Kitchen Crashin’ at Benchwarmers

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 3, 2014

I thought I’d mix it up a little. Rather than heading to a kitchen, I headed to Benchwarmers in downtown Salisbury to “crash” their bar. Benchwarmers Sports Bar and Music Hall, owned by Todd Littleton, opened in early 1995 and was, quite frankly, a hole in the wall. My husband and I spent time there in the late ‘90s when it went through a transformation to open up the bar space and double its size. At the time, we headed to Benchwarmers to play darts, shoot some pool and see some great live acts that came through town.
It is many years later, and we still stop by for a drink or two, hang out, watch a game or play great music on their juke box. But today, Benchwarmers is not a tiny bar it once was. It is over 4,500 square feet of bar, dance and music space, and more. They have a fully stocked bar, an array of bottle beers, a variety of North Carolina’s best craft beers, and 12 premium taps. Benchwarmers is one of Rowan County’s most interesting places.
In the coming months, Benchwarmers will be expanding into a new restaurant and second-story balcony. It has come a long way from the original 750-square-foot bar!
If you’ve ever sidled up to the bar at Benchwarmers, chances are you know bartender Keri O’Neill. She is highly energetic, a great bartender and an overall awesome person.
Keri said that we were going to make an assortment of drinks.
“We’ve got a little somethin’ for everyone,” she said
Keri decided to teach me how to make the Benchwarmers’ signature drink, Death Wish on Acid, a delicious Birthday Cake shot, an elegant Bloody Mary, a sweet Blue Motorcycle, and a classic Long Island Iced Tea. While some of these drinks are tasty, none of them are for the faint of heart.
Death Wish on Acid is Benchwarmers’ signature drink and is given to people on their 21st birthday. It looks like a rainbow and is created in a martini glass but is meant to drink as a shot.
The drink is layered with equal parts Grenadine, Rumple Mintz, Blue Curacao, Wild Turkey and Bacardi 151. To achieve the layering effect, the alcohol should be poured very slowly, touching the side of the glass or using a spoon to help siphon the liquid. The layering effect only works if it is in the order listed. Beware when tasting this. Looks can be deceiving. This is one stiff drink, and one is more than enough.
Another shot Keri taught me to make is called a Birthday Cake shot. In a shot glass, add equal parts Frangelico and Absolut Vodka and garnish with a sugared lemon. It really does taste like chocolate birthday cake.
Keri prides herself on her classic Bloody Mary, which consisted of vodka, tomato juice, olive juice, lime juice, horseradish, salt, celery salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and a garnish of celery and olives. I am not a Bloody Mary drinker, but this was very, very good. Keri attributes it to fresh ingredients rather than Bloody Mary mix.
Another classic drink we made was a Long Island Iced Tea, and as it turns out, a Blue Motorcycle has almost the same ingredients. Both drinks contain ˝ oz. of each: vodka, rum, gin and tequila. The difference is that a Long Island Iced Tea has a ˝ oz. of Triple Sec and is topped with cola and lemon wedges while a Blue Motorcycle adds a ˝ oz. of Blue Curacao (which is blue Triple Sec) and is topped with Sprite or 7-Up and garnished with Maraschino cherries. Both are tasty, very pretty and great summer drinks by the pool.
I feel it necessary to tell you, at this point, that while we made all these drinks in under an hour, we did not consume them. I did taste them, but if I drank them all, I would not have remembered crashin’ Benchwarmers!

Death Wish on Acid
• Grenadine
• Rumple Mintz
• Blue Curacao
• Wild Turkey
• Bacardi 151
Layer drink and pour the ingredients in order listed. Roughly an ounce for each. Pour along the side of glass so it doesn’t mix too much. Admire the colors of the drink. This take it as a shot, in one gulp.

Birthday Cake
• Absolut vodka
• Frangelico
• Lemon drenched in sugar
In a shot glass, fill half with Absolut Vodka and half with Frangelico. Serve with a sugared lemon.

Classic Bloody Mary
• 2 oz. vodka
• 4 oz. tomato juice
• Splash of olive juice
splash of lime juice
• 1 tsp. horseradish
• dash of salt
• dash of celery salt
• dash of pepper
• dash of Worcestershire sauce
• dash of hot sauce
• Garnish of olives, celery, limes or
lemons (optional)

Fill one glass to the top with ice and add all ingredients. Pour the contents from this glass into a shaker tin or mixing glass. Return the contents to the original glass. Garnish.

Long Island Iced Tea
• ˝ oz. vodka
• ˝ oz. rum
• ˝ oz. gin
• ˝ oz. tequila
• ˝ oz. Triple Sec (orange liqueur)
• 1 oz. sour mix
• Big splash of cola
• Lemon wedges for garnish
Pour the spirits and sour mix into a tall glass with ice. Stir well or shake. Top the glass off with cola. Garnish with the lemon wedge.

Blue Motorcycle
• ˝ oz. vodka
• ˝ oz. rum
• ˝ oz. gin
• ˝ oz. tequila
• ˝ oz. Blue Curacao
• 1 oz. sour mix
• Big splash of Sprite or 7-Up
• Maraschino cherries
Pour the spirits and sour mix into a tall glass with ice. Stir well or shake. Top the glass off with Sprite or 7-Up. Garnish with the cherries.