifetime Movie Ninjas copped a $50 bar tab and spent the shit out of it the second week under the moniker Hide Yo Kids, Hide Yo Wife. We still had to pay $36 but had landed first place and thus $50 for the next week, meanwhile discovering an amazing drink in the process. Yes, Carey's Root Beer Float is the big draw for us now.
Made by the lovely, well-read, raven-haired and talented bartender, Carey, the root beer float isn't your basic sweet and flavored mixed drink, it's a mutha-lovin' shot. See, Carey informed me whilst I deliberated over what to order (like I do), that Barley's never really had specialty cocktails, per se, but they do have specialty shots. Often, each bartender has one he or she does especially well. And how.
Hers is root beer vodka, vanilla vodka and a splash of Bailey's -- all shaken with ice, then strained and topped with a splash of Coke. As far as the portions, well, she's surely not gonna say and quite frankly, we don't want to know. It would take all the magic away. And friends, that shot is like ice-cold, soda jerk, paper cap, poodle skirt-with-a-flask-strapped-under-it magic.
It's arrives to you with a bit of froth on top -- just like a soda fountain float might -- and a come-hither aroma just like root beer. Then when you down it -- and if you're lucky you can talk Carey into having one with you, but be warned because she'll best you on drink speed -- the flavor is unbelievable. Not like root beer. Like fucking root beer.
My teammate Justin took in my reaction and ordered one for himself. Being a root beer fan, he generally goes with a root beer vodka mixed drink but hadn't had this shot. He was, without hesitation, a fan. A "shit, that is good" fan.
It was so damn tasty I feared I wouldn't be any help to my team if I had another one -- I had, after all, just blanked on two Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals I totally knew and couldn't risk another upset. Instead, I ordered a "root beer vodka and something so it'll be a tall cocktail, you know?" and our server said she'd confirm that with the bar so I didn't get anything scary.
It came back as a root beer vodka and Coke, and Justin confirmed that it was indeed the sort of root-tail he typically enjoys. Jen ordered a lovely cherry-vanilla shot from Miss C because she isn't particularly fond of the root beer.
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As for me, I loved root beer as a child, then round my late teens and into my twenties began to absolutely abhor the stuff. Just last month, however, a pill got stuck in my throat and I had to swig from my boy's root beer to avoid chokeage. And it was good. So, without a near-choke experience, I might never have considered the concoction known as Carey's Root Beer Float and that would clearly be a sad thing. What's better than a root beer float that gets you briefly loaded and doesn't require a spoon?
Answer: A free one paid for with our $50 bar credit for winning first place!
Which reminds me... Think you can totally beat us tonight or any other Monday? Let's fill up those booths, trivia people. Bring it.
UPDATE: Immediately after writing this post, we received word that tonight's Geeks Who Drink at Barley has been canceled. Bring it next week. Or go this week and get a shot. Or do both.