Sunday, January 23, 2011

E&J "Temptation" Cream Liqueur

You know what E&J stands for? Ernest and Julio. "But Jasper," you ask? "Who are Ernest and Julio? Are they brothers? They sound like brothers. Do they go and have adventures together? They're like Mario and Luigi, right? Adventurous Italian brothers who love each other?"

Ernest and Julio Gallo.
So, you know, their adventures are really more on par with these brothers.
Oh, uh, spoiler warning for those of you reading this from 2005.

I have a history with Gallo, in the way that Eastern Europe has a history with Kalashnikovs. Thunderbird. Night Train. Their execrable vermouth. Gallo are people who don't fuck around in the game of putting disgusting things in my body. Ernest and Julio Gallo started making wine because there wasn't a market for the tears of infants. The proper cheese to accompany Gallo wine is something a step below Kraft singles individually shrink-wrapped American. They make the perfect thing for sitting at home, opening a bottle by yourself and having a quiet night in, when that home is a refrigerator box and it's quiet because Cat-eye Dave put a screwdriver in your ears because you thought his pressed tinfoil collection was trash.

So let's see how they do with their thing-that-should-be-a-bottle-of-Bailey's.

It looks like non-dairy creamer, which, let's be honest, is probably what it's made with. Come to think of it, I wonder how veganism looks on cream liqueur like this. Well, I mean, hopefully they frown on this specific brand, but I don't know-- vegans keep buying shit from American Apparel too, and if massive sponsorship of anti-gay groups won't turn 'em off of something I doubt knowing that the forces behind Thunderbird profit from it would.
The other 90% of your brain is curds and whey.
It's a lot lighter than Bailey's is. Instead of looking like a blend of whiskey and cream, it's more of a sort of gray milk. It's just kinda gross-looking: rather than like a thing-within-itself (hey there Kant!), it looks like a spoiled version of something else.

What the fuck this smells like grape soda. Like, almost exactly. Now, this might be expected because I think it has brandy in it and brandy is made of grapes, but it doesn't smell like grapes, it smells like grape soda. With a lot of the weird hiccups and deformities of the things I review, it's a matter of deficiencies or deliberate cost-cutting measures. But the only explanation for this is that Gallo was producing some kind of industrial grape-related runoff from the Thunderbird factory and, knowing that releasing it into the environment would be disastrous and reporting it to the government would have them erased by a wetworks team, they decided to mask it under the other flavors in a liqueur they thought no one would buy.
Pictured: Ernest Gallo, still alive due to his ability to feed off of pain.

Or it might just be the corn syrup and caramel that I'm sure this is loaded with. Both equally likely.

TASTE (Straight)
Well, at least the nose doesn't mislead. This pretty much tastes exactly like non-dairy creamer mixed with packets of artificial sugar. With a splash of alcohol in it. In other words, this is just a cocktail of what your basic office worker could put together between the communal supply in the fridge and the secret supply in the back of his desk.
It's a lot less charming when you wear a polo shirt and your charismatic speeches are passive-aggressive hints to Donna that you know she ate the cookies in your lunch.
There should be a special mention of how alcoholic it tastes, though-- it's only 15%, but taking a full shot of this is hard. In part it's because the flavors don't marry well, so the alcohol's sharpness really comes through unmitigated. And that sourness shouldn't really be in a cream liqueur at all. When I'm drinking a tall glass of milk, the last thing I wanna think is "mmmm...tangy."

TASTE (Mixed)
Well, I decided to make a Jack Torrance with it. Technically you're supposed to use advocaat, which has eggs in it, but technically you're not supposed to drink anything Gallo makes. So drop a dollop of rye whiskey into that glass of shitcreme and let's see how it goes down.
This is a fucking great idea, lemme tell you.
Eurgh. Worse than expected. It actually tastes legitimately spoiled, somehow. I thought it would just be like whiskey and cream, but no, this metastasized into a special kind of awful. I don't think it actually curdled anything, but the Temptation was already too sour and didn't have enough of a cream flavor to it, so when you combine it with a really sharp whiskey it tastes simultaneously milky and sour.

I'm just gonna throw the rest in the sink, because drinking it makes me taste kinda legitimately queasy. So this has failed conclusively at mixing, which cream liqueur should be able to do, since nobody wants a straight glass of that. Congrats, Gallo. You failed the easiest test on this blog harder than anything else I've reviewed. I honestly feel kinda sick now. I'm gonna get a cold glass of water. Fuck you Gallo, and why don't you hold on to that Fuck you for a while because you're gonna need anytime anyone drinks what you make.

Gallo, did it ever occur to you that people use the word temptation to refer to things they know they shouldn't touch?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Triumphant Return / Malort

Well will you look at that, I'm alive. Where ya been Jasper? Screw you I been busy. I got problems, and also I had a lot of final exams and then I was in Europe for three weeks. But I'm back, and I brought something special.

I had Gammel Dansk (Danish), Becherovka (Czech), Pineau des Charentes (Charentes region, France), Violette liqueur (Paris), scotch and cognac in their respective nations. It was all pretty good stuff, and I celebrated Hogmanny with a Scottish Nationalist.

And then I come back to America. To a Swedish drink only popular in Chicago, a sad town that may or may not exist. A drink that no normal human would ever enjoy drinking.
Yeah, I don't see how this disproves anything I said.
But I figured I'd make p for my absence with something special. Something that even the maker knows is infamous. The makers of it themselves say that:

"Most first-time drinkers of Jeppson Malort reject our liquor. Its strong, sharp taste is not for everyone. Our liquor is rugged and unrelenting (even brutal) to the palate. During almost 60 years of American distribution, we found only 1 out of 49 men will drink Jeppson Malort. During the lifetime of our founder, Carl Jeppson was apt to say, 'My Malort is produced for that unique group of drinkers who disdain light flavor or neutral spirits.'

It is not possible to forget our two-fisted liquor. The taste just lingers and lasts - seemingly forever. The first shot is hard to swallow! PERSERVERE [sic]. Make it past two 'shock-glasses' and with the third you could be ours...forever"
Jesus christ, fucking Sweden, what the fuck.
 And yes, as the copy-pasted note from Wikipedia points out, they did misspell that shit. And they're proud of the fact that only 2% of men would enjoy their vile brew. Meaning 1% of the general population-- slightly less than the percentage of the population who actively suffer from schizophrenia. You know. The lucky ones.

The people who drink Malort...they think they're sane. Only you and I know the truth, and we are mad as well.
Anyway. Malort is made from wormwood, which I'm no stranger to, but usually as an element of absinthe or pelinkovac or... four loko. But not by itself. This is the liquor equivalent of "I love a good curry...let's eat some curry powder out of a spoon." Only, you know, it tastes like "baby tears and gasoline". Which, let's be honest-- this was made for me. It is perfect for this blog. To be honest, I'm not sure there's anything I've wanted to drink more. But being perfect for me doesn't mean it's good.
Spoiler: this comic doesn't end well.
 Kinda...beige. It looks a lot like original flavor listerine, or kinda like wood polish. But not the healthy brown that good wood-aged liquors have. Kind of sickly and phlegmy. It's not a color that food should naturally be, it's a color that appears vaguely spoiled. Like boiled millipedes. That's what Malort really should be-- some weird alchemical ingredient. Like "take an alcohol and wormwood solution and mix in equal parts with quicksilver and cod semen. Drink. You will see a man of silver who shall move the colors for you."

That last bit's not even made up. Isaac Newton believed that shit. AND NOW YOU BEEN EDUCATED LEMME GET THAT SWEET NPR MONEY.
This smells the most legitimately poisonous out of anything I've had. A strong overlay of rubbing alcohol, with notes of paint thinner, acetone, and--for a bit of the more fruity flavor--model glue. It mostly just smells incredibly chemical. There's very little natural to this, which is weird as it's made from plants. In the same way that I suppose a sack of ants is natural. Hooooo boy. Not looking forward to this. Not one bit.


 It is so much worse than I thought, my best unbeaten brothers. It tastes like awful vodka when it goes into your mouth and then as it goes away it gets worse. Incredibly bad vodka. Like, Riva bad. And then holy shit the aftertaste. It's incredibly bitter. And it hangs in the back of your throat exactly like bile. I know I've compared stuff to vomit before on this blog but I'm not even using metaphors here. It legitimately tastes like seasick bile on the back of my tongue, and like rubber on the front. Like bad meat and an angry robot who just grabs you by the hair and will not get its robochode off your gag reflex, cause it don't give a fuck about you, robot's horny tonight.
Like if you could liquify this and just suck the slurry out of a turkey baster. 

Look, just look how miserable we were. Just look. You know whatever's in our mouth don't taste good.
That's your Gutrotter christmas card, right there. Malorty holidort.
I am told (TOLD, by someone else, not me, who only had a couple drops, and I cannot validate) that it tastes like chewing a used condom. I can see that. I can see it really--

Anyway, the organic, non-chemical burn flavor here tastes a lot like actual wood, like just chowing down on something you found in the woods. I'm reminded of a line from a poem, from the wonderfully bitter and clever Tony Hoagland:
"...with a wife whose lack of love for me
is like a lack of oxygen,
and this dead thing in my chest
that used to be my heart.

Oh, if he were alive, I would tell him, "Dad,
you were right! I ate a lot of stuff
far worse than bugs."

And I was eaten, I was eaten,
I was picked up
and chewed
and swallowed

down into the belly of the world."

That's right. Malort tastes like the pulp that comes out when you a crush a soul in the machinery of the modern life, like misery itself. I don't even need metaphors anymore, I and every other poet with an inheritance of depression and a drinking problem and a habit for hurting women can pack up because the swedes can make you feel it in your gut.

"Even--" Fuck off Billy you too.  
Yep, we're making a cocktail out of this. I figure, with the perseverance of the killer cracking open a Glade plugin to cover up the stink of his mother's body in the crawlspace, that it might help hide it. Inspired by a Malort-based cocktail called The Bukowski, I decided to create a similar concoction. It's not named after a Chicagoan, but after a writer who, like Bukowski, dealt with the everyday life and its impact on the soul, who was a working schlub with a deep dark heart of bitterness. And who screamed so much it damaged his throat, which seems only fitting (by the way, it's been like half an hour and the taste lingers like guilt). Ladies and gentlemen, say hi to the Pekar.
I collect bad experiences, Harv. I don't suggest you try it.
The Pekar
1.5 oz. Malort
1 oz. Drambuie
.5 oz Basil/Rosemary vodka

The vodka's homemade-- just soak a wad of basil leaves and a couple sprigs of rosemary in a mason jar with vodka for about a day, more if you want it stronger. I figure the herbs should complement each other and the honey in the drambuie should overpower the bitterness. And might I suggest going real heavy on the ice, and then getting someone else to drink it?

Welp, the Pekar is made and ready, let's see how it goes down.
Fuck, it's like the bit at the end of a horror movie where you think they might get out and then the killer comes back and the harpoon they put in him just made him mad. Only Jamie Lee Curtis ain't getting out. Nothing stops Malort. You can't keep a bad taste down any more than you can your dinner after Malort.

See, the problem lies in underestimating my enemy here. The Drambuie, rosemary/basil, and the bad vodka flavor all marry fairly well-- in fact, I may have discovered a pretty winning combination in the Drambuie and herbal vodka, and I'd imagine they'd go well with some gin or especially genever. But they're both fairly light on aftertaste. You know, the worst part of the whole experience. It's like invading a country in a fairly turbulent, incredibly diverse region: you might defeat the army there pretty well, but good luck making a country out of it afterwards.

The aftertaste remains no matter how much delicious honey, rich scotch, and carefully made homemade liqueur I mix it with. Nothing dilutes it, nothing overwhelms it. It endures like time and the relentless march of entropy into a world that is cold, so cold, and so devoid of anything except the flavor of cold rubber and the struggle in the dark to keep my meal down.
Too late. Too late. Too late. Too late. Too lort. Ta lort. Malort.
If you ever have a chance to drink Malort, don't turn it down.  Yes, it's awful-- probably the worst thing I've ever tasted for this blog. It's miserable, it malicious, it's malorty. But it's incredibly unique, and it induces a disgust and horror I've never had from alcohol before. It's kind of like the raw cobra heart of liquor: is it tasty NO, is it actually good in any way NO, but should I have one WHY THE FUCK NOT. Yes, your mouth will taste like a tire fire for an hour afterwards, but hey, on the plus side...well, you get the experience of your mouth tasting like a tire fire.

And here at The Gutrotter, we hold that experience is worth it. Still holy fuck that was terrible fuck everyone who said I should do it.