At the behest of my OverServed cohorts, I took advantage of the dinner I was celebrating for my mother in law’s eighty-eighth birthday *applause* – at The Olive Garden, and knew I could not leave without a booze review … or else (yes, that is how we work people, we will threaten each other to drink.) I asked Doug, “What if the drink is terrible?” and he said,
And I said, “What if it’s really good?” and he said,
“That’s great too!”
That’s all I needed, win-win right? A text from Peter followed quickly after, reminding me that this MUST BE DONE, in that you don’t want to disappoint us do you tone – I didn’t want to disappoint them, or you.
So it must be said I have never set foot in an Olive Garden before this, I have seen the commercials, and always thought it would be my first choice for dinning – after coming out of my bomb shelter and it happened to be the only restaurant standing with a working grill. Well, that’s what the commercials said to me anyway – so now I’m here. Before I get to the booze review, please let me share these two exchanges at the O.G.:
Me: Hi, please bring us a bottle of the Mondavi Chardonnay.
Server: Sure … (then they ask how many glasses, and all the other courtesies, etc. yadda, yadda, blah.) [Five minutes later] … Oh, I’m sorry Sir, we are out of that wine … may I suggest a rose’?
Me: Ummmm. No. Do you have this [the next one down] Chardonnay on the menu?
Me: I was looking for a Chardonnay, so if you have this next one I’m sure that will be fine. [Note: There are NO red Mondavi’s on the menu]
Server: Oh, yes. (he leaves dutifully)
He returned with the first bottle I ordered saying they found one tucked away in the basement, or, I am trying to save face, please tip me. We did, he was nice.
Then … well, something I can say, in my thirty plus years of dining out, I have never experienced:
Me: Do you have any cracked black pepper?
Server: Um. Yes.
Server returns. Holds pepper mill over my plate, awkwardly. While twisting and turning at an almost feverish pace.
Server: (nervous chuckle) I have never done this before …
Me: ………………………………..*mind being blown*………………………?
So what on earth did I order for our Booze Review?
STRAWBERRY LIMONCELLO-MARTINI, $8.75
Smirnoff Citrus Vodka, Caravella Limoncello, and strawberries with a lemon sugared rim.
I passed around the colorful cocktail and recorded a few responses from my fellow diners:
Molly: I don’t like limoncello.
Pam: Reminds me of a daiquiri, maybe good in the summer.
Ernie (the birthday girl): Pleasant, unchallenging. (if you knew her that reaction totally makes sense, and she had already had a double Jameson rocks before this.)
Charlie: I don’t think Dirty Harry would drink one of these.
Jenny: Like a strawberry daiquiri.
Me: All I can imagine is what gummy bear diarrhea must taste like. It was filled with a sweetness only a Danny Devito -Telly Tubbie character could enjoy. To be fair I HATE sweet drinks, but I can be impartial when bartenders make a valiant attempt at a sweet cocktail for the masses. This however, made me feel as if I could sense tiny Doozers burrowing cavities into my teeth throughout the meal. It should also be noted that I love limoncello, which is why I chose the drink. Unfortunately it does not make the grade. I would repair this Wonka nightmare by choosing an unflavored vodka, adding cointreau ( especially if I’m gonna pay that much for a drink), leave a splash of limoncello, and if you must sugar the rim do not use something resembling rock candy – a granulated sugar rim would do just fine. Also the strawberry fruit garnish was poorly used,as they should have placed a quartered piece of strawberry in the glass instead of three thin slices. A chunk of fruit will absorb some of the alcohol and make for a nice bonus shot at the end of the drink, then add an orange twist for flare.
In closing I guess I’d say, when you find yourself at a great American food chain, skip the specialty drink list, and go for the rail mixers or beer list – but in this case I may have just been satisfied with the oldest concoction in the world … H2O.