Drink a Shot of Tuff Juice
A gloomy evening had been shaken and stirred into a gloomier night, and the only people left in the bar were the diehards. These were my kind of people, the kind who still appear in the 400 level, scattered like busted darts, to watch a seven-win NBA team. They're all looking for that miracle shot: a shot in the gut from a t-shirt cannon, a shot in the arm for their lousy team, or a shot to their insides that makes them forget about the pain.
The barkeep, Fulgencio Rey, was off for the night, but I needed his help. He grabbed a few bottles, then held the silver shaker up to his nose and inhaled.
"Yeah," he said, and nodded. "That's Tuff Juice."
This all went back to Nate and Besse Rose. You know Nate; he's the guy who yelled "You are the devil!" when LeBron James was introduced the other night.
Nate and Besse have a friend from Denver who keeps inventing mixed drinks in honor of Broncos quarterbacks: the Plummer, the Cutler and so on. Nate figured he'd do the same for the Wizards, and set out to create the Butler. That way, if he ever ran into trouble after an ordinary night out stretched into double-overtime, he could just say "The Butler did it." (Speaking of which, watch this shot.)
Nate and Besse went to the Greene Turtle and said they needed a potion that was both manly and Wizards blue. They turned to barkeep Jon Hendry, who accepted the job.
"I just put some [stuff] in a glass," he later explained. The recipe: vodka and soda, with a splash of blue (preferably Island Blue Pucker schnapps) and a splash of sour (or pink lemonade). Quicker than a fourth-quarter lead could disappear, the Butler was born.
During a meet the team event this fall, Besse ran into Caron Butler, the drink's namesake. She told him about the beverage, and he seemed intrigued. Then he asked Besse if the drink was called Tuff Juice.
"I got nervous," she wrote me. "I tried to make him happy by lying and saying that it was."
So now they needed a new drink, a shot. Something that went down hard, all sharp elbows and floor burns. Something that left you bruised, yet filled with respect. They went to Rey.
"They said they wanted a drink called the Tuff Juice," he remembered. "I tried to think of what was tough. I mean, TUFF juice. Orange juice isn't tough. Pineapple juice isn't tough. Grapefruit juice is tough, and 151 is definitely tough."
That was it, then. A shot of Bacardi 151. A splash of energy drink. Some grapefruit juice, to mask the 151 and add its own bite. Nate and Besse and their friends approved, and now they can stop in before tip-off, before things have gone bad, for a "Set-Up:" one Butler, and one Tuff Juice.
I told Butler about this drink, and asked him what he thought.
"It's a green drink, Hpnotiq mixed with something else, to give it the green look," he guessed. I told him it wasn't so. "Nah, a little Hpnotiq in there," he suggested again.
"Tell him leave the bartending to the bartenders," Rey advised. "He's a great basketball player, props to him, and if he wants to come back here and bartend, I'll hook him up. But other than that, leave the bartending to the bartenders."
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