Saturday, March 26, 2011

Thunderbird Cocktail Hour.

Today is an awful day.
Today we picked up a bottle of Thunderbird with the intent of making cocktails out of it.  We're going to work with one of the worst things in the world--one of my greatest nemeses--and see how we can make it drinkable. We picked up some special ingredients that should be interesting to work with, and are gonna figure out the best way to drink Thunderbird.

The least awful way. The-- a way to drink Thunderbird.

Look: I've reviewed the Bird before, but as a recap:  looks vaguely yellow and lymph-like. Not a lot of color. But what there is is bad.
Taste: Man, it's been too long since I've had the Bird because I was not ready for that. It tastes like diesel with sugarcubes and grapes mixed in. It's simultaneously bitter and sweet and chemical and, while not the worst, is the epitome of everything wrong with what I do for fun.

I think it was with Thunderbird that Gallo really came into its own, commercially and artistically.
Special ingredient: This weird-as-hell bottled blue margarita that I picked up at the liquor store for two dollars. What makes it so strange is that it's not a real margarita--it has regular triple sec, not blue curacao. It's just tequila, triple sec, artificial lime, and blue dye. It looks, tastes, and smells exactly like melted blue freeze pops.
"What color was it mom?"

Recipe: Equal parts blue margarita mix and Thunderbird.
Look: Exactly like Windex. Exactly.
Verdict: It has the sweet tartness of an unripe plum, but that's where the similarity to anything legitimately  natural. It mostly just tastes sour and vaguely papery. Yeah. Kinda like a library book and a bag of lemons in a blender. With windex. It does not work. It actually has very little effect on the thunderbird itself.

But seriously. Why is it blue? If it's just the ingredients of a margarita, why would you make it blue? What does the windex color add to it that it was lacking otherwise?
"Why did you give me this blue margarita bullshit?"
Special Ingrdient: Red Bull.
Recipe: Equal parts Thunderbird and Red Bull. Fuckin duh.
Look: Looks pretty good actually. Sort of a golden coppery color. Looks like a beer I'd willingly drink.
Verdict: Does not taste like anything I'd willingly drink. The sweetness of the Bull really brings out the sweetness in Thunderbird, but there's nothing to counterbalance the awful parts. When you try and drink it quickly this really powerful tart flavor builds up and it gets hard to finish the rest. Better than the bluebird, but not by a lot.

It's sad, old and musty-tasting, over-sweet while being somehow bitter. It's the worst candy from the purse of the worst grandma.
I don't want to kiss you, you remind me of my own death.
That's the one.
 Special Ingredient: Absente Absinthe. Green, herbal, bitter, and strong as fuck. We decided to name it after Fuseli because of his Romantic, gothic nature and the pure horror that this drink inspired.
Recipe: 1 part absinthe, 3 parts Thunderbird.
Look: Weirdly enough, it doesn't cloud up like a lot of absinthe cocktails do. It just looks thin and green and bilious and, well, it looks like fuckin flat Mountain Dew. Which is grotesque. Which, well, is fitting to the name but I don't exactly look at Fuseli paintings and get thirsty.
Verdict: This is honestly the worst one yet. The bitterness in the absinthe comes lurching out like the darkness of man with the Bird there to help it along, and all the herbal elements wind up bound to the bitter awful aspects of the thunderbird. And the fact that the absinthe is 110-proof makes the bumwine harder to drink, not easier, thus defeating the point of this whole exercise. It's two things bringing out the absolute worst in each other to create a single, new syzzygy of horrible.
"This is a song. About two people who love each other. Very much."
Special ingredient: plain old orange juice. Let's make this wholesome and healthy, people. Jesus I have reached a low point in my life when mixing thunderbird with absinthe is considered a healthy alternative to what I would normally be doing. What have I done? What choices have you encouraged me in?
Recipe: 1 part t-bird, 2 parts oj.
Look: looks like orange juice.
Verdict: tastes like orange juice. With a slight tinge of garbage water. High amount of oj makes it hard to use up the bird, but this is the most drinkable. Try this in future. It's a good idea.
What I've become, Lisa.
Special Ingredient: All of the above. A symphony of crime.
Recipe: Like I give even one eighth of half a fuck. Like I give one-sixteetnth of a fuck.
Look: It looks creamy, opaque, yellowy-teal. It looks pretty much exactly like the thin liquid bile that dribbles from your throat when your stomach is empty but you keep retching. I want to point out that my eyelid is legit twitching right now. THUNDERBIRD.
Verdict: The red bull is definitely the strongest flavor. The whole thing tastes like a candy melange-- when you were a child and you would shove all the sweets at once into your mouth. Was it then, when you were a child, that it took hold, or was it later that you realized that Thunderbird was what suited you? And when you were alone in the dark--when Thunderbird came to one on his back in the dark--did you know that this is where you would be, that the bird would sink his talons into you and that it would taste like sugar and every crime ever committed?
A John Hurt comes to a John Hurt, in the John Hurt.

Guest Post: The Drunkest Ballplayers of All Time

[special treat today: a guest post from my good buddy over at The Desk of Solomon Kelly. Dude writes an absolutely wonderful sports blog and he sent over a post that's thematically appropriate with what he do here (make awful decisions). Enjoy!]

I've been a fan of the Gutrotter since its inception. I think it's a goddamn brilliant idea - and the fact that it must one day end is bittersweet (that my boy might be able to live to thirty is definitely a "pro").

Today I bring you a shiny new entry in my site's continuing Profiles in Not Giving a Fuck series. Tighten your sporting boots, pull up your stockings, wax your mustache and rescind upon a woman's right to vote because this one is all about the Deadball Era of baseball.


"It is literally astounding, how few fucks I am inclined to offer on the matter."

King Kelly had fine-tuned his skills as a World Class Hellraiser in Chicago and didn't miss a beat setting up shop in his new home upon being sold to Boston for a then-unheard of $10,000. Despite four recorded instances in which he managed to steal bases by darting across the infield while the umpire was distracted, Kelly was a great player - ultimately, he was as good at base running as he was at drinking.

And he was very, very good at drinking. 

Kelly's habit was, understandably, the stuff of legends. Some of which seem pretty damn plausible, all things considered (like the one where he brought a mug of beer with him onto the field) - but the actual, factual historical record is just so much better. Once, Boston's League Director himself had to pay a $200 bar tab for his star player's adventures from the night before. The same day, he gets forwarded another one, for another $200 - same night, different bar. In today's currency, that's right about $3,000 apiece.

Yes, yes of course he was Irish. Just bringing home the stereotype, there's the fact that at his wake, "Nothing is Too Good for the Irish" and "Poor Mick" were sung.

Basically, this.


Rabbit Maranville is like this close to being baseball's Patch Adams. Except for the fact that, goofy hat trick aside, dude had an especially dark sense of humor and an insatiable thirst for the cheap stuff.

He once got hammered and, for shits and giggles, staged a murder in his hotel room - complete with gunshots. After screaming and wailing and breaking shit for a few minutes, he stopped, cooly walked by the terrified throng of people amassed outside his door in the hallway, saying only "Hiya fellas!" along the way.

So dude was like... Nega-Patch Adams.


When the New York Yankees' Leo Durocher first laid eyes on Fothergill, the man they called Fats was digging in at the plate. Durocher called for a time out and made the spectacle of running down from the outfield to the umpire to protest. He yelped "Both those men can't bat at once!" When the inning was up, Fothergill chased Durocher into the Yankees dugout and proceeded to beat him down.

He drank hard and lived hard. Legend has it that he once beat Babe Ruth in a drinking contest which is an awful lot like beating Babe Ruth in a whore-mongering contest. Fats also bit an umpire on the hand once, likely mistaking the man for bacon. He ordered steaks by the pallet and was legally classified as a moon. His blood type was "ham".


It's as though Paul "Big Poison" Waner looked back into the past out at the legacies of great ballplaying drinkers like King Kelly and, having already been shitfaced to begin with, pissed all over their shoes. cites Waner as having "the sharpest bloodshot eyes in baseball" and the legendary Casey Stengel once said of him,

"He had to be a very graceful player because he could slide without breaking the bottle in his hip."


Hack Wilson was built like Mr. Incredible after he stopped fighting crime.

He weighed 195 pounds and stood only... holy shit, really? 5'6"! Oh my God, that's the best thing I've ever heard. Hack drank, he fought and he played baseball. That was this dude's life. Rumors that he also gave a fuck have since proved to be false.

Before playing ball for a living, Hack dropped out of the sixth grade and made $4 a week swinging a sledgehammer. Then his big break came and, ultimately playing with the Cubs, Hack put up simply outstanding numbers. He was also arrested in his first year in Chicago at a speak-easy while trying to escape through a back window. Ostensibly, having gotten stuck like Winnie the Pooh, kicking his teeny tiny little legs in the air.

In 1928, he climbed into the grandstands to fight a heckler. In the ensuing chaos, about five thousand people rushed the field. He fought opposing players on the field (like when he walked into the Reds' dugout and pummeled Ray Kolp) as well as off the field (like Pete Donohue, whom he felled at a train station). He was traded only when he fought a pack of reporters.

The year he quit drinking, his batting average actually went down substantially. Then he hopped right the fuck back off the wagon in 1930 and managed to hit fifty six home runs and maintain a batting average of .356. He was voted MVP that season by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

New and Unimproved Four Loko (Red Dye Flavor)

First off, wanted to let my readers here know that I'm writing a new blog over at on literature-- similar attitude, slightly different style, but if you dig me here then check it out.

Welp, Four Loko is back in stores now that they've taken the caffeine out, so college kids are gonna have to go back to just crushing Adderal into vodka for their buzz and I have an excuse to review it again. This time I picked the "fruit punch"--or, as the other side of the label warns, FD&C Red #40-- and thought I'd see if it was just as bad as it was before the retool and remarketing.
"We're thinkin' 'Cyclone Beta!'"
By the way, Karim--who's a chemist-- did some research and found out that the red dye in this drink is made from petroleum. Which is an improvement on its original basis: coal tar. Also, there is a correlation between drinking it and being stupid (that's not a joke, that's actually on its wikipedia page). It's also banned in most of Scandinavia. And look, people say a lot of things about how Scandinavia's a nanny state and don't like freedom, but you can get away with a lot of shit in Scandinavia.
Stabbed a dude 26 times in the skull. Spent 12 years in prison. Less evil than FD&C Red #40.

It's actually not red--it's pink. It's very much the color of a watermelon Jolly Rancher--the completely artificial, not-appearing-in-nature-fucking-anywhere pink. There's honestly not a lot I can say here beyond that. I'm a believer that booze should really only be the color of grains, wood, or natural plant matter that goes into making it, and the fact that this candy-colored (the candy-colored fail they call the Loko) speaks volumes against it. Loko just shouldn't be, and if you look at it (which, to be honest, requires drinking it out of a glass, which I can't see any reason to do) it instantly becomes apparent that its only goal is to get you drunk while treating you like a child.
I will do anything for a Gary Glitter joke.
God, how did people never figure out what the hell Gary Glitter was? The man looked like a mascot for a sodomy-themed polo team.

The aroma's strange here. It smells like children's fruit soda and watermelon candy, but it also smells like really skunky, stale malt liquor. It doesn't smell like the two mixed together, but somehow simultaneously both, separately. It's a weird Schrodinger thing where it is both candy-juice and hobo-drank and somehow completely both at the same time. which is, honestly, a pretty accurate prediction of what the drink is. It's multiple things at once, and they're all terrible in unique ways that reveal the sins of all those who consume it.
Have I told you about the Alien God Hivemind today?
Don't take a really big gulp. Don't, for the love of God, swish it around like it was fancy wine. Don't hold it in your mouth, and don't let it get warm.

There is a deep and ancient evil in the core of Four Loko, and all of these things make it bubble to the surface and then claw into your body. The candy sweetness disappears really quickly and there's this spoiled, poisonous bitter flavor like biting into a block of soap. And then it makes you feel ill, not from the bitterness, but from that cold and isolated feeling a wormwood high give you. William Vollmann said that the best thing about absinthe is that it severs the cord that connects the soul to the body and lets you observe yourself in a slow chilled void while still being present. That's here slightly, only you're just disappointed in yourself and you just wanna run away from a body that is increasingly full of Four Loko.
"I asked if he knew how to knife fight and he said, 'have you ever met a gypsy who did not?'"
The lack of caffeine does hurt it here--I remember the last can as being bad, but more fun. The caffeine counteracts that tired sick slowness--which isn't a bad feeling brought about by something tasty, but is godawful here--and you feel lethargic and a little fevery and anaesthetic.

We made a Four Loko cocktail. We named it the Chernobyl (after the Ukrainian word for wormwood), used sweet vermouth (which used to have wormwood in it, hence vermut), and our old strange Croatian friend Pelinkovac, the cinammon-y wormwood liqueur. If I had absinthe I'd throw it in there too, but let's see how this works with a little lemon, brown sugar and Peychaud's Bitters.

Well, it looks like Cherry Coke mixed with spit, but it doesn't taste bad. You should never ever make a Four Loko cocktail, but this actually worked. The Pelinkovac's spices added some depth to counterbalance the candy flavor, the vermouth helped to nullify the skunky beer flavor, and the lemon and brown sugar counterbalance the wormwood. Still though, I'd rather taste the ingredients in their own drink, without the Loko around, but if you need to drink Four Loko (like need, like Hans Gruber is holding your family hostage unless you drink it and you're too much of a pussy to stop him), this'll choke it back.
"I'm going to count to Four Loko. There will not be a Five Loko."
For real wormoody flavor we would have used Malort. But seriously, I don't want to drink Malort ever again.

We then decided to make a Loko Sidecar--substituting the awful for the Cointreau--because we're scholars goddamnit. This, was, well...we renamed it the creeping horror. The brandy isn't sweet enough to negate the bitterness and the lemon doesn't counteract the candy flavor. The whole thing tastes really bitter and not refreshing in the least. I'm just puckered and sick-feeling now. It just makes everything worse, and marks one of the only times I've just disgustedly thrown the remnants of a glass into the sink.Thanks Brandy. Thanks Four Loko.

Welp, they should have left caffeine in. The buzz here is just awful-- slow and unfeeling and the sense of wet steam. What Tom Waits described as "ragwater, bitters, and the ruin." Don't drink Four Loko. I mean, if you're at a party and crazy and a goddam hipster, knock yourself the fuck out, but don't drink it if you wanna have a good quiet evening.