The Third Rail: Never Drink on an Empty Stomach (or, Edible Cocktails)

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A few years ago, I knew a pair of girls who swore by eating a bowl of rice before a night out. They claimed that the carbs slowed down the effects of the drinks later on. [Editor’s note: Or, if your name is Ripsy, preventing such wacky hijinks as drunk yoga.] It’s a nice thought that may hold a grain of truth — like the recent discovery that 3 to 5 cups of coffee per day prevents dementia — but their plan seems a little backwards. Why not just find a drink that slows you down? (I recommend the cautionary harshness of an Angler’s Cocktail: four parts gin, three dashes of Angostura bitters, three of orange bitters, and three of grenadine, shaken and poured over ice.)

Or better yet, why not kill two birds with one stone and just eat your cocktails?

For the gourmets, the field of molecular gastronomy has given us new approaches to classic drinks. The well-publicized New York bar Tailor offers a variety of intriguing “solids.” Their Gin Fizz has the consistency of a sugary Peep (and was about the size of one) but their Rum and Coke tasted a bit like the watery bottom of a rail drink. And honestly, it’s unclear whether a drinker (eater?) can expect to feel any effects from these foodie morsels. As much as cocktail obsessives like to talk about channel knives and Pre-Prohibition recipes, we can’t forget why we came to a bar rather than an ice cream parlor.

So for us practical drinkers there are jello shots (think Body Shots, but with less Tara Reid). That’s right: just because you no longer have a fake ID doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy a taste of spring break. And there’s no need to stick with Everclear now that you’re of age; try some more unusual variations. I’d recommend Tasting Table’s pumpkin pie shots. The weather’s still cold enough to eat pumpkin pie, and vodka never goes out of season. Your mom would be proud.

If you’re looking just for a snack to augment your drinking, then there are plenty of options other than beer nuts. Though the alcohol content is close to nil, I think the best are these gin and tonic cupcakes. They’re a great dessert, and they leave you with a nearly full bottle of gin, another of tonic, and slices of lime to keep you busy while you wait for them to bake. Now what could you make with those three?

Come to think of it, maybe you should have had that bowl of rice first…