If I may impart just one thing to you about the Shot Stop, let it be this: The Waldo bar serves a shot called Susie's Asshole. In Susie's Asshole are Bacardi 151, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce. I ordered one. I tasted Susie's Asshole. It tasted like shit.
Those who pay attention to yuppie-foodie culture know all about mixology and limited-release microbrews and other such attempts to turn drinking into something smarter and classier than it actually is. I'm not hating on these efforts. But if you exclusively hang out with, and Instagram-follow, the kinds of people who sniff their own farts, I mean beers, it's possible you've missed another emerging trend in the world of alcohol: That young people today be takin' lots of shots.
It has reached the point, for some, when shots don't just supplement a larger drinking diet — they are the diet. I have sat in bars and watched young women sip ice water while steadily taking shots at 20-minute intervals. "Bombs," Red Bull mixed with various flavors of vodka, are enormously popular, as are sweet, harshly potent liquors such as Goldschläger, Rumple Minze and Jägermeister. There are a lot of playful mixtures, too. RumChata and Fireball is like drinking the leftover milk in a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Drop some Amaretto and Bacardi 151 into a half-mug of draft beer, and it tastes like a Dr Pepper.
Lately, bars targeting these shot enthusiasts are starting to crop up. The Shot Bar debuted in downtown Columbia, Missouri, last year. And, as of June, an outpost of the Shot Stop — which opened in Manhattan, Kansas, in 2009 — is serving up 2-ouncers in Waldo, at 7439 Broadway (the space formerly occupied by Point Loco, Taco Factory, the Sweet Guy, et al.).
Because the holiday swept a lot of people out of town, last weekend was a slow one for KC nightlife — unless you were at the Shot Stop Saturday night, which was like spring break on South Padre Island. Twentysomething millennials wearing pastel tones packed the joint. Party songs — "Firework," "Get Lucky," "Gangnam Style" — blasted at an earsplitting volume. When they played "Sweet Caroline," just about every single person in the place joyously screamed all the ba-ba-bas and so goods, and a cold darkness descended upon my being. Don't ever forget how incurably alone you are in this world, the darkness said.
The Shot Stop doesn't serve rat poison, so alcohol it was. I'd brought along a couple of millennials to be my Sherpas through the experience. One was my sister. The other was her friend, who regards me with thinly masked suspicion and scorn. Like most people in Kansas City, they would prefer not to be seen in public with me — I am a sad, 100-year-old man. But I was offering free booze. Sometimes, that's enough.
I wasn't sure what I hoped to accomplish at the Shot Stop, but I figured that a challenge of some sort might liven things up. I couldn't try every shot — there are about 70 listed on two large chalkboards behind the bar — so I decided to find the most disgusting-looking ones and order those. "I think the best-case scenario here is, I drink until I vomit," I said.
The shots are divided into categories: Bombs, Value Menu (premixed Kamikazes and Lakewater shots), Randos, I Dare You, and Double Dog Dare (which includes, in addition to Susie's Asshole, a shot made from Bacardi 151, Jägermeister and Rumple Minze called Liquid Cocaine, and a Gorilla Fart, which is Bacardi 151 and Wild Turkey). Accompanying the name of each shot are the ingredients as well as a price icon, with a cent sign ($3), an asterisk ($4) or a dollar sign ($5). No shot costs more than $5. Domestic bottles are $2 all day and night.
The majority of the shots arrive in plastic jiggers that measure 2 ounces exactly. The bomb comes in a larger plastic cup with a shot glass built into it; the shot is in the middle, and the rest is filled with the energy drink. My only stipulation was that I refused to take any bombs. I maintain my belief that sometime in the next 10 or 20 years, Red Bull and other energy drinks will be considered by the medical community the way cigarettes are regarded today. But my companions had a round of Ex-Girlfriend Bombs: watermelon- and banana-flavored liqueurs, UV Cherry vodka and energy drink. "Really sugary," they reported.
Here are a few shots I took, according to my itemized receipt: Black Samurai (sake and soy sauce); Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (vanilla vodka, pineapple juice, grenadine); Urine Sample (tequila, with a shot of pickle juice, or "pickleback," as a chaser); and Incredible Hulk (Hpnotiq and Hennessy). I have never craved a cigarette as deeply as after I took the Incredible Hulk shot. I more or less quit smoking last year but fell off the wagon on vacation a few weeks ago. I'm getting things back in line, but after that Incredible Hulk, I slunk out to my car, pulled a cigarette from my secret emergency pack, and inhaled it like it was an oxygen mask.
It helped. As my buzz ascended, the frat-party jams and crowd roar became more tolerable. I was briefly engrossed in one of the Fast/Furious movies, which was playing on a plasma TV. (I never got used to the bright lighting at the Shot Stop, though. They need to turn it down, way down, in there.) I was impressed with the bartenders: one man, one woman, both very attractive. They worked fast and kept their attitudes relatively sunny despite the staggering drunkenness all around. When it was time to go and I requested Susie's Asshole (I had saved it for last), the woman bartender even gave me an opportunity to retract my order.
"Do you want Susie's Asshole chilled, at least?" she said.
I nodded. Then I drank the shot and nearly vomited on the bar counter. But I held it in. Did I feel terrible for two straight days? Yes. But I did not vomit at the Shot Stop. Whether that is an accomplishment or a failure I still haven't decided.