I drink Diet Coke. All day long. I have a one at 9 in the morning and then basically have one every hour on the hour until I go to sleep. Friends have joked that if I don't have a 20-ounce in my hand, there's one in my purse. I know it's not healthy, but I'm addicted. And try telling any addict -- from cigarettes to sex -- that what they're doing isn't healthy, and see how far you get. Anyway, the only time I don't drink diet coke is when I'm out and about. Then I usually drink Amaretto Sours. But what I've recently learned is I have to get a new drink. Stat. I know, it sounds trivial, but it's become something of a problem. I'll be out and about and I'll elbow my way to the bar and then the bartender will look at me and I'll draw a blank. I'll drink just about anything: beer, shots, wine, wine coolers, wine in a box, you name it. But what happened was this: once upon a time, a friend of mine insisted I taste her amaretto sour, extra cherries. With one sip, I was hooked. It was like liquid candy rolling down my throat. Heck, I thought, this is even better than jello shots. Amaretto sour, extra cherries, became my standard. The first drink of the night. The last drink of the night. Any drink in between. This went on for almost a year before I realized that ordering an Amaretto Sour was akin to ordering a Zima. Or a wine cooler. Or a milk. I, of all people, understand how important accessories are: a simple silk scarf can make almost anyone look classy, a pair of stilettos can do a lot for even the doughiest of legs. The amaretto sour, extra cherries, says, “What are you, a 2-year-old girl?” And, really, that's just not the image I wanted to present to the world, or to every bartender in town. (A friend of mine, after I told her I was embarrassed by my drink order, said that when she used to wait tables an amaretto sour was one of her main tipoffs that her customers were underage.) I decided to go on a quest for the perfect drink. Something that was a little rough and tumble, but tasted good. Something that I could both order and drink without cringing. I scoured my head for every drink I had ever had, trying to revisit the ones I thought I liked as well as the ones I didn't. I test drove cosmopolitans, margaritas, Jack and (diet) cokes, gin and tonics, Tom Collins, Bloody Marys, wedding cakes, Georgia Peaches, fuzzy nipples, Long Island Ice Teas, Midtown Ice Teas, blue drinks whose names I forgot the minute I uttered them, Kamikazes, vodka gimlets, tequila sunrises, Seven and Sevens, hard lemonades, ciders, Smirnoff Ices, hand grenades, hurricanes, and the list goes on. It was hard work. You'll notice that some, probably most, of those don't sound so rough and tumble. I just got so caught up in the quest, I felt I should try everything. Just to make sure I didn't cheat myself out of a great drink. So what happened at the end of the day? Well, I got raving drunk for starters. And perhaps did a couple things I regret now. But I never found anything that I could make my own. I found a few things I can alternate between, though, and perhaps that's the way to go. All that variety is the spice of life stuff. Or I might stop drinking alcohol altogether. I hear Coca-Cola is introducing a new drink this fall, Diet Coke with a lemon twist. Mary Cashiola writes about life every Friday @ memphisflyer.com. You’re invited to come along.



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