Tim Nelson

Don’t drink everything you see on the internet

Tim Nelson
July 12, 2018

The 2018 World Cup has encouraged all sorts of nutty behavior and notable moments either centered on or fueled by alcohol. There were the fans who nearly drank Moscow dry. Then, the massive celebratory beer dumpout at the sight of England’s first semi-final goal in 28 years. And that’s to say nothing of the absolute lads who’ve downed their pints and torn up the place because “It’s coming home” (it’s not).

But maybe the most startling beer-based revelation of the World Cup has been something Ross Maghielse saw another bar patron order while watching England lose to Croatia: a Guinness mixed with Sprite.

What could possess a reasonable person to order this abhorrent beverage? Is this some English custom heretofore unknown on this side of the Atlantic, or one man’s descent into madness? Simply put… why?

Obviously, I’d have to find out for myself.

Since I didn’t want to ruin my reputation at the one bar near my apartment that has Guinness on tap, I picked up the necessary ingredients at the bodega for a little in-home experimentation. It would be several hours between when this piece was assigned to me and when I actually worked up the courage to do so.

The Guinness came in a draught can I hadn’t seen before, featuring a cute little monkey holding onto a pint while suspended from a branch by his tail. He seems transfixed by the pint, exuding a childlike joy and profound sense of gratitude for the stout he’s about to drink. It makes my flavor quest feel even more perverse. I could already picture the smile vanishing from his face the second that the Guinness and Sprite collide. Meanwhile, it was just a normal Sprite can, devoid of J Cole lyrics that could inspire me to power through and/or do well in math class or whatever corniness he’s rhyming about these days.

Though treated with care throughout this process, the can of Guinness foamed up on me, rebelling against my nefarious plot. Using Maghielse’s tweet as a visual reference, I filled two-thirds of a pint glass with Sprite, pouring a Guinness floater on top. Aesthetically, at least, the lemon-lime soda and hearty Irish stout mixed like oil and water, looking like a horrible storm.

Neither of the two times I ate at Guy’s American Kitchen before it closed prepared me for this mixture of flavors. I’d say the drink tasted like a rag used to wipe down the bar at last call wrung into a pint glass, but I’m pretty sure my brain just short-circuited as soon as it hit my tastebuds. An orange Four Loko (perhaps filtered through a piece of rye bread) is the closest alcoholic analogue, mainly because it also blends malt liquor and high fructose corn syrup into a single, stupid concoction. A friend who I relayed these thoughts to said it “probably tastes like a Soundcloud rapper,” and I think he’s pretty much right.

Upping the Guinness ratio did nothing to balance out the flavor profile. It was as if I was just pouring perfectly good beer down a bottomless well out of which nothing but nastiness could ever gurgle up. As I got toward the bottom it felt like the Sprite came to dominate, but then again that might’ve been because I was so desperate for a familiar taste to cling to.

So what did I learn? Mainly not to make a ridiculous drink because some allegedly British person in Seattle thinks it’s a good idea. If this drink actually is “really English,” as Maghielse’s barmate assured him it is, that’s only because it pairs well with a stiff upper lip and whatever the hell’s in black pudding. I’m pretty sure his Guinness-Sprite combo is singlehandedly responsible for Harry Kane’s missed chances and the defensive lapses that kept England from reaching their first World Cup final since 1966. Football may not be coming home, but I have a bad feeling this putrid concoction is going to come back up out of my stomach within the next hour.

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