College is a time to experiment — a time to push your limits and try new things. Maybe you'll learn to speak a new language! Maybe you'll travel across the world to immerse yourself in another culture's art and history. Maybe you'll find an exciting new group of amazing, passionate friends who completely challenge your ingrained ideas about yourself and the world. Or maybe, just maybe, you'll be one of the millions of college students each year who choose to expand their horizons ... by totally lowering their standards.
Your ideas about what constitutes legitimate dating, nutritious food, or acceptable levels of household cleanliness — college is an exciting time to experiment with lowering the bar in all of these fields! Is there really a better way to find out who you truly are than by spilling Cheeto dust all over the pile on the floor where you keep most of your clothes, while wondering if the dude you hook up with around 4 a.m. most Saturday nights would be interested in having brunch with your parents during Friends & Family Weekend? If there is, I didn't discover it during my five and a half glorious years as an undergrad.
But one of the most thrilling arenas in which you can lower your standards during your college years is the world of booze. Not like you came to college with any standards about booze, of course. But you probably had visions of yourself as a sophisticated young intellectual, sipping fine whiskey or a chic artisanal cocktail at a cool party, while you bantered wittily about electoral politics or Thomas Pynchon or string theory.
And yes, that'll happen. About once every nine to 12 months. But during the rest of your college years, you're probably chugging some (or all) of the foul concoctions below. Enjoy them, because in a few brief years, you'll wince to remember that you ever raised them to your lips. These are the best days of your lives, folks!
1. SUPER CHEAP VODKA
There are no four more dangerous words to utter inside a liquor store than “I’m on a budget.” Because those four words are how you begin your journey to the very, very bottom shelf to retrieve this bottle of nail polish remover masquerading as a beverage for human consumption. With a faux Russian name, some vaguely militaristic-looking logo, and fumes that could stun a police horse, this stuff is an ordeal both going down and coming back up (and it is almost definitely coming back up).
2. LOCAL BUDGET BEER
Have you ever wondered what water would be like if it tasted horrible and made you have to pee every 12 minutes? Well, you don't have to — you can make this dream a reality just by tucking into a six pack of your area's favorite regional budget beer. Pro tip: You can easily find any area's local cheapo beer by looking for the stuff named after a nearby town, geographical feature, or landmark that definitely deserves a better fate than to be associated with this dirty-sock juice.
3. ALCOHOLIC LEMONADE/ ICED TEA
Take a bottle of Arizona Iced Tea, leave it out in the sun for three months, and you're halfway to reaching the "flavor profile" of most booze-infused iced teas and lemonades. But hey, at least you're not drinking one of those horrible boozy "energy drinks!"
4. ALCOHOLIC “ENERGY DRINKS”
Yes, the days of Four Loko being composed of actual liquid crack are done. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still grab a can of Red Bull, mix in some vodka, pretend that you don't notice the "children's cold medicine" after-taste, and then stay up all night with your roommate, sweating and having a very serious, five-hour-long discussion about how you are just feeling SUPER PSYCHED RIGHT NOW.
5. FISH BOWLS
Being served a drink that literally looks like your future hangover is a very unusual experience. But the fish bowl — that'd be anything that looks like windshield washer fluid, smells like candy, and is served in a trough with something you'd purchase in the "impulse buy" aisle of Target floating in it — is just that rare beast.
6. SUGARY FLAVORED VODKA
Perhaps somewhere, in the annals of mixology, there is a genuinely delicious and drinkable cocktail that calls for a splash of Cinnabon-flavored vodka. But until the day that that recipe is unearthed (I imagine that it's written on the back of the Constitution, a la National Treasure), Cinnabon-flavored vodka — as well as marshmallow-flavored vodka, gummy-flavored vodka, cotton candy-flavored vodka, candy cane-flavored vodka, or any other vodka seemingly designed to be served at a bachelorette party attended only by 12-year-olds — remains a candy-coated nightmare.
7. COCKTAILS WITH "HILARIOUS" NAMES
Would you like a Harvey Wallbanger? What about a Sex on the Beach? A Slippery Nipple? A Screaming Orgasm? A Four Horsemen? A Prairie Oyster? Of course not; nobody actually wants any of these things. But oops, too late, you ordered it to make your friends laugh and now you have to drink this glass of blackberry schnapps and uncooked eggs and pork juice, or whatever the hell is in these things.
8. 40 OZS
Once you've lowered your standards enough that the aforementioned regional budget beer just isn't doing it for you any more, it's time to investigate the exciting world of 40 oz. beers. How can they afford to sell you so much beer for only $2? You're about to find out, friend.
9. GIMMICKY SHOTS
Bailey’s and lime juice go together like … well, Bailey’s and lime juice. But look at the way the Bailey's in this Cement Mixer shot is curdling! Isn't that, um, more exciting than drinking regular, non-curdled Bailey's? Wait, maybe you'd prefer a Liquid Steak? Oh, uh, it's Bacardi and Worcestershire sauce. That's funny, right? Don't you want to drink something funny? WAIT WHERE ARE YOU GOING?!
10. COCKTAILS MADE WITH UNEXPECTED MIXERS
Captain Morgan’s and orange soda, you say? Sure, why not! Jaeger and Red Bull? Well, both of those drinks come in bottle-like containers, don’t they? So it totally stands to reason that they'd combine nicely, then, and not taste at all like the weird liquid garbage that runs out of the bottom of trash cans after it rains.
11. BOXED WINE
No beverage on earth treads the thin line separating "super sophisticated adult dinner party beverage" and "substance that you throw up all over the faculty parking lot" quite as nimbly as boxed wine.
12. BEER PONG BEER
Well, you're the one who's pre-med, so you tell me — how clean do you think that one glass of water that's full of hair, dust bunnies, and shoe grime is actually getting that ping pong ball?
13. ANYTHING SERVED OFF AN ICE LUGE
Let’s just say, the odds that you’re going to find yourself with a mouth full of Veuve Cliquot at the bottom of one of these babies are not amazing.
14. ANYTHING SERVED OUT OF A TRASH CAN
No matter what it is, if it’s being served to you with a ladle out of a 30 gallon Rubbermaid, you’re going to live to regret it.