Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.
It was Sunday evening, the Grammy’s were entering their 15th hour with an all-star tribute to cryptozoology (featuring an off-the-hook ballad to the Loch Ness Monster by Tom Jones following Jay-Z’s verse from “Monster”) and we were once again on our way to Bar No. 308. This time we did our homework, we found out recently that the bar — which, at this point, is about as mythical to us as the Chupacabra — is now open on Sundays and closed on Mondays. There’s no way that we’d manage to catch them closed three times in a row. You know why “third time’s a charm” is a saying? Because it’s really hard to screw something up three times in a row.
Well, you would think that. To our dismay, we arrived in the Sherman-Williams parking lot to discover the lights of Bar No. 308 off and a sign on the door announcing that they would be closed in order to prepare for Valentine’s Day. Ugh. We were so close, you guys! We wish we could say things turned out differently. We wish we could have had a relaxing Sunday evening at a newly beloved hipster bar. We could almost envision how fancy we would feel sitting on those swank modern bar stools we’ve only seen while peeking through their windows. We even had the promise of a drink on the house (thanks for the offer, Ben!) to motivate us, and yet we still managed to pick the one day they veered from their new schedule. Maybe Lance needs to stop checking into the place on Foursquare before getting there. Clearly they’re just getting a head-start. At this rate, he’s going to become the Mayor of 308 without having set foot in the place. Let’s make this happen, Internet.
Dejected, we turned away. After deliberating a series of
Michelle’s really good bad ideas (Buffalo Wild Wings, Coyote Ugly, Graham Central Station), we settled on the worst idea. Let’s get tanked on Four Loko.
Location: 1101 Woodland Ave.
Type: Your friendly Five Points gas station
Special: You can buy a banana, lottery tickets and malt liquor all in one location.
Jukebox: Whatever the guy behind the glass wall wants.
What’s The Crowd Like?: Mostly just drunk hipsters fumbling for quarters to buy cigarettes. Someone occasionally buys gas.
Parking: In front of a gas pump.
Ah, the BP in Five Points. You’d think that as this corner of the world got increasingly hipper (read: more gentrified), the gas station in the center of East Nashville’s most unholy pentagram would class up too. Not so much, which is why we knew we’d be able to find cans of Four Loko in their freezer near cans of Drank. The aisles are dingy and the cashier is hiding behind a thick sheet of glass, but where else are you going to buy cigarettes and lottery tickets? We rolled into the store to find those two transactions happening in front of us. And believe us, it was as fascinating as it sounds.
While we were procuring our Four Loko from the freezer section, a couple up front were considering their options. They just won a bit of coinage from scratch-off tickets. Do they keep the cash or go for broke, potentially doubling their payday with a fistful of lotto tickets? It was one hell of a conundrum, if you ask us. They settled for letting it ride and enlisted Mercy Lounge GM/yacht enthusiast Drew Mischke to help decide on what they were going to bet their hard won dollars on. We didn’t stick around to see the conclusion to that short story. We considered it, but the dudes behind us kept going “Four Lo-kohhhhhh,” in the voice of Rob Schneider’s Richmeister character from SNL and the only way to put a stop to that was to get our malt beverages, put them in their sad little paper bags and leave the premises post haste. For what it’s worth, we would’ve gone all in too.
Our poisons of choice this evening were Fruit Punch (Lance) and Watermelon (Michelle). We should note that these particular Four Lokos (Locci?) were deficient from your typical college student killing, alcohol poisoning inducing variety that have been banned in several states. This is a considerable shame, since we really wanted to get in on that shit. For one, this is Tennessee, where any alcohol beverage above a certain ABV can only be sold in a liquor store. Though Four Loko could be considered a danger to mankind, these cans were only 6% ABV and, therefore, lightweight compared to the weapons-grade 12% stuff you can find elsewhere in the nation.
Secondly, these have been reformulated now that the whole “energy drink that gets you drunk” concept has been determined to be bad for you. Gone are the caffeine, guarine and taurine. Which, frankly, takes all the fun out of it.
On the other hand, a full can of Four Loko is still a pint of fruit-flavored malt liquor. It’ll still get the job done, but do you really want that job done? You can answer that question for yourselves. For some reason, we decided the answer to that particular riddle was “Yes.” We don’t remember most of what resulted from our decision to drink these vile malt liquor concoctions, so instead of a transcript, here’s a vague recollection of thoughts without context (also, with lies and embellishments):
- Although it might feel like the right thing to do, you shouldn’t drink Four Loko in your car outside of the gas station.
- Fruit Punch tastes like carbonated Hawaiian Punch. Watermelon tastes like burning garbage and Jolly Ranchers.
- The phrase “I hate Four Loko” is bound to crop up multiple times while consuming said beverage. Especially if you’re drinking the aforementioned garbage variety. And if you’re drinking it with Michelle.
- “I’m going to finish this goddamned thing, even if it kills me.” “That’s probably what’s gonna happen.”
- Once upon a time, you could measure fun in Lokos. Reformulated Lokos measure sadness.
- There are a total of eight varieties of Four Loko, with the most suspect being “Orange Blend.”
- The lack of serving size or ingredients on the can is disconcerting.
- Finishing an entire can of Four Loko does not bring the sense of triumph one might expect or demand.
- “Lance. I hate Four Loko.”
There you have it. We do these things so you don’t have to.
// Photos by Lance Conzett.