The mystery and mixers of Groundhog Week

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Seniors Tommy Thompson and Tim Naegle contemplate the quality of their cocktail. Photo by Rosa Venditti.

From Mixer Monday, Tequila Tuesday and Wine Wednesday, Groundhog Week is all about alliteration. And, of course, sharing good drinks with good friends.

But here at the University of Dallas, Groundhog is far more than just another excuse to drink. It’s also about celebrating the community that is fostered by sharing a well-crafted — or not-so-well-crafted — beverage. 

The legal drinking age in the state of Texas is 21, with the exception of minors in the presence of their legal-aged parent or guardian. As a 21-year-old, I can confidently say that cocktails have enhanced my college experience with socializing and creating a delicious drink. 

Before coming to UD, Groundhog seemed like a bizarre and vastly unexplained “thing.” I heard the Admissions spiel, that in days of yore the good old UD’ers wanted something to celebrate. The then-president of the university said something like, “For all I care, you can have a school-wide party for Groundhog day!” And lo, the students sure as heck did. 

This is the canned explanation, sure, but it’s the best you can get without having experienced this ritualistic “thing” so quintessential UD culture. I’m not going to attempt to give a further explanation — the experience defies definition and must remain so. The mystique of Groundhog is the very thing that makes it so awesome, in the purest sense of the word. 

Forgive me for the cliche, but to understand Groundhog Week you simply have to be there. It’s a little culty, sure, but far be it from me to explain or change it!

One favorite drink to try this week are Moscow mules — another alliterative alternative to boring beer. Anna Stevenson, a senior English major, has a passion for Moscow mules. She enjoys the simplicity of the cocktail — ginger beer, vodka and lime juice — as well as sharing them with her friends.

“My roommates and I like to drink them together,” Stevenson said. “The refreshing taste and the company while making them is such a joyful thing — great taste and great memories!”

Personally, I love a good mule, but my favorite cocktail as of late has been a gin and tonic. As easy as a shot of gin on ice, a splash of lemon or lime juice and topped off with tonic water, it’s refreshing and flavorful without tasting too strong. It’s also such a classy drink and so simple that I truly feel like I’m enjoying the beverage for the sake of the thing.

Junior business major Owen Sloan is another of-age-drinker who appreciates simplicity. He elects to drink beer, no shame, and try different craft and draft beers when getting drinks off-campus.

“I’m not too picky,” said Sloan. “I just like the flavor of beer better than a lot of other drinks.”

UD promotes drinking culture in a way that promotes the enjoyment of drinks for the sake of the drink itself. Sure, on Wine Wednesday it’s easy enough to swing by PDK and buy a bottle of St. Genevieve for $4.75. Or, students could elect to purchase nicer bottles of wine that actually taste good and savor the drink.

“My favorite wine is Moscato D’asti,” said Lizzy Brehany, a junior biology major. “It’s a great Italian dessert wine. They have cheaper labels, or higher-end, and it’s versatile. I can have a glass after dinner as a sweet finish.”

During their semester in Rome, students are treated to wine tastings of different Italian wines. The wines are often sourced from local vineyards around the Due Santi campus.

“My appreciation for wine has definitely increased during my semester in Rome,” said junior philosophy major Patrick Kearney. “Being of age in Rome allowed me to bond with my professors and friends over drinks.”

After a semester in Rome, students come back to Irving with a newfound appreciation for wine, Aperol spritzes and food that isn’t pasta. This experience is key to understanding just why we UD students love Groundhog so much: it reminds us of the home we found on a little vineyard at the foot of the Alban Hills.

Of course, there are many reasons why students might choose not to drink at all. Maybe it’s being underage or not liking the flavor, or just having no desire to imbibe. Non-alcoholic drinks can be a delicious alternative, and there are many options beyond lemonade.

“Mocktails” are pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a mock cocktail. They’re basically a booze-less drink that ends up pretty close to the real thing. From Shirley Temples to virgin pina coladas, there are lots of tasty alternatives. Students can celebrate Groundhog Week without any alcohol and, consequently, without any sign of a hangover. That’s definitely a win!

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