There are legends born in these hills – ghosts, outlaws, and heroes – but none are as famed as one radioactive cocktail found on Main Avenue: the Purple [email protected]!ker. This drink has been altering states since 2005, when mad scientist Heidi Orio conceived it.
Orio has been slinging drinks for over 20 years, working at Player’s Sports Bar until she and her husband bought it in 2002. They turned it into Orio’s Roadhouse, known simply as Roadhouse – the birthplace of the Purple [email protected]!ker. The drink came about one auspicious day in 2005, after Orio’s supplier accidentally sent Grape Pucker to the bar, and she had to figure out how to sell it. Orio started experimenting with the drink in different forms, like a shooter or bomb shot, but eventually landed on a Mind Eraser-style shot (that’s why it comes on ice and with a straw). She started asking people, “Want a Purple [email protected]!ker?” and serving it as a birthday drink for customers.
It “caught on like wildfire,” she said. More than she would have ever expected.
These days, people from all over the country come in for the drink. Bartender Edie Englesmen said once, while in Afghanistan, her husband met a couple from Florida who knew about the Purple [email protected]!ker.
Orio said she thinks people like it because of the name, which just came to her.
“It just sort of rolled off my tongue,” she said. Although people often call it something else, like a “Purple Mother [email protected]!ker” or “Purple Nurple,” the only people who don’t like saying “[email protected]!ker” are the elderly.
“My mom calls the Blue [email protected]!ker a Blue Screw,” Englesman said. The Blue [email protected]!ker is the second incarnation of the Purple [email protected]!ker. It’s not as popular, but does the job just the same. (The Blue [email protected]!ker’s hue may be a true example of the scientifically disputed indigo, proving it is, in fact, a real color.)
Orio says the proprietary recipe won’t taste right if there is too much grape added, which will cause the drink to be very sweet on the first sip. Every once in a while, she’ll see one of her bartenders go a little heavy on the grape, but don’t even think about using that straw for stirring. Orio said the drink is meant to be sucked down as is, because the cocktail is layered. That’s why they can’t make them in bulk.
Englesman said the most they can make at a time is 19, because that’s how far the soda gun reaches. The largest round they’ve sold was 29 [email protected]!kers to 29 soon-to-be drunk [email protected]!kers. Englesman said every time a customer orders a round, she’ll say she can only make that amount plus one more, implying the extra one is for her.