ABSTRACT: What makes a drink "gay"? Some say all it takes is a name ending in "rita" or "tini," while others specify the inclusion of chopped fruit and fanciful decorations. For the purposes of this experiment, the designation and selection of gay drinks has been left to professionals--real live bartenders in real live gay bars.

HYPOTHESIS: Test subject "Sandeep" is a 37-year-old straight man who, in his natural habitat, enjoys Jim Beam on the rocks and sex with his wife of three years. Will an evening spent downing "gay drinks" in gay bars inspire "Sandeep" to convert to homosexuality, however fleetingly?

MEANS AND METHODS: Our experiment began at the elegant Capitol Hill gay bar Thumpers. Indelicately euphemized as a "wrinkle room," Thumpers appeals largely to gay elders, boasting not only a full-service bar, but also an upscale dining room and performances by jazz pianists. The subject's first "gay drink" of the night was a Grape Nehi (2 oz vodka, 2 oz raspberry liqueur, lemon, blended with ice), given an extra splash of gay by our accommodating bartender, who crowned the drink with a spear of maraschino cherries and a paper umbrella. Described by subject "Sandeep" as "really, really sweet," the drink almost immediately inspired our subject to giggly loquaciousness.

Upon finishing drink number one, the subject announced with previously unseen theatricality that there would be no more talk of politics (his favored topic of conversation), and turned to more personal topics. As he imbibed drink number two--a Cabana Boy Rum Sunset (2 oz Cabana Boy rum, 4 oz lemon-lime soda), described as "really, really sweet"--he gamely shared his "gayest" memories from childhood, from roller-skating to the Village People to his once-passionate love for N.Y.P.D. Blue.

With gay drink number two down the hatch, the subject had become noticeably tipsier; as we left Thumpers, he was smiling broadly, and once on the street, he generously gave a buck to a one-legged hobo. But was subject "Sandeep" any gayer? As we walked to our second destination, I brought up the topic of homosexuality, and got a dose of booze-fueled candor: "I've sucked some dick," the subject announced, going on to recount his college-era dalliances with those of his own sex. Subject claimed to have enjoyed these encounters as adventures of the senses rather than cravings of the heart. All involved the lubricating power of Ecstasy.

Next we came to the stylish dance club Blu, where the friendly boy-tender answered my call for "the gayest drink in the house" by whipping up an Aquapolitan (3 oz orange-lemon aquavit, 1 oz Grand Marnier, dash of orange juice, splash of cranberry juice/sour mix), which the subject described as "good" and "slushy." With the cock-smoking cat out of the bag, I pressed the increasingly inebriated subject for more details of his homosexual episodes. Over the thumping techno beat, the subject cheerfully revealed that he enjoys having his nipples tweaked but doesn't really go for "ass-gasms."

After I got the subject his second Aquapolitan, we retired to Blu's roof, where the full impact of the evening's many "gay drinks" became evident as subject gamely stripped off his shirt

(see Figure 9).

When subject "Sandeep" was again fully clothed, I led him to our final gay watering hole--the legendary Seattle Eagle, where the men are manly, the music's rocking, and drinks are served in excessively butch Mason jars. Upon purchasing the subject a Cosmopolitan (1 oz vodka, 1/2 oz Triple Sec, 1/2 oz lime/cranberry juice--served in a Mason jar), we headed upstairs, where the subject plopped himself into the corner sling and slurringly held forth on a variety of subjects. The subject was now so intoxicated that we were talking freely about a number of deep, profoundly personal topics, all of which revealed nothing about the subject's potential for gayness and are therefore of no value here. However, upon our exit from the Eagle, the subject became very excited when he spotted a man who looked like TV home-decorating flamer Christopher Lowell playing pinball. It wasn't Lowell, but the subject's ability to identify someone who "looks like Christopher Lowell" hinted at hidden gay depths.

Finally we arrived at GameWorks to reunite with the rest of the drinking subjects. Immediately I realized the benefits of gay drinks--namely, a drunkenness remarkable in its sociability. Compared to his howlingly drunk fellow subjects (made to drink everything from hobo wine to "frat boy" shots), my gay-drinks subject was the model of restrained intoxication--speaking at an acceptable volume, punching no one, puking nowhere. However, like his fellow subjects, he was a crappy drunk driver.

CONCLUSION: Gay drinks do not inspire homosexuality. In fact, with the restrained, sociable intoxication they provoke, gay drinks are less likely to fuel homosexuality than other, meaner drinks (see "Sean"'s kissing incident below). Ultimately, gay drinks are like big, fruity hugs--warming you up, raising your self-esteem, and going down easy.