Legacy is an ongoing column about ways for the very average person to find immortality in Shanghai. It is about facing challenges, and, hopefully, having your picture or name grace a restaurant or bar's wall for all the world to see, forever.
The long and twisted road to redemption -- after my last attempt at Legacy
-- is strewn with vodka, rum, brandy, Bailey’s, Kahlua, amaretto, Tabasco, gin, Champagne, curacao, tequila, Jagermeister; it meanders through a scorched and wasted land of blurred faces, groundless rants, and made-up historical factoids; it’s a technicolor carnage of fruity mixers and syrup supplements; the sky swirls black and an indiscernible rumbling in the distance spurs you mindlessly forward; grammar falls by the way-side as does common sense, propriety, and coherency… the road is long. The road is muddy and sloppy, slick and wet with the detritus of all your psychological baggage and the el Mexicano you had for lunch.
And as you stand there, triumphant, tears rolling down your face, sobbing to the sky with fists clenched around empty shot glasses, all the years of your fervid and resolute training in the art of drinking flooding into your mind like bittersweet agony -- then, and then, and then -- the only thing you can do is let fly a Herculean bellow of victory to the heavens.
Yes, by fuck, yes. Yes. My name is finally on a wall. My Legacy is secured. I completed the Blue Frog’s 100 Shots Challenge. In a week.
You get a hat, a T-shirt, three glasses -- a pint glass, a normal one, and a shot glass -- and a free shot every time you go to Blue Frog.
Your name on their “Wall of Fame”, of course -- there in all probability until then end of time (2012). You get the fearful respect of friends and well-wishers. You become racked with the feelings of divine exultation that comes with knowing you’ve done a very important and profound thing.
And so, I’m going to tell you about the Blue Frog’s 100 shots challenge. I have a lot to say about it so you might want to bookmark this and refer back to it in installments. As a brief aside, at this point I’d like to tell my Mum and Dad to stop reading here. Yes, I will call you on Sunday night. Yes, I will get a hair cut. No, the seven years of tuition money spent on my undergrad degree were not “a complete and utter waste.”
Rules of the Blue Frog’s 100 Shots Challenge
All locations of the Blue Frog in both Shanghai and Beijing offer a “100 Shots Challenge”. This is open to all who wish to try. These are 100 different shots which can be completed in any order and in any time frame. You get a card with all the shots listed on it and the staff checks them off as you go.
Rules of the SmartShanghai's Blue Frog 100 Shot Challenge
Had to do them in a week.
Alright, let’s deal with your initial questions.
Are they real shots or “girlie” shots?
Both. The shot list is comprised of barroom staples (“B52”, “Sparkplug”, “Kamikaze”) and a few reworked classics for the Blue Frog bars in particular (“Wild Frog”, "Frog F*%!er”, “Frog Jump”). There is no straight-up “shot of whiskey” but the majority of the shots are as boozy as they come. To wit:
Wrong Step -- Sambuca, Bailey’s
Grand Canyon -- Grand Marnier, Vodka, Bailey’s
Tokyo -- Gin, Kahlua, Tabasco
Soho –- Vodka, Whiskey, Kahlua
There are a few brief respites from the unending slog -- #68:
Mississippi Mud (Southern Comfort and Sprite
) -- but a large portion of the list is blasters, through and through.
Here’s a colorful chart. Vodka features in 24 shots, neck and neck with Bailey's and just a few shots ahead of Kahlua:
You did them in a week? What’s the usual time limit?
There is no time limit usually. The challenge to do them in a week was devised in part to speed things up, create more of a contest, and to encourage a deeper, more intense search for the Meaning of All Things through the consumption of massive amounts of alcohol. But yeah, you can take as long as you like. They hold your shot card at the bar and give it to you when you turn up again.
How much does it cost? Do you get them all free if you finish?
You do not get them all free when you finish. You pay for them in groups of five at 130rmb per tray. Total cost is 2,600rmb. The challenge of getting your name on the wall is moreso oriented towards Blue Frog’s regular customers and consistent drinkers. With no time constraint, just about anyone can do it, and the Wall of Fame rewards people who turn up to the place on the regular and are looking for something fun (insane) to do. It’s unlikely that in these trying times someone will turn up to plop down 2,600rmb for 100 shots, and it’s more for people who like drinking in the place anyways and want to secure their Legacy therein.
Did YOU pay?
At this point I would like to commend the Blue Frog on Maoming Lu on their wonderful drinks, fantastic service, lovely atmosphere, great food, and for just providing an all-around fantastic bar. We enjoyed the nachos every time we stopped by, as well as numerous other selections from their delicious menu of appetizers. I can’t compliment the service more -- waitstaff, managers, bartenders, were all wonderful, knowledgeable, and attentive. Drinks were great. Food was tasty on the way down and then even tastier on the way back up again. Loved the classic pub feel. I whole-heartedly recommend Blue Frog Maoming for drinks and / or dinner -- great for guests, business drinks, dates, everything.
It is a slice of the neighborhood (Hi Martin Kemble!). I will be back often.
Let’s talk about extremes. Every bar or restaurant offering a Legacy challenge has one or two mythic figures who perform so far above and beyond the call of duty, they afford themselves a special place in the hearts of the staff. Their names stand out amongst the Valhalla that is the “Wall of Fame”. These are the proud few, the valiant, the un-killable; their myth supersedes them and lives on in their absence. They become the stuff of song. This figure at the Blue Frog Maoming is an “Old China Hand” for General Motors who took on the Blue Frog challenge and did all 100 shots in 26 hours
Apparently, he rolled on the bar at 9am, drank, drank, drank, went outside, passed out in his car (unconfirmed whether it was a GM car), woke up, came in again, drank, drank, drank. And finished all of them in 26 hours.
The manager gets a wistful twinkle in his eye when relating this story. The Old China Hand has long since moved away from Shanghai, to wherever this proud and noble breed go to when they go to die.
I did them all in three sittings. I broke them down like this:
First visit: 40 shots
Second visit: 42 shots
Third visit: 18 shots
My strategy was to spread them out during the week, 10-15 shots a day at lunch hour or right after work, and then my strategy after about 7 shots into each sitting was to throw away my strategy and drink as much as possible. Basically, my strategy became to throw back as many shots as I could before the sheer quantity caught up with me and washed over me like a tidal wave. I imaged myself at the Boston Marathon, bursting into an outright sprint as soon as the starter pistol sounded. Blowing past all the Kenyans, running madly down the street, smiling and waving insanely at people for a few hundred yards, before the throng of marathoners caught up and mashed me down in a wave of sneakers.
Another analogy was proffered by my loyal documenter and photographer. If you will forgive a little gaucheness I remit it to you now:
“It’s like a gang bang. The first three or four, you remember, but after that, it’s just a blur of flesh and limbs.”
And what was it like? What was it like doing 100 shots? When you endeavour to qualify the ineffable, only metaphor brings you to an approximation of true expression. Here is a compilation of metaphors describing the sensation of mixing basically every booze available at a bar into one stomach in one sitting. Good lord, the sugar. Oh my Christ, the sugar.
… chugging a bag of angry marbles.
… swallowing a hornet’s nest.
… devouring a Care Bear sautéed in maple syrup.
… eating a five-year-old’s birthday party.
… consuming an Indonesian parliamentary session.
… ingesting a malfunctioning cotton candy machine.
… digesting a Lady Gaga video (topical one -- she’s so hot right now).
… noshing on the Gaza Strip with a side of Bosnia.
And the next day I felt like…
… I had been dragged face down across the ocean floor.
… I had inserted a handful of fireworks as suppositories using cake icing as lubricant.
… someone had shot my soul with a nail gun.
… I was trapped in a tornado of sewage water, broken glass, and airplane food.
… I was full of confidence, a sense of purpose, and in control of my future. Wait, the exact opposite.
Let’s discuss the drinking experience.
Basically, declaring a fatwa against your digestive system has an inverse effect on your cognitive and philosophic abilities, which increase ten-fold with every shot checked off the list. Usually at around shot 20, I became an expert on a whole range of topics, capable of speaking at great length and depth on a number of subjects, including, but not limited to: the “world economy”; the “world’s current political climate”; the history of philosophy; the “Purpose of Art”; Africa, history, culture, and current economic climate; world religion; China, history of; China, economics of; China, current cultural climate; relationships; business in Shanghai, history of Shanghai; architecture of Shanghai; Love; Death; War.
Yes, my loyal documenter and photographer, as well as various patrons of Blue Frog, were on the receiving end of some rather profound, and I should think life-changing, insight on those nights. [Ed's note: there was a particularly lucid and scathing rant on the state of China’s contemporary art world and its predatory tactics.
My friends, when you consume that much alcohol, you’re basically staring at the entire grand sum of human understanding and wisdom, gleaned by the pantheon of theologians, historians, philosophers, academics, and intellectuals throughout the ages -- you’re staring at this huge composite of all the knowledge in the world ever, from the dawn of time, in the face, and it’s challenging you to blink.
I did not blink.
And so the aftermath. Thoughts from the other side. Bridges were burned. Bridges were indeed burned. Bridged were napalmed. Bridged were firebombed and then I pissed on the flames. I whittled down my friends by a good 80% last week. Some irreparable damage was done. And yet… and yet.
With my Legacy secured, my name on the wall, 100 empty shot glasses in front of me, I feel invigorated in a way that I haven’t in a long time. I’m more secure in the worth and validy of my personal idiocy. I have confidence in my ignorance. I seek to cultivate and nurture my stupidity. I see the glory in whole-heartedly embracing the Bad Idea. With something like seven outlets in Shanghai, Blue Frog is showing more traction here than Catholicism. I think my name will be on their wall for a long time. I join a hallowed circle.
It reads: Morgan Short; Shanghai; 04-23-10.
Yes, it reads Shanghai, but you know in my heart I was chanting one thing:
USA! USA! USA! USA!