Friday, March 19, 2010

GUTROTTER, ISSUE #1: Mr. Boston's Riva Vodka

Riva Vodka (although most places online just call it Mr. Boston's) is literally the cheapest I could find-- 3 dollars for a 375 milliliter flask bottle. 3 dollars. Wrap your head around that for a second. For the record, a bottle of rubbing alcohol will set you back about half that much. As it is the new-born Gutrotter's mission statement to review the absolute bottom of the barrel, I took this as a challenge.

Read on to discover why, despite what your inspiration coach played by Danny Glover (or Crispin Glover, christ can you imagine that inspirational sports movie?) said, you should not rise to certain challenges.

(Pictured at right: Inspiration)


It's vodka—ideally it shouldn't have much of a look at all. In this case I guess it succeeds—there's no chunks of anything in it, and it's clear. I have to say, that, out of all the cheap vodkas out there, this one probably does have the best packaging. It may not enderaingly brag about its “unbreakable bottle!” like Popov does, but it's got a pretty crisp Czarist Eagle on it and says VODKA in giant, faux-Cyrillic letters. So that's nice.

(This will be literally the last nice thing I say about Mr. Boston, which is not even made in Boston. It is Kentucky vodka. This is one of Kentucky's worse ideas, and yet I'm pretty sure the bottle is an honorary colonel).


Oh god. Oh christ almighty. This is gonna be bad. It literally smells like turpentine. Maybe a little like gasoline. The only thing here that smells like an edible substance is a really faint sweetness. You know, like nail polish remover.

There's also a whiff of metal to it. Pay attention. That is foreshadowing.


Can I just type “the worst” here and leave it at that? No? No?

Fuck. You.

Strong notes of ozone and turpentine. In no way does it taste like anything organic. Its distributor claims that Riva has “faint notes of fruit,” and this true only in the sense that Riva tastes like grape drink fermented in a lawnmower engine.

Stolichnaya (which is good) puts the Movska Hotel on its label, a major Soviet landmark. It denotes class and a certain elegance. In the same vein, Riva should take notes and slap on that Ferris wheel from Pripyat, Ukraine. Because it tastes like fallout and rust.

I feel like I was just forced to pleasure an industrial lathe, and the lathe was

not gentle.

(Only people voluntarily go to Pripyat)


Putting Riva in Coke makes it worse. Try and think about that for a second. It's like putting magnesium in water and watching it burst into flames—this is a natural reaction that seems to run counter to the way the world works.

The thing is that mixing Riva with anything non-alcoholic is just going to decrease the burn and the numbness, freeing your tongue up to actually taste it. And christ, it's even worse. The budget Kool-aid flavor gets heightened and you get this iron bitterness in the back of your throat. I really wasn't lying when I said nail polish remover, and the sweetness of the Coke just heightens that.

So, knowing that anything nonalcoholic would just make it worse (you know, like life), I did what any increasingly resentful and increasingly drunk reviewer would do and whipped up a 50/50 mix of Riva and Cutty Sark (because I have both 3-dollar vodka and midrange whisky, for some reason). At first it seemed like a damn good idea—it was like a movie where some beautiful girl took Steve Buscemi to a dance and taught him to be a real gentleman and make something of himself.

Then the aftertaste fades and it turns out that there's still twenty minutes left in which he beats her to death with a table lamp and is revealed to be even worse than you already thought.


When I woke up my mouth felt like I had been eating moths, and I was still angry.


  1. This blog is excellent so far, Jasper. From now on, I'm telling my mother not to throw out the three-fourths-full liquor bottles she finds in the darkest cabinets of every one of her clients' houses, but to send them to me and have you review them. How do you feel about liquor too horrifying for senior citizens to even leave in plain view?

  2. I am a vodka snob generally but a friend of mine bought a bottle of Mr. Boston over one night and I was surprised at how smooth it was considering it's at the very bottom of the price chart. I actually made a straight up martini with it to see if it was drinkable and it was. My guess is that your review was a foregone conclusion because you expected it to be bad. Put this stuff in a classy glass bottle and charge $30 a liter and it would sell like Absolut, which I think is the worst-tasting vodka out there - that stuff is all about marketing; in this economy, I'm all about value for quality, and Mr. Boston's not a bad deal.

  3. i'm drinking mr boston 100 proof on ice right now, chased with mtn dew. pretty much everything you said in this over the top review is false. it's a cheap vodka made out of adjuncts such as anything from rice to corn to various grains or whatever anything can be made into ethanol. i'll assume the water is ground water, it doesn't taste like city water. it's drinkable. i've been drinking lots of vodka for a long time as i'm mainly a potato vodka guy. your review is so full of bullet holes it won't hold vodka. i hope you made some money from it because for those of us that understand the chemistry of alcoholic drinks and how they are made, we're laughing all the way to the bank. enjoy your overpriced overadvertised drinks.

    1. After reading your blog you should take thorazien not vodka if you don't like booze why drink at all

  4. Found a bottle of Mr. BOSTON'S Riva in grandma's basement. I agree that it smells like acetone.