Myrtle Beach cocktails columnist preaches the art of Solo Cup mixology

For Weekly SurgeMarch 26, 2014 

Most of us have seen the claims that the Solo Cup had the forethought of solving our mixing drinks on-the-go dilemma. The updates on the social media outlets disclose that the lines on the outside of the traditional Solo Cups, not the fancy style or the knock-off brands, actually have a purpose. They are said to be used in measuring the amount of liquid in the cup.

The first line represents one ounce often used in mixing liquor drinks. The second line represents a standard wine pour of five ounces. The third is the most common beer measurement of 12 ounces. For our pint drinkers, the fourth line is said to be an actual pint. This information is handy if you are in a parking lot or on the beach enjoying your favorite adult beverages in specific quantities.

According to the Dart Container Company, the parent company that makes the red Solo Cups, the lines are strictly there for the function of providing a better griping surface. The company goes on to state that any correlation to accurate measurements is coincidental. After looking into the matter, the company issued a list of non-alcoholic beverages and measurements that these lines may serve. From fruit to baby food, it’s all about deflecting the sole association as an alcoholic beverage container, the association that was firmly entrenched with Toby Keith’s party anthem “Red Solo Cup.” I suppose the toddler sector of red Solo Cup users appreciates the consideration.

While the company explains the very close relationship between these lines and the actual measurement claims as coincidental, there are a lot of people embracing the information. The University of Pittsburgh has a diagram on its Web site of a red Solo Cup and its measurements to help the students become educated about binge drinking and alcohol abuse. Our local university, Coastal Carolina, seems to be in denial that students drink at all and would, more than likely, find no use for this information. However, if you check the parking lot after a Saturday football game, I would wager that you would see a Solo Cup memorial.

Regardless of the purpose behind the lines on the side of the Solo Cup, the fact remains that the numbers are eerily accurate for something that was not supposedly intentionally conceived. The lines as defined by the myth are very close to what they claim. So close that I do not have the tools to measure the difference, nor would it be of any benefit to get that scientific. After all, we are talking about parking lot parties.

For our purposes, we do not have to be 100 percent scientific in our accuracy. It is more about proportion. As long as we use the traditional cups that these numbers refer to, we can make a great drink and pour accurate wine and beer servings.

Let us start from the bottom. When mixing liquor in Solo Cups, the one ounce measurement is your best friend. Start by securing two cups for yourself. They stack neatly inside one another while you are drinking so do not worry about looking like you are double fisting. Pour your favorite spirit up to the first line in one of the cups. Pour that into the other cup. Repeat this step. This will give you two ounces of liquor in one cup. Fill the mixing cup (the empty cup at this point) up to the second line with your favorite mixer. Pour that into the cup with the liquor in it. Fill with ice. Before you take a sip, pour the contents into the mixing cup and back into the serving cup. Now, you have a well proportioned mixed drink.

If you fill the Solo Cup up to the second line with liquor, you are consuming the equivalent of three-and-a-third shots. While this may appeal to some, for most of us, we want a little more restraint on our day. Two drinks into the event and you will feel the effects. If you pay attention to the first line when it comes to hard alcohol, you will have great mixed libations and you will enjoy the festivities much longer.

While I do not agree with drinking wine out of a cup, this is the exception to the rule. Sometimes, you just have to drink from a cup. A standard wine pour in most respectable restaurants is five ounces. I am sure you will argue that your corner dive bar fills your glass to the rim and keeps them coming. I will argue that I put the word “respectable” in there for that very reason. When it comes to wine, five ounces is a serving.

Using the lines on a Solo Cup allows you to monitor your consumption before you get caught in the situation of having to put back an entire bottle and wishing that you had not. Once it is in you, it is hard to get it out with any type of style and grace. The second line will keep you and wine in good company. If you are using those novelty Solo Cups with the stems, check the lines first as these have not been included in any measuring documents that I have seen.

The third line is an important line. I have heard “keg beer gives me the worst hangover” too often in my life. The truth is that it is not the beer. It is the serving size. A single bottle of beer is 12 ounces at around 4.2 percent alcohol by volume. We will assume everyone drinks domestic mass-produced beers and not craft beers for the sake of argument. If you drink three bottles, you consume 36 ounces of beer. If you are at a keg party and consume three full Solo Cups of beer, you ingest 51 ounces. That is more than one full bottle more for every three beers. When three is really four and six is really more than eight, you start to see where the misconception can come into play at a keg party.

It does not matter why you use a Solo Cup. Nor does it matter that these lines were not meant to measure things. The fact is that they can be used to keep you responsible when you drink. Restraint is part of being an intelligent, responsible human being. Nonetheless, Solo Cup mixolgy works and is there to be used when the opportunity presents itself.


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