The Ugly American: The 5 Best Cocktails According to How Crazy I Behave While Drunk on Them

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1. Bermudian Dark and Stormy

I rate this at the top because there is nothing more delicious than a Dark and Stormy if made correctly, which is to say there are only three ingredients: black rum (not dark rum, black rum), Bermuda ginger beer (not Jamaican, Bermuda) and a slice of lemon. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received an abomination of this simple drink stateside, so much so that I’ve take to ordering it thusly, “I’ll have a Goslings and ginger beer with a slice of lemon, please.” Because I just want to recreate the cocktail that made me brave enough to scuba dive off the coast of Bermuda, where there are sharks, people.

2. Hawaiian Mai Tai

I know that the Mai Tai was invented by Trader Vic in Oakland, California, but then the Hawaiians went and adopted the drink as one of their own, and who am I to cast dispersions upon an adopted child? Especially if that child is so delicious and makes me steal golf carts from Hawaiian resorts and crash them into a drainage ditch? By the way, I think there’s a sewage-side table reserved in Hell for bartenders who dump a bunch of grenadine into a glass of Myer’s and pineapple and then try to pass that off as a Mai Tai. A real Mai Tai requires orgeat syrup. It’s made from almonds and is the reason authentic Mai Tais are the nectar of the Gods. Please take your grenadine and die by the hands of Peruvian cannibals, thank you.

3. Mexican Margarita

A true margarita has never felt the filthy touch of sour mix brush its lovely lips. A true Tijuana margarita is a simple masterpiece made with quality tequila, lime juice, triple sec and maybe, maybe (and I actually prefer this) a dash of agave syrup flash blended with crushed ice. Today if you go to Tijuana Tilly’s, you may still be able to see that picture on the wall by the women’s toilet depicting me sitting on a busboy’s lap with my skirt over my head. Now that is a margarita.

4. French Wine

Nouveau Beaujolais! All I know is that once on a fateful third Thursday in November during the late 1990s, I once woke up in a strange room sandwiched between two flight attendants while the hotel maid poked me with her feather duster. It’s memories like this that keep me galvanized as I slog through this years-long impersonation of a worrisome, lactating mother figure full of fear and admonition, which I expect will last until my girl graduates college.

5. New Orleans Hurricane

Today a Hurricane is just rum mixed with a packet of chemicals that foment into a concoction that results in a hangover you can’t even treat with chemotherapy. But when I was 16 it was literally a flower vase full of rum mixed with fruit juice. I was fresh off the cruise ship sporting a spanking new fake I.D., and my mother was freshly divorced and unsure of whether she should be the “cool mom” or a real mom, which culminated into a night when I soaked my head in a bucket of this stuff—the real stuff—and woke up literally living with the Pat O’Brian’s waiter who served me my first Hurricane. Now that is a drink.

Photo: Kristoffer Trolle, CC-BY

Hollis Gillespie is Paste Travel’s The Ugly American columnist. She is a writing instructor, travel expert and author of We Will be Crashing Shortly, which is on bookstore shelves now. Follow her on Twitter.