It’s one part sorority-girl explosion, one part boozy Starburst. A merge of a watery Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino with dorm-room-quality rum.
Most of all, it’s reliably cheap booze to provide comfort in an uncertain world.
The $1 Bahama Mama cocktail debuted Feb. 1 and will cost a buck anytime throughout February at participating Applebee’s locations. That $1 price is no strings, which means no food order required, no spending minimum.
The restaurant chain calls them “Dollarmamas.”
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For you diehard Applebee’s eaters who must graze through all the dollar deals, the Dollarmamas were far, far more drinkable than December’s cocktail, the $1 Long Island Iced Tea (or “Lit,” as the chain called them). I described that abomination as tasting like Mountain Dew mixed with ginger ale, Crystal Light and rocket fuel.
The Dollarmamas were nowhere near the same level of rocket-fueled boozy, but they were so sweet they hurt to drink (really, my cheek twinged at first sip).
A classic version of a Bahama Mama is a tropical, tiki-esque drink that combines rum, grenadine and a combination of fruity juices.
Applebee’s serves its version in a sturdy mug with a generous scoop of ice with a description of “made with white rum and flavors of orange, coconut, cherry, pineapple and lime.”
“Flavors” is the important word of that sentence. (Notice the absence of any mention of “juice.”)
Remember that ’80s-era suntan lotion with the assertive coconut smell? The coconut in the Dollarmama tasted exactly like how that smelled. If they handed me a spray bottle of Sun-In and the “Purple Rain” soundtrack with the drink, I would’ve been reliving the summer of 1985. Speaking of that, following a stretch of rain that has felt absolutely endless even by Western Washington standards, all I have to say is: Pass me that glass. Now.
The one-two punch of cherry and mango makes the drink go down oh-so-effortlessly and had everyone at my table calling it “tropical Kool-Aid.”
As one of my colleagues put it, “It tastes exactly like Bartles & Jaymes Fuzzy Navel coolers.”
That had me intrigued enough to look those up (I’m more of a Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill girl). Just in case you’re in the market, I found them at Total Wine for $4.99 a four-pack.
While the Dollarmamas were effortlessly drinkable, they won’t leave you satisfied the way the tropical tiki-style drinks will from Jason Alexander of Tacoma Cabana and newly opened Devil’s Reef in downtown Tacoma. But I’m thinking if you’re willingly reading a story about a dollar cocktail, you’re not searching for a high-end tiki destination.
What Dollarmama does have going for it is that they sip down easy and they’re super cheap, which restaurant forecasters are lauding as a way to get more diners into the chain’s seats. I’ll buy that. I noticed many of the tables around us ordering the Dollarmamas, and many more were eating burgers from the limited-time $7.99 burger-and-fries menu.
Yes. Dinner and a cocktail for $8.99. Yeah. It’s a good time to be alive, my cheapskate friends.
DOLLAR EATS YOU WILL LOVE
As a hired belly who is tasked with traversing Pierce County restaurants on your behalf, I’m always looking out for your wallet. Here are more easy deals that cost around a buck at locally-owned restaurants.
Loose Wheel in Puyallup and Tacoma has 50 cent wings every Wednesday, although you have to order them in increments of six. Still, three bucks will fill you up because they’re huge. Also, every Thursday is 99-cent taco day. Pick from soft or hard beef tacos or chicken tacos. (6108 6th Ave, Tacoma; 253-301-1647 or 715 River Road, Puyallup; 253-848-4444.)
Poke Pop, the poke bowl restaurant in Fircrest, has dollar miso soup every day and it’s the tastiest bowl of buck soup you’ll ever order. (2013 Mildred St W., Fircrest; 253-565-2393).
La Waffletz and Macaron Station in Freighthouse Square sells little four-bite pieces of heaven in its bakery display case. Find more than a dozen flavors of the delicate pastry cookies called macarons. They’re $1.75 each. (430 E 25th St #32, Tacoma; 206-489-9770).
Paraiso Native Filipino in Lakewood has $1.25 pork lumpia that crackle when you bite into it. Filled with pork and veggies. Their potato-stuffed, spiced empanadas are also $1.25. (10518 South Tacoma Way, Lakewood; 253-584-6494).
Zocalo Mexican Bakery in Tacoma’s Lincoln District has cookies for under a buck. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch them on a day when they’ve got four cookies for a dollar. (701 S. 38th St., Tacoma; 253-474-9000).
Pierce County Applebee’s locations
Tacoma, Puyallup, South Hill, Lakewood, University Place, Bonney Lake, Gig Harbor.