Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The American Vodka

So I was feeling really shitty earlier today--no particular reason, just y'know, brain problems. Probably from all the Thunderbird--and I was driving around town blasting the Moon Colony Bloodbath EP to get my head in the right place. And then I found myself in the vicinity of the town's big nice ABC store, which is also the same place I got Pelinkovac, one of the weirdest and most out-of-place things I've ever reviewed.

And there it was. It was cheaper than Five O' Clock, at like five bucks for a 750 ml bottle--making it twice as alcoholic as and only 50% more expensive than Thunderbird. It had a bizarre, ambiguous name that didn't make any sense. And that label:
(I feel kinda dirty now-- lemme wash that out). Oh, can I just mention that, of course of course, this was distilled and bottled in Bardstown Kentucky? Yes, it was. Jesus that place is like the Mordor of booze.

It's clear. 

First, I wanna say that I don't know if I love that label or fucking hate it. I mean, yes it's really cheesy, but (although you can't see it in that photo), the silver and red on the crest are both reflective. And it's in bas-relief. Plus the fact that the banner in the Eagle's claws says "Quality and Integrity" is fucking hilarious.The colors are mis-aligned though, so they can't print their kickass logo right.
Gonna ride a big truck / gonna kick some ass / gonna kick some ass in the USA.
I also really hate the name. Americans can make good vodka. We can make fucking amazing vodka-- Tito's holds its own against anything. That's The American Vodka. This is only representative of America around 1799, when our navy was twenty ships and our president so depressed he just left town in the middle of the night.

The bottle also has a huge, obvious seam in the glass and-- is that a fucking bubble? There's a bubble in the glass. Way to go guys.

Well, I'll hand The American Vodka this-- it doesn't smell sugary or industrial like a lot of the vodkas I've reviewed. It doesn't smell like much of anything.

Oh, apart from the alcohol of course. That's there. Is it ever. TAV makes up for not having any real aroma by smelling roughly like 100% alcohol. Just taking a strong huff makes me woozy and tingly.
Looks like I picked the wrong fucking vodka.
 There is...there is something definitely weird going on here. There's a little sweetness, and a lot of chemical flavor, but there's some other thing going on. Like America, its true core is elusive. There's... it's a little bit like broccoli? I think?

It's kind of...creamy, I guess. A little buttery. Like a broccoli-croissant sandwich, which actually sounds delicious, but not in alcohol form. Putting on ice lessens the burn and brings that more to the forefront, but it also makes this weird bitter note more apparent. Like...spoiled milk, I think.

I'm not gonna lie, this shit is weird as hell.
"Weird like the Polish."
It doesn't taste like vodka, to be honest. It's too tart, too creamy, too herbal. It tastes like some new kind of liquor which no one ever invented because buttered-sprouts-with-lemon-aquavit is a godawful idea. I don't even know what's going on here, but it does taste vaguely like milk and vegetables. So...healthy?

My girlfriend got me a nice martini shaker with recipes engraved on it for Christmas. She only just got it to me recently, because that's how she rolls, but hey. It's a good gift, and she knows me well. And I just fuckin' defiled it to see how this would taste with lime.
What I did.
Well, lime, brown sugar, splash of water. It's supposed to be a great mixology secret for how to make anything drinkable (also how to make a caipirinha), but man, it just does not work here. The lime mostly covers up The American Vodka's flavor, but what remains (namely, the creaminess) is just awful alongside the lime. It's like Thucydides's theory about the Peloponnesian War (later applied by Cold War historians)-- in any conflict in which the winning side has two powerful, yet opposed forces (Athens and Sparta, USA and USSR, lime and creamy vodka), they will restructure the world and instantly be in conflict as soon as the reason for their alliance is defeated.
Thucydides, more like Thu-bitch-y-please.
The American Vodka, like America, is pretty unique. But it's also like Howard Zinn's America, in that it's pretty shitty. Honestly though, for its price, you could do a lot worse. It's probably the best non-flavored vodka I've reviewed. Although I don't know. I think the flavor might be...Eldritch?

Or maybe freedom.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Mogen David Blackberry

This is it, people. I didn't even know they still made this. But I turned a corner in the grocery and there it was.

Mogen David wine.

This is an important thing. Mogen David went on to become MD 20/20, but when it was this it was just kosher table wine. Kosher table wine that became well-known for sweetness and cheapness. And so became popular among poor folk. And so it became hobo-wine, back in the 30s and 40s.

This is the first bumwine. This is where it all began. This is the prequel to the legacy this entire blog lives to uphold-- or, well, experience. You have no idea what a treat this is for me: the label says that it's America's Classic Wine and in a way, it's right. Mogen David-- there's a legacy here and I'm so proud to bring it to you. Now let's see if it's as awful as its children.

As I Lay Dying is a hell of a book.
I should point out this actually our second bottle-- the first slipped out of the back and shattered on the sidewalk. The beer and scotch did not, and they hit it just as hard. I guess they just wanted to live more. Gee, I wonder why.

It looks a faaaaair bit like red wine, but not exactly. Like a lot of the MD brand, it seems close, but just a little off from how wine should. It's the uncanny valley effect, but applied to alcohol. We are most repulsed by something that seems not different, but wrong.
Man, what about Heavy Rain isn't creepy and off-putting? Well, except for the things that try to be.
There's a more purpley tinge here, which I think is because it's supposed to blackberry. But it still looks like it should be red wine. It's halfway between the two, and so, y;know, failure. So I guess it definitely fits into that part of its legacy well. Congrats Mogen David. You do not disappoint as far as disappointing utterly goes.

Not at all like wine. It smells really sweet, but there's no bitterness or acridity to the scent, which would normally be good. But wine's supposed to have a tinge or sourness to it, which is completely lacking from this. There's a really strong beer flavor to the odor, which I suspect is mostly the aroma of yeast. It does smell a little vegetative though, or a little fruity. Like sweet potatoes, I guess. What I'm saying is that this blackberry wine smells like neither blackberries nor wine.Yet another in the series of curious failures that make up Mogen David.
This is a Heaven's Gate joke.
 I can safely say that the creation of the first batch of Mogen David in 1933 was, while the definitive lowpoint, certainly a lowpoint of the Jewish community in 1933.
The Gutrotter welcomes its first celebrity follower.
It doesn't taste outright unpleasant, actually. It's definitely drinkable. But it mostly tastes like a generic "fruit" flavor. Not grapes, not blackberry. Like just, if you fermented generic "fruit juice," into not-very-good kosher table wine. (How do you make wine not kosher? Do you drain the juice out of the grapes inhumanely? Do you get horses to stamp it down? Do you have the juice agitated by shrimp?)

It doesn't taste wretched-- it's about twice as good as MD 20/20 but it's also only half as alcoholic. And let's face it, you're not spending 3.50 on wine so you can savor it.

Also, there's something vaguely eggy to it. So make of that what you will. What I make of it is a  flashing sign saying WHAT THE FUCK?

The back of the bottle suggests mixing it with something, and what we have is orange juice. Normally we would call this a screwdriver. But that's the name of a neo-nazi punk band and this is Kosher wine, so we're gonna call it a Jewdriver. And well, sorry jews because I think we just did the neo-nazis a favor on this one because it tastes bad.
Ya...ya just say bingo.
Mixing with orange juice just amplifies the generic fruit flavors, but it doesn't really change the wine that much. It tastes almost the same, just watered down and, well, bitter. Really, driving down to the cold hard core of the fact, this is what makes it even bumwine-ier. You can't hide it or bury it. It is Mogen David. Like the people it was made for, it endures and continues, it inspires an entire culture. Only, y'know, the equivalent here is Woody Allen marrying his daughter.

I just wanna say I'm proud of keeping the Jew jokes to a minimum here. That's why I've never reviewed Manischevitz: I don't trust myself. Also my friend Emma drank like half this bottle. What the fuck is wrong with her.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Burnett's Sweet Tea Vodka

Well, before we tear into the meat of this review (the meat is awful-- I think it might be people), a bit of housekeeping.

1. Gutrotter's gonna be on a more sporadic schedule from now on. I'm not living with a roommate anymore, so there's a lot less potential for fun times when I'm drinking terrible things and these reviews are a lot sadder when I'm just in my room drinking and listening to the Mountain Goats version of "The Boys Are Back in Town."
Mostly I just spend my time making these.
2. I've got another review coming tomorrow night as well. This is in part to make up for a lack of activity and in part because I found...well I found something. I don't wanna tell you what it is. It was one of those magical moments when I discover something I didn't even know existed but can tell you with 100% certainty is going to be absolutely god-awful. Like when you first learn there's a country named Uzbekistan and you don't even need to see pictures to know it's sad.

3. I've mentioned this to a couple people in person, but the Gutrotter's shutting down in a few months' time, after I graduate. There a few reasons for this. Once I'm out of college I can't keep doing this to my body guiltlessly, I wanna finish up on a high note instead of dragging the blog on after I've run out of things to say, and, finally, I'm actually starting to straight run out of things I can easily get my hands on that would be fun to review. I'm gonna try and have a big blowout for the last post and round up the worst offenders for people to sample, and when all this is over I'm definitely gonna put all the reviews into an e-book or something with introductions and commentary. But we got a few months before then, so let's buckle down.

Man, writing all that made me feel like a real journalist. (That's a very young Hunter Thompson, by the way).
Some friends recently were partying, and there was a bottle of this vodka there. This sweet tea vodka. And, despite the fact that it was mostly empty by the time it passed into my hands, there was apparently a unanimous agreement that I had to try it (I was not there. I was watching Robocop). This is never, ever, a good sign-- my friends aren't exactly snobs about alcohol, so when there is unanimous agreement among people that I need to do an article it ends badly. This also happened with Johnny Bootlegger. And, these are the same people that I have, repeatedly, coerced into drinking banana liqueur, Thunderbird, and Kentucky Gentleman. I wouldn't blame them for having it out for me.

I don't  even know why I'm bothering with this section. For starters, it's vodka-- I know it's flavored, but if your vodka has color fuck you I'm not drinking your vodka. But it does have color-- except that the back label says "caramel color added." So fuck it, just... just fuck it. There is literally nothing this section could contribute to the review, so have a couple illustrations I've wanted to use but never found a place for:
You're welcome. Seriously, you have no idea how frustrating it's been not being able to use those, they're both so wonderful. I guess the top one would have been good in my Old Mill Stream / Sonic Underground review but hey, as Samuel Beckett would say, Worstward Ho!
No no no, Samuel Beckett.
Well, it does smell kinda like sweet tea. I can go back-and-forth on sweet tea: sometimes it's really what I'm in the mood for (especially when half of it is lemonade. Or rum), but other times when it's not made well it tastes like pancake syrup.

I do not go back-and-forth on the way this smells. It smells like sugar mostly. And a little tea. But not, y'know, Russian tea. Just like, hotel-brand breakfast tea. Also what the fucking fuck according to the label it was made in Bardstown KY?! Fuck you Bardstown, and fuck Riva, Kentucky Gentleman, Mill Stream, and everything else that oozes out of you. I'm tempted to just do a review of Bardstown (in terza rima, 33 cantos), but, as Samuel Beckett once said, it's never the same pus from moment to moment.
God damn it, I'm talking about the Irish one.
Anyway this smells like bad sweet tea and bad vodka, which I imagine makes it pretty much the best representative of the glorious culture of Bardstown. Also, can I just not that the label for this bottle has like, five tea leaves and giant fucking pile of sugar on it? Yeah, they know how their flavors are balanced.

Fuck, it's so much worse than I thought it would be. Now I know how the president felt in 2007. Jesus.

It doesn't taste like bad sweet tea. It tastes like bad vodka and sugar. Not even good sugar. It tastes like a couple packets of sweet 'n' low in a bottle of Riva. There's a little bit of what might be tea there, but, here, lemme take another taste-- no, no it mostly tastes like coffee grounds and sugar.
Fuck, I gotta stop making David Lynch jokes. I promise, more Alejandro Jodorowsky jokes in the future.
There's a real bitterness in it too, despite how sugary it is. Like, after drinking some I really want a big glass of water. It's the same effect as if you leave tea steeping too long, which just drives home the fact that this doesn't just taste like bad tea, it tastes like bad tea made badly. Mixed with bad vodka and bad sugar. There's layers upon layers of incompetence here, all influencing each other. It's like if instead of being a surrealist, Max Ernst was just all-around shitty.
It's called culture.
Like, no one thing about this is god-awful. But they blend together perfectly, interlocking into sort of a buckyball, but instead of carbon, it's... actually, it does legitimately taste kinda burnt. Somehow.

I poured some Triple Sec in the bottle. It dilutes the bad flavors and replaces them with orange. All in all, this is a more bearable, slightly less alcoholic way to get this shit into your body.
Don't drink this shit. Get some mediocre vodka and get a jug of sweet tea. It will be cheaper and better.

Don't do that either.