The woman behind the counter sighed and said, “Oh honey, it don't get much worse than Five O' Clock.”
The name is so wonderfully endearing to me. Unlike Popov, which lays claims to some sort of Russian-ness, the Five knows that it is sad, sad vodka for drinking and ignoring your harpy of a wife and the reminders as to how low your life has fallen. There's a level of unpretension there that most liver-killing barely-palatable Rasputinjuice avoids.
Also, Five O'Clock boasts in ornate cursive on its label that it is bottled in Scobeyville, NJ. When I think “bottled in Jersey,” I do not think “drinkable.” I mostly think Master Shake.
As stated in my premiere review, Vodka shouldn't really have a look. I will say that I like Five's labeling, though. It would look almost respectable if not for the world's saddest name printed on the label. It's kind of like a beautiful woman named Adolfina-- it may look like you've got some good times ahead of you, but the name should clue you in that the people making it have filled it up with poison.
You know what? Evaluating something's “nose” is a holdover of the fact that I'm a whisky lover. This does not have “nose.” If anything, it has
WHEEZING SKULL HOLE
Pretty much like rubbing alcohol and sugar. It doesn't have the turpentine burn of our old buddy Mr. Boston, but there's a real awful candy sweetness there. If you've ever read Lanark (you haven't, but run with me here), this is pretty much the candy-gasoline smell I imagine the food of The Institute to have. And that food was a metaphor for mankind's apathetic consumption of one other. So this pretty much smells like the crimes of modern society.
One small sip of this just tasted bad—sweet and burning, like a really really run-down version of Van Gogh vodka. But it was when I poured myself a shot of of it and knocked that back that I really felt awful.
The taste pretty much just rams the back of your throat like an uncaring lover and then your mouth gets full of that awful candy sweetness. If it's always Five O' Clock somewhere, that somewhere is Tangiers and it is sinister—this is what Mugwump milk tastes like, only it actually shortens your life. There's a bit of actual grain flavor there, but it tastes somehow like artificial bread and sugar. Like eating a gas-station honey bun dipped in grain alcohol. It's like a woman you think you can tolerate because the only thing she does on dates is check her phone too often but after you go to bed with her you realize that you've glossed over her awfulness with your own desperation and are willfully ignoring the fact that she invites the cat into bed with you and keeps talking about her parents and how they mistreated her.
So I just poured myself a white trash screwdriver because that actually pops up as one of the first google results if you try and find information on this stuff, like the names and family members of those responsible. It tastes somehow thick and filmy, like something out of a beaker that also faintly glows. There's still that really unnatural bitterness there.
It's as though you try to spend time with the girl from above and your friends, to tolerate her more or see if they will confirm your suspicions. But she somehow does become tolerable, and for one blissful evening, you forget that every time she smiles it has become like an iron file on your rib bones, and as you spend more and more time with her every bit of your extremities slowly numbs until the only feeling left is a foul taste in your mouth and a swelling sickness between your lungs.
Eventually you realize that this is what you've devoted your life to getting, and that the things you're passionate about, that you want to devote your life to (single malt scotch, in this metaphor) are out of your reach, that you will be going to bed with Five O' Clock tonight, every night, that all you can taste anymore is artificiality and grain alcohol.
And that you would rather be alone, and sober, than be drinking this.
Oh honey, it don't get much worse than Five O' Clock.
My girlfriend reads this blog. Hi honey. I love you.