You people have to quit confusing me. It’s hard enough, given my obvious shortcomings, to work with the information and the messages I am being given.

Then, just to mess me up (I am certain that is the only reason for your actions) you folks are all over the place with your likes and dislikes, which seem to change with some regularity. I am reminded of the English gent visiting America who asked for some tea. He was doing fine with the preparation up to the point where ice was placed in steeping hot tea to cool it off. Then sugar was added for sweetness. Followed with lemon to make it bitter. The process was not completed in a cup, but rather a large glass, filled with tea and melting ice.

The Englishman was confused and not amused. I can relate. I had a somewhat similar experience in France in the Loire Valley town of Blois. The French really have no concept of iced tea, or even ice, and it was a very hot day in July. I could not convince the local Salon de Te to depart from their extensive menu of many teas but with one style of preparation and service.

Across the street was a bar. I asked the lady behind the bar if she had tea. Yes she did. I ordered a beer, then asked for a cup of tea for my wife. The  bar lady happily complied. I asked for some sugar and lemon. So far so good. Behind the bar was a bowl of ice. Not that big a bowl with maybe six or seven cubes of ice which likely came from a refrigerator’s freezer and those little plastic trays. I asked for some ice. The bar mistress was not that excited about sharing her ice but complied, I guess in the interest of Franco-American relations.

I took the three cubes of ice and added them into a “rocks” glass of hot tea. Then I added sugar and lemon. And then as the international community looked on in horror, I asked for more ice because the original stock had melted.

At this point it should be noted that 1) everyone in the bar, all six patrons, were watching me; and 2) I was wearing shirt, socks and shoes, but I was refused service. I can muddle along with my pathetic Pigeon French and I think the bar lady told me if that was the way I was going to treat her precious ice, she would put a stop to the madness.

There is a saying in the wine business that Americans talk “dry,” but drink sweet. There are more than one of you out there who relish downing a young, huge, tannic, lots of alcohol, deep red almost black Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. And a little later on in the evening you pour yourself a big glass of Coca-Cola. Then think nothing of the contrast. 

The real-life experience here goes even deeper, however. Those sweet liqueurs that were, just a few short years ago, all the rage are now struggling for market share. Could it be that the American palate is growing up and putting those awkward years of puberty in the rearview mirror?

I don’t want to draw conclusions that may be overstating the case about beverage maturity. Look at the astounding success of Fireball, which has been struggling in production to keep up with demand. This cinnamon whiskey tastes just like those jaw-breaker atomic fireball candies that spiced up many a bike ride through the neighborhood in the days when we had just entered the double-digit years..  

Still, the desire of Americans to drink Jägermeister, Kahlúa, and Southern Comfort is greatly diminished, replaced by the aforementioned Fireball, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and RumChata. So it’s not so much a snub of heavily sweetened liqueurs, just a move over to flavored whiskies, vodkas and rums.

The old-line product leaders are not taking your fickleness lying down. Marketing for Kahlua and Southern Comfort is in full measure, convincing you that a taste you know and once loved is still here. Even Jeff Bridges, The Big Lebowski himself, will be touting in television commercials and magazine ads the White Russian as a great drink for life’s slackers, or wannabes. Does the new Kahlúa Salted Caramel pique your curiosity? Let’s go bowling. 

The downturn in sales among drinks that you once craved, because your peer group thought they were cool and did not appeal to the old folks, is likely not a decision of short duration. Maybe you have finally realized that the “unusual” taste of Jägermeister is really not all that pleasant.

Or maybe you now prefer Southern Comfort’s Gingerbread Spice along with an occasional Moscato wine spritzer. Even a Jack Daniels and Diet Coke seems like a good choice on those long nights along Magazine Street or Frenchmen. 

Growing up is hell.