Ruth’s Cocktail


My mother introduced me to the best soft drink ever.  She discovered it at her favorite lunch spot, Schlotsky’s.  I think the more correct term would be that she invented it at Schlotsky’s.  Once she showed it to me I was hooked.  I like to call it Ruth’s Cocktail.

Here’s the recipe:
·         ¾ Diet Coke
·         ¼ Dr. Pepper
·         One lemon wedge

I realize this isn’t what most people would consider to be a cocktail drink; however, since I don’t drink alcohol, caffeine is the most exotic I’m ever going to get.  As my love for this drink grew, I eventually began preferring restaurants that allowed me to serve my own drink rather than the ones that fill your cup for you.

Eventually even that didn’t stop me.  One night my husband and I took another couple out for dinner.  We had gift certificates for a new restaurant in town.  After placing our order, we were asked what we wanted to drink.  My craving was too strong, I needed a Ruth’s Cocktail. 
           
“Would you be willing to mix two soft drinks for me?”  I asked.

“Sure,” the waiter replied.

“Okay, here’s what I want,” I began, “Fill my glass with Diet Coke ¾ of the way full, then finish the glass with Dr. Pepper.  Please add a lemon wedge too.”  I sat back satisfied that I was going to get what I wanted.  I turned to see my friend staring at me.

“What is that?”  she asked.

“It’s a drink my mother invented and I love it.” 

“I’ll have one of those drinks too,” my friend told the waiter.

I don’t know if she ordered one because she’s truly adventurous or because she was embarrassed I had ordered such a weird drink and she didn’t want me to feel uncomfortable for being so strange.

Our drinks arrived and I quickly began to drink mine.  My friend tentatively took a sip of hers.  Now keep this mind, she’s a HUGE Pepsi fan.  She stopped drinking and looked at me.

“Well?”  I asked.

“It’s interesting,” she said.

“Interesting?  What are you talking about?  It’s the best drink in the world.”

To which she gave me a look that said, “I wish I had ordered a Pepsi.”

One problem with this drink is that not every restaurant offers lemon wedges.  At those places I would go without, until I saw a woman fill her cup with Diet Coke and then put in a splash of lemonade.

“What a great idea!” I thought.  I almost thanked her for her brilliancy but decided against it.  I didn’t want to scare her.

So from then on, when there was no lemon wedge to be found, I would put in a splash of lemonade into my drink.  Yellow or pink, I don’t care, it still tastes like lemon and doesn’t change the color of my drink.

It wasn’t long before my favorite drink received a new name, “Mom’s drink”.  It was so named, because whenever my children asked if they could have one like it, the answer was always, “No this is Mom’s drink.”  It may be okay for me to indulge in caffeine now and then, but not the kids.  They are hyper enough as it is.

I never gave my drink much thought, until one night we went to a pizza buffet restaurant.  I don’t know what your local pizza buffet restaurants are like, but ours is very cheap and draws families with lots and lots of children.  Namely us.

Feeding five children at a buffet restaurant is nothing short of a marathon.  As soon as one child has what he wants, another will be finished and want more.  I spend more time in the buffet line than I do sitting down and eating.  Other customers must think I have a healthy appetite to be filling my plate so often.

This particular night the restaurant was extra busy and children were running around everywhere.  I was making one of my usual drink runs, when I saw a child at the soda dispenser filling his cup half full with root beer.  I then saw him begin to fill the rest of his cup with pink lemonade.  “That’s disgusting,” I thought.  “His mother would die if she could see what her son was doing.  Who would let a kid like that get his own drink?”

Imagine my surprise when I saw this kid with his pinkish orange drink sit down at my table.  IT WAS MY SON!  My son was the one that had filled his cup with root beer and lemonade.  I was the mother who was letting a kid get his own drink!

As I joined my son at the table I wondered why he’d mix such a disgusting drink.  As I watched him drink his soda with enthusiasm, I realized that this was his version of Ruth’s Cocktail. 
“Was it good?” I asked him after he had finished his drink.

“Delicious!” he exclaimed smacking his lips.

My children watch me more than I had realized.  Seeing my son drink his own “cocktail” made me wonder what other things my children see me do.  The next time I’m tempted to to tell little white lie just to get off the phone, I’ll imagine my son’s cocktail drink and think better of it.

Johnny still mixes his drinks when we go to restaurants, only now he mixes every flavor offered.  I pretend I don't know him.

What Others Are Reading

The Christ Child: A Nativity Story - 8 Observations of What Is Different

"Skin of Blackness": Idioms, Curses, and Racism