When everything from nachos to sports went "extreme" — or, even more obnoxiously, "Xtreme" — there was another, subtler shift in the lexicon. Call it "eventism." No longer content to be end-of-season sales, they became sales events. It's not the season finale; it's the television event of the year!
Likewise, the Elephant Bar doesn't serve meals. In fact, not once on the homepage at elephantbar.com does the word "meal" even appear. Instead it's called a "dining adventure" a head-slapping eight times. It informs us that our dining adventure is further enhanced with "Adventure Side Salads" and "elephant-size" portions.
We'd been to an Elephant Bar in San Diego, so we were familiar with its jungle motif. Indeed, at its Des Peres outpost behind West County Center, zebra stripes herd near giraffe spots on the walls and ceiling, while the carpet and booths are covered in tight tiger stripes. Faux palm trees and bamboo sprout here and there, steamer trunks are stacked like building blocks, and a spindly, curious giraffe keeps watch over the adventure-seekers within.
The bar is set up in the round, and the bartenders circle it like confused crows. The cocktail menu is extensive, and its mixed drinks try to evoke tropical romanticism. Which brings us to the Premium Ivory Coast Pomegranate Margarita. As far as we know, neither pomegranates nor margaritas are indigenous to Africa's Ivory Coast, so we find its name intriguing. Was it so called because "Ivory Coast" sounds mellifluous and exotic, never mind the country's near-constant threats of civil war, violent crime, child soldiers and toxic waste? (The Lonely Planet gives travel there a severity rank of "Extreme Danger.") Oh! Ivory Coast, ivory, elephants, we get it.
The Premium Ivory Coast Pomegranate Margarita, says the Elephant Bar's menu, is a "classic margarita" made with Jose Cuervo, fresh orange, sweet and sour mix and pomegranate juice. When at long last we receive it — feel free to enter your own joke about the Elephant Bar forgetting here — the rather attractive rose-colored drink comes in a tall, slender glass, on the rocks, garnished with salt and a lime.
Except for its outward appearance and gregarious name, the Premium Ivory Coast Pomegranate Margarita is indistinguishable from any other run-of-the-mill marg we've had before. Its tartness is predictable, the pomegranate's accent, anything but foreign. It costs more than $7.
It reminds us of the Fleetwood Mac song "Tusk." It begins softly, somewhat eerily, with pulsating drums and horns until they explode into an angry crescendo. We'd long assumed "Tusk" was sampled and remixed from some sort of exotic tribal ceremony that involved fire and ancient ritual. We felt really stupid when we found out it was recorded by the University of Southern California's Trojan Marching Band.
Not that we thought Elephant Bar's corporate headquarters would be located anywhere but in the United States, but we're especially chagrined to learn that they're are right down the road from USC in La Mirada — in the heart of LA County.
As for the steamer trunks piled high in Elephant Bar's dining room, they're most likely empty. And that's an apt metaphor for a xenophobic trip to nowhere.
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