Cocktails of Our Lives: A Sincerely Questionable Screwdriver

by Victoria Barrett

Image via  Pixabay

Image via Pixabay

A note on taste: It's possible that a screwdriver made with decent vodka and fresh-squeezed orange juice is a cool, refreshing delight. This is not that kind of screwdriver. 

Total time: 2 minutes

Serves: 3 off-duty restaurant employees who have just finished double-shifts and have come to the conclusion that, barring some serious drinking, it might not be possible after the night they've had, to ever sleep again. 

Two of them will be in the early stages of a long-term relationship. He will order the screwdriver, she something else, but they'll trade because the bad bar was her idea and the screwdriver tastes terrible. She feels responsible for the shitty drink. She feels challenged not just to drink it, but to finish it. This is how a cocktail becomes memorable: a questionable idea rolls into a questionable decision, and everything snowballs from there. 


  • 1 fifth of the cheapest vodka available, preferably bottled in plastic
  • 1 can store-brand frozen orange juice concentrate
  • Cold water to taste


  1. In a two-gallon pitcher or small bucket, or in a pinch, an eight-quart Cambro, mix vodka and concentrate until smoothish. Add cold water until the bucket is full or the solution turns a vaguely translucent yellow, whichever comes first, approximately three quarts. 
  2. Serve in half-gallon plastic juice pitchers in a dirty, dark bar where, outside of breakfast club on a Big Ten college campus, let's be honest, nobody should ever go before midnight or maybe at all. 

Read more: Key Lime Pie Tequila Shots Are Better Than Actual Pie Because Tequila

A note on quality ingredients: We all want to serve our friends the best beverages we can. But consider your guests' goals for the cocktail. Will they savor it casually throughout the evening? If so, a premium quality liquor is in order. If, however, the goal is to Get Drunk or to establish one's capacity to Hold Liquor, any toilet-cleaner-level rotgut will do. You can and should go cheap in such instances. No one will be tasting much of anything anyway. 

This recipe is particularly effective for those wishing to Get Drunk or prove their capacity to Hold Liquor. Be aware, however, that such efforts tend generally to be misguided, and may lead indirectly to a reputation as a poor bartender should you collude with them. While this may seem unfair, it is your job as the provider of drinks to serve as the steward of those drinks, so you'll want to consider the responsibility you bear in the circumstance. 

Read more: A Maker's Mark Old Fashioned for Old-Fashioned Ladies

In the case of our young lovers, after consuming our cocktail and returning home, she will fall for the first of three times between college and middle age onto her right hip, resulting in the most horrific bruise he has ever seen and in long-term hip damage that will nag her well into her 40s. He will scoop her up off the floor and assist her to the bathroom, where she will insist on being left behind in a well-intentioned attempt to preserve her last shred of dignity, and will sleep on the tile floor, where she will be found in the morning by her roommate, who just wants to take a piss. He will sleep alone in her bed nearby. 

Miraculously, they will move away together, marry, have children. Despite occasionally swearing never to drink again, they will continue to finish one another's cocktails well into middle age and, God willing, beyond. 

For the secret of a great cocktail recipe is this: What you mix in the glass is only half the concoction; the magic happens when it enters the body and swirls around with the mind and the heart lodged inside. 


Victoria Barrett's fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Glimmer Train, Salon, PANK, and other outlets. She lives and writes in a house full of men and boys (even the pets) and tries not to feel too bad about it.