In all of our years celebrating New Year's Eve, we've had a couple of good ones, but the majority have been suckfests. For example, last year we visited then-BF in his home state and went to his friend's sister's boyfriend's party. Then-BF ended up passing out at 10:30, which was a bleak moment during an otherwise nice trip. Since that debacle, we've decided it's best to celebrate New Year's Eve surrounded by friends. And we've also decided that this year, instead of quaffing some fancy-schmancy champagne, we're going on the lowbrow end of the drink spectrum and toasting 2004 with Miller High Life. After all, it is the Champagne of Beers -- it says so on the bottle, and the bottle wouldn't lie to us.
Ah, the High Life. Grown men have waxed rhapsodic over its stellar qualities. "It's beer with the flavor added right there in the can," says our friend Brett, a former professional bartender. "No need for a lime, salt, tomato juice or any other helper. It's really a novel idea." Luke, another aficionado, adds, "It's incredibly cheap and not too skunky. Someone once put it best: It smells like dad." Westy, who works at Gomer's in midtown, went through a stint of drinking so much High Life that he even considered getting the logo -- a woman dressed in old-style clothing and sitting on a crescent moon (thought to be the great-granddaughter of Frederick Miller) -- as a tattoo. "I wouldn't eat strawberries or chocolate with it, or recommend it for a wedding toast," he said. "But I drank so much of it that I swore by the slogan."
According to a customer service rep for Miller, High Life was dubbed the "Champagne of Beers" because in the 1940s, it came in bottles that were a little bigger and bore some resemblance to champagne bottles. When the color of the beer was factored in, a slogan was born.
"It's unapologetically piss yellow," Research Assistant Kendrick said. "It's not bad, though. I'm hugely critical of Miller Lite, and this isn't bad." We'd bought an eighteen-pack of longnecks and a six-pack of cans for Office Beer, a sporadic ritual in which we sprawl out in the foyer of our department at the end of the day, crank up the music and hang out.
"It has a urinelike texture," commented RA Nathan. Before we could call him out on that randomly weird comment, he continued, "The difference between country boy High Life and city boy High Life is whether you drink from a bottle or can. The bottle is for snooty artist types."
No matter where you stand on the bottle-versus-can debate, here is another method of consumption: drinking it out of a plastic champagne flute on New Year's Eve at Dave's Stagecoach Inn, a delightful dive bar that has a kickass jukebox. One of our favorite bartenders in town, John Yuelkenbeck (that's Music John, not Soccer John, though Soccer John also rocks), says that at midnight, they'll offer a round of High Life. Noisemakers are optional, but hot dogs are not: Dave's has moved away from liverwurst sandwiches and now serves seventeen types of gourmet hot dogs. Naturally, this food change has been immortalized on a T-shirt.
Next to its annual ceremony of lighting a string of Rolling Stones mouth lights over the jukebox on Thanksgiving night, Dave's midnight High Life toast could well become another beloved Kansas City tradition -- one that might actually get us to like New Year's Eve.