By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Wine makes the Unrepentant Sissy Drinker puke. Not that she can't have fun with alcohol: More than two cocktails and she'll treat pals to play-by-plays of four-hour root canals; three and she'll cough up opinions she should've kept to herself ("You know, I always thought you were so cool. Not "cool" cool, but like, just never really reaching out for the cool. But you caught it. Which was so cool.") But USD can't achieve such boozed up brilliance with wine, as even a few sips on an empty stomach will kill a night.
So what to do on a trip to Paris, where drinking vin is de rigueur?
It's not much of an issue at her first stop in the City of Light, the discothèque-cum-salsateque Barrio Latino (46-48 rue de Faubourg St-Antoine, 22.214.171.124.84.75), owned by the same people who are behind the insidious Buddha Bar. The megaclub, laid out like a four-story bordello of thick red couches and crimson walls, excels in frothy, Jimmy Buffet-style booze. USD can spot the holy vision instantly: fluorescent frozen-drink makers glowing in the distance! Ho, ho, we're home! She jubilantly takes a gamble, skipping the Temptation (rum, banana, pineapple, coconut milk and grenadine) for an $11 mojito that tastes like it's flavored with bubble gum. Two of these have little effect on USD, who's reluctantly dancing to a Dire Straits remix. Is that even possible? Où est le damn salsa, yo?
A few days later, USD mulls over alcohol-free alternatives: jus d'orange, café crème . . . or water, ideal for prison sentences and luxury trips abroad. At a brasserie in the Marais district, USD orders a carafe d'eau, and sips on a friend's comped kir. Why, how much more pleasant this is, reflects USD, thinking back to previous Europe trips where she'd brazenly kick back with a mini Coke. Just a carafe d'eau! That says, "She's on antibiotics!" That says, "recovering from a bout of bronchitis!" Even, "she might be dying!"
After a night at popular Marais bar Le Petit Fer à Cheval (30 rue Vieille-du-Temple, 4th arrondissement, 01.42.72.47.47), she moves onto Latin Quarter student standby Le Crocodile (6 rue Royer-Collard, 5th arrondissement, 01.43.54.32.3). It's like a better-looking KGB, with boarded up windows, dim lighting, delightfully grubby wooden chairs and tables, and walls papered with old ads and magazine articles. USD spends a good 15 minutes deciding what cocktail to sample, what with a list of more than 260 available. "The Gitan," with Calvados and a pear liqueur, is a yellow drink the color of pineapple juice and almost sickly, syrupy sweet. It's too girly even for USD, but oddly enough all the French students in the dimly lit room are indulging in such candy-colored options.
Sigh. Maybe it would have easier to just drink the goddamn wine, the USD realizes on the last day of her trip. On the way to the airport, she nabs a bottle of Burgundy for Wino Roommate, at liquor store Nicholas on Rue de Rivoli. "What a pain in the ass to lug," she moans, mowing down slow-moving witches on the airport escalator. "That girl better deserve this!" she whines, as she crams three bottles under the airplane seat in front of her, limiting her precious legroom for the duration of the flight.
Wino Roommate opens the gift upon arrival. "Wow, you brought me wine!," she cries, offering USD a taster's sip, which USD imbibes in the amount of time it takes WR to knock off the whole bottle.