Monday, May 27, 2013

Drink 202: The First Straw

Not actual size

It has been almost nine months since our last entry at TBIAW.  If rumors are true, that is just about enough time to grow and hatch a baby. When you put it into that kind of context, this entry will seem even more deficient than it would have otherwise.

We thought we were out of the blogging business, but we saw something recently that required us to jump back in, if only temporarily.  What was that thing? It was the Bud Light Lime STRAW-BER-RITA Margarita with a Twist. It seems almost impossible that it was less than a year ago that we discovered the Bud Light Lime LIME-A-RITA and now they have a strawberry version.

We had seen it once or twice before, but the other day we were at our local wine and beer emporium and that 24 ounce can was just sitting there in the cooler between the Bartles & Jaymes and the Four Loko asking to be purchased.  We bit the bullet and did so even with the knowledge that it would invite ridicule from the checkout boy. Which it did.

Thank goodness they had instructions right on the can. With pictures.

For the last two weeks that can has been staring us in the face every time we open the fridge but we resisted the temptation.  But seeing as today was Memorial Day, we could think of no greater to way to honor our fallen servicemen and servicewomen than to catch a buzz on some All American malt beverage with natural flavors, artificial sweetener and artificial color.  USA USA! (Ed note: The authors choose to willfully ignore the fact that Budweiser is owned by the Belgian/Brazilian InBev.)

The instructions worked!

Mrs. Bottle made the mistake of eating an actual strawberry before trying her Bud Light Lime STRAW-BER-RITA Margarita. As a result she thought it didn’t taste very strawberry-y. I thought it had a reasonable artificially sweetened artificial strawberry flavor, though.  Kind of like a Nehi that will get you plowed eventually.  After Mrs. Bottle cleansed her palate with some Tostitos, she agreed. And right now she is dancing in the kitchen singing Journey's "Who's Crying Now?" so the alcohol must work, too. 

Overall Rating for Bud Light Lime STRAW-BER-RITA

Taste: 3
Presentation: 3
Ease of Preparation: 5
Drinks Until Blackout: 5


Malt Beverage
Natural Flavors
Artificial Sweetener
Artificial Color

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Drink 201: Balls Well That Ends Well

Are you tired of drinking beverages that are entirely liquid?  Do you believe that America’s decline is due in large part to alcoholic beverages can be made simply by pouring the ingredients into a glass?  Is the prospect of making dozens of jokes about “blue balls” appealing to you?  Then the Cocktail R-evolution Gin Tonic is probably right up your alley.

You may recall from our last post that Mrs. Bottle and I have recently become chemists.  But instead of cooking up meth Walter White-style, we are mixing up interesting new drinks.  Even though our emulsification experiment was a bit of a failure, we remain undeterred.  This week we went with spherification, also know as balling. 

Actually, this looks a lot like Heisenberg meth.

Spherification is the process of turning a liquid into tiny spheres (or balls).  The spheres have the size and consistency of salmon roe.  The good news is that our balls didn’t taste like fish eggs.  Instead they were made with tonic water and blue Curaçao so they tasted like tonic water and blue Curaçao.  But the consistency was dead on.

Turning a liquid into blue balls takes a lot of teasing and a little chemistry.  The first step is to mix the tonic water and blue Curaçao with sodium alginate (NaC6H7O6) powder.  Even though its empirical formula spells “nacho”, the powder tasted horrible on a Tostito.  That isn’t that surprising since it is extracted from brown algae. Its purpose is to create a gelatin-like substance out of liquid.

When Mrs. Bottle mixed the powder in using our last-century hand mixer, she happened to splash some of the blue liquigel onto the counter.  To the untrained observer it appeared to be a careless spill, but the trained observer would realize she was ritualistically pouring some on the counter as a tribute to our fallen homies.  Luckily our countertops are stain resistant since the same tribute happened last time she tried to mix something.

Spherification in action
After the NaCHO was assimilated into the liquid, we used a pipette to drip the mixture into a calcium lactate (C6H10CaO) bath and make little balls.  Sadly, calcium lactate’s empirical formula spells “chcao” which doesn’t lend itself to any cheap jokes.  I also am not sure what the point of the calcium bath is other that to wash our balls.   I guess it must somehow contribute to the making of the spheres, but our kit came with no details so I’ll just go with ball washing.

That lime slice looks suspiciously
like a lemon wedge
Once we had a sufficient number of balls, we made the drink.  The recipe DVD didn’t have many specifics on the recipe.  It just had us dip our balls into two ounces of gin with some lime slices.  No ice or other tonic water other than that which had been gellified.  Since we are sticklers for the rules we tried it that way even though we know it would probably be horrible.  Much to our surprise, it was indeed horrible.  It was pretty much just drinking straight lukewarm gin with a bunch of fish-egg looking things on the bottom of the glass.  I didn’t get any balls in my mouth and probably would have had to shoot the whole thing in order to get even one.  And not just because it would have relaxed my inhibitions.  Those suckers were stuck on the bottom.

After adding some ice and tonic water
Neato, eh?
We ultimately added some ice and tonic water and turned it into more of a traditional Gin and Tonic, which is delicious.  The balls floated in the tonic and I got some in my mouth in almost every sip. I actually thought the spheres were pretty good and added an interesting textural element to the drink.  Each time I bit into one there was a tiny orange explosion in my mouth.  Mrs. Bottle, on the other hand, did not enjoy chewing her drink and would prefer her next one to be ball free.  It probably will be unless I am feeling mischievous.

Overall Rating for Gin Tonic

Taste: 3
Presentation: 5
Ease of Preparation: 1
Drinks Until Blackout: 3 - All gin


Tonic Water
Blue Curaçao
Sodium Alginate
Calcium Lactate

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Drink 200: Mr. and Mrs. Mix a Lot

I hate looking like a jackass.  Which is unfortunate considering the frequency with which I look like one.  I am also kind of a cheapskate.  These two traits are in a constant struggle for superiority each morning when I view my daily emails from Groupon, LivingSocial, AmazonLocal, DealSaver, Vactionist, and Google Offers.  On the one hand am saving money when I take advantage of an offer.  On the other hand I look like a jackass when I hand the cashier my creased piece of paper to save $7 on $14 worth of food and drinks (alcohol excluded). 

Sometimes Mrs. Bottle and I will take advantage of one of these offers to try something new.   It could be a restaurant we wouldn’t normally try or some activity we haven’t done before.  We have an upcoming zip line adventure and we have recently taken an archery lesson and had a Segway tour of our fair city (which really pushed the “don’t look like a jackass” threshold).  These skills will come in handy once the zombie apocalypse finally arrives as I ride at up to 12 MPH and pick off zombies with my bow and arrow.  Just like Katniss Everdeen.

Artist Concept

We recently received an offer that allowed us to try something new, save money (presumably), not look like a jackass (since it was online only), and do one of our other favorite things: drink.  It was for a molecular gastronomy cocktail kit from a company called MOLECULE-R (emphasis theirs).  In case you are unfamiliar with molecular gastronomy, it is when you take food that is somewhat natural and add chemicals to it so it becomes something unnatural.   Think of it like making a Dorito into a taco shell, only with different chemicals.

Our kit recently arrived and we decided to try it out.  The first step was to pick out a drink.  Unfortunately the kit didn’t come with a recipe book.  Instead it came with a DVD.  In case you are unfamiliar with DVDs, they are plastic discs that contain video recordings.  People used to use them to watch movies before FSM invented streaming.  We dusted off our DVD player and perused the choices.  That is, after we watched the mandatory 30 second musical introduction with no option to bypass.

It turns out that many of these recipes require either a lot of time, pre-planning, culinary whippers, or liquid nitrogen.   Since we didn’t have any of those items, we went with something simple, emulsification.  They have several drinks that featured emulsification but we only had ingredients on hand for two: the kamikaze and the margarita.  We have already featured a kamikaze in the blog, but our last two entries were both for margaritas we decided to go with the kamikaze.

Chemistry is messy business
The molecular gastronomy piece of this drink was lime foam. That meant adding soy lecithin to some water and lime juice and whipping it until it became foam. That was the theory, anyway.  Mrs. Bottle whipped the hell out of that stuff but it never really foamed up as much as it did on the DVD. I don’t know if the mix was a little off or if it was something else.  It is possibly related to the fact that chemistry was the only science class I didn’t like.  Too much memorization for my taste.  But I digress.

We were able to salvage a little foam from the top of the bowl and add it to our drink, though.  The rest of the drink is just vodka and orange liqueur.  Mrs. Bottle pretty much hated it.  It is all alcohol and we didn’t chill any of it so she found it kind of warm and gross. I sipped mine making sure to get some foam in each taste and thought it was decent.  If it had been cold it might have actually been pretty good.

Probably should take a lint roller to the backdrop, eh?

We remain undeterred, though.  As soon as my bottle of liquid nitrogen arrives, we will be trying again.

Overall Rating for Kamikaze

Taste: 3
Presentation: 3
Ease of Preparation: 1
Drinks Until Blackout: 2 - From whipping fatigue


Triple Sec
Lime Juice
Soy Lecithin

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Drink 199: Lovely 'Rita, Easy Made

Recent studies have shown that 100% of Americans are out of shape (see fig. 1).  Other studies have also shown that Mrs. Bottle and I both love margaritas.  So much so that we have reviewed them no less than five times, not counting the Blue Margarita, but definitely including our most recent post.   

Study consisted of survey of one adult
male located on the Bottle Wonderland Estate.
Margin of error +/- 100%
Although we consider ourselves citizens of the world, we are technically Americans and therefore out of shape. Therefore we have been seeking low calorie margaritas.  Something that is easy to make would be nice, too.  Unrelated side note: Laziness and fitness are highly correlated.

Our last drink, the Bud Light Lime LIME-A-RITA, met the criterion “easy to make” but at 220 calories per 8 oz it feel completely short in the “light” category.  Our next entry is Crystal Light Margarita.  In case you didn’t know, Crystal Light is essentially the same thing as sugar free Kool-Aid.  As far as I can tell, the only difference between the two is the mascot.  Kool-Aid has Kool-Aid Man, and Crystal Light has Linda Evans:

I apologize for not posting this early enough for you to get your free Crystal Light Body Workout on record or audiocassette.  The offer expired on June 24.  1984. 

Last time we used fake Instagram effects.
This time it is the real deal.
Also notice the expert use of terrible lighting.
The Crystal Light Margarita has only five calories per serving (a 25% increase over their 1984 recipe!!).  The flavor isn’t bad.  It is a reasonable approximation of a margarita.   Plus it has no sugar, which is apparently destroying my immune system. The only thing I’m not sure about is why it is listed in the “Mocktails” section of the Crystal Light website.  When Mrs. Bottle brings me one it is loaded with tequila.

Overall Rating for Crystal Light Margarita

Taste: 3
Presentation: 3
Ease of Preparation: 4
Drinks Until Blackout: 4


Crystal Light
Tequila (to taste)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Drink 198: I do not think it means what you think it means

So I was wandering through one of the dozen Target stores within 10 minutes of the Bottle Wonderland Estate yesterday stocking up on cat litter, coffee pods, and household cleaner and I noticed something glorious: Bud Light Lime LIME-A-RITA.  “Wait, what?” is what any rational person would be thinking right now.  Most of our readers will have to trust me on that.

Bud Light Lime Lime-A-Rita
I was going to "green screen"
the background but decided
to go with fake Instagram effects

Well, according to the box, Bud Light Lime LIME-A-RITA is “FLAVORED BEER.”  Yum!  One thing I am looking for in a beer is some flavor.  I shot Mrs. Bottle a knowing glance and she returned it. We immediately flung a 12 pack into our cart and sprinted to the checkout. We hadn’t been this simpatico since our decision to give up exercise and let our bodies just take the form God intended.
Bud Light Lime Lime-A-Rita

We drove home with the intention of putting these bad boys into our blast chiller to rapidly cool them and enjoy some a little later.  Then I noticed that it says right on the box to “try it over ice” so upon our arrival back at the Estate we decided to immediately tear into the package and have some over ice.  As directed by the box.

Bud Light Lime Lime-A-Rita
If this didn't have so many
kick-ass effects you
would see how my hand
dwarfs the can. You might
also be able to read where
it says "220 Calories"
After the foam settled, I took a big gulp delicate sip. It actually didn’t taste horrible, but I don’t know that there is much difference between drinking this stuff and drinking Zima.  Well, there are a couple of subtle differences:  Alcohol-wise it comes in at 8%, which puts it between a Zima and a Four Loko.  It is packaged in dainty 8 oz cans, too, so you can fit several into your murse, which is nice.

I tried to rationalize this by thinking it could make a tolerable summertime drink when I didn’t have time to whip up a batch of authentic margaritas.   It is made from Bud Light, so at least it will be low calorie, right?  WRONG!  That dinky 8oz can has 220 calories.  220!  That is more calories than a Krispy Kreme doughnut, for Pete’s sake!   Heck, it is 104 more calories than a 12oz Bud Light Lime beer.  Which also has flavor.

I had to learn more so I went to their web site.  Here is the entire contents of the “About” page:

Introducing Lime-A-Rita

The refreshing ready-to-drink margarita with a twist of Bud Light Lime.

Look for it wherever Bud Light Lime is sold!

Now I feel totally informed.

Overall Rating for Bud Light Lime LIME-A-RITA

Taste: 4
Presentation: 2
Ease of Preparation: 5
Drinks Until Blackout: 5


Twist of Bud Light Lime

Monday, February 20, 2012

Drink 197: What's Good for the Gosling

I’m back! Yes, it’s Mrs. Bottle here to share a story about the drink Mr. Bottle and I recently discovered. In honor of Chocolate Mint Day this past Sunday, we tried the Chocolate Mint Martini. We strayed from Mr. Boston and found this drink in another bar book I picked up during the Borders (RIP) liquidation sale. I think it was cheaper on Amazon but I was caught up in the frenzied moment of the sanctioned looting of a store.

Chocolate Mint Martini
Instagram classes things up, don't ya think?

The Chocolate Mint Martini has Vodka, Crème de Cacao, and Crème de Menthe. The recipe was unclear on whether the Crème de Cacao should be the clear or brown so I chose brown. It is a little richer in flavor and earthier in color (thank you Top Chef). Also recipes mostly seem to call for the clear version so I wanted to use up more of the brown stuff. It was quite mint-y, refreshing and very tasty.

Which leads me to another observation. It’s been a Ryan Gosling film fest at TBIAW estate over the past couple weekends. First we watched Drive. Then we caught a bit of Lars and the Real Girl (which we had previously viewed). Next came The Ides of March. Then Crazy Stupid Love. Well, we saw this in the theater (a real rarity for us) but we really want to watch it again so I’m counting it. And finally Blue Valentine. Technically we haven’t watched this yet because it’s supposed to be a real downer but it’s been on our DVR for about two months so I’m counting it as well. So what’s my observation you may ask? That Mr. Gosling is also quite mint-y, refreshing and very tasty. Now I have to go because Mr. Bottle is asking if we can start watching The Notebook.

Mrs. Bottle is thinking of starting
a new blog called
"The Gosling is a Wonderland"
By AlBBie905 (Own work)

Overall Rating for the Chocolate Mint Martini

Taste: 5
Presentation: 5
Ease of Preparation: 5
Drinks Until Blackout: 3 – 34% Alcohol


1.5 oz Vodka
0.75 oz Crème de Cacao
0.75 oz Crème de Menthe

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Drink 196: Fourget About It

Today is National Drink Wine Day so it seems appropriate that we temporarily awaken from our hibernation and bring forth on this blog a fresh post.   Today is also National Battery Day and I am excited to see what the battery blog has planned.  I’m sure it will be electrifying. Heh.

The can is hard to see because
of the camo.  It is right in the
center of this photograph
In order to celebrate Drink Wine Day, we bring you Four Loko, the Champagne of flavored malt beverages.   “Four Loko? You said that stuff was banned!” is probably what you are thinking right now.  I had been under that impression for months.  That all ended the other day when I was at the local mini mart buying my daily supply of lottery tickets, washer fluid, Twinkies, tree-shaped air fresheners, and Mountain Dew.  It was when I was deciding on the best flavor of Mountain Dew to match my mood that I noticed just one cooler over was a shelf filled with Four Loko.  “Four Loko?” I thought, “I said that stuff was banned”.

I instantly forgot about buying any of that other crap, grabbed a forbidden Four Loko, and sprinted towards the counter.  My excitement level only increased when the cashier accepted my $2.60 and handed me the 23.5 oz can in a brown paper bag.  I immediately took my bag-swaddled can out side, popped it open took a big swig, and began pestering people at the gas pumps to lend me $20 so I could fill my tank. 

Okay, that last part only happened in my mind.  What really happened is that I brought it home and waited for Mrs. Bottle so she could also enjoy the caffeine and alcohol fueled party I was going to have.  While I was waiting for her to get home, I did a little research on Four Loko. What I learned was that it has been unbanned because they removed all the caffeine, taurine, guarana, and all the other stuff that made it cool.  I hadn’t been this disappointed since I learned that Ryan Gosling was snubbed for Sexiest Man Alive.

Seriously? He didn't win?
img: gcdgraphics

At this point, there is very little difference between a Four Loko and a Zima.  I’ve tried to enumerate the differences here:

Four Loko
Slightly Effeminate Clear Glass Bottle
Badass Faux-Camouflage Can
Not available since 2008
Once banned for being too cool
Between 4-6% alcohol content
12% alcohol content
Loved by young girls
Loved by young bros

The key difference appears to be the alcohol content.  As a frame of reference, drinking one can of Four Loko is the equivalent to drinking 3.85245901639344 Colt 45s.

But how does it taste?  In a word: terrible.  We had the lemonade flavor, which I had judged to have the best chance of being refreshing and delicious.  Clearly I choose poorly.  Mrs. Bottle said, “when I first put it in my mouth it wasn’t bad, but then it tasted horrible.”  Insert your own joke here.

A plastic cup is the ideal vessel for an ice cold Loko
I tried to finish it, because I hate to see $2.60 go to waste, but I just couldn’t do it.  I got through about half the can (or 1.926229508 Colt 45’s worth) before I threw in the towel and threw away the can.  All I was left with were regrets and a slight buzz.

Overall Rating for Four Loko Lemonade

Taste: 1
Presentation: 1
Ease of Preparation: 5
Drinks Until Blackout: 3 Cans (11.55737705 Colt 45s)


23.5 oz Four Loko
1 Solo Cup

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