For the past two weeks, I’ve mentioned that I’ve taken up drinking a new concoction I discovered on a recent trip to Cancun, the chelada. As two astute readers pointed out to me, the chelada can be enhanced by adding a little Tabasco or even horseradish. That drink is called a michelada. There isn’t a bartender in town that knows what a chelada is, let alone a michelada. Maybe they do in the Mexican taverns, but I haven’t been to them.
My advice is to just go to Cancun and order one at Slice’s. Ask for Javier.
On your way to Cancun, you’re going to have to go through Salt Lake International Airport. As airports go, ours is somewhat friendly to drinkers (smokers, even—try St. Louis sometime. Yech! And in Denver you have to drink to smoke). At our airport you can order a cocktail without ordering a meal and without having to join a private club. You can’t do that anywhere else in Utah. Well, you can by winking and blinking, but that’s never mentioned in official state literature.
During a recent trip through our airport I had one of those “Only in Utah” moments. Now remember, the airport is where exceptions were made to our liquor laws to fake out our visitors. I had some time to kill, so I headed into Dick Clark’s for a cocktail (this was before my chelada discovery). I sat down and asked for a V.O. and water, as is my custom. The waitress asked me for ID. I’m 47, have all of my mostly black hair, and am used to winning kewpie dolls at Lagoon because they always guess low on my age and weight. So, I was mildly flattered.
The trouble was, the waitress asking me for ID was a waitress I have known for over 20 years. I used to be her bartender. She said, “Hey, John, how you doin?” and that she couldn’t serve me until I showed her my ID. What? It’s me. Remember? Yup, sorry. I opened my wallet, flashed that ugly ass picture and got my drink. Somewhere a Utah legislator is mighty proud of such stupidity. And I wondered if he or she has ever encountered anything so ridiculous. I haven’t.
The truth is, Dick Clark’s had been on the wrong end of a liquor law citation. Not because they regularly served minors, but because they served one too many underage liquor agents—kids taught to be devious, punitive and sneaky, not honest, enlightening or friendly. You know, Utah values. Just one more lesson of what happens when people who don’t drink cheladas make liquor law.