Combat Zone

Student accidentally finds lifelong passion

A new career path opened up for senior Tad Zilch last weekend after embracing some unexpected responsibilities at a party.

Zilch,  a Science and Technology in Society major, came home Saturday night to find that his housemates were hosting a party after completing their senior capstone projects.

“No one told me there was going to be a party, but I knew a couple of the people there through classes, so I only felt slightly uncomfortable in my own home,” Zilch said, recounting the night that changed his life.

Zilch’s housemates had procured several kinds of alcoholic beverages for the party, and told him to have some, but not too much,  because it was kind of expensive.

“I decided to post up by the makeshift bar,” Zilch said, “which was just the cutting board attached to the top of our dishwasher, so that people could just talk to me about the drinks, rather than ask how I knew my own housemates.”

At approximately 10:47 p.m., one of the guests approached Zilch and asked if he was the bartender, Zilch responded with a sarcastic “Do you see any other mixologists around here?”

Not accustomed to being sassed by a bartender, the guest replied no, and asked for a margarita. The bar had been stocked by Zilch’s housemates with cheap tequila, pre-made margarita mix and unsliced limes.

“I’d never made a margarita before,” Zilch said, remembering the pressures of being a beginning bartender, “I just looked at the bottle of margarita mix and tried to figure it out from there.”

The image on the front of the pre-made margarita mix displays a margarita glass filled with a kind of green slush, a ring of salt around the edge with a slice of lime wedged onto it, and the words “Serving Suggestion” in small print.

Always an innovator, Zilch decided to only use the image as a suggestion, and created his own version of the classic drink.

Crediting this drink innovation to “not owning a blender,” Zilch started crafting the drink with three ice cubes from his freezer’s icemaker.

“I’d like to think I’m really innovating the way people drink margaritas,” Zilch said.

When Zilch was asked if he’d ever heard the phrase “on the rocks,” he responded, “oh, that’s a great name for my signature margarita. Thanks!”

Following the ice was a shot of tequila, and then an undeterminable amount of the margarita mix. Wanting to add some flair to the drink, Zilch grabbed a nearby carving knife and sliced a lime.

“I cut the slice in half to stick on the rim like in the picture, but accidentally dropped it in the drink. I thought it looked cool, so I left it and stuck the other half on the rim,” said Zilch, fondly reminiscing about completion of his masterpiece.

Zilch delivered the drink to the guest who had requested it and was quickly flooded with compliments about how good it was. Soon, a whole line had formed just to order margaritas, and Zilch was happy to comply.

When party guest Hans Topher was asked what made Zilch’s drinks so special, Topher responded, “I like Tad’s drinks because they have alcohol in them.”

The overwhelmingly positive response from the partygoers has convinced Zilch to start taking classes at a local bartending school in order to get his Bartending/Mixology Certification.

When Zilch was asked how he felt his talents were represented at the party he said, “The margaritas were a huge hit. I tried mixing some other stuff together like cold brewed coffee and gin, which people didn’t like as much, so I know I’ve still got a couple things to learn before I’m ready to go out on my own as a freelance bartender.”

Zilch can be found in his kitchen sipping on different combinations of liquor, juice and fruit, trying to find the next hit for when his housemates throw another party without telling him.