Young drinkers lack one fundamental quality when it comes to booze: Loyalty.
These chaps will gobble up anything with alcoholic content and usually the higher the better. They have no qualms about squatting over at the liquor aisle and picking bottom shelf poisons that come in clear glass bottles with cheap stickers thrown across them. Half the time it is easier to pronounce Ecclesiastes than it is to pronounce the names on those crystal clear poisons. But for them it is understandable they are working on a tight budget. Balancing between hours to always catch the off-peak rides, saving on meals by finding joints tucked in the hearts of their campus and the one-off tricks to scheme an extra coin from a parent disguised as academic excursions.
It is the feminist of beers. Strong, opinionated and definitely looking to rub you the wrong way should you cross a line. I imagine her with a bull ring. Short dreads. Wearing t-shirts that are folded up at the sleeve.
But when you get older, things change. You slide into a routine. Which might seem boring. No one wants to be the person who wakes up 39 seconds before their alarm goes off. Or the person that robots their way out of bed, grabbing a towel, and scuttling into the shower. But before you know it you are in one. Secretly you might harbor dreams of striking gold, breaking bank and living the life of a debonair billionaire. But you know what? Those are only dreams perfectly captured on Jay-Z’s verse in the Empire State of Mind “Eight million stories, out there in it naked City is a pity, half of y'all won't make it”.
I have slipped into this routine. It is part of growing old. I will be lying if I say I welcomed it with open arms. I didn’t. I fought it. I went down kicking, biting, screaming, clawing, pinching, but in the end, I registered for Huduma Number and I lost it. Now routine is the order of the day with a few wild nights factored in just to keep the sanity flowing. It is at this stage where you rarely make new friends. You are content with the ones you have and the ones you don’t. You have settled on two favourite beers. You have a poison of choice that is almost always stocked up in your fridge. You even have a type of people you date.
But let me stick to the beers - Tusker and Whitecap. Those are my go-to beers of choice. Now, the weird thing is I take White Cap when I am feeling spiffy, if I am at an outdoor event or a classy lounge. When served in a can the beer looks gorgeous. There’s just something about it. For Tusker, it is blind loyalty. It is what I will take when I am at the local or at bars in faraway towns that only stock it. Plus, for most people, this was the first beer ever tasted and heavily advertised since we were kids. It has for generations been the symbol for after-work relaxation. But the one thing both of them have in common is I like them in twos. Leta mbili baridi is the slogan.
Then there is Guinness. It is the feminist of beers. Strong, opinionated and definitely looking to rub you the wrong way should you cross a line. I imagine her with a bull ring. Short dreads. Wearing t-shirts that are folded up at the sleeve. The kind to spark a stimulating conversation that challenges what you’ve always believed in. Whether you like her or not is your personal problem, she does not care about what you think of her – she’s just her and very unapologetic about it.
Nothing much has changed about my opinion on the drink. The few times I have tried it the flavour was overwhelming. It takes over your tongue, throat, and spirit. I could feel the disdain from my ancestors with every sip. The drink is bitter and when this comes from someone who can take their vodka neat over ice it counts for something. I just shelved the idea of ever enjoying a Guinness and kept it moving. Until recently while sitting on hard wooden stools gathered around a wooden barrel at one of these clubs that have day jobs as car washes (that’s how bad the economy is) where I tried the Guinn and Coke.
A Guinn and coke can last you through three full conversations and a round of nyama. It paces your thirst, gives you a kick while still keeping you balanced perfectly on the border of tipsy and drunk.
This is where things took a turn. It was surprisingly good. The combination of the stout’s bitterness and the fizzy sweetness of coke made it palatable. Actually, it made it taste good, really good. Poured into a glass a Guinness appears pretty heavy and the texture when in the mouth feels the same. But add in some coke and it becomes surprisingly light and the flavour profiles open up. You get to experience the beer in a new light. Sort of an awakening, deep down you know it is abominable that you’re chasing your beer but that’s the beauty of such guilty pleasures. If you don’t care no one will.
I now find myself more inclined to get a Guinn and coke whenever I don’t want a stiff drink but I still want something strong. I like the fact that unlike the normal beers I am used to, the taste and texture of a Guinn and coke co-habit peacefully. It also lasts longer. A Guinn and coke can last you through three full conversations and a round of nyama. It paces your thirst, gives you a kick while still keeping you balanced perfectly on the border of tipsy and drunk.
Here’s a disclaimer though knowing how to mix the drink is crucial. Do not overdo the coke. Ideally, a 300 ml coke bottle should take you through one and a half bottles of Guinness. What you need to remember is you are trying to make it more palatable not to completely lose its flavour.
So if you’re looking to break routine this is one way to go about it. Try one this weekend. I know I will and for the kicks of it might just try using a sprite instead. Who knows what opportunities lay ahead.