Serious Eats: Drinks

Let's Get Drunk Watching: Breaking Bad

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[Illustration: Robyn Lee]

I'm a man of simple tastes. I like drinking, watching TV and listening to late-90s adult alternative. So it is completely without irony that when brainstorming openings for this article I landed on: Third Eye Blind once sang that "doin' crystal meth will lift you up until you break." On its most basic level, this is the focal point of AMC's Breaking Bad. Rejoice, fellow junkheads: the show returns for the second half of its fifth season this Sunday. It's mere hours until we get our drug of choice (and subsequently go back to annoying the hell out of anyone who doesn't watch the show)!

The Necessary Details

Caution: There are spoilers for the first half of Season 5, rampant speculation about the second half, and I'll probably try to get philosophical at some point. You've been warned.

Breaking Bad is the story of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a high school chemistry teacher living a humdrum life with his wife Skylar (Anna Gunn, yes, that's her real name) and his son with Cerebral palsy, Walter Jr. (RJ Mitte), who occasionally goes by "Flynn" when he's being an angsty teenager. Everything's pretty mellow in Albuquerque until Walt (WALT!) finds himself with inoperable cancer in his lung.

What's a high school chemistry teacher to do? Well, if that teacher is Walter White, he decides to team up with his crystal-meth-cookin' former student, Jesse Pinkman (the phenomenal Aaron Paul, who also happens to be the world's greatest Price is Right contestant) aka "Capt'n Cook," buy a Winnebago and drive out into the New Mexico desert to cook up some meth. White's initial motivations are noble; he wants to pay for his expensive chemotherapy treatments and secure his family financially in the seemingly inevitable case that he dies. So we root for this odd couple of the cracked-out loser and the proud but stodgy "Mr. White," cooking meth in their underwear.

But then, miraculously, the chemotherapy works. Now Walter White can return to his life as a boring chemistry teacher... except he doesn't. White's brush with death, the dangerous lifestyle of a drug producer/dealer, and the lucrative profits remind him of his untapped potential from his former life as a brilliant research chemist. And this is where Breaking Bad gets good. We watch Walter White recover physically, and deteriorate figuratively; forsaking everything that had been his reason for living in the pursuit of the empire he wants to create. In Milton's Paradise Lost, Lucifer states that it's better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven. White makes a similar proclamation, preferring to reign as drug lord than serve as chemistry teacher.

And yeah, I've quoted Third Eye Blind and John Milton. Moving on...

Supplies You'll Need

My best friend and his fiance are wonderful people, but they happen to be Breaking Bad fans which means they have a dark sense of humor. For Halloween, not only did they dress up as Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, but instead of handing out regular candy they handed out this. For those too lazy to click, that is blue rock candy designed to look like the signature blue crystal meth from Breaking Bad. Yep, my friends give crystal meth to children. Kinda makes my drinking habit look not so bad.

If you're not the crystal meth candy eating type, you hate fun. But I suppose you can opt for some fried chicken à la Los Pollos Hermanos (which are 3 of the only 4 Spanish words I know).

In honor of the DIY and "cooking" aspects of Breaking Bad, my suggestion for beverages is homebrewed beer. All I'm saying is that sometimes I put on "Crystal Blue Persuasion" when I'm trying not to blow up my kitchen to make some beer and I feel a little like a kingpin. Plus, Serious Eats has some great homebrew articles to get you started.

And since this IS Breaking Bad, we can't leave out the hard stuff. Try an icy blue Curly and the Turk cocktail, which may turn your tongue blue, but at least that's better than what meth will do to your teeth.

The Breaking Bad Drinking Game

Guys, this game is for entertainment purposes only. No one wants you to pull a Walter Jr. into the pool.

Take a Sip

1 Sip: Drink every time Jesse uses the formal term for a female dog (the link has language that is NSFW, so wear headphones). Yeah, it's a gimme, but every good drinking game needs a foundational rule. It's drinking games 101. Which was my major in undergrad.
2 Sips: For every instance of drug use, which is surprisingly low for a show that is ostensibly focused around drug-making and trafficking.
2 Sips: For every time Walter Jr. decides to go by "Flynn." As someone who shares the same first name with their dad, I find this tactic particularly annoying. Though my tactic of writing angsty poetry didn't really pan out either.
3 Sips: For every subtle background reference to a totally fake company. Drink 3 sips for every "Better Call Saul" ad on a park bench.
4 Sips: and a groan for every time Hank Schrader tells an unfunny joke.

Take a Swig

1 Swig: Any one-liner from Saul Goodman. This one is for the homeboys who want a "pipe-hitting member of the tribe."
2 Swigs: For every time Marie Schrader shoplifts. Bonus drinks if she gets caught.
2 Swigs: If someone is killed in a ridiculous manner, like say, I don't know... a bomb strapped to a tortoise.
3 Swigs: For ROOF PIZZA!
3 Swigs: For any appearance by Kuby and Huell.

Slam It

Slam Your Drink: If any member of the White family dies. This is based on my speculation that Walter either directly or indirectly kills Skylar or Holly (the infant daughter), as foreshadowed in the cold open to Season 5.
Slam Your Drink: If Walter White appears in his tighty-whities.

Drink for the Duration Of:

Any scene that involves people eating awkwardly.

Stop Drinking If:

Frankie Muniz suddenly appears and the end of Breaking Bad morphs into the beginning of Malcolm in the Middle.

Got any more Breaking Bad drinking game rules cookin' in your Winnebago? Share them in the comments section below. And feel free to guess that fourth Spanish word I know.

About the Author: Vinny Mannering is a craft beer geek and rap-song shout-out receiver. You can listen to him praise beer and loathe society on Twitter on check out his blog.

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