My Five Favorite Guilty Pleasure Drinks

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I’m not really much of a writer. It takes me a long time, I have to constantly erase and re-write huge passages, and I’ve always, always, always got a case of writer’s block. So I was thrilled to come up with my latest-and-greatest blog post last week while I was in Germany : My Five Favorite Guilty Pleasure Drinks. I got started by writing a few notes and talking to others at the BCB about their favorite guilty pleasure drinks, and was moving along quite nicely with the outline of the blog post.

So I’m sure you can imagine my outrage when I found out that fellow Pacific Northwester Stevi Deter over at Two At The Most had the same idea with her theme for this month’s Mixology Monday: Guilty Pleasures.

Actually, I was pleased as punch. Two birds, one stone, I love it when a plan comes together.

I’d like to preface this post with two important reminders:

1. These really are my favorite guilty pleasure drinks, I’m not making any of this up. You can offer me any of these drinks at pretty much any time, and I’ll gladly accept. I just feel a slight-to-great amount of shame at the time.

2. This is not an open invitation to the manufacturers, promotional departments, public relations firms or distributors of every crappy flavored liqueur in the world to send me samples of additional hideous products. These are my guilty pleasures, I’m happy with them, and I don’t need any more.

So without further chatter, here are my guilty pleasure drinks:

1. Vodka

I badmouth the spirit in private and trash it in public. I grimace every time you order a vodka martini – “Shaken, up, with three olives” – at my bar. For all of the shit I’ve talked over the years, vodka is my number one guilty pleasure drink – I will always accept a vodka on the rocks after work. I’ll drink a Screwdriver at the airport, and a Greyhound when I get on the plane. And if you’ve got a bottle in your freezer, you’ll catch me stealing straight shots right out of the frosty bottle neck. I love the stuff.

But I still hold it with a reasonable amount of contempt because I know vodka’s dirty little secret: it’s all the same. I won’t ever spring for the $50 bottle, and quite frankly neither should you. When I’m bellying up to the bar after a long night, I usually order a mid-priced vodka like Stoli or Smirnoff, and they both taste great.

Because after a long night of making – and tasting – drinks full of ingredients like single-malt Islay scotch, housemade Madeira cask-aged bitters and various bitter Italian liqueurs, I get a little tired of flavor. So I order a vodka, and I almost always accompany it with a…

2. Crappy Beer

Speaking of being tired of flavor, I could really go my whole life without having to choke down another smoked mocha porter, cardamom stout, or quadruple-hopped 3-hour IPA. I don’t drink beer for the flavor (sorry, Beaumont), I drink it for the beer.

But rather than being a purely reactionary choice, crappy beer is a true guilty pleasure: I like the taste. Sure, you won’t catch me dead wearing a beer logo-emblazoned trucker hat, but I’ll happily swing a Bud longneck with you, or help you finish that pitcher of Miller High Life so we can roll down the street for dollar Coor’s Light pounders.

Because that’s the way Dad rolled, and that’s how I roll, too.

3. Anything with Baileys Irish Cream

I will drool like a dog at the mere mention of Irish cream. I’ll take it in my coffee, I’ll drink a B-52, and if you buy me an Oatmeal Cookie shot I’ll slam it before the toast is over. I even use those little International Flavors non-dairy Irish creamers in the morning. I’m ape-shit for Irish cream and I don’t care who knows it. Hell, I even make my own when I’ve drunk the liquor store dry.

If you asked me what I thought the two miracles of modern civilization were, I’d have to name: the internet, and Bailey’s Irish Cream, both circa 1974. I shudder in horror when I think about what life must have been like before email and BFKs, and I thank my lucky stars every day that I only had to endure three miserable years before all was right with the world. In fact, there’s only one Irish cream-based drink out there I won’t stand for, and that’s a Cement Mixer. Blasphemy.

4. Jägermeister

I know it’s a frat boy drink, but unless you’ve had it coming out of your nose at 4 in the morning and can’t physically drink the stuff, there’s no way you can look me in the eye and tell me that you don’t like Jägermeister because you’re a liar and I won’t believe you. Shoot it, sip it, I’ll take it any way I can get it. I even had my eyes opened one late night at Simon Difford’s house (hi, Simon!) when David Cordoba mixed up one of his famous Jägeritas and I practically begged him for the recipe. And here it is:

The Jägerita

2 oz Jägermeister awesome German liqueur
1 oz Cointreau
1 oz fresh lime juice
½ oz simple syrup

Shake ingredients over cracked ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

5. Piña Coladas

I love Piña Coladas so much I want to marry them. I know that some of you in Hawaiian shirts will turn down your noses at me, all “How dare he suggest it’s shameful to drink a Piña Colada! It’s a time-honored classic, an archetype, Hemmingway drank them for God’s sake!”

Bullshit. It’s made in a blender, and it calls for cream of coconut out of a can. Enjoying one is the guiltiest – and the most pleasurable – of guilty pleasures.

So there you have it, internet pals. My five dirtiest secrets. But I’ll leave you with this one caveat: there might be a lot of cocktail übersnobs out there, but I guarantee you that I’ve shared each one of these guilty pleasure drinks with at least one of them. And we smiled and clinked glasses as we felt the guilt. Those of you who don’t believe me, are cordially invited to suck it.

70 Replies to “My Five Favorite Guilty Pleasure Drinks”

  • Jake says:

    I work at a higher end restaurant on the island of Kauai but was trained in California on classic style cocktails. The drinks I get sent back are pina coladas. So I’ve made it a mission to perfect them. Luckily we don’t have a blender so I’ve resorted to other techniques.

    Recipe 1 calls for pineapple juice, lime juice, simple syrup coconut rum (Koloa) aquafaba and a fancy little peyxhauds bitters design on the froth served up in a cocktail glass.

    Recipe 2 calls for muddled banana, canned cream of coconut, pineapple juice, white rum and a tiny float of aperol served in a hurricane over fresh ice.

  • Miguel says:

    Just read this post (better late than never), great “jagueritas” recipe! (thank u mr. cordoba).

    i personally believe that jager and cointreau make a great pairing even better if you have fresh citrus juices at hand.

    the baileys confession is but at least controversial…have you got any special irish cream recipes you like best?

    my personal crime are sgroppinos…i can drink jars of that sweet icecreamy, frozzen, lemon yoghurts.

  • Nick says:

    Jagetmeister is something I found went pretty well in some cocktails only recently.

    This article is pretty interesting and gives you two interesting ways the German’s employed to make it mix it.

    With bitter lemon or with ginger ale and bitters. Both pretty delicious!

  • Janessa says:

    Pina coladas are freakin amazing, I actually added some angostura last time I decided the calories were worth it, and it was heaven.

    There ain’t nothing wrong with wanting to live in a jimmy buffet song.

  • Steve says:

    Ha, great list. I’m with you on pretty much all of those things. I have mixed feelings about cheap beer, though. Living in Chico, California (home of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company), where decent beer is both ubiquitous and pretty inexpensive, I don’t have much use for the cheap stuff.

    As for Piña Coladas… I’ve had some on beaches in Ecuador that were made from fresh, whole pineapples and coconuts that, as far as I could tell, had just been retrieved from trees on the beach. I didn’t feel manly drinking them, but I think the deliciousness overwhelmed any feelings of guilt I might have had.

    I do like Harvey Wallbangers though… does that count?

  • Steven Morgenthaler says:

    Give me a crooked I and i’ll return the favor with a crooked eye and a wink. MD 2020 makes me see clearer than a cop on the prowl. Gin and tonic can leave it slippers under my bed any night!A chiparinia is like sleeping next to a brazilian girl. OEOE

  • chuck says:

    I have to agree with Jeff on the shot and beer. Jägermeister awesome German liqueur and a 22oz PBR draft are exceptional ways to end the night after mixing sugartini’s

  • funny stuff! pure liquor genius…..and taurmini says “hi”

  • Garretto says:

    Man your gavel ’cause I’m gonna be found guilty for an occasional summer Long Island Iced Tea –I make them strong and refreshing. Also, I agree on the Baileys–in a fireside Mudslide and yes a poolside Pina Colada is a great summer rumshake! But only one.
    I’ve laid out special moments to enjoy these, but a Bud and side of Jim Beam is good any time.
    Would Tanqueray on the rocks, dirtied with a couple barspoons of anchovy stuffed olive juice, and a trio of olives fall into this category? Last night it was the precursor to the Bud/JB closer.

  • I still have fond memories of my Oly Stubbies while attending Evergreen in Olympia, WA. After a hard days work the best tasting beverage is a a light mass produced beer.

    Also, you can see Robert mix up a great cocktail using Jagermeister here:
    and a fantastic Pina Colada here:

  • Eugene says:

    Nice article. Thanks. 🙂 Eugene

  • Jackie Patterson says:

    A true Mai Tai is nothing to feel guilty about. The original recipe is not muddied with fruit juices or purees. It is a balanced and delicious cocktail that if any real bartender respects themselves, they should know the true recipe. Thank you Martin Cate for changing my drinking perspective with Tiki.

  • B-Rod says:

    My real guilty pleasure drink is the Mai Tai. In most respectable Hawaiian (in Hawaii) joints, they serve them in a lowball with just maybe a pineapple slice on the rim – not all umbrella and cherry in a massive daquiri glass like here on the mainland.

  • B-Rod says:

    Don’t feel guilty about loving Jäger! Most people hate the stuff. I love it and think you should devote an article to awesome Jäger recipes like the Jägerita which I intend to try. I also plan on incorporating it into Thanksgiving this year – Jäger sweet potatoes all caramelly and…herbaceous.

  • Stevie P says:

    I *do* hate Jagermeister, mainly due to jagerbombs which seem to be quite popular around town and if one gets placed in front of you, there is no option but to participate. Urgh..

    ‘The Jägerita’ however, is awesome! Good stuff.

  • Ouroboros says:

    Pleasure is too rare to be a source of guilt. Also, I am a lush.

  • Jenny Adams says:

    Actually, I make my living as a writer – and I feel am fairly shit at concocting most cocktails (great at drinking them though – better than many men twice my size) – and two days ago when someone asked me, “who is one of your favorite writers who writes right now”
    Your name came up. Seriously … I said “this guy Jeffery Morgenthaler is hysterical.”

    I also incidentally love:

    Miller High Life
    Ciroc and Hangar One (stupidly guiltily expensive)
    Vodka martinis even better than gin ones (so guilty)
    And watching Tiano videos! (God help me) LOL

  • Sam Harrigan says:

    Ahh Pina Coladas…I love them in the worst way and I don’t care who knows it. Use that can of Coco Lopez, blend it up, stick an umbrella in it & top with a cherry…I don’t care. There’s nothing quite like a drink that ends with the burn of well rum and brain freeze. Delicious!

  • This post reads like a bartenders April Fool’s list, however it’s October & you’re serious ~ kudos to you for coming out of the closet. For a second I thought you were going to say you occasionally do vodka shots with Jamie Boudreau – now that would’ve been unbelievable.

  • I dunno about that false modesty about your talents, Morgenthaler. Your writing keeps me entertained for hours…

  • heckler says:

    smoked mocha porter.

    YUM!!!! Is it as good as Rogue’s Chocolate Stout (on tap at sweet basil, $2.50 at happy hour)???

  • kurt says:

    Your top 10 drinks brought me to the blog a while back. This cements the deal. I think these are the best drinks that prompt us to see what else is behind the bar. The new discoveries are wonderful, but we’ll never give up these old stand-by’s.

  • Tokyo Tea says:

    The only truly wrong aspect of Jagermeister is the Frat kid who orders it from me, with his popped-up collar, his sporty wristbands, and his sunglasses on at 1:45 in the morning, and insists in dropping it in Red bull. To the KD’s and the Thetas, thats marriage material all the way!

  • Doug Winship says:

    Since Steve has an obvious interest in Vodkas having genuine differences, I’ll jump in as someone who does not have dog in the fight.
    My taste skills have faded, but back in the day I drank nothing but Vodka “Martinis” (if that’s what you call a jar of Vodka with a splash of Vermouth). In those simpler days, I could identify most of the major brands by taste with one sip. And I definitely had preferences. I still hold prejudices against the ones I decided to hate….
    So, if you’re sober and having a shot straight from the freezer, I’d say finding the right brand to keep on hand is worth some work.
    As soon as you mix it with almost anything though, you can forget the differences between anything over eighteen bucks a bottle.

  • Another MxMo which I missed!
    Anyway Jeffrey, you are a much more guilty pleasured person than me…

    But you really surprised me: Beer – well you are American; this is not a guilty pleasure, this is patriotism!
    I was surprised about the vodka – I still have your admonishing words in my mind “vodka is drawing you to the dark side”…

    Jaegermeister? Well – its not as bad as its reputation.

    Pina Colada & Baileys? I never thought, that I will say that about you… but this is sissy, really [I have to admit that I don’t like coconut and I don’t like creamy cocktails – I might also be sissy if I would like both]!

    But anyway – even after your confessions: we still like you!

  • Steve Raye says:

    Some observations on yours:
    -“I’m not much of a writer…” it’s not easy for anybody. I had a great copywriter once tell me, writing is easy, just put a piece of paper in the typewriter (hey, it was a long time ago) and open a vein.
    -Vodka. Steve Olsen gave a great presentation at Tales definitively demonstrating there are differences. Admittedly, they are relatively small compared to the differences in, say, bourbons, or other aged spirits. So are you saying it’s not so much whether there are differences, as whether it makes a difference in a cocktail?I mean, hey…if there’s no difference weren’t why wouldn’t you opt for Popov instead of Stoli and Smirnoff?
    -Bailey’s…well there’s a new product out there you should try…Coole Swan Dave Phelan, an ex Bailey’s brand manager developed it as a superpremium step up and he did a great job taking a plain old great product and making it significantly better. He spoke at our recent US Drinks Conference in London and had the whole audience drooling during his presentation.

  • Dr. Bamboo says:

    Ahhhh….Jager & crappy beer. Without them, America’s institutions of higher learning would utterly cease to function.

  • Jackie Patterson says:

    Man this made me giggle, especially after our Jameson’s shots and Stellas last night! I have to admit that I have a dirty little secret myself. I think it falls under the Piña Colada umbrella of guilty tropical pleasures. I like the occasional pour of Alize, especially if there is sparkling wine in it. I’m from Hawaii, how could I not like passionfruit? Sooo ghetto.

  • Kathryn says:

    I would go for an Iron City over a Bud any day. But my family’s from Pittsburgh, so it’s more of a comfort thing. If only they distributed Yuengling in Oregon!

    The pina colada, though. I can’t imagine anyone not secretly loving that. My dad’s got a full bar set up at home, and the first thing I do when I’m back to visit is make up some pina coladas.

    Here’s a question for you though: you’ve got to have suggestions for a good pumpkin beer that would be found in Portland. Not such a “guilty pleasure” but the way the weather is now, I could use one.

  • SeanMike says:

    Every bartender I know likes the shot and cheap beer. A lot of them around here use Grand Marnier, though.

    Ahhh, cheap beer…it is always my friend. Except when it’s not.

    Speaking of Jaeger – ever had 999? It’s like the Lithuanian version.

  • Jeff Frane says:

    I’m irony-deprived? Pfft.

    Now that you’ve tasted Saison Dupont, you need to find Avec les Bon Voeux from the same brewery, their winter version. It’s my desert island beer and if you’re really nice I may give you an aged bottle.


  • Beaumont – I finally picked up a Saison Dupont last week and found it to be delightful. But after the weekend I’ve just had (man, do I heart San Francisco bartenders), I stand by my earlier statement that cocktails are all the same and I don’t want to see another one for at least a week.

    And, Frane – I think tongue-in-cheekiness is lost on you, my friend 😉

  • Jeff Frane says:

    I am deeply disappointed in you, my son. You may need to turn in your Christian name.

    Crap beer? I could forgive you just about anything because you make such great cocktails and you funny, but this? This cuts me to the quick.

    (Although I’m with you on the mocha cardamom blueberry beer. I’m a classicist.)

  • Jeffrey – I just came from a bar in Toronto and I’m here to tell you that Achel Extra and Denison’s Weissbier (a local hefe) and Saison Dupont couldn’t be more different. But then again, I do drink beer for the flavor.

  • dshenaut says:

    I am very disapointed with you. How could you… after all this time?

  • Scottes says:

    Hey, I love Pina Coladas. Not quite enough to marry them, but I love them. Sorry Dood.

    I’ve never had Jag, and I plan on keeping it that way… 🙂

  • kelley says:

    an ice-cold pabst and a craft pale ale are two separate entities in my mind. both delicious, and appropriate in their own times.

  • I haven’t laughed that hard in a while and also don’t feel so bad about my writing. I need to make it back to Eugene soon. Nice post.

  • Doug Winship says:

    I’m compiling a list of how many of us come up with vodka drinks and say they are a guilty pleasure, just because they have vodka in them. You are now the icon post for the study!
    Oh, and Jeffrey:
    I hateJägermeister. Period. Sorry.

    Well, that is not entirely true. I love its effect on others. I’m a people watcher, ya know?

  • Stephen – I just wrapped up a quick weekend tasting tequilas and exploring cocktails in San Francisco, and I’m here to tell you that, yes, they are pretty much all the same.

  • …and I drink cocktails strictly for the buzz. Sidecar, cosmo, chocotini, Manhattan, Corpse Reviver #2… they’re pretty much all the same, right?

    (Oh, Jeffery…)

  • Ceetar says:

    I despise crappy beer! I’d rather drink water, and I’m looking to get drunk, I’d rather pound Vodka shots and then just sip a tasty beer.

    Jagermeister is growing on me. (This probably more than anything else endears me to my girlfriends German family. They drink it constantly!)

    I like Cement Mixers oddly enough. You should try a Brain Hemmorhage. It’s a similar ‘curdled’ drink, but visibly. and red.

    I don’t know if I have a clear ‘guilty drink’, unless you count the pink squirrel (Frozen variety). Sometimes I just like ordering it for the weird and confused looks I get.

  • The guilty parties are certainly coming out of the woodwork, aren’t they?

    Great to know that I’ll be sharing some horrifying drinks with each of you soon.


  • Hnaky Panky says:

    That’s it. Me, you, and Barbara West. Tales. Next year. Jager and Miller Hi Life by the pool. Done and done.

  • Jessica Hutchinson says:

    I knew it all along Jeff!

    Oh and my dirty drinking secret is that I like everything. Especially the liquid candy that is Jager!

  • Cameron says:

    Shots of cold Stoli and Rolling Rock longnecks are on me the next time I see you…

  • John Claude says:

    Nothing I love more than a Miller High Life and a shot of Stoli.

    What really cracks me up are the Grey Goose and Red Bull drinkers. What a waste of time and money.

  • Christine says:

    Sorry about the duplicate comment. Feel free to delete one. 🙁

  • Christine says:

    Jeffrey, my name is Christine, and I introduce myself as the one person you can say you may know who detests Jaegermeister. Ask my husband, Keith Waldbauer. Ask anyone I go for a drink with…if shots of Jaeger are passed around I opt out. I’ll take a kamikaze maybe…sorry dude. I hate the stuff…which pleases Keith to no end so he can have a bottle at home without any danger of me sampling now and then. Can’t say the rest of the liquor cabinet is just as safe, however… 🙂

  • Christine says:

    Jeffrey, my name is Christine, and I introduce myself as the one person you can say you may know who detests Jaegermeister. Ask my husband, Keith Waldbauer. Ask our dear friends Erik Witsoe or Agnieszka Thompson. Ask anyone I go for a drink with…if shots of Jaeger are passed around I opt out. I’ll take a kamikaze maybe…sorry dude. I hate the stuff…which pleases Keith to no end so he can have a bottle at home without any danger of me sampling now and then. Can’t say the rest of the liquor cabinet is just as safe, however… 🙂

  • jager and cheap ass beer. seriously…. you simply cannot be a bartender and NOT end the night without this one-two.

  • Jimbo Walker says:

    Great Post! I’m sending this to bunches of people. Finally some one with the guts to admit it’s not all about being a Liquor Snob…LOL I can compare this to a freind that is a gormet pastry chef. He keeps a stash of RC Colas & Moon Pies in his fridge.

  • Molly says:

    “Jägermeister awesome German liqueur”

    I snorted with laughter.

    I’m so making these next time I get suckered into watching football.

  • Smach says:

    Also, could you get me the guy in the Jagermeister ad’s phone number?

  • Smach says:

    I can’t say I know many bartenders out there who don’t go for the old shot and a back after making pomeritatinis all night. And nothing beats a BFK in the morning when you’re stuck siting at some godforsaken parade. Ahh… You can’t write? Suck it J-Mo!

  • Gonçalo says:

    Right On, Jeff!

    Often guests exculpate themselves for ordering an “ordinary” beer. I try to encourage our dear guests, to drink whatever they like – whitout any justification.

    Next pair of beers on me, G.

  • Alex says:

    Finally! My propensity to chase my Jameson with crappy beer is vindicated.

  • Chris Bailey says:

    Piña Coladas, man, I agree – when you are sitting in the pool/palapa bar in Hawaii, these things rock. It’s like a milk shake with a little something extra 🙂

  • Eugenia – I forgot to mention that I prefer to eat Doritos while consuming any or all of the above beverages.

    Kate – Don’t let me stop you from having a Piña Colada. 82 in Chicago sounds like it calls for one.

  • Eugenia – I forgot to mention that I prefer to eat Doritos while consuming any or all of the above beverages.

    Kate – Don’t let me stop you from having a Piña Colada, 82 in Chicago sounds like it calls for one.

  • Kate says:

    I’m with Dina. I can’t stand licorice. I’d be all over a pina colada right now. It’s supposed to be 82 in Chicago today. In October.

  • Eugenia says:

    I eat Doritos. We all have our vices. 😉

  • Hoo, boy, Dood – You had me at “ice cold jager at 3 in the morning” – I like to think of it as the antidote to my writer’s block.

    Oh, and Chris – I forgot to mention the OTHER drink made with Bailey’s that I refuse to touch. Carbombs, yikes.

  • Dood says:

    I was with you all the way J-Mo, until you got to the pina colada. I can’t stand them.

    Like Dina, I’m not a fan of licorice, so you’d think that I’d hate jager too, but there’s just something about ice cold jager at 3 in the morning…

  • Dina says:

    I can get on board with most of your guilty pleasures–Pina Colada, yum.
    But I do HATE Jägermeister. But I will tell you why. Because I hate licorice. I hate licorice so much not only do I hate Jager, I hate fennel and anise–please don’t put those in my spaghetti sauce.
    So you can call me a liar if you want, but please don’t give me any Jager.

  • drago says:

    Dang, the first drink that popped into my mind when I read the heading was “Pina Coladas”! It’s impossible not to like a drink that tastes like high-end suntan lotion. So refreshing.

    I’d add coconut rum to my list of guilty pleasures. I’ve sheepishly stolen some from my wife’s stash and mixed it up with whatever fruit juices are in the fridge.

    Very curious about the Jagerita. While I don’t mind a shot of the stuff, I’ve never had a mixed drinking containing Jagermeister that wasn’t meant to be some sort of rapid-intoxication tonic.

  • Chris says:

    Brilliant…just brilliant…

    Round of Carbomb’s Jeff?

  • DrinkPlanner says:

    Damnit Jeff, I think you nailed all of my guilty pleasures as well. Word on the street is that Camper English is a sucker for vodka too. But you didn’t hear it from me.

  • Tiare says:

    I really enjoyed this post! did you say you are not really much of a writer???………..

    And Pina Coladas? no problem.

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