In honor of March, the bracket-iest month of the year, The Wire decided to go all out and create a tournament for everything. Every weekday for the rest of the month, we're presenting a different tournament to determine the very best (or worst) thing in a given field. And we're doing it the way that God intended: Bracket showdowns.
We picked the field, but you vote for the winner. Fill out our interactive bracket, round-by-round, to determine the people's champion, then read through our choices to find out who we think is the best of the best. Each day is a new champion!
Is it horrible that we're doing "best drink" on St. Patrick's Day? Well, too bad. We are doing "best drink" on St. Patrick's Day.
We are very confident that you will disagree with most of our picks in our bracket below. So be it! This is America; we are a democracy. But what makes this bracket great — and, by extension, our nation — is that all of the drinks below contain alcohol and so, in great enough quantities, they can get you drunk enough to think that everyone around you is your best friend or worst enemy. Therefore, in a way, they're all winners.
THE HARD STUFF
Appletini: Granted, using the word "hard" in this context is a bit disingenuous. But it does technically have hard alcohol in it, as well as, what? Sugar and apple blossoms? Oh, also: green food coloring.
Bloody Mary: You have to admire how someone figured out how to use Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce in a drink. That may be why Bloody Marys are given out free at brunch. "Would you like this drink made of Tabasco sauce?" "Yes, but I will not give you money for it."
Cosmopolitan: Do you know how the Cosmo was invented? Someone went into a bar and said, "I would like a martini, but one that is 1) colorful and 2) palatable."
Daiquiri: This is like a coconut Icee with rum. (That is not meant as an attempt to encourage underage drinking.)
Gin and tonic: Gin and tonic is the best drink.
Hot Toddy: You know how sometimes it is cold outside, but you want to get hammered? Or maybe you are sick, but you want to get hammered? Or you are impersonating a British lord, but you want to get hammered? Try a hot toddy.
Irish Coffee: This is like when that Drew Carey show about Cleveland made up a beer that contained caffeine. Just like that show, this drink is terrible.
Manhattan: If you only know about New York thanks to Sex and the City, you may not be aware that Manhattan actually has an official drink, and that it is not the Cosmo. Instead, like Manhattan itself, it is a blend of various things that together is intoxicating, but kind of gross.
Margarita: Margarita is Spanish for "little margarine," which is why all good margaritas are served with a side of Oleo. (The preceding sentence is not factually accurate.)
Martini: Do you know how the martini was invented? Someone went into a bar and said, "I would like a Cosmo, but one that Dean Martin might drink."
Mojito: And this one: "I would like rum, but also leaves."
Old Fashioned: I am not going to lie, I don't know what this is. It probably has whiskey in it? It seems like a century ago people just sort of grabbed bottles of brown liquor and poured them into glasses and charged drunks ten cents for the result. Is that what this is?
Piña Colada: You know who likes these? Idiots who like to get caught in the rain, that's who. Also — and I realize this is playing a trump card — Jimmy Buffett. Do you really want to be like Jimmy Buffett?
Tequila: You know tequila is good because you are legally required to mask the taste before and after you drink a shot of it. Also because people put insects into the bottles and no one seems to think that's a problem. If I owned a Southwestern restaurant, I wouldn't worry about killing the roaches because, what, now you're mad about bugs in your food?
Whiskey: This is everything I know about whiskey, without Googling: It is made in casks and involves some sort of fermentation process. People like it because they get to pretend they are cowboys.
White Russian: It's a good drink — Kahlua, vodka, cream, ice — but unfortunately has a complete slouch as a spokesman.
Blue Moon: There are a number of states in which Blue Moon is the most popular beer. Imagine that! We should send them better beer, probably.
Brooklyn Lager: A hometown favorite, if you'll forgive our including it.
Bud Light: You, being a discriminating person, are wondering why we included Bud Light on this list. Well, first, lots of people drink Bud Light. Second, if you want to drink green beer for St. Patrick's Day, you might as well start with a beer that is perfectly clear.
Corona: What is the chemical that makes skunks and old Coronas and certain strains of illegal drugs all smell the same? What is that chemical?
Guinness: "Why is your beer so great?" "Two reasons: it bubbles upside down for some reason and also it has the consistency of milk." "No thank you."
Pabst Blue Ribbon: You know who else wins blue ribbons? County fair pigs.
Sam Adams: In 100 years, schoolchildren will be vaguely familiar with the idea that one of the presidents has a cousin that also was governor of Massachusetts. They will, however, know about that guy on the beer bottle with the ridiculous long hair.
Yuengling: Just so you know, Yuengling is pronounced: "If that's all you have on tap, yeah, that's fine."
Cabernet: Ha ha ha, I don't know anything about wine. This one is red.
Champagne: This one has bubbles.
Chardonnay: This one is white — but actually it is sort of yellow. #connoisseur
Merlot: Another red. It's heavier than a Cabernet? I think?
Pinot Grigio: Another white. Ramona from Real Housewives drinks it, which implies that it must be terrible.
Riesling: OK, this one I know. Someone figured out how to ferment sugar water, and voila.
Rosé: And then some other guy was like, "We are too limited, having only red and white wines. Let us combine them and make a pink wine!" And his friends were like, "Cool idea, but you need to make it sound more French."
Syrah: It is Australian. I'm pretty sure it's the same as shiraz, if that clarifies things for you. (Update: I Googled it and found a really poorly written blog post about this and it didn't really clarify things.)
LAST FOUR OUT
We should and could have included these, but didn't and wouldn't.
- Four Loko
- Boone's Farm
- Smirnoff Ice
Man, do we drink garbage, America!
Your vote: Whiskey
The Wire's vote:
Round of 32
Whiskey vs. Manhattan: DID YOU KNOW: There is whiskey in a Manhattan. Therefore, since you can't make a Manhattan without whiskey, whiskey is better. That is called "logic." Winner: Whiskey
Appletini vs. Martini: DID YOU KNOW: Appletinis suck. Winner: Martini
Mojito vs. Cosmopolitan: A Cosmo is actually pretty good, as far as overhyped drinks go. But mojitos are great, especially on hot summer days that you want to spend picking mint leaves off your tongue. Winner: Mojito
Irish coffee vs. Hot toddy: If you're looking for some warm booze, we recommend a drink that doesn't try and pretend it's healthy. Be honest with yourself. Winner: Irish coffee
Bloody Mary vs. White Russian: Personally, I prefer Bloody Marys, although a White Russian is great around the holidays. All of you are going to vote for White Russians because of that movie, though, so: fine. It can win this time. But it will lose in the next round, I think. Winner: White Russian
Tequila vs. Margarita: DID YOU KNOW: There is tequila in a margarita. Therefore, margaritas are better because they take a good thing and make it better. That is called "logic." Winner: Margarita
Piña Colada vs. Daiquiri: I asked the people in charge of The Wire dot com if I could go to Cuba and do research on this. They said no. So I went with the one that didn't include a tilde. Winner: Daiquiri
Gin and tonic vs. Old fashioned: Gin and tonic is the best drink. Winner: Gin and tonic
Bud Light vs. Pabst Blue Ribbon: Here is the complete list of drinks that would not have beaten Bud Light in this bracket: The fluid mixture found on a bar in New Orleans at 7 a.m. on the Wednesday after Mardi Gras; the Chicago River. That is it. Winner: Pabst Blue Ribbon
Yuengling vs. Blue Moon: Giving it to Blue Moon just based on pronunciation. Don't make us work for it, Ying-ling. Winner: Blue Moon
Sam Adams vs. Corona: Corona is decent for what it is, but Sam Adams is a legitimately decent beer. It is! Why are you looking at me like that. Winner: Sam Adams
Brooklyn Lager vs. Guinness: Pity pick for Guinness on St. Patrick's Day. Brooklyn is better, and on 364 days of the year I would be explicit about that. Winner: Guinness
Cabernet vs. Rosé: Again: I am a wine expert. So when I say that the fuller body of a Cab Sauvignon is preferable in more situations than the lighter, fruitier rosé, you'll admit I sound like I know what I'm talking about. Winner: Cabernet
Syrah vs. Merlot: More like SNORE-lot. *accepts various awards for humor* Winner: Syrah
Chardonnay vs. Champagne: Champagne manages to be both everyday and exotic. Chardonnay does not. Winner: Champagne
Riesling vs. Pinot Grigio: To make Reisling, put Kool-Aid in the sun for two weeks. Winner: Pinot Grigio
Whiskey vs. Martini: This is the point at which we admit that judging "whiskey" against "martini," two categories containing hundreds of highly differentiated drinks, is silly. Winner: Whiskey
Mojito vs. Irish coffee: A fun match-up between two drinks in which you might find detritus of vegetable matter. But, in keeping with the spirit of the day, we're going to decide against the one that is actually green. Winner: Irish coffee
White Russian vs. Margarita: Not super happy with how the white Russians are behaving these days, tbh. Winner: Margarita
Daiquiri vs. Gin and tonic: Gin and tonic is the best drink. Winner: Gin and tonic
Pabst Blue Ribbon vs. Blue Moon: Yes, PBR is better than Bud Light, in the same way that getting a tattoo of a butt on your face is better than getting a tattoo of a racial slur on your face. Winner: Blue Moon
Sam Adams vs. Guinness: I recognize that it is St. Patrick's Day! But this bracket, like all of our brackets, needs to stand the test of time. And objectively speaking, Sam Adams is better than Guinness. It is. Look it up. Winner: Sam Adams
Cabernet vs. Syrah: I prefer a Syrah! And if you presented me with glasses of both, I could identify the difference at least three-quarters of the time. Winner: Syrah
Champagne vs. Pinot Grigio: Pinot Grigio advanced by triumphing over something known as a "dessert wine." That is obviously not enough to topple Champagne. Winner: Champagne
Whiskey vs. Irish coffee: In the ultimate battle for March 17th, we feel it's only appropriate to give the victory here to a drink that defines a culture. Winner: Whiskey
Margarita vs. Gin and tonic: Gin and tonic is the best drink. Winner: Gin and tonic
Blue Moon vs. Sam Adams: We're being honest here, right? Like, we're friends? Blue Moon sucks. Suuuuucks. Watery lemons. Why would you drink that? Blue Moon's Cinderella run comes to an end. Winner: Sam Adams
Syrah vs. Champagne: Red wine is nice. But when you think, "Hey, tonight is going to be pretty great," you do not then think, "so I'd better buy some Syrah." Winner: Champagne
The Final Four
Whiskey vs. Gin and tonic: Gin and tonic is the best drink. Winner: Gin and tonic
Sam Adams vs. Champagne: As Americans, we hate to pick a wine of any sort over a beer as patriotic as Sam Adams. But the sheer utilitarianism of champagne — from brunches to World Series championships — gives it the edge. Winner: Champagne
Gin and tonic vs. champagne: Gin and tonic is the best drink. Winner: Gin and tonic
Did you miss the voting? Click here to see all our previous tournaments!