Monday, February 28, 2011

Day 52: Brown Sugar

Today we have the Caramel Apple shooter, a combination of an ounce of 99 Apples liqueur and two ounces of butterscotch schnapps.  It is supposed to be served in a chilled shot glass.  Even in our enormous collection of various logoed glasses not one can hold three ounces. I’m not sure who has Brobdingnagian shot glasses large enough to hold that much. We were forced to upgrade to a cordial glass. As a rabid rule-follower it stresses me out to deviate from the instructions.  On the upside, it allowed me to make two Gulliver’s Travels references in three days.   Keep your eyes peeled for future mentions of Glubbdubdrib.

Failures, All

Doesn't Look
Like Caramel, Either
When someone offers me a drink called the Caramel Apple, I would expect it to either taste like caramel or apple.  Ideally it would taste like both.  This drink didn’t really taste like either. The primary flavor was butterscotch and the apple was barely detectable. I don’t really know how you could have a 2:1 butterscotch to apple ratio and expect the flavor to be caramel.  Maybe the creators didn’t know there is a difference between butterscotch and caramel. The sorcerers of Glubbdubdrib (there it is!) would have known that for sure.

The final rating of this drink depends on how much of it you plan to consume.  On first taste, both Mrs. Bottle and I enjoyed the flavor even though it didn’t really taste that much like a caramel apple.  After a few sips we noticed something other than the misleading name was amiss.  The real problem with the Caramel Apple is that it was very sweet and a bit syrupy.  Mrs. Bottle gave up on it after a few small sips.  My sweet tooth allowed me to finish it even though the more of it I had, the less enamored I became.  That is also how I felt about James Franco’s performance at the Oscars last night.   

Overall Rating for the Caramel Apple

Taste: 3 – 4 if you pound it or make a smaller one
Presentation: 3
Ease of Preparation: 4
Drinks Until Blackout: 6 – 27% Alcohol


1 oz 99 Apples Flavored Schnapps
2 oz Butterscotch Schnapps

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Day 51: You Like Me, You Really Like Me

Star Cocktail
A Star Cocktail is Born
Mrs. Bottle here to cover today’s exciting events. In honor of the Oscars this evening, we guzzled down the contents that make up the Star Cocktail. Luckily for all eight of our followers, it will not take as long to read today’s blog as it will to watch tonight’s show. Reading it will be like jumping immediately to see the winners of the only awards anyone cares about: best picture, actor, actress, and supporting folk. Sadly, the content might be more akin to Best Sound Mixing because, again, there are only eight people interested.

The Star Cocktail consists of apple brandy, sweet vermouth, and bitters and is garnished with a twist of lemon. The apple brandy we used was the lower end Applejack by Laird’s which technically might not be a real apple brandy. However, I refused to pay $40 for a bottle of Calvados (fancy apple brandy) when I knew they would both taste like burning yuk. Surprisingly, Mr. Bottle and I both enjoyed the Star. It’s definitely strong – an all alcohol cocktail rolls like that. But I felt that the sweet vermouth and bitters helped smooth the flavors. Except maybe at the very end when the alcohol smacks you around.

Winner: Best Button During Academy Awards
Let me take a second to pull out my notes I scribbled on the way to the laptop to thank everyone for my lemon twist award. This garnish is stunning, just like Harry Winston diamonds on Sandra Bullock’s neck. Luckily for the twist, it is not married to a tattooed crazy person whose cheating ways will steal its lemonlight three days after the big win. And like the Oscar attendees I’d like to pat myself on the back for how awesome I am at making the twist. I’m sure that my excellent performance will bring awareness to the importance of twisting lemon peels everywhere. 

Ed. Note: Notice that Mrs. Bottle did not thank Mr. Bottle for making the twist possible

Did you know that you can pay $4.99 to get the “full Oscar experience”? Instead of experiencing the Oscars like never before, I recommend settling down with a tasty Star Cocktail and soon you won’t care that the song from Country Strong didn’t win Best Original Song (something from this movie is nominated?? Seriously?).

Overall Rating for the Star Cocktail

Taste: 3
Presentation: 5 – It was wearing a Bombay Sapphire glass with a stunning twist of lemon
Ease of Preparation: 3 – That garnish is hard- takes a TON of talent
Drinks Until Blackout: 5 – 29% Alcohol


1 oz Apple Brandy
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
1 dash Bitters

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Day 50: Welcome to the Jungle Love (Oh we oh we oh)

Jungle Juice
Busted Cherry

I was excited when I found we were having Jungle Juice for today’s drink.  I pulled out the rubber garbage can and immediately started filling it with Everclear, Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill “wine” and Hawaiian Punch.  I was looking for an oar or a shovel or something to stir it with when Mrs. Bottle gave me a dope slap and asked me what I was doing.  I tried to explain that I was making Jungle Juice but she pointed out that the Mr. Boston recipe just made one glass of the stuff.   If one glass is a jungle, it must be made of Bansai trees.

In my opinion, calling this Jungle Juice is akin to watching Avatar on an iPod Nano.  The only people who could legitimately say this a valid quantity of Jungle Juice all reside in Lilliput.  Once I finished complaining about the name, we decided to stick with our guiding principals and follow the Mr. Boston guide. Their recipe calls for vodka, rum, triple sec, simple syrup, lemon juice, cranberry juice, orange juice, and pineapple juice. The only absent juice is OJ Simpson, but he has an excuse.

Tiny bastards were after the juice!
This drink had the most ingredients of anything we have tried to date, but Mrs. Bottle handled them with aplomb.  She is like the Marie Curie of drink mixing, only less radioactive.  Once she had everything prepared we each sampled the drink.  I found the flavor was a bit lacking and Mrs. Bottle thought the primary taste component was alcohol.   It seemed impossible given the 27 ounces of fruit juice in the glass.

Just when I was ready to give up on Jungle Juice, Mrs. Bottle had a eureka moment: We should stir the drink! It was not unlike the moment Madame Curie discovered radium, only Mrs. Bottle’s idea had a more immediate benefit.  Suddenly the juice and alcohol blended together in a fruity and delicious nectar.  It went from boring to tasty, just like the new Jan Brady. 

Even though we liked the so-called Jungle Juice, we now have to drink a garbage can full of the real stuff. Just as soon as I find that oar.

Overall Rating for Jungle Juice

Taste: 4
Presentation: 4
Ease of Preparation: 2 – 1 Billion ingredients and tricky garnishes
Drinks Until Blackout: 7 – 16% Alcohol

1 oz Vodka
1 oz Rum
.5 oz Triple Sec
1 splash Simple Syrup
1 splash Lemon Juice
1 oz Cranberry Juice
1 oz Orange Juice
1 oz Pineapple Juice

Friday, February 25, 2011

Day 49: Mahalo Victory

Hula-Hula Cocktail
The Hula-Hula is indistinguishable
from the Walters as long as you
don't smell or taste it
You may not be aware of this, but The Bottle is a Wonderland is not the only site on the web that focuses on drinking.  There are sites about beer, wine, and cocktails. They probably number in the dozens on GeoCities alone.  We aren’t afraid to link to them because we don’t view them as competition; we mostly view them as inferior. Ha ha, we kid, we kid.  Many of them are almost as good as TBIAW and we frequently use them as references when researching our daily libation. 

Why bring this up?  I’m glad I asked.  It is because we often try to determine the origin of a drink in order to both inform ourselves and our 7 other daily readers.  Most of the time we either can’t find it or it turns out to be kind of boring so we don’t bother sharing it.  Sometimes it turns out to be boring and we share it anyway.  Boring or not, today is one of the days we learned something about our drink, the Hula-Hula Cocktail. According to the Mr. Boston guide, the Hula-Hula Cocktail is composed of gin, orange juice, and simple syrup.  According to almost every other site on the Internet, it is not.  All of those sites list the ingredients as gin, orange juice, and orange liqueur.  This is almost as controversial as the “Tastes Great / Less Filling” controversy of 1977 that almost tore our country apart.

The drink was invented by Ray Buhen some time in the 1930s.  Ray later started his own bar, the Tiki-Ti. The Tiki-Ti web site includes the following on its home page: “FOR BEST VIEWING PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR POP-UP BLOCKER”.  If that doesn’t entice you to visit, the site also requires QuickTime, Realplayer, and Flash.  This is why you rarely see both “mixologist” and “web designer” on the same resume. After closing down all the pop-ups and un-muting our computer, it was time to try the drink. We stuck with the good ol’ Mr. Boston recipe. This was wise, because the Hula-Hula Cocktail turned out to be pretty darn good. If you dislike gin you should probably stay away from this one, though, since that is the predominant flavor.  The orange juice and simple syrup add a touch of sweetness that is unusual for a gin drink but it was nice.  Mrs. Bottle actually liked it a little more than I did, which is also unusual for a gin drink. 

Stinking Badges
Back to these other web sites for a moment.  We are reluctant to criticize others since we know our web site won’t be winning any Webby awards for our light-on-dark design and standard blogger template.  As far as editorial content, we also know our limitations. We were recently rejected as contributors to a site where we would not have been paid. So we understand that the content value is worth something less than free.  Despite being around for over two months, we haven’t yet gone viral (and this has?).  We know our place.  Still, we find a lot of these other alcohol sites pretty dull.  They may have 20,000 recipes, but they are not reviewed with care, love, wit, and insight like ours are.  Would you rather know that the Hula-Hula Cocktail has a 9.2 rating from four anonymous drones, or a four-cocktail-glass rating accompanied by moderately amusing and superfluous commentary?

On second thought, keep that answer to yourself.

Overall Rating for the Hula Hula Cocktail

Taste: 4
Presentation: 3
Ease of Preparation: 4
Drinks Until Blackout: 5 – 24% Alcohol

1.5 oz Gin
.75 oz Orange Juice
.25 tsp Simple Syrup

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day 48: Crystal Blech

Walters Cocktail
Breaking Worse
Today’s drink is the Walters, a mix of Scotch whisky, orange juice, and lemon juice.  Mrs. Bottle selected this drink in honor of Walter White, the anti-hero of Breaking Bad, one of our favorite shows.  We have two episodes of Breaking Bad on our DVR right now, so we will be watching some Walters this weekend.  I think we will find those more enjoyable than drinking a Walters.

It has been well established that we are not fans of whisky.  We did like our last whisky drink though, so there was a chance we might like the Walters.  Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way.  The aroma of the drink was primarily Scotch, but there was a hint of citrus.  The flavor was pure terrible.  I thought it tasted vaguely like a cigarette. All Mrs. Bottle could say was how awful it was.  I am used to hearing her say how awful it was and I was glad Walter wasn’t here to hear it and feel the same shame I have.

Note: There will be some Breaking Bad spoilers if you can spoil something that aired 2 years ago

Breaking Bad can sometimes be difficult to watch because the protagonist Walter White is frequently unlikeable.  In this respect he is much like the Walters cocktail. Sometimes I wonder if Walter might be the worst person on TV.  While trying to think of someone worse, there was a repeat of Toddlers and Tiaras on in the background that caught my eye.  For no reason at all, I thought we could list some direct quotes from a mom on that episode and some events from Breaking Bad:

Toddlers and Tiaras: “I decided to put SamiJo in pageants ‘cause that was the whole reason I wanted to have a daughter”

Breaking Bad: Walt strangles Krazy 8 after holding him hostage in the basement

TandT: “When I found out that Sami was a girl I wanted to name her ‘America’. I wanted her name to be Miss America”

BB: Walt lets his partner’s girlfriend choke to death on her own vomit.

TandT: “I prayed and prayed and prayed that God would give me Miss America”.

BB: Walt tries to poison Tuco

TandT: "In Sami’s age group they don’t tend to tan all the babies.  She tends to be the only one."

BB: Walt misses the birth of his daughter because he is making a drug deal

TandT: “A lot of times judges can have problems with babies in full glitz.  They may expect babies to not be spray tanned, to not have make-up so we’re really hoping that they judge for full glitz.”

BB: Walt browbeats his 15 year old son into drinking tequila until he pukes.

TandT: “The baby category is very competitive"

BB: Walt is trying to make enough money to take care of his family.

Ultimately I decided that Walter isn't the worst since he has some redeeming qualities.  I cannot say the same for the Walters.

Not Mr. Bottle

Overall Rating for the Walters

Taste: 1
Presentation: 3
Ease of Preparation: 4
Drinks Until Blackout: 5 – 24% Alcohol

1.5 oz Scotch Whisky
1 tbsp Orange Juice
1 tbsp Lemon Juice

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day 47: Carrion My Wayward Son

Buzzard's Breath Drink
Glass doubles as a weapon
I have never smelled a buzzard’s breath.  I once made a list of all animals ordering them by estimated freshness of breath and buzzards scored fairly low.   They were far below koala bears but just above dogs.  As you might have surmised, I spend a lot of time thinking about animal breath and I believe that a buzzard’s would smell like a combination of rotting garbage and rotting flesh. For most people that would be unappetizing.  It was therefore with trepidation that we approached today’s drink, the Buzzard’s Breath.

It turns out that the Buzzard’s Breath is made with amaretto, coffee liqueur, and peppermint schnapps. I was both relieved and surprisingly disappointed that there was no carrion in the recipe.  I guess the buzzard that inspired this drink lived somewhere with access to almonds, coffee, and mints. The best I can tell is that it must be from near the Cincinnati airport.  It is right next to a Mentos factory and, like every other place in America, there are plenty of Starbucks around.  There are no almond trees nearby, but I’m sure they sell them for $8 a bag at the airport

Our Buzzard’s Breath tasted vaguely like a mint coffee.  I thought it was pretty pleasant but Mrs. Bottle didn’t care for it all that much.  I found that puzzling since she has won a lifetime achievement award from Starbucks.  She did say that it left her mouth feeling nice, though, so that is a plus. I imagine that was due to the peppermint schnapps leaving a hint of minty aftertaste.  Even though the drink had a bit of a syrupy texture, it was not overly sweet.  It also looks quite a bit like coffee, so you could probably substitute this for your morning joe and no one would be the wiser. The only clue would be that you wouldn't have horrible coffee breath.

Two famous buzzards

Overall Rating for the Buzzard’s Breath

Taste: 3
Presentation: 3
Ease of Preparation: 4
Drinks Until Blackout: 6 – 20% Alcohol

0.5 oz Amaretto
0.5 oz Coffee Liqueur
0.5 oz Peppermint Schnapps

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day 46: Broken Charted

Casco Bay Lemonade Drink
I want to reach through
the screen and drink that
The Casco Bay Lemonade is made from citrus vodka, simple syrup, lemon juice, cranberry juice, and lemon-lime soda.  I have no idea what this drink tastes like, because Mrs. Bottle immediately chugged the whole thing right after she made it.  I asked her for a sip and she said that if I tried to put my hand on her drink that I would pull back a stump.  To be fair, I made up those last two sentences, but this drink was good enough to make that scenario completely plausible. It has just enough sweetness and a nice lemonade taste.  The lemon-lime soda gives it a little fizz for a good mouth-feel.  It even has a lemon wheel on top for an attractive presentation. 

The only real downside is that the Casco Bay Lemonade is only 10% alcohol.  We decided that even with this flaw it rated a score of a perfect five.  Then I began to wonder if it rated a five because it was weak instead of rating a five despite its weakness.  This could turn out to be a crushing blow to my machismo, if I had any.   Unlike some who may choose to remain ignorant, Mrs. Bottle and I value truth above all.  Therefore we conducted a minutes-long TBIAW investigation in order to answer this mystery once and for all. The results can be boiled down by a simple chart:

It seemed clear that the highest rated drinks have the lowest average alcohol content. Things were looking bad.  I was briefly heartened when I saw that the drinks with a rating of four have the second highest average alcohol content.  Then I came up with the bright idea to plot a trend line (the red line).  The trend line clearly shows that the higher the alcohol content, the lower the rating. The 84% correlation leaves me little wiggle room.  This is probably the most convincing demonstration that correlation equals causation since it was definitively proven that global warming is caused by the shrinking number of pirates.

Overall Rating for the Casco Bay Lemonade

Taste: 5
Presentation: 5
Ease of Preparation: 3
Drinks Until Blackout: 9 – 10% Alcohol

1.5 oz Citrus-flavored Vodka
2 oz Simple Syrup
2 oz Lemon Juice
1 splash Cranberry Juice
1 splash Lemon-Lime Soda

A post to explain the lack of a post

Today's official blog post will be available later today, probably around 6:00 Eastern time.  This has nothing to do with me being lazy and wasting an entire day off without writing a new entry.  There have also been rumors that today's drink was so delicious that Mrs. Bottle downed the entire thing so fast that Mr. Bottle barely got a taste.  Those rumors are entirely unfounded. It is definitely not because I had nothing to say, because that has never stopped me in the past.  Do not bother speculating on the reason, just be comforted by the fact that there will be a post later today.

In the meantime, we did add a new feature today.  It is full list of all drinks with their actual names, ratings, and ingredients.  You can access it in the side bar or just click here.  Also remember that if you don't want to miss a post you can either follow us on Twitter, 'Like' us on Facebook, or subscribe to our feed.  All three of those channels get updated whenever there is a new post. They are like a warm blanket to wrap you in the feeling of connectedness. Maybe not a thick fleece blanket, but at least a snuggie's worth of warmth.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Day 45: Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Kodos

El Presidente Cocktail #2 drink
You can see the Federalism plain as day
Happy Presidents Day Washington’s Birthday! We were all set for a special Presidents Day edition of The Bottle Is A Wonderland.  We chose the El Presidente Cocktail #2 as our drink and we planned to have a Hail to the Chief midi-file play in a continuous loop with no mute button. Then we learned that the official name of the Federal holiday is actually Washington’s Birthday and all our plans flew out the window.  If only we hadn’t already had the El Presidente Cocktail #1 we could have honored America’s first Presidente properly.   Now that we have had the EPC#2, we won’t have anything special for John Adams Day, either.  It is like a double rainbow, only the exact opposite.  What does it mean?

The El Presidente Cocktail #2 is a mix of light rum, dry vermouth, and bitters.  Since all of these ingredients contain alcohol, the drink is quite strong.  Earlier in our journey we might have found the strength of the drink off-putting, but we have become more accustomed to these powerful drinks as we’ve progressed.  Either that or our taste buds have been totally decimated by our vodka taste test.  We may not have found the strength alone reason enough to dislike the drink, but the flavor of it certainly did the trick.  The bitter dry vermouth and the bitter bitters lead to a bitter drink.   It perfectly represents Adamsfeelings over Mercy Warren’s perceived mischaracterizations of his revolutionary bona fides.

They would find a way
(Image via Shirtoid)
We have some strong opinions on both Mr. Adams and Ms Warren, but here at TBIAW we keep our political views private.  Enjoying an adult beverage should really be a bi-partisan activity.  If you want to read political views, stick to the Daily Kos,, or our political spin-off blog, The [redacted] Party is Filled With Mouth Breathing Imbeciles Who Care More About Their Own Power Than They Do About The Welfare of the Country.  I’m sure most of you can figure out who to whom we are referring.  If you guessed “the other side” then you are correct.

Overall Rating for the El Presidente Cocktail #2

Taste: 2
Presentation: 2
Ease of Preparation: 4
Drinks Until Blackout: 4 – 32% alcohol


1.5 oz Light Rum
.75 oz Dry Vermouth
1 dash bitters

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day 44: French, French for Fantasy

French Fantasy Drink
This drink was actually
much uglier than it looks here
It’s me, Mrs. Bottle, here to discuss today’s drink, the French Fantasy. During these past 40+ days of trying new drinks, I’ve discovered that I tend to associate drinks with songs. For instance, right now all I’m doing is singing Billy Idol’s “Flesh for Fantasy” in my head (I refuse to torture Mr. Bottle with my actual singing). It has nothing to do with this drink because it wasn’t flesh colored and it wasn’t my fantasy to drink. But unfortunately it’s still stuck on the repeat function playing in my head.

The French Fantasy gets its name from all the French ingredients: black raspberry liqueur (Chambord), orange liqueur (Mandarine Napoleon), orange juice, and cranberry juice. Granted, the last two aren’t necessarily French, but maybe the French fantasize about drinking orange and cranberry juices. Possibly because they’re low on vitamin C and the women need help preventing kidney stones? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that while we didn’t have a French black raspberry liqueur, we substituted Grand Marnier for the Mandarine Napoleon . Since Grand Marnier is French, I’m thinking an alternate drink name might be the Frenglish Fantasy. Rolls right off the tongue.  

Before this drink, we had never heard of Mandarine Napoleon so I decided it would be a good idea to see what this liqueur is all about. I have to say that after reviewing the website, I feel smarter than ever. I recommend that if you have children struggling with their world history, this might help them understand Napoleon Bonaparte, specifically how he grew to power and his relationship with mandarin oranges. Interestingly, the liqueur that is also called “The Emperor of the Night” (I think only by the people who make it), is actually produced in Brussels. Which you may know (after consulting a world map) is not in France. So do the French fantasize that Napoleon had actually conquered Brussels and that it was part of France? Or do they just fantasize about being in Brussels because it’s just that much better than France?
Also not really from France
None of that really matters because it’s all about the drink. To be blunt, it was an ugly drink. The color was bad. It was similar to Sex on the Beach, which also used black raspberry liqueur. So I think we have our culprit. But I didn’t think it tasted bad. It was fruity from all the juices but I felt like the raspberry dominated. Mr. Bottle did not care for it at all but we both had already consumed a few libations earlier in the evening so I think that might have affected us a little. Maybe we would have liked it better if we’d actually used The Emperor of the Night.

Overall Rating for the French Fantasy

Taste: 3
Presentation: 2
Ease of Preparation: 4 – would have been a 5 without the garnish – the prettiest part of the drink
Drinks Until Blackout: 6 – 16% alcohol


1 oz Black Raspberry Liqueur
1 oz Mandarine Napoleon
2 oz Cranberry Juice
2 oz Orange Juice

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Shootout at the vOdKa Corral

Absolut Suckers?
Welcome to The Bottle is a Wonderland’s first ever taste test, the Vodka Shootout.  Over the years we have tried a lot of different vodkas. We’d like to think that our purchases are based on quality, but in reality they are often driven by price and marketing.  In this case the price has an inverse effect on our purchasing decisions.  If a bottle costs twice as much, it must be better, right?  Additionally, the packaging can be surprisingly effective. Ooh, that bottle is pretty, let’s buy it!

Even at the luxe Bottle Wonderland Estate we like to mind our expenses.  Are we spending too much for vodka?  Would an $18 bottle of vodka be just as satisfying as a $30 one?  We are going to find out.  Our bar is currently stocked with four different unflavored vodkas so we are going to compare them head to head.  Three of them are “top shelf” and one is a mid-range offering.  We don’t have any low-end ones on hand so they will have to wait for another day.

Let’s meet the contenders:

Grey Goose – Grey Goose is a product of France and it is distilled from wheat.  It is Mrs. Bottle’s go-to vodka.  Our bar is chock full of different flavors of Grey Goose, but we don’t necessarily stock up on their plain vodka.  Mrs. Bottle is very picky about the flavored varieties, but is less so when it comes to unflavored.  Still, Grey Goose is the favored competitor. We have already covered the fact that this vodka has a finish that is “long lasting and satisfying with flavors reminiscent of a fine almond paste.”  According to their web site it also has a “soft, gently and full-balanced” palate and a “clear, fresh and elegant” aroma. I am looking forward to having the elegant aroma wafting through the estate.  I imagine it will smell like a combination of Helen Mirren, Daniel Craig, and potpourri.

Ketel One – Ketel One is made in Holland and is also distilled from wheat.  According to their web site it is under construction.  Oh, the web site is under construction.  That is something I’m a little surprised to see in 2011. At least they didn’t have some cutesy animated graphic.  Their site directs you to a different site which directs you back to the under construction site. No matter how many times I went back and forth I didn’t learn anything about their vodka. They do have a Facebook page, though (so do we!), and according to that their vodka has a smooth, velvety taste that shares the depth and character of those who enjoy it.   So if you are a shallow ass, it probably won’t taste that good.

Chopin – Chopin vodka is distilled from potatoes in Poland.  Their web site claims that it is the “original luxury potato vodka” and that 7 pounds of potatoes are used in every bottle.  That is quite a feat in an airplane bottle.  Its taste profile “features a round, full character and a crisp, clean finish with a hint of green apple in the nose”.  On another page it says that it has a creamy palate and subtle, pleasing sweetness. It is distilled four times.  Grey Goose is distilled five times and I bet those Grey Goose jerks are always throwing that in Chopin’s face at cocktail parties.  Chopin also “encourage[s] you to conduct a personal taste test.” Challenge accepted!

Happy – Happy vodka is a Russian vodka distilled from neutral grain. I would have expected neutral grain to come from Switzerland, not Russia.  Go figure.  Similar to the Chopin, it is four times distilled.  According to them “it’s smooth and light taste is not traditional of Russian vodkas and will bide well with most any drinkers pallet.”  I hope they know more about vodka than they do about apostrophes. Maybe someone will ship them a palate of grammar books.  We have had this bottle of vodka for a while so I hope it isn’t sad that we don’t drink it. If memory serves, Mrs. Bottle bought it solely because she thought the bottle was cute. That is the same reason she picked me as her mate.  It costs a lot less than the other three, so it is the long shot in this race.

The taste test was set up in a double-blind format so neither Mrs. Bottle nor I knew which vodka we were tasting.  We conducted two rounds of tastings to see if our results were consistent.  We tasted the vodkas from four identical glasses and then individually ranked them from favorite to least favorite. 

Round 1 Glasses

In the first round, Mrs. Bottle had the following ranking:

1. Grey Goose
2. Happy
3. Chopin
4. Ketel One

I had:

1. Happy
2. Chopin
3. Grey Goose
4. Ketel One

After that round we both agreed that Ketel One was far and away the least pleasing to us and it really wasn’t that close.  It had no flavor other than burning. Mrs. Bottle thought the Grey Goose had a bit of fruity flavor. I couldn’t detect that but I did think it had something that separated it from the Chopin and the Happy.  I thought it tasted slightly worse, but she thought it tasted better.  To me, the Happy and Chopin were similar enough that I wasn’t sure if I would be able to distinguish them in round two.

Before going to round two, we took a break to rest our palates.  Tasting four vodkas straight definitely takes a toll. One friend predicted that all the vodkas would taste like rubbing alcohol and he wasn’t that far off.  I wouldn’t call any of them delicious.  The primary taste of each was just alcohol. 

Mrs. Bottle felt that her palate was fouled prior to round two and she wasn’t sure if she would be able to accurately rank them again.  Round one also left her feeling a little woozy, not because of the volume of vodka, but because of the harshness.  Regardless, we soldiered on.

Round 2 Glasses

Mrs. Bottle had the following rankings for round two:

1. Happy
2. Chopin
3. Ketel One
4. Grey Goose

I had:

1. Happy
2. Chopin
3. Grey Goose
4. Ketel One

The biggest shock here was that Mrs. Bottle ended up having Grey Goose plummeting from first to worst. This is likely due to her diminished oral state.  The second biggest shock was that I had ranked them exactly the same in both rounds. 

I tried smelling each one as well but I did not smell elegance or apples.  I also didn’t taste almond paste.  Admittedly, while I may occasionally use words like “nose” and “finish” my palate is not that sophisticated.  Those flavors may well be there if you are a vodka connoisseur.  I am a vodka everyman. You can bet that if I can detect a smell or flavor that most anybody else can as well.   You’ll never hear me say something along the lines of “this spirit is gutsy and truly captures the soul of the countryside.” 

Mrs. Bottle
Mr. Bottle

Round 1
Round 2
Round 1
Round 2
Grey Goose
Ketel One

Averaging our four rankings, the big winner is Happy Vodka.  The loser is Ketel One.  Maybe I didn’t have enough depth and character to appreciate the Ketel One? The good news is that Happy is the cheapest of the bunch. The bad news is that I don’t even know if they still make the stuff.  If we can find more of it, I told Mrs. Bottle that we could keep a Chopin bottle and just pour the Happy into it and our friends would never know the difference.  It’s the same trick we use when we tell them we are giving them fresh roasted coffee but we’ve secretly replaced it with Folger’s Crystals.

It will take someone strong to punch out Happy

There are many more vodkas to test.  In the past we have had Absolut, Belvedere, and Pinnacle.  One person has suggested Hangar One, which we have never tried. It would also be interesting to throw in an el-cheapo brand like Popov or Aristocrat to see how it fares. We will have more tests down the road as soon as our taste buds recover from this one. Until next time, don’t worry, buy Happy.

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