Fruit of the (Sa)loons

Scientists recently found that adding ethanol (the alcohol found in rum, vodka, and tequila, etc.) to strawberries and blackberries boosts their antioxidant nutrients. In fact, they confirmed something we've been telling ourselves for years: A splash of the sauce increases the health benefits of colored fruit. So, in the name of science (wink), we headed to the Lower East Side with Megan, Jill, and Liza to test the theory.

First stop: Boca Chica (13 First Avenue). This Latin American bar and restaurant has God on its side—or at least Mother Mary, who peers down from the west wall at the patrons tossing back poolside staples. We went with the caipirihnas (because lime counts as a colored fruit) and were not disappointed: After just two, the Cachaça was working its magic. We felt better by the minute. The atmosphere is friendly and festive—so festive that two Halloween pumpkins remain on a shelf from five years ago—and seems a natural choice for birthday parties and other gatherings.

Next, we walked to Waikiki Wally's (101 East 2nd Street), a tiki-themed lounge owned by the proprietors of Lucky Cheng's. We were barely past the aquarium before we were bombarded by masses of matching shirts chanting, "Hey, ho, drink some mo'." A pub crawl was in progress. Glancing back at the door, we caught the eye of the hostess. "They'll be gone in an hour," she said knowingly. But science waits for no man, so we were on our way.

We then headed over to Stay (244 East Houston) in search of the infamous Punani, a blue piña colada served in a martini glass, but a private party had dibs on the club. They invited us to join, but we politely declined, proceeding instead to Verlaine (110 Rivington Street) to take advantage of one of the best happy hours in the city—4 p.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Once inside, Liza recognized the place from a not-so-stellar date; at the same time, the bartender recognized Liza as the girl whose pad he'd crashed for nearly a week a couple years ago. Bonus: The first round of lychee martinis was on the house—a healthy reward in its own right.

Living Room Lounge (154 Ludlow Street) was next; an investigation into the possibility of finding good-and-good-for-you drinks in a music venue. We immediately regretted the Key Lime Martini once the sticky glass made it into our grubby hands, and journeyed back to Waikiki Wally's to finish the night amid palm trees, faux bananas, and a waterfall—and, bizarrely, amid frat boys, Rockabilly punks, and a man celebrating his 60th birthday. There we indulged in a potent (and disgusting) Blue Hawaii volcano bowl, set afire and brandishing four straws.

Sunday afternoon at the Sunburnt Cow (137 Avenue C) found everyone feeling good (particularly after several Bloody Marys and mimosas included in the $15 brunch). And while we can't say with any authority that our hearts were stronger, our lungs certainly were: Fruity drinks taste goddamned horrible with cigarettes. Wonder if the researchers ever thought about that.

 
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