Lijit Ad Tag2

Friday, September 10, 2010

Steal of a Deal?

In addition to being a child prodigy (note: she is not child prodigy), Darwin's cousin Sir Francis Galton coined the term "Nurture vs Nature". An interesting debate about the relative impact of genetics vs environmental situation, I think the whole concept is a little bit of an oversimplification and can't be decided with a blanket statement that one is correct while the other is incorrect. (This is in contrast to the Chicken vs Egg debate which I think is quite simple, answer below in postscript). In reality it seems to me that there are individual outcomes that rely primarily on nature (inheriting a rare disease such as Huntington's), outcomes that rely primarily on nurture (language/religion), and then others that are a blend (weight is influenced by genes, but also by lifestyle). In my life however, there is definitely one trait that is completely dominated by nurture; The love of getting a good deal.

My parents love getting good deals, and I have been raised to do the same. My earliest memories of shopping are at the grocery store, where my mom taught me the all important "price/oz" metric, as well as the fact that buying generic versions of many foods (caveat, there are a few foods such as Orange Juice and Ice Cream cake where the generic brand just sucks and should not be purchased) is a way of getting an identical product for less. I've have applied these tenants to my life with usually good results and financial savings.

That being said, a recent dinner at the Thailand Cafe in New York with JC and CA was not a good result.

The Thailand Cafe is a great restaurant in the LES. Not surprisingly, it serves Thai food. As I was recently in NYC for a weekend, I had to return for a dinner. The three of us sat down, and as per the usual behavior of restaurant patrons, we immediately started looking at the drink menu.

The Facts and Figures:

Bottle of Beer: $5
Specialty Cocktails: $8
Nightly Special: Buy one Specialty Cocktail, Get one Specialty Cocktail FREE!

Displaying a high degree of mental math, I quickly came to the conclusion that the ASP (average sales price for the n00bs out there) on a Specialty Cocktail was only $4, 20% lower than a beer!
Holding alcohol content constant, this seemed like a great opportunity and gave me a 20% margin of safety in my enjoyment of cocktail vs beer. (i.e. even if I liked the cocktail 15% less than a basic beer, I was still getting a better deal!) I spent the next four minutes arguing to JC and CA about the validity of my findings, and then the waiter came.

CA was less than impressed with my theory, and ordered a $5 beer. (THW internal thought- "what a sucker!")

JC saw the wisdom in my theory, and opted for the specialty cocktail route. (THW internal thought- "at least someone here is rational!")

I have tried to find the drink menu online but it was to no avail. Suffice to say the menu contained all the traditional cocktails (mai thai, miami vice, cosmo, long island ice tea, etc) as well as some less traditional cocktails (blue lagoon, thunder devil, etc).

THW order 1: Blue Lagoon
JC order 1: Mai Thai

Round One Results: As the name suggests, the Blue Lagoon was electric blue. The most probable ingredients were Windex and Moonshine. I took one drink, gagged, and pronounced it undrinkable. JC had slightly better luck with the Mai Thai. It was murky brown, had a bright pink umbrella, and seemed to be comprised of rotten limes and 151. In a display of good faith, JC offered to switch drinks with me after we each drank half. In a display of even better faith, I elected to give him 98% of my blue lagoon instead of only 50%. JC choked down the remainder of the BL, while I surreptitiously hid my half of the Mai Thai behind the napkin holder. CA enjoyed her Kirin and looked on with amusement.

THW order 2: Coconut Breeze
JC order 2: Elected to let CA pick out his drink, received a Thunder Devil as a result.

Round Two Results: Despite the dismal first outcome, I still felt good about the plan. Yes, the first drink sucked.... but at least I got a little alcohol (emphasis on little, as at this point I have drank 2% of a BL) in my system and my second drink was going to be awesome. And even better, in a rare lack of judgment, JC mistakenly let CA order for him and was about to be getting what appeared to be the worst tasting drink in the history of mixology. So the combination of these two utility-enhancing events were going to return the value of my decision into the positive column.

Sadly I was wrong.

A coconut breeze straight up sucks. A mixture of coconut tanning oil, vodka-RAZZZZZZZ, and some other unidentified worm flavor, I took a 3% sip and quickly pronounced it undrinkable.
The one ray of light however was the Thunder Devil. Allegedly comprised of Tequila, Rum, Vodka, Creme de Coca, and COFFEE; the true ingredients were a more sinister mud, toxic sludge, and the dregs of whatever alcoholic beverages the bartender could find on that given night. Suffice to say, it was more than undrinkable; it was poisonous. CA continued to enjoy her Kirin and look upon us with amusement.

THW Order 3: There was never suppose to be an order three, because that would imply I would need to make an order 4. However, in an attempt to be opportunistic, I quickly responded with a "long island ice tea" when a backup server (who had not brought out my second drink) asked me what I wanted for my second drink. (clearly the sub-rosa mai thai was out of view, so she thought I was entitled a second free cocktail.) Inexplicably, CA decided to inform that waitress as she was walking away with my order that I in fact had already gotten my two drinks, thus turning bonus drink (which would have brought my ASP from $4 to $2.67) into the start of another 2 for 1 debacle.

As you can clearly guess, the long island ice tea was...... Undrinkable.

In a last-ditch effort to recover from my follies, I asked for just a beer on my last free drink. Sadly the waiter informed me, the specialty cocktail deal was limited to Specialty Cocktails, so I had to order another one and that he couldn't get me a beer. I pleaded and begged, but it was to no avail. As there literally was nothing I could possibly get on the menu, I asked instead for just a Coke. And sure enough.... A Coke was "NOT A SPECIALTY COCKTAIL".


Worst economic decision of my life. Ended up paying $16 for 2% of an undrinkable Blue Lagoon, 3% of an undrinkable Coconut Breeze, and 1% of an undrinkable Long Island Ice Tea.

The silver-lining to the story: The perverse joy I experienced the next day when hearing about JC's ThunderDevil/MaiThai/BlueLagoon induced hangover.

P.S. As promised, the answer is: CHICKEN. In a nod to Fermat, I will leave it at that. Perhaps later on I will reveal the proof.


  1. A very accurate account of the evenings events, however I was drinking an Amstel Light...not a Kirin.

  2. Deals are still worth pursuing even if on a very rare occasion they don't work out. Glad you were listening as a child because it sure didn't seem like you were!

  3. No dad, it was me that was listening as a child but I decided to take it to a whole new level and buy EVERYTHING that I deem a good deal. You were too good at teaching us and my closet of 65+ cocktail dresses that all were 50% off (in a climate and social scene where cocktail attire is completely unnecessary) is the proof.