Bar dice and liar’s poker are fanatically popular games in Milwaukee and Wisconsin. One game is mainly luck; the other requires some luck and skill.
Oh, you can occasionally find someone who plays in other states (Minnesota has a small culture), but they are really Wisconsin games with legions of devoted fans. I’m not going to get into it, but you can learn how to play liar’s poker here and how to play bar dice here.
In each game, there is a loser, and in both, the loser buys shots (unless you are playing for the cash in liar’s poker, and that’s probably illegal in Wisconsin). Since it’s up to the shooter to decide what kind of shots to buy, it’s important to know what’s the way to go. Are you trying to get everyone drunk or trying to make the evening last?
Well, after decades of playing both games and being on both sides of the winner/loser equation, I’ve determined the top 10 shots to buy when you lose at either bar dice or liar’s poker. I will say I consulted a couple of people on this – one being Tracy Duggan, the bartender I shook dice with the most in my life. The other one is related to me by blood (hey Alli).
There are shots and booze out there that are in very special categories, but I’m talking about stuff I’ve had in bars that had all this on hand. Nobody had to send out a special order for these shots.
I’ve divided them into two categories: Mixer, that the bartender has to assemble, and Neat, that come straight out of the bottle. One of the things about the Mixer shots is that it takes the bartender a while to make them so you have a chance to catch your breath (a.k.a. sober up) while you wait. I’ve started with the least lethal I’ve had and move on to booze that makes you think you’re invisible and bulletproof.
10. Screaming Orgasm (Mixer): It comes with vodka, amaretto, coffee liqueur and I think Irish cream liqueur. It’s sweet as can be and is kind of like drinking some treat you got from an ice cream truck after it melted. Pretty potent, but no real killer.
9. Tequila (Neat/Mixer): This is a tough one. The mixer version is salt and lemon and all that googly stuff. A man just grabs the shot glass and slams it back. Nobody really likes the taste of tequila. It’s just kind of a rite of passage thing.
8. Kamikaze (Mixer): This is kind of like New Year’s Eve: amateur night. A Kamikaze may well be the first shot a lot of people have. It’s got this mystique about it and a name that suggests a near death experience. But it’s really kind of a wimp shot. You get vodka, orange liqueur, a dash of lime juice and a cute little slice of lime to make it look good and suck on when you are done. See what I mean?
7. Bombay Gin or Kettle One Vodka (Neat): Either one of these clear shots are easy on the eye but tough on the stomach. There is a reason why gin and vodka are most often mixed with something else. Neither one tastes too good all by itself. This is one where I always wonder why the person picking it picks it.
6. Lemon Drop (Mixer): I can’t ever recall a guy ordering this one. It’s got vodka and sugar and can be very complicated. Some people like it with a shot glass where the rim is dipped in vodka and then sugar. You shake off the loose sugar, put vodka in the glass, slam it down and then bite into the lemon. I get tired just thinking of this one.
5. Jager Bomb (Neat): Everybody who orders this has a baseball hat on backwards, and many of them have the sleeves ripped off their shirts. That goes for both boys and girls. The girls drink this to prove they are one of the guys. You mix Jagermeister with Red Bull energy drink. Slam it down and make a fist and hit yourself in the chest. This is tough.
4. Liquid Cocaine (Neat/Mixer): This is one of those with an intriguing name that doesn’t begin to capture the punch it has or the horrid aftertaste. When you have one of these, you want a cold beer to chase away the bad taste. But if you get hammered enough, you probably won’t mind this one. It’s another of the Jagermeister specials which is mixed with both Cinnamon and Peppermint Schnapps.
3. Bushmill’s Black (Neat): There is almost nothing like a good Irish whiskey, and this one is the top of the line. You can taste this before it even hits your lips. You may be tempted to smell it a little and then sip it, but just go for it. You’ll be pleased.
2. Johnnie Walker Black Label (Neat): You need a scotch in your bag of tricks, and Black Label is about as good as it gets in your average neighborhood bar. You could be in a fancy place with a whole bunch of scotch brands that start with the word "Glen," but go with Black Label to keep buying American.
And the number one shot for all around envy from your friends and playing partners and the one that can make your soul swell with pride:
Here’s the thing about a great bourbon like this one: It’s not just one thing. There is a complexity to Wild Turkey. It can feel smooth and harsh all in the same shot glass. It’s a man’s drink, but there are lots of women who are into bourbon and this one stands apart.
There you have it. Remember, don’t farm twos, and don’t drink and drive.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.