‘Rustic 500 challenge’

If you enjoy socializing, drinking and trying new things, then there’s a local bar in Northfield that may have the perfect challenge for you.

“We were sitting at the Rustic one night looking at the drink menu and decided we wanted to try everything on the list,” said Seth Hayes, 21, a senior engineering and construction management major from North Granby, Conn. “That kind of evolved into this challenge of drinking everything on the menu by the time we graduate.”

A handful of Norwich University students recently created a drinking challenge known as the “Rustic 500,” which requires you to drink all of the mixed drinks on the menu at the local grill and bar before graduation.  The idea is all about a tasting adventure while drinking responsibly.

Seth Hayes and Caleb Beasley enjoying a drink together. (Seth Hayes Photo)

Seth Hayes and Caleb Beasley enjoying a drink together. (Seth Hayes Photo)

“When you go out to the bar, people generally have the three drinks that they always buy,” Hayes said. “This challenge is a social talking point to get you to try drinks that are outside of your comfort zone.”

The challenge’s creators believe that once someone is 21-years-old, he or she can begin this challenge at any time. For them, however, the Rustic 500 is truly a challenge because they started so late.

“Right now I’m about 70 percent done with about five weeks left to try and finish this,” Hayes said. “I’m probably the only one that actually has a serious chance to accomplish it.”

There are “only” around 175 drinks for the challenge, but it is known as the “Rustic 500.”

“We just picked the name for it because of the UP 500, just kind of a challenge-type deal,” he said. “It was an easy number. When we first came up with it we didn’t realize how many drinks there were.”

As with every challenge or game, there are always rules, and The Rustic 500 has four.

“If you’re allergic to something in the drink than you don’t have to drink it, as long as you buy it,” Hayes explained. “You have to finish all of your drinks, it’s your responsibility to maintain your own checklist, and you have to have somebody else there to check them off so you don’t cheat.”

To begin the challenge, all you have to do is declare it. Just say, “hey, I’m starting tonight!” and you can start your checklist, Hayes said.

“I made the list available for people because I formatted it. So unlike us, who started at the end of last semester, if you’re a junior or senior you’re given a bunch of more time to finish it,” Hayes added.

For the Rustic 500 challengers, the employees at the Rustic have been a big support. Mark, the main bartender at The Rustic, is 100 percent behind people trying it and loves watching people do it, Hayes said.

“It’s funny asking Mark to make some of the weird drinks because he says that he’s never even made them before. In his system, he’s got thousands of drinks, but we just took the general menu off the online website,” Hayes said.

Many customers of The Rustic, the well-known watering hole on Rt. 12 north of the school,  said that a lot of the drinks that the Cadets usually create are the really gross ones.“They have a lot of random ingredients like pepper, balsamic vinegar, cheese, all this nasty stuff in it,” he said. “So I guess they’re good if you’re trying to get drunk, but they don’t taste very good.”

While many challenges students take part in have an entry fee, paying the bar tab is enough for The Rustic 500. “When you sit down and think about it, you’re going to be at the bar any ways buying drinks. So, we did the average drink cost times 175,” he said. “When it came down to it, there wasn’t that much of a cost difference.”

The average mixed drink at the Rustic costs around six dollars, depending on how much alcohol is in it and what type of alcohol is in it.

“Mark is really good about pricing if you’re there all the time,” Hayes said.

“It’s a good time and I encourage people to try it. Be responsible with it, It’s not about excessive drinking,” Hayes said. “It’s about the challenge, being social with my friends, and trying new things.”

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