Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gallo Dry Vermouth

You don't know how special this is to me. You see, I had Gallo Dry Vermouth long before I even considered starting this blog-- almost exactly a year ago, my roommate and girlfriend and I decided we need to try some martinis for the first time (despite drinking them out of rocks glasses) but also didn't want to spend much money on a bottle of vermouth we figured we'd only be using for accent.

So we got Gallo. This was before I knew about the horrors that they made (Thunderbird, Night Train), and before I had any idea what vermouth was actually supposed to taste like.

We had made a huge mistake.
Even bigger than accidentally meeting your son.
Suffice it to say, our cocktails for that night were just us drink martini out of highball glasses and watching six hours of Dexter. And that a while later, when my roommate was so smashed that we had to hide the Wild Turkey (he actually thought drinking more Turkey was a good idea) he still took one gulp of the leftover vermouth and put it right the fuck back in the fridge. The only good thing that ever came of that bottle was that it was okay for cooking sweet onions.

So, let's see if my first encounter (aside from the obligatory college student meeting with Aristocrat) with low-grade gutrot still holds up.

John Hodgman says that you can remember which vermouth is which by the fact that Italians have red blood and the French bleed a sort of clear-green lymph color. In which case I guess Californians that I hate must be very French-like with a hormonal imbalance, because this is actually a very faint yellow.
Ernest Gallo.
It's incredibly light in color, though, and the glass is actually tinted very faintly to make it look green. It's more the color of old plaster or faintly faded paper than an actual wine flavor.

The aroma here is incredibly faint. Now, I drink a lot more sweet vermouth (I'm a sucker for Manhattans, the girl even more so), but what dry I've had is supposed to have a much stronger aroma than this. Unless you're some French bastard who orders a little glass after dinner, vermouth is supposed to be used as a (small) supplement to a couple hard dollops of booze. The aroma of this one is as fey and inoffensive as--shit, I don't know. I don't notice things that are fey and inoffensive. I really just set myself up for failure with that metaphor.
"Okay Haley, we're to the part where we just piss all over Kubrick's headstone. You ready?"
Welp, since I did just insult them let's see if the French know what the hell they're talking about (spoiler alert: the French never know what they're talking about).
"Iiiiii'm Charles Baudelaire, Iiiii hate lesbians for not sleeping with me, wah wah waaaaaah."
Joe (the roommate) fairly accurately summed up the flavor as "everything I hate about white wine." And let me tell you, the dude hates a lot about white wine. He bleeds Chianti and I'm pretty sure his bones are made of pasta. He only likes white wine when you're cooking clams in it. When he walks into a room, Dean Martin starts playing. He once stomped a guy to death to a Donovan song.
Pictured: my roommate.
And while I honestly prefer white (as if the hate speech didn't tip you off) the guy is right. This doesn't even taste like vermouth, it tastes like spoiled white wine with herbs soaked in it. It's really sweet (sweeter than the actual sweet vermouth I have), and actually has kind of that good old Thunderbird flavor to its pungency and fruitiness. The herbs only exist in the aftertaste, and even then it tastes more like you just mixed in a ramen flavoring packet with your hobo wine.

I recently made some herb-infused vodka (take about eight basil leaves, some mixed peppercorns and a sprig of rosemary and soak 'em in a bottle's worth of Smirnoff for a couple days). It tastes pretty good, I think-- kind of has the botanical flavors of gin but is smoother and has a really mellow burn. Since that should pack the herbal dryness that this vermouth so badly lacks, I've decided to make a cocktail out of them. Since it's very similar to gin in some of the flavors, it should make a good modified martini. Since it's made of plants, I call it...THE SWAMP THING.
Alan Moore's Swamp Thing only thought that it was human. This only thinks that it's a real cocktail. Also, it's gross.
So how does the Swamp Thing fare? Does it kick as much ass as it did in the 80's? Does it invent John Constantine? Does it lead to a giant bearded warlock on acid somehow becoming the most respected artist in his field?

Of course not. How could you think that? Jesus christ, you people are fucking idiots. No, it pretty much tastes like that yummy herb vodka I made but with an added sweetness that completely goes against everything a martini should be. It actually starts pretty strong--the actual herbal component of the vermouth brings out the pepper in the vodka--but the wine flavor, that goddamn too-sweet wine flavor that clings to Gallo like they were goddamn asymptomatic carriers for the fucking superflu, it just lurches in pissing and squealing into an otherwise nice drink.

Gallo dry does to cocktails what Karen O does to motel rooms.
Don't ever buy this. This falls into the very rare category (alongside Banana Nirvana) of not even for the alcohol. There's very little reason to own dry vermouth apart from making distinguished cocktails, and if you're in the "let's spend five bucks on this instead of 6.50 on something better" mindset you're as stupid as I was last year. Just no. No. No. No.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Richard's Wild Irish Rose (White)

Hey guys! Guys! You know what's great? Sonic the fuckin' Hedgehog 4, that's what.  I grew up with that lovable blue fuckup, and it's so nice to see him again after 16 years. Because they haven't made a Sonic game since Sonic and Knuckles. They haven't. Not that I can remember.

Or at least, not that I will remember after trying out the white and worse version of Wild Irish Rose.

I was going to find a picture of Sonic drunk and sad here. But there is only porn. So much porn. AND THAT'S NOOOOO GOOOOOOD.

So, that seems as good a reason as any to start drinking.
Well. Not any.
Well, it looks more like white wine than most of the bumwines I've looked at. If you put it in a glass, you might fool someone into thinking it's civilized (like putting an Irishman in a suit). It's a little more of a deep-yellow color, though, and a little more artificial looking. So I guess that, like an Irishman in a suit, it only looks dignified until close examination or until you start interacting with it.
I'm sorry sir please don't hurt me.
Heeeeey whaddaya know it smells bad,  WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT (as a side note, after finishing this bottle I will have had literally every type of bum wine the Sav Mor and Ingles carry. Look at my life, look at my choices.) Unlike the vinegar-and-sugar aroma of a lot of other bumwines, though, there's something...off here. On taking a really deep whiff of it, there's something that can only be described as rotten.
Allegedly even people who seek out normal Rose don't drink the white variety. I can see why-- there really does smell like something just went off in the making, or like it somehow spoiled. But no, that's just the natural aroma. I mean, I guess a corpse stinks naturally too. Better just fucking CHOW DOWN on the next one you see.
"That corpse you planted into your wine / has it begun to sprout? / Oh keep far the Jasper, that's enemy to man / or with his gut he'll chug it down again."
(Jesus I'm sorry, I'm working on my Lit Thesis right now and I am awash in pretention).

A strong beginning of poverty and pigeonshit, followed by an aftertaste of regurgitated stomach. It starts boorishly and finishes moreso, as though the wine itself is getting drunk, as though it starts the night pissing into your umbrella stand and ends it by punching your wife in the clitoris. Like, directly in it, like that one scene in Robocop where he cyber-targets a dude's nuts.
That was my attempt at fancy-pants wine journalism. I'm...not sure it quite went where I thought it was going.
"Not even in the babyhole, just POW. Clitoris."
Yeah, I'm not doing that again. Anyway this is a lot worse than the red. And that honestly says something-- I don't really like red wines all that much. If you'll forgive the unbearableness of how white this is going to sound, I can really enjoy a Beaujolais and sometimes when I'm painting I'll drink a lot of Merlot really fast but a lot of the time I actually prefer white, and this is a massive fuckup on Irish Rose's part. It just tastes like their red without the stuff that covers up the awful. It's just as sweet, just as fruity, but there's that...deadness. That evil at its core.
Don't just dump it down the sink. It's your lucky wine.
(Just took like a half-hour break to talk about Catholicism and the way it works its way into your skin. I gotta say, like W.I.R. Red, this is a pretty fun drunk).

The White goes down easy (that's what Spike Lee told me!), but it hurts afterward. It definitely tastes spoiled and turned, like its well on its way to being vinegar, and if you take big gulps it does its job-- unlike bad vodka it doesn't hurt while you drink it, but immediately afterwards it feels like your tongue was transplanted from a three-day old body. Not like three-days-old period, like a baby's tongue. I mean it's been a "body" as in "after the stuff it's been through we don't want to admit it used to be a person."

Really you can insert a lot of my description of the red and take out anything complimentary. All I can say for this is what Brendan "the Irish caricature" Behan said of Guiness: It gets ya drunk.
Fuck you and your independent republic.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mamba Joose

"Joose is a ghetto alcoholic energy drink." That's how the Wikipedia article on Joose begins. Now, I have to ask-- was that article vandalized and no one caught it? Or is Joose just so recognizably, objectively ghetto that even Wikipedia has to admit that drinking this is probably gonna lead to starting fistfights with people's cars?

Also, this flavor is "Mamba Juice." The Mamba is the most poisonous snake in the world. It's so poisonous that Roald Dahl, the freakishly tall, freakishly hateful bastard that thought "there are witches everywhere who want to eat you" was a pretty perfectly charming premise for a children's book, pretty much shit himself when he saw one in India. I don't know if this flavors supposed to be Black Mamba or Green or what, but I really doubt ANY kind of Mamba is particularly delicious.

Well, Black Mamba's pretty yummy.
So anyway, none of this bodes especially well for this review. Also, "Joose?" Really? If you spell it that way you just sound like Willie Nelson from Aqua Teen.
For reference. Also, no kidding, this is the second time I've reference that character on this blog.
It's red. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A RED MAMBA, why would you call the red flavor Mamba? Why. Why. Why.  It pretty much looks like cherry soda, only more pinkish. Like watermelon soda I guess? Only they also make juice in watermelon flavor, so if this is watermelon what is that? This is one of the first times I've been honestly confused by the way something looks. To be honest, I don't know what to expect from the look.

That's not true. I know it's going to be terrible, I just don't know how. It's like invading Russia-- are you going to starve, freeze, or get shot?
Also, Tolstoy is disappointed in your actions.
The taurine (that stuff in Red Bull) gives this a really sweet, chemical smell. Like Red Bull, I guess. The fruit flavor that is there was really hard to pin down, and took a lot of deep breathing (fuckyoufuckyouFUCKYOU) but I think it's grapefruit. Yeah. Because there's a big overlap between the "half a grapefruit for breakfast crowd" and the "alcoholic caffeine-soda" crowd. You know who invented Red Bull? Tokyo cab drivers. I'm sure they're just all over some nice fresh citrus.
It wouldn't be the first time I was surprised by Japanese attitudes towards fruit.
First, let me say that I'm only a little way in here and I'm reading trivia about serial killers (they beat Gacy to death in prison! I'm okay with that!). It's that kinda drunk.

It's actually really specifically a Four Loko-style flavor, but spread out. The terrible doesn't build like Loko did, but it's present from the very first sip. There's a sort of unusual, formaldehyde-y flavor here-- it tastes like grapefruit, sure (WHY?), but it also has a kind of unique chemical tang. Joe says that it's a terrible you want to keep experiencing-- there's different layers and nuances of awful, so you can't appreciate everything that makes it terrible one just one gulp.
In Heeeeeaven...everything is fiiiiiine.
It tastes like a dried-out grapefruit you thought was fresh but had been in the back of the fridge for a while. It tastes like a Dead grapefruit-- not just dead, because that's really as soon as you pluck them, but something devoid of vitality, of freshness or crispness. It's like, this is what happens to a grapefruit who give up on its dreams and just sells used cars and feels guilty about it. This is a grapefruit so desperate for something resembling a real life that it constructs a fantasy around itself.
Oh man, this seriously the most pretentious joke I've ever made here. I am so, so sorry.
But yeah, this is The Crying of Grapefruit 49, only tastewise it has more in common with Gravity's Rainbow. The coprophagous scene, specifically. (Blogger has "coprophagous" in its spellcheck. Thanks, Google, for anticipating my needs.) It tastes like that awful time we had with Thunderbird only with Red Bull thrown into the mix. And, to quote Leonard Cohen (jesus I have been listening to a ton of Cohen lately, this might explain some of the melancholia), there's nothing left but sorrow and a taste of overtime.
I put, like, a ton of work into this. I don't even know why. Only that listening to "Leaving Greensleeves" for half an hour should put you into the mindset I'm in for a good %30 of the day.
Long story short, it doesn't seem as promising as Four Loko does at the initial taste but also doesn't get as awful. It's like marrying someone obese so they won't leave you instead of someone simultaneously sexy and psychopathic. So, like, more like a Dwight Yoakam song than an Alpha Couple Mountain Goats song.
I'm not picturing him NOT banging a fat chick.
More of a teaser for the next entry, but we're home-infusing some awful vodka. Got some Nikolai, gonna try and make it taste like apple pie. I call it the Gorbachev, because it reconciles American and Russian ideals of perfection.

Unless it's a miserable failure. Then I call it the Yeltsin.

I can't stay mad at you, Boris.