Serious Eats: Drinks

Scary Booze for a Bottom Shelf Halloween Party

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I work as a weekend door schlub at a bar near a fancy college, which means every year I spend the Saturday before Halloween reminding the world's smartest morons that their masks do not make them invisible so they still need to follow the standard rules regarding where to pee and whom to touch. And yes, cash only, even though you have a furry purple cape (we get a lot of King Fridays).

But even though my personal circumstances preclude me from getting fully into the holiday spirit, I try not to project negativity toward any reasonable adult looking for an excuse to wear weird tights and eat little candy bars whilst drinking. With this in mind, I headed down to the liquor store to take a quick survey of the spookiest options available for the Halloween drinker determined to spare the wallet and spoil the liver on a wide array of terrifying boozes.

DeKuyper Island Blue Pucker Sweet and Sour Schnapps

There aren't supposed to be blue foods. Even Frito-Lay knows this, which is why the blue Doritos are actually orange. But I guess you can't question nature's bounty, so if the combination of pineapple, kiwi, lime, and orange depicted on the label somehow produces a 30-proof imitation liqueur that looks like windshield washer fluid and tastes like green Hi-C with vanilla frosting backwash, so be it. It's not harsh or painful and there is actually a tiny bit of balance between the sweet and the sour, so I guess a half-pint of Blue Pucker isn't the worst possible way to spend 99 cents.

99 Bananas

Oh look, the worst possible way to spend 99 cents! This nip comes to us from the heartless bastards at Polynesian Products of Louisville, Kentucky, and though I must give it due credit for packing a 99-proof punch, I am also compelled to report that it tastes like someone floated a moldy banana muffin in a puddle of garbage juice, spit the last swig of a Keystone Light into it, and set it on fire.

Parrot Bay Frozen Mango Daiquiri

This is much better than I expected it to be, but still nowhere near worth the hassle. How much hassle is it to freeze a 10-ounce foil pouch of booze the color of a troubled tween's nail polish? Not much hassle at all, but for $2.49 and a measly 5% alcohol, I want an attached straw and perforated straw-hole, and this juice box delivers neither. You have to squeeze it out into a glass, which seems lacking in both dignity and festivity.

Margaritaville Spiked Tea

This is terrifying simply on account of being the 5.5% ABV alcopop hatechild of Jimmy Buffet and Anheuser-Busch. Would you be shocked to find out that it's very, very bland? This is what your least interesting aunt drinks on vacation. But, snidery aside, it's not awful, if for no other reason than it lacks the character necessary to truly offend the palate. It tastes like crappy canned iced tea, with no evidence of alcohol or ambition, but it'll do if you ever find yourself stuck on the world's lamest boat.

Buffalo Bill's Strawberry Blonde Ale with Ginger

Sight unsipped, this one actually has a lot going for it. I like strawberries and ale and ginger, the buffalo is a regal beast of burger, and my dad was named Bill. This only qualified for the spooky list by virtue of the price: $3.99 a sixer at a store where the PBR goes for $5.99. (I assume this is a special past-season liquidation price.) It turns out this is a pretty fair fruit beer. It tastes mostly like you'd expect, strawberries and ginger, though I wasn't anticipating the quick blast of cheese on the back end. But to be fair: It costs significantly less than Pabst, and who doesn't like cheese?

Smirnoff Ice Green Apple Bite

I do believe this was my first sip of Smirnoff Ice. A very friendly bartender tried to shame me into drinking a bottle the day after my wedding, but I had no interest in drinking it or in testing the "This is grounds for an annulment" look in Emily's eyes, so I passed. But with the witching season upon us I figured I was obligated to confront my fears, and lo and behold it's not so bad, as these malternative numbers go. There's a little bit of sour apple on top of the sweet cheap cider taste, and I could probably finish the bottle if I set my mind to it.

Busch

My uncle Pete is a Busch man and a good man, but other than that I have no positive associations with this low-end A-B afterthought, and neither does anyone else. It's good to know there is a sustainable mass of people who revere Uncle Pete enough to keep this slop on the market, but it's not good to know that there are 36 more ounces of it festering in my fridge. Busch tastes like someone took all the sunshine and love out of a Bud Light.

Cortijo Rosado 2010

Like the strawberry buffalo juice above, this Spanish rosé hit the list due to off-season pricing: 99 cents for a 750 mL bottle of wine at my local shop. Glass bottle, even, with a real cork. And 2010's not that old, right? Depends where it's been, I guess. This 50-50 blend of tempranillo and garnacha had the potential to be the official holiday wine of the Gordon household, just as long as it didn't taste like, say, 25-year-old grocery store olive oil that you lost the cap to so for the last 11 years it's been sealed with a greasy sheet of toilet paper and a rubber band. Oh well.

About the author: Will Gordon loves life and hates mayonnaise. You can eat and drink with him in Boston or follow him on twitter @WillGordonAgain.

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