Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Secret Menu: Drinks

Imagine this scene:

I strolled up to the bar and took a seat; the seats were cushiony. I winked smoothly at the bartender – he fully turned around – shoot, it wasn’t a dame. Still, I called out my order. The same order I had been calling out for five years…ever since my ex-wife left me five years ago. (That temptress.)

“I’ll take a blue dragon.”

“A what?” replied the bartender (let’s call him Billy). I could tell his mustache needed some trimming. Perhaps with my pistol, which was the only thing that could knock him down faster than my glare could…

I tipped him a five and walked away.

And this is what “off-the-menu drinks” conjures up in my head. Okay…so I exaggerated a tiny bit. But really, the idea of customized ordering is glamorous (albeit on the small scale, and although it shouldn’t be. After all, at Burger King, you’re supposed to have it your way), and it’s something I’m going to try. There is an extensive secret menu within chain restaurants, and I’ve picked three drinks to start off with:

1. The white gummi bear smoothie at Jamba Juice. This was something I saw on the Jamba Juice Wikipedia entry, before it was sidetracked to the secret menu. (Conspiracy!)

2. A London Fog. Not the cocktail, but the drink below on the Wikipedia page: Earl Grey tea steeped in soy milk and vanilla syrup. I was reading a Canadian coffee forum, and it seems that Starbucks makes it under-the-table because another chain has copyrighted the phrase. In the States, apparently 1369 Coffeehouse in Cambridge (Mass.) makes it. I'd still like to try ordering it at Starbucks and see how strange that might be.

3. Caffe Medici. In more detail from the Espresso and Coffee Glossary, another Canadian site:

A doppio poured over chocolate syrup and orange (and sometimes lemon) peel, usually topped with whipped cream. Formerly, the Last Exit, now gone, was one of the few places in town where you could get one of these, although I've heard recently that you can get a Caffe Medici at the Pearl, a coffee house also located on the Ave (where else?) which has been described to me as having "the spirit of the Last Exit more than the Last Exit in its final years."
I'll credit our neighbors up north for the last two picks - judging from their directions on where to get coffee, they just might be more dedicated than the rest of us.

If you're looking for more, Slate offers a more academic take on another off-the-menu Starbucks drink, the short cappucchino, and relates it to profit margins.

And as they put it, all you have to do is ask.

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