What is your signature drink? “I’m a newly minted whiskey and tequila drinker. I’ll have both of those if it’s been a rough day. Otherwise I’m a casual beer drinker, if I’m not in the need for something stronger. Other than that the only thing that goes in is water.”
Do you believe in the liquor-before-beer adage? “I 100 percent do and I learned from a young age that liquor before beer is a much safer way to live your life. And as you get older, not only is it smart, it’s absolutely necessary.”
Are shots ever appropriate? “Yes. But it went from many times a year to three or four times a year and now it’s down to probably once a year—especially considering I just had a kid.”
How do you like your tequila or whiskey? “One ice cube for both, but you got to drink quickly or else you’re in big trouble. Too watery.”
Should you ever mix Scotch? “No. I like it straight up. If you’re going to drink Scotch it needs to be good and I don’t like to mix it with anything.”
What kind of Scotch is your favorite? “I’m a big Johnnie Walker Blue fan. More or less when I’m home that’s what I’m drinking. I’ve always liked it.”
What won’t you drink? “Definitely not Jäger. I’m not a fan. I don’t like the taste. Goldschläger, I had a really bad experience with as a kid so it’s one of those that’s never gone back in my body. I’m not a big Fireball fan either. Pretty much anything else I’ll drink.”
Do you have a favorite hangover cure? “I always feel better after a long night once I’ve showered and gotten some exercise or fresh air and eaten. Once those three basic needs are met then I generally feel a little better.”
What did playing around the world teach you? “People aren’t as dramatic about drinking, it’s more of just a way of life. You see people enjoying beer in a different way then I was accustomed to. My first eye-opening experience was seeing people [in Holland] casually drink Heineken because they enjoyed it as opposed to us pouring three Heinekens into a big glass and chugging it. It was an interesting cultural realization.”
When you played soccer, did you have to cut back during the season? “Usually I would only drink after the game when I was younger. You’d play a game on Saturday and then go out that night and drink and then wake up at 4 AM for a flight and just be miserable the next day. I could never do that now.”
How do you like your Margarita? “I like it as natural as possible. Usually, when I ask people to make a Margarita, I try to get it modified with just lime juice and tequila. A little bit of cinnamon if they have it and a ground-up jalapeno and maybe a mint leaf. Ideally, that’s my perfect tequila drink.”
Do you eat the garnish of a cocktail? “I always eat the garnish, man. It’s free food.”
Landon Donovan retired from professional soccer in December 2014, after winning his fourth MLS Cup with the Los Angeles Galaxy. He’s the all-time leading scorer in U.S. national team history.
Interview has been condensed and edited.