I don’t know if you’ve heard— it’s an election year. What are you drinking?
My activities during election time have never been that consistent. I remember in 2016 being balled up on a friend’s couch, excited to see our country elect its first woman president, and then the blood draining from my face as the night wore on. It was the first time since the Bill Clinton era that I tuned in to a network television vote tally. But watch parties were definitely the trendy thing four years ago: I had my “Game of Thrones” routine down cold, and similarly, I had gone to at least two gay soirees that broadcast Hillary Clinton debate Donald Trump while several among us sported “I’m With Her” pins and T-shirts.
The mood is much different this year, clearly. The only party invite I received came prematurely in the summer, “Election Night Victory Party on Castro Street SF,” which received a couple appropriate comments related to coronavirus spreading. A few more are ones I relate to along the lines of: “Don’t get ahead of yourselves, remember 2016?”
This time around—armed with a newspaper column as a platform—I want to say “get out and vote,” but I’m a little perplexed by that sentiment right now. Do I really want you to vote if it’s to re-elect this crazy person? Why not just say “vote for Biden”? I realize I’m preaching to the choir, anyhow: a bartender pointed out to me how small a portion in San Francisco voted for Trump four years ago, something like 37,000 people.
In true campaign style, I literally walked door-to-door to bars this week and asked them their thoughts and plans for election night this year. All of them were caught off-guard by the question. In five bars I visited, none of the bartenders knew what they’d personally be doing that night, and no parties at the venues had been planned. My friends echoed similar sentiments, saying they planned to eat cannabis gummies, play video games, watch movies, and generally avoid the play-by-plays.
“The minute-to-minute updates are unhelpful and usually give me anxiety,” one said, and added another: “My household has decided to disengage fully on days of tension, and we will entirely zone out on Election Day.”
I probably won’t be able to look away, but I understand and relate. I spent the majority of this year distanced from social media for the same reason.
“I’m just eyeing my liquor cabinet to make sure I’m prepared for hell night, don’t mind me,” an editor who suggested this column told me.
My outdated booze stock includes aged Fireball, Bailey’s, gin, tequila and whiskey. There’s also a little bit of super cheap vodka that I used to make Jell-O shots for my nightlife events, and a big bottle of raspberry syrup and milk as chasers. I suppose I could make layered red, white, and blue Jell-O shots, or in a twist of dark humor, I could make a White Russian.
I did convince one bartender to mix me an impromptu cocktail for this column, at Chug Pub in Outer Sunset. It’s a dive I frequent because it also houses Casa Barajas, a Mexican kitchen that makes some of the best crispy tacos I’ve had in The City.
Nate Durand and his manager, Heather, are new there. He mixed me a simple drink colored with Blue Curacao to match our voting choices. We brainstormed cutesy names for the cocktail but couldn’t land on one: a “Biden Harris,” or “Barris” or “Hiden,” or “Dem Juice,” Durand suggested. (On Election Day, the bar will serve them for $5 each.)
I asked what he typically does on election nights.
“I usually vote and then celebrate or cry,” he said, then added jokingly, “I drink 151 rum, then put the shot glass upside down and snort it.”
Bar info: Chug Pub, 1849 Lincoln Way, S.F., (415) 242-9930
Biden Harris (or Barris or Hiden or Dem Juice)
• 2 ounces of Cazadores Tequila
• 1/2 ounce of Blue Curacao
• 1/2 ounce of pineapple juice
• Dash of grapefruit bitters
Combine ingredients in a shaker, add ice and shake, and then pour over ice. Garnish with a lemon or lime wedge.
Saul Sugarman is a San Francisco-based writer, event producer, and apparel designer. Last Call with Saul appears every other Sunday in the Examiner. He is a guest columnist and his opinions are not necessarily that of the Examiner.