Oh... my... God.

So on November 15, 1997, my sister Melissa and her longtime squeezebox Jeff Willmon were married. The wedding was great, we had a total blast. But the reception ended early, around 6:30. The parents and aunts and the rest of the older folks were just going to head home, but we, the younger party crowd, were only just gettin' started. We headed into the Quarter to hang out at the newlyweds' French Quarter hotel for a while, and then headed over to the venerable Pat O'Brien's on St. Peter St. to hang out at the piano bar.

It took us a while to get in (not to mention a hefty handful of graft paid to the obstinate doorman who was reticent to allow the groom's younger brother, age 17, into the bar), and I quaffed a Hurricane while I waited.

We finally got in, and my cousin Roxanne asked me, "Hey Chuck, have you ever tried a Skylab?" I hadn't, actually, but I had heard that the Skylab were perhaps the most notorious drink at Pat O's, a bar infamous for its stealthily strong fruity tropical drinks.

I was game, though, so I ordered one. The waiter whipped it up and presented it. It's less than half the size of a Hurricane, green, and seemed to glow with its own inner light. It was quite pretty, actually. I had a sip ... oh my. I should have known something was up when I realized I could actually taste the alcohol in it. Most drinks at Pat O's will get you shitfaced and you never even know you're drinking alcohol, since they're so sweet and friendly.

It tasted nice, though ... fruity and citrusy. I finished it -- as I said, it wasn't a very big drink -- and didn't really get all that much of a buzz from it. So I ordered another one.

We were singing along with the pianists at the piano bar, having a great time, and I managed to quaff the second Skylab. Amazingly, my head still felt well-together, and the waiter came by and asked if we wanted another round, so ... I ordered a third one.

About halfway through that third Skylab, all of a sudden ... I experienced one of those "dolly in, zoom out" things in my vision -- except my eyes aren't zoom lenses and I wasn't on a camera dolly. Immediately I realized that I was probably drunker than I had been in about 12 years.

I don't remember much about the rest of that evening. I sorta remember leaving the bar. I remember us encountering some street person outside the bar who did some kind of dance and who gave us all Mardi Gras beads. I immediately wanted to tip him for being so wonderful (I don't get drunk very often -- you can measure the times between my drunkennesses in years -- but when I do become a drunk, I'm a very affectionate one), so I reached into my wallet for a single. The smallest bill I had was a ten, so I, in my infinite, optimistic, and trusting drunk's manner ... handed him the ten and slurred, "Gimme nine ones back." He took the bill, looked at it, looked back up at me ... and vanished into thin air. My last coherent thought was to say to myself, "Shit."

Next thing I knew I woke up on my sister Marie's couch, in my tuxedo. Apparently I had been driven to the home of a friend of Melissa's, sat on the kitchen floor with her best friend Cherie and laughed and laughed and laughed, then was driven back to Marie's, where I bent the mailbox looking for the key, tore the doorbell off the front door frame, and immediately plowed past everyone to slurp out of the kitchen faucet like some kind of animal (passing up the Kentwood water dispenser). I don't remember any of this. And the next day I suffered some rather unpleasant aftereffects of alcohol poisoning that I don't care to describe here. (Let's just say that I didn't throw up.)

I am now going to teach you how to make a Skylab. Then I'm going to tell you that you'd have to be insane to drink it. Caveat imbibor.

Combine in a cocktail shaker and strain into an 8-ounce crested glass filled with ice. Have alternate transportation available, or restraints.

I told this story (and gave the recipe out) to a bunch of friends of mine who are on a little private email list with me. Most of them immediately wanted to make a batch of Skylabs, and serve them to guests at Christmas, New Year's, and/or Super Bowl parties. This is why I both love them and get a little worried about them.


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Chuck Taggart   (e-mail chuck)