Drinking the Bottom Shelf: Mr. Boston Wild Cherry Flavored Brandy

Drinking the Bottom Shelf

Will Gordon drinks his way through the bottom shelf of the liquor store...so you don’t have to.


A couple dozen dinners ago I ran out of soy sauce mid-feed and consequently spent the next several days lying awake in bed trying to figure out just what kind of man I think I am.

I'm not a great long-term planner, so I try to compensate with intense focus on the short and medium terms. Sure, it would be nice to have retirement plans beyond "Wait, why can't you write about cherry brandy when you're 80?" and a 401k in which k equals quarters picked up while mopping barroom floors, but I trust that if I keep taking care of day to day business I'll stay in good enough shape to limp across the finish line. I realize that slow and steady doesn't actually win any races, but it's an effective approach to surviving them, and that's all I'm after. One foot in front of the other, the next bottle of soy sauce after the last bottle of soy sauce.

This is why my recent failure to accurately forecast the short-term soy sauce market left me so broken. I've accepted that my refusal to establish an underground condiment bunker will force me to buy soy sauce well past the age when most of my peers will be living comfortably off soy sauce dividends earned during their prime working years. So be that. But my plan only works if I keep my soy sauce shopping muscles finely tuned. How can I expect myself to be in sauce acquiring shape in older age if I'm already dropping the ball now?

This is where you might reasonably ask why Bottom Shelf research director Emily didn't buy soy sauce, either. That's because she has never once in her entire short-but-not-THAT-short life bought a bottle of soy sauce. Well, I suppose I'm not positive about her dark and dirty pre-me years, but in the 22 months we've lived together, I have purchased more tampons (one box), Diet Coke (one million cans), and bouquets of fresh flowers (I dunno, not a ton I guess, but not none) than she has bought soy sauce.

The arrangement isn't as unbalanced as it seems, though, because she earns a pretty good part of her keep with top-notch drugstore shopping. She keeps us well soaped and shampooed, and Iceland will run out of both ice and land before we run out of toilet paper. Lord, does that woman love to buy toilet paper. Which is a shame, because she sacrifices quality for quantity, and neither of us has bought Kleenex since winter, so I spent Sunday morning blowing my nose on the half-ply nonsense she's been stockpiling since she was old enough to toddle to her first CVS.

I have a brutal and uncommon cold that has rendered me incapable of breathing without snotting or speaking without whining, and the seasonally stupid timing means I had to confront the early stages without the proper medical devices. Emily has since procured Kleenex and NyQuil, but for the first several hours I had to get by on nothing more than prison-reject toilet paper and Mr. Boston Wild Cherry Flavored Brandy.

I have all sorts of cheap infection-fighters in my liquor cabinet, but in times of sinus trouble I try to veer toward brandy, because it comes from grapes, which come from fruit, and fruit is good for you. Since I was treating a particularly nasty cold, I doubled up on the fruit with some cherry, and the wildness of the cherry made me even more trusting of its medicinal qualities: I just read an article about how raw milk contains all sorts of helpful bacteria that blah blah et cetera raw and wild things make you live forever.

I try to avoid the cliche that this or that cheap hooch tastes like cough syrup, but I can think of no better description of Mr. Boston Wild Cherry. This stuff is rough. It tastes simultaneously sweet and sour, but not in the good soup way. It's more as if a cherry Pop Tart were dissolved in a vat of vinegar. The only reason I didn't immediately demand an FDA recall is that it has the decency to be 70 proof, so you only need a couple swallows to quiet your cough long enough to crawl back to the medicine man for a different prescription.