Saturday, August 28, 2010

Richard's Wild Irish Rose (Red)

Welp, back to the grindstone. No more weird Eastern-European stuff, no more light, vaguely alcoholic stuff. It is time for the last, unvanquished Bumwine, one of the legendaries. I've worked my way through six other classic hobowines (and the sub-standard Orange Driver, whatever the hell it counted as), now I've got a big (full-liter) bottle of Wild Irish Rose staring me down before I can say I've cleared all of 'em out.
Orange Driver is Mimmy. Also this metaphor works because Margaret is brutal to get through.
 Oh, oh. And I just finished watching Season 4 of Dexter (which is a barrel of laughs, let me tell you), so I am in an extra bottle-drainy mood. So come Wild Irish Rose--number one, here I come.

Not that bad, actually. It's second to MD 20/20  as the most wine-y looking of the Rogue's gallery of bumwine. Mostly red-colored, vaguely purple, and a little too light to be actual wine, but if it was in a bottle it could pass for port or sherry maybe. It does look just a little sugary, though. That said, MD red was honestly the second-hardest to drink after Thunderbird, so that doesn't tell us much.

When I was talking to my dad once--a former Wyoming bartender, so you know he's seen some shit--about this kind of stuff, his response was "you've actually had Thunderbird? Tastes kind of like diesel, doesn't it?" It was kind of a sweet father-son moment.
Dammit Jasper! You drink by The Code!
Ah, WIR, you betray yourself. Much like the Irish, your facade of acceptability fades upon closer examination-- or upon smelling.You might pass for civilized in dim light, but as soon as that bottle opens I know you for the filth you really are.
"Good very sweet, my brother."
"Aye. Good wine is very sweet. But you're not me brother."

There's actually not that much aroma to it, but what there is is pretty much pure vinegar and floor polish. There's a little bit of that red-candy sugary smell that marks the really low-grade stuff, but this follows just behind Thunderbird in terms of unpalatable smell. (Out of the bumwines, at least-- bad liquor has a bad smell all its own). (I really didn't like Thunderbird. Can you tell?)
I hate Thunderbird as much as I hate this image.   


At its most basic, like fruit, grape, sugar, and poison. If I didn't know that this was going to taste awful and instead expected something actually natural-flavored I'd be fucking worried.
Making me more competent than Gotham PD.
Oh, do I need to be more specific? Do your journalistic standards demand it? I can't pull a W.R. Hearst and just insinuate and fabricate and smash our foreheads together to get the information into your skull faster?  I have to do actual journalism? (Wait? Do I? I'm too deep to know what's real and what's the joke anymore).
Citizen Who OR "FAB-RI-CATE! FAB-RI-CATE!"OR "I hate Wild Irish Rose. Wild Irish Rose isn't cool."
(I want you to know I was just going to do an Inception joke there but I took the time to MS Paint William Hearst as a Timelord, because I am dedicated to my craft.)

Okay, well look, have you seen the Season 4 Dexter finale? I just watched it, like two and a half hours ago. And logically I should be drinking more because when I watched it the first time I had to sit there for a while to catch my breath and rewatch parts of it and then go upstairs and have myself a bit of a cry. And I'm still barely into this bottle at all.

Okay. Okay. Give me a minute. Maybe take that minute to, I dunno, look at pictures of kittens or something nice.

Whatever the opposite of this is.
Okay, all that said this is probably the most chuggable of all the bumwine I've had, so at least it accomplishes its mission. But that's like how at the end of Metal Slug you still accomplish your mission, because you leave behind an army of corpses, get earth invaded by Martians, puke blood for a while and some guy gets eaten by a killer whale.

Not really a fair comparison because Metal Slug is fucking awesome though, and this isn't. So maybe it's like how, at the end of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Jack Nicholson actually does end up adjusting to the mental institution.
Pictured: rad.
Pictured: not rad at all.
 There's a really strong grape juice/cranberry candy flavor at the beginning (because W.I.R. is "100% grape with citrus spirits"), and then that bitterness and vaguely ill backwash. It tastes a lot--a lot--like bile, or maybe that's just, I don't know, my bile. It goes down easy enough, but after a big gulp you don't really want to drink more of it. (GAY JOKE HERE). There's also this very faint aftertaste, after everything else goes away, of blood and spit, although that might just be-- well, I guess what I'm saying is that the wine itself tastes like candy, but the aftertaste tastes like the aftertaste of swallowing glass.
And I don't know if they grade glass, but if they do...coarse.

Honestly though, it might still be the most drinkable hobo wine I've tasted yet. The only hard part of the drinking is the swallowing, which does hurt and gives you a grimace that's the exact opposite feeling of whisky shivers. This is not at all to say that it's good, but, like Night Train (which I've got soft feelings for, as I drank half a bottle with friends, made pineapple nachos, and watched Van Damme's magnificently tardo Cyborg), it'll do the job if you don't mind the slimy aftertaste and the bootleg flavor.

I had an elaborate masturbation joke there originally, but I'm gonna be classy and just leave it to your imagination.

It's a relatively nice buzz, too. The kind of buzz where I listen to cabaret music and google screenshots from Secretary, not the Thunderbird kind where I wander down to the grill on the corner at 1 am and my friends talk about their exes (see: T-bird).

So yeah, this isn't good, but it's a nice high standard for bumwine. Kind of like how John Merrick was hella deformed but still a classy guy. (Yes, that's the second Elephant Man joke I've made. As a side note, the Lynch film is a really underrrated classic-- it's not weird and hallucinatory, but it's still clearly his work and Hurt is absolutely incredible in it). So I'm not gonna recommend it-- if you have the five bucks a liter bottle costs you just get actual cheap wine for that price or a couple little sampler bottles of liquor--but if, like me, you consider yourself a travel guide to the tourism of the land of misery,  you could do worse. You could do Thunderbird.

Like I said, I'm in a cabaret kind of mood. So here's Jack Terricloth, both because Addicted to Bad Ideas is tied with Tallahassee as the official Gutrottin' album and because I think he'd really like the second-to-most-recent sentence.
Wow, this review sorta ballooned. Like a tumor. Or a balloon. It is sort of my farewell to bumwine-- I don't doubt that I'll return (I think I may even round up my roommate and my girlfriend to revisit Thunderbird), but I've now tried all the major brands. I haven't done the white Wild Irish Rose yet, so that may be in the future. The distant, awful, future. But I gotta say, this is better than Mad Dog. It's in the Night Train category of "shit I wouldn't ever be in the mood for but might drink again to save money." Although, seriously, a five-dollar bottle of Riesling is still pretty decent. There's really no excuse besides abject poverty.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

SPECIAL: [Name Unknown] Pelinkovac

As of the vile, vile affair that was Cossack vodka, I now officially have done twenty-five different reviews over the past several months, making that review a pretty big milestone for this blog. That's twenty-five different bottles,  ranging from non-alcoholic Busch to 100-proof banana hitler choked down by yours truly. And today is the last day of my summer vacation.

So I thought I'd hunt out something special. There's no brand name or title on this bottle, just PELINKOVAC (which is the type of liqueur) and bottling information, with a drawing of a feudal-era Slavic girl offering you a bottle (which, inexplicably, is also named in English like a weird, Escherian recursive hooch label). There was only one bottle left at the local ABC store, and a sign under it reading "Discontinued." Plus, I don't even know what a Croatian apertif is doing here in Carolina, so for all I know I've got the only bottle in the state. I've never seen it anywhere before-- never even heard of Pelinkovac, period --and when I saw that strange, lonely bottle I knew there was nothing in the world I wanted to review more.

Pelinkovac is, according to the sources I looked up, a liqueur native to Serbia, Croatia, and the Bosnian region, traditionally distilled from wormwood (which, in Ukrainian, is chernobyl-- the first of many good signs) and flavored with herbs and various bitters. It seems like it's  sort of the Serbo-Croatia-Bosnian answer to Malort, which, given Malort's reputation, seems like a very, very, very, bad idea.
Serbia's answer to Mario, for comparison.
Don't worry, I'm going to try to refrain from just making a GTAIV clusterfuck of an entry. That said-- I was in a war; let's see if this liquor means anything to me.

It's colored with caramel, so I really shouldn't even talk here. That said, from looking up some legitimate brands, it seems like Pelinkovac should be darker than this. The liquid inside the generic bottle is fairly translucent with an amber, slightly orange tint to it. It's the consistency of water, so it's not sluggish or strangely thick, which is simultaneously reassuring and disappointing. I should be happy it looks so threatening, but I'm a little worried that it's not even stranger-- its attempts at normalcy, besides being artificial, don't really hide anything, they just make me a little more afraid.
26 reviews in and I'm still not above using the most convoluted setup possible for a throw-away pop culture reference. I really will contort the flow of my comedy and stifle an actually creative observation just to make a gag about television. You know, like Family Guy.
 Man, considering the last 3 reviews have been vodka, cheap tequila-soda, and malt liquor, I'm honestly lucky to have  something that has a real aroma to talk about. Because, trust me, there is an aroma here. There's a really strong cinnamon note-- hot, spicy cinnamon, like in Big Red or Goldschlager. But there's a lot of really herbal and fruit flavors under it: fennel, anise, pear, and pepper all spring to mind. There's also some of that savory bitterness that I assume must be the wormwood (or vermut in German-- hence vermouth! I'm gonna get that funding yet!), since it's also really prevalent in the absinthe I've had. It's a shame the cinnamon is so strong, because the rest of these flavors are actually kinda nice, but the cinnamon is really intense--clearly more than it should be in bottles that don't cost ten dollars --and also smells really candy-like and artificial. Given that I really like the other scents there, this overpowering artificial aroma is the equivalent of taking a talented, subtle actor and wrapping him in pancake makeup and distractingly over-the-top costume work.
Goddammit Tim Burton stop doing that to your friend. Also get another friend.
First the good news: the artificial atomic-fireball-cinnamon flavor is not nearly as strong in sipping as it is in smelling.

Bad news: this stuff is not good to you.

It honestly doesn't taste that bad; it may be the most palatable thing I've reviewed (short of the beers) for this blog. There's a lot of the herbal flavors there that Jagermeister and absinthe have, but it's not as syrupy-sweet as the former or as licorice-y as the latter. It's a lot more bitter than either, though, and that's where the bad news comes in.

Wormwood, apparently, is a fairly lasting flavor, because after everything else fades there's this really strong woody bitterness that lurks around the back of your throat.
Silly Internet, that's not what I meant!
It's pretty much what I would imagine Croatia tastes like, and whether or not that's good  is up to you. I honestly kinda like it. It's weird and I don't know if it tastes particularly good, but hey-- I'd honestly recommend trying to find a bottle, if only so you can experience it. It's honestly the strangest and most unique thing I've reviewed, and if it's not terrible, at least it's weird. Just be warned that a large gulp is gonna make you queasy and a little ill. And then you realize that you are a poor wretch, and should have found a better way to live.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

GR North: Cossack Vodka (w/ Tyler Lee-Moore)

Greetings from Gutrotter North Office, based out of sunny Someverville MA, just south of the Cambridge municipal border. And boy do we have a winner for you tonight: Cossack vodka, distilled right here in Somerville and costing only ten dollars for a full liter (and liquor is expensive here, since the state doesn't own the business).

This is something that you probably can't even find outside of the Boston area-- and I really doubt you'd want to try. So let's dive right into this Cossack.

 I can't say much about the way vodka looks. I only put this section in because of my near-autistic devotion to pattern.

That said, my good buddy Tyler points out that it doesn't move the way vodka (or fucking anything) should-- it's not that cold but it still sloshes around a little too thickly, too syrupy. Like an alien imitation of real vodka. Come from way out beyond the stars.
To kill us kill us KILL US WHERE WE STAND / they'll store our livers in Mason Jars.

Also, there's a little Cossack on the bottleneck. (And can I say that honestly, given Western views of vodka, it's a little weird to name it after a society that was at times fairly anti-Russian and usually anti-Soviet? And that one time, pro-Nazi? [ the thinking man's poison reviewer])

Oh also, on a very much related note, since our women have left us to ourselves, I'm drinking mine with heart-shaped ice cubes.

Not much of one honestly. If you jam your nose down in your tumbler (we are drinking out of Irish crystal tumblers because we are gentlemen) you can smell the usual burn and diesel fumes, but it's really not much worse than some good vodkas. Still worse though.

The little heart-shaped ice cubes are melting.
Trotskii is Sadskii.
Hey, you know what smells good? The Flying Dog Raging Bitch I'm using as a chaser. WHICH I JUST OPENED WITH A HUNTING KNIFE. WE DON'T NEED WOMEN ROUND HERE.

(Tomorrow on Gutrotter North: Tyler and Jasper exploit their Massachusetts location and get married).
To find my "wooden leg"

Alcohol and water.

There's this weird sweaty syrupiness to it though. Tyler compares it to vodka sipped from a leather boot, whereas I compare it to horse. So I guess it's true enough to the name. Truer than the Cossacks were to any political power (LEARN, dammit! Otherwise I lose government funding. I'm technically listed under edutainment, I just can't afford a .org address). Tyler and I are preeeetty... sure that the issue here arises from distillation: the thickness, weird sugary taste and vaguely dehydrating burn all point to this only being once-distilled alcohol with a lot of grain and poison lurking around. There is just so much more awful hidden in this bottle than there chemically should be. THANKS BOSTON.
First off, being that we are in the Northeast and also what, on your fucking period? we mixed it with cranberry juice.
Tune in next week, when we just transcribe all of The Departed.
Yeah, it pretty much just tastes like cranberry juice. We need to reinforce this: it's not the worst, but it is fucking boring. Like Tyler. A boring fuck. There's no flavor beyond the flavor of pure alcohol, which, despite what you might guess, is not a flavor I like. There's a bit of that leather and a bit of burn at the back of the throat, but I guess if you cut it with juice it goes down smooth enough. It's not Riva bad, but what is? Like King Cobra was to beer, this is to vodka: the way a child imagines it would taste.

(Update: Raging Bitch still delicious).

Vodka tonic is yeah, pretty much what you'd expect. It tastes like tonic water and lime juice. And some poison. (Alcohol is technically classified as a poison, making my therapist technically correct-- The best kind of correct!). I guess if you wanna buy cheap-ass vodka and celebrate your neighborhood, whatever, go for Cossack. It's probably the best cheap vodka I've reviewed, but it's still not good or really worth drinking. Just make weak cockatails, drink 'em like soda, and, I don't know, get gay-married or something. Worked for us.
"On the day that I forget you / I hope my heart explodes."