Bring On the Bronze

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Work towards this medal if you’re a casual, “social” drinker. You venture out from time to time, but you tend to frequent the same tired haunts and order the same boring cocktails. Let’s face it – you need some help. Here are some suggestions.

Join a Beer Club
You know beer; in fact you can name almost all of the crappy commercial domestics. Sigh. Isn’t it time you broaden your horizons? English Cellar Alehouse (pictured below) boasts the Cellar Dweller Beer Club. Work down the list to earn prizes ranging from t-shirts to coolers filled with booze. Only 16 people have finished all 200 beers, though one girl did it in just 41 days. For a slightly less challenging option, pop into Wickenden Pub and sign up for the 99 Beers Beer Club. Over 65 people have “been around the world” three or more times.

Try Wine Before You Buy
Drinking Boone’s Farm is completely unacceptable. And unless you enjoy waking up with a massive headache, step away from the Barefoot White Zinfandel. Eno Fine Wines hosts vino tastings every Friday from 4:30-6:30pm and Saturday from 3-5pm. Each session features two varieties; stop in twice weekly to broaden your wine knowledge in no time. Campus Fine Wines also holds tastings on Fridays from 4-7pm and Saturdays from 2-5pm. The owners choose up to four wines for visitors to swirl, sniff and sip.

Sample a Cocktail You’ve Heard About
Listen, despite what Vampire Weekend sings in their song “Horchata,” you will not look psychotic drinking the icy-cold beverage in December: It’s delicious any time of year. Head to Viva Mexico and order one ahora. There are several variations on the sweet cocktail, but Viva makes Horchata with rice, milk, cinnamon, sugar and a bit of vanilla extract. They’ll add coconut rum upon request. Cuban Revolution serves La Floridita, a drink that Hemingway enjoyed while living in Havana. It combines white rum, sweet vermouth, white crème de cacao and lime juice, then is finished with a sugared rim.

Hit Up a Classy Happy Hour
Apparently, my “original hipster” parents brought me along to a few barroom happy hours back in the early ‘80s, infant car seat and all. I’m still a sucker for a good deal... especially if oysters are on the menu. Tazza offers a $1 raw bar from 4-7pm Monday through Friday, along with house-infused vodkas and fresh squeezed juices. Try the Potent Palmer – it’s vodka infused with Darjeeling black tea and mixed with fresh lemonade. McCormick and Schmick’s offers a variety of affordable and delicious food and drink specials from 3:30-6pm daily and 10-midnight on Friday and Saturday. On Tuesdays, local oysters are $1.

Rethink the Sports Bar
Rather than zombie-march to your usual boring pub, make the intentional move to a spot you wouldn’t normally think of as a sports bar. Restaurants are people, too. Angelo’s Civita Farnese (pictured above) is a surprisingly cool place to grab a drink on game night. It’s a staple on The Hill, though it’s undergone a facelift and may look different to folks who frequented the restaurant back in the “old days.” They’re still known, however, for serving old-fashioned, Italian-style house wine in small beer glasses. Cheer on your team at Broadway Bistro while enjoying their famous Ribs and Grits with a glass of Prosecco.

Hit Up a Kitschy Bar
Sometimes a little kitsch goes a long way. Captain Seaweed’s (162 Ives St., 261-9220) is a typical dive upon first glance, but out back behind the bar is an oasis of awesome. With strung-up fishing net, Christmas lights, fisherman statues and a river running through it, the patio is perfect for chilling al fresco with friends. Try their $2 Wench’s Waste... if you dare. The Salon is unique for many reasons: the picnic tables, the ping pong tables and the PB&J sandwiches. I go solely for the Pickle Back Shots: Jameson followed by a pickle juice chaser.

For an Extra Challenge:

Join a Beer (Running) Club at the Wild Colonial: Ask about the Grog & Dog Jog, a fundraiser put on by The Wild Colonial Running Club.

Try A Generous Pour a the Capital Grille: Through September 2, stop in for unlimited pours of nine hand-selected wines – just $25 with dinner.

Try an Official Cocktail of the International Bartenders Association at Kartabar: Order a Caipirinha. This “rustic daiquiri” has just three ingredients: rum, sugar and lime.

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