Drink of the Week: Tecate, The Tin Can Tavern & Grille (Morganford)


To celebrate the Day of the Dead, I watched Death Wish 3 and drank Tecate at the Tin Can Tavern & Grille. Did I honor American culture more than I did Mexican? True: I ate shrimp drenched in barbecue sauce with hush puppies on the side and washed it down with cold, pale lager out of a can. And while the Day of the dead is about remembering loved ones who have passed and communing with family, Death Wish 3 -- a wish fulfilled, stacking up a mind-boggling 75-plus bodies in its one hour and forty minute running time -- is about vengeance and catharsis. And really big guns.

Movie night at the Tin Can is the first Monday of the month. A big screen is set up just inside the front door, and cult movies are digitally projected onto it and blasted through the house sound system. It's like watching movies in your friend's parents' den, down to the baskets of just-popped popcorn passed around the room. The employees' demeanor is casual and familiar. When our bartender/server, wearing an AC/DC t-shirt, brought beers to our table and popped them open before handing them over, he seemed like the benevolent older brother that lets you have some of his beer.

The Tin Can's drink menu groups its beers by price. Tecate falls into the fourth tier, at $3.75 per can. Aside from its import status, it fits in squarely with the Tin Can aesthetic. With my eyes closed, I would be hard-pressed to distinguish it from Budweiser. Tecate is advertised with the tag line, "with character," but that character seems to come mainly from marketing and the distinctive red-and-gold can itself. Even the brewery's history has an American, melting-pot quality to it. Supposedly, the tradition of squeezing lime into Mexican beer started with Tecate, originally brewed in the Mexican town of the same name, by a Scotsman who got the idea from the British practice of giving sailors limes with their daily ration of grog to prevent scurvy.

Having been raised in a household that limited my TV consumption to PBS, I'd never seen a Charles Bronson movie before. Expecting blood lust, I was surprised by the light-hearted mood of the small but enthusiastic crowd. People laughed and applauded Bronson's tough-guy lines. The over-the-top violence seemed more cartoonish than menacing. At first, I thought the audience's appreciation of this dated movie was of the ironic, tongue-in-cheek sort, but the Tin Can isn't the sort of place that supports irony. For the most part, the people drinking 24-ounce cans of PBR in this joint are doing so because it's an economical way to drink a beer they like -- and because it means fewer trips to the bar -- not because of some hipster image they're trying to project.

Death Wish 3
has the distinction of a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 0%, with such dour comments from critics as, "The action, direction and special effects are all better than the last time around, which isn't saying much" and, "The final, sorry rattle in Charles Bronson's career." So maybe it was perfectly in keeping with the spirit of the Day of the Dead. With its skeleton imagery and graveside visits, the holiday may seem macabre to those outside the culture, but it's about celebrating the lives of those who are gone with eating and drinking and revelry. Nothing could be more fitting than cracking open a can of beer in the homey environs of the Tin Can and having a few laughs.

Alicia Lohmar is a south-city dweller and accomplished drinker, to which she credits her German ancestry and Catholic upbringing.


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