Joseph Harmon

HELLO, INCOMING STUDENTS. Welcome to the Lush Life Academy: Master of Alcoholism program, or LLAMA.

You may be unfamiliar with LLAMA, since we just invented it. If you are familiar with our program, keep your mouth shut according to the nondisclosure agreement and don’t ruin this like you did Trump University.

LLAMA offers a diverse range of courses, typically single courses with a cocktail pairing. Subjects vary wildly on the whims of our curriculum board, but are largely self-taught. A brief syllabus for your first semester’s worth of classes and available times follows:

“Inauthentic Asian” Studies
LIMITED AVAILABILITY, meets at Barwares, 4605 NE Fremont, daily 5-11 pm until September 24

Unfortunately, one of our most popular courses will not be offered next month. But Johanna Ware’s self-described “inauthentic Asian” restaurant Smallwares (and accompanying backroom Barwares) is still open for another couple of weeks, so get in for happy hour while you can for some gochujang mac ’n’ cheese or the Barwares take on an Iceberg: a pilsner with a scoop of frozen spicy margarita called a “Draw Me Like One of Your French Girls” ($5). Late-night menus and daily specials abound, and with the last day of class fast approaching, you’ll want to be here every night to cram.

Modernist Biochemistry
Meets at Chesa, 2218 NE Broadway, Tues-Sat, 5-10 pm

In Spain, the gin and tonic is taken very seriously. So seriously, in fact, they don’t even have time for the “and” in the name—they just call them “gin tonics” or “gin-tonics” or whatever. (LLAMA is not known as a research-heavy institution.) At Chesa, Jose Chesa’s fancy-pants modernist sister restaurant to Northwest Portland’s beloved Ataula, our pre-med students can enjoy a minimalist Gin Tonic: gin, lime, and what our bartender promised is “medical-grade quinine,” mixed up and carbonated at the bar ($11). As a bonus for those budding agricultural engineers, an optional course in serving various foods as a foam is available.

Scottish English as a Second Language
Meets at Highland Stillhouse, 201 S 2nd, Oregon City, Tues-Sat 11 am-midnight, Sun 11 am-10 pm

Ardbeg? Bruichladdich? Bangers and mash? Kilkerran? Haggis? Fish and chips? Yes, technically, this is English! Enjoy a glass of whisky with no “e” and a plate of chips (translation: french fries) on a pleasant riverside-ish patio or inside the so-homey-it-will-ruin-your-real-home-for-you pub. Try to order a rare enough whisky that your server has to dig around for an hour to find it, thus requiring an extra whisky while you wait. LLAMA recommends a Campbeltown—Springbank, for instance—for its maritime brininess.

Asian Fusion Studies
Meets at Mama San Soul Shack, 8037 N Lombard, daily 11 am-9 pm

Fried chicken with edamame! Curry mac ’n’ cheese! Rum-spiked Thai iced tea! If these juxtapositions excite your intellect and/or taste buds, our Asian Fusion Studies course is for you. Mama San Soul Shack specializes in Pan-Asian twists on classic Southern comfort food (or vice versa, not totally clear) on an odd v-shaped corner in St. Johns. Check out the various “dranks” (Purple Drank, Green Drank, etc.) with or without liquor, or treat yourself to a Mama San Gimlet ($8), the classic lime-and-gin cocktail, with a lime leaf shrub pulling it a step or two east of London.

Practical Fanciness in Interior Design/Negotiating Peace in the Middle East/Fleetwood Mac Appreciation
Meets at Tusk, 2448 E Burnside, Mon-Sat 5 pm-midnight, Sun 5-10 pm

Everyone looks at least 10 percent more beautiful under Tusk’s soft but plentiful lighting. Chef Sam Smith’s new Middle Eastern restaurant specializes in, apparently, branding and design. Even the soap in the bathroom is a proprietary Tusk hand soap. Luckily, the food is also excellent, with a late-night menu (10 pm-midnight most nights) starring a cohabitation of vanilla soft serve and cucumber-lemon granita—a peace treaty in a bowl if we’ve ever seen one. Special guest lecturer, YouTube and TV celebrity Dr. Steve Brule (in no way officially associated with LLAMA or Tusk; also, fictional) presents a crash course in getting adorably buzzed with the Sweet Berry Wine Cooler, a pink and just bitter enough bottled cocktail of Cocchi Rosa, dry Riesling, white peony tea, and boysenberry ($8). There does not appear to be an option to order six at a time in a bucket of ice like in a Corona commercial, but education is sometimes about lowering expectations. In fact, that’s our motto here at LLAMA!

And there you have it. You are now a Master of Alcoholism! And all it cost you was $60,000, which can be paid in cash at the Mercury office. Please drink responsibly, but if you can’t, consider the Lush Life Order of Sobriety Academies, or LLOSA, which meets in Peru for acronym-related reasons that have nothing to do with extradition laws.