No. 10: The Roundtree – A New Year’s Tradition

Growing up in Lubbock, Texas, can get a bit redundant, so my friends and I would find ways to amuse ourselves during the holidays. And, being certified band nerds (I was Band President — the nerd leader), my friends and I were never really invited to the cool kids’ parties on New Years Eve. Therefore, we had to make our own fun. So we got creative.

From age fifteen to around twenty or so, every New Year’s Eve my friends Ryan and Andy and I would rent a copy of the 1971 Blaxploitation film, Shaft, starring Richard Roundtree. For days before New Year’s we would cruise around in Ryan’s white 1978 Chevy Nova blasting the theme music by the then-awesome Issac Hayes. “Who is the man, who would risk his neck for a brother man…SHAFT! Can ya dig it?” Only thing…the Chevy Nova didn’t have speakers or a stereo system so we listened to Ryan’s discman and portable speakers that we had jury-rigged in the back seat. Classy.

But not as classy as what we drank on New Year’s Eve…nothing could possibly top that.

At 15, both Ryan and I worked as sackers at Lowe’s Supermarket on 82nd Avenue in Lubbock. On our first year celebrating New Year’s Eve with Shaft, we decided to ask some of the older guys at the store to buy us alcohol for our evening. On a sacker’s salary, with no other income, we gave the guys all the money we had. And what they managed to return with were six 40oz bottles of Mickey’s Fine Malt Liquor.

And we were young, so obviously we bought a six-pack of Surge Cola with the remaining change and headed back to Ryan’s house to stash our goods. Now, if you don’t remember Surge Cola, let me give you a brief description of its flavor profile: Green.

Fast-forward to NYE 1994. Andy, Ryan and I were settled into Ryan’s living room, ready to enjoy our first Shaft Year’s Eve. We popped the video in the VHS player and the credits began rolling. BAM! Look! Shaft is leaving the subway! BOOM! Shaft is so badass he doesn’t even wait for traffic to stop before crossing the street! ZAP! Did you see that guy try and sell Shaft a watch? Hell, Shaft’s a cop. He don’t need no stupid watch!

Then, just as Shaft sits down to get his shoes shined, I noticed Ryan was mixing his Mickey’s with a can of Surge. Our lives were altered…and a tradition was born.

The Roundtree

  • 8 oz of Mickey’s Fine Malt Liquor
  • 2 oz of Surge Cola (discontinued in 2003…I’d buy Vault Energy Drink now)
  • Ice
  • One VHS Copy of Shaft (From 1971…if Samuel L. Jackson appears on your screen, you must abort this mission.)

Add ice to a large plastic glass. Preferably see-through so you know what the mess you’re drinking looks like. Add the Mickey’s and top with the Surge. If you have a plastic bendy straw, use one. It’ll look cool. Pop Shaft into your VHS player, sit back, and push play.

About Brian Melton

Brian Melton is the Brand Manager and Beverage Director for Leigh Sullivan Enterprises, a hospitality consulting firm in Denver, Colorado, where his duties include marketing, PR and beverage development for LSE's clients. With over 13 years in the restaurant industry, Melton has been lead bartender at several award-winning restaurants including Denver's TAG Restaurant and ChoLon Modern Asian Bistro and is the Secretary of the Colorado Bartenders Guild. Melton is also an avid writer whose work has appeared in 5280, Denver Magazine, Westword and Relix.