Booze You Can Lose

While Tom Finkel said the stuff wasn't at all bad - "It's the only one with any booze in it" - the panel's more acute palates will tell you that the only way this couldn't be considered vile is in comparison to a certain Heublein product. Tom White mused aloud that it might be "the actual embalming fluid of Elvis," but surely that factoid would have been included on the label. Sue Mullin suggested sprinkling it around to kill fire ants, while Pilar considered using it to fill the air-conditioning compressor of her car.

Doubtless Georgia Moon is marketed as a novelty - the perfect gift for your wife/cousin, perhaps. Then again, while it is practical for inducing violent stomach reactions, Moon is even better, with its clarity and wide, Mason-type mouth, to house your insect collection. In fact, a caterpillar garnish might put a shine on this ersatz 'shine.

Heublein OriginalPat O'Brien'sNew Orleans Hurricane

$5.99 per 750 ml. bottleAlcohol Content: 17 percent

Everyone who's ever tippled in the French Quarter has at least one Hurricane story. Here's one now:

A gang of reporters walked into O'Brien's and ordered drinks. One chap, Marty, ordered a Hurricane specifically to obtain the free souvenir glass, which, once empty, was accidentally knocked off the table. Another Hurricane was purchased posthaste, and Marty could only stare in dismay as that glass, too, was bumped to the floor and shattered. A third glass was dropped and broken by the now-inebriated Marty, who finally managed to crawl out of O'Brien's with an intact souvenir glass, his fourth, clutching it to his bosom as if it were his first-born child. While sightseeing on the way back to the hotel, a nifty sight was seen by another member of the party (ahem), who spun excitedly toward Marty with arm outstretched - hey, look! - at which point.... Which only goes to show, there are benefits to three-ounce Dixie bathroom cups.

Because the label would admit only that the bottled version of a Hurricane contains rum, natural and artificial flavors, and artificial color, there was some dispute among panelists as to whether the product might actually be intended as an expectorant. Two judges mentioned that it caused them to perspire profusely.

Health benefits aside, there is no denying that Hurricane-in-a-bottle has color (bright red), aroma (cough syrup), and taste (bad). Pukability? Not immediately evident, but definite potential.

Alize Cocktail de France

$10.99 per 375 ml. frosted-glass bottleAlcohol Content: 16 percent

"A unique blend of natural passion fruit juices and cognac," Alize is the sort of brainstorm that could only have been inspired by the consumption of a tankload of Gold Rush. The judges deemed this "unique blend" suitable for any occasion during which one would like to throw up.

As panelists attempted to clear the phlegm generated by the Heublein Hurricane, a subcommittee struggled to open the Alize bottle, plugged, as it turned out, with a real cork.

Based on bouquet, body, and hue, judges concurred that they were approaching the essence of putrescence, if it hadn't been reached already. Staring sadly at the nearly opaque, brown-tinged mixture in his cup, Tom Finkel had the audacity to doubt whether Alize contained any cognac at all. Glenn Garvin, remarkably quick of tongue, made a face and said, "There are some really bad cognacs out there."

Fletcher & OakesTropical Fruit Cordialand Soda Water

$1.99 per 750 ml. bottleAlcohol Content: 5.5 percent

Another ride on the schnapps gravy train. "The original schnapps spritz," boasts the label, which also includes this intriguing haiku: "A light snap of schnapps./A squeeze of fruit./A splash of soda."

The panel, by this time interested in neither schnapps nor poetry, was absolutely positive about two things: 1) this Fletcher & Oakes effort probably contains coconut, and 2) no second helpings, please. One judge speculated about the possible existence of cream-soda flavor. Thanks to the liberal proportion of "soda water," however, this spritzer is not nearly up to some of the other entries when it comes to filling up the communal swill bowl.

Truffles WhiteChocolate Liqueur

$7.99 per 375 ml. bottleAlcohol Content: 12.5 percent

"Something milky this way comes," warned Rafael Navarro - one look at the squat, off-white bottle with the enormous gold-painted genuine wood cap was enough to revive hopes that a taster might soon pitch his or her medianoche. Alas, while it has exactly the same amount of alcohol as Gold Rush, our judges nonetheless determined Truffles to be Gold Rush Lite, or 3.2 Gold Rush, or the wimp's version of Gold Rush. And just look at the price! See what a fancy container can do?

The label suggests the white-chocolate substance would make an excellent topping for ice cream or berries. That will have to be left for another panel to decide. This information did inspire alternate serving suggestions, however, from our tasters: Truffles over filet mignon, over plantains, over bratwurst. "Truffles," said Tom White, "over my dead body."

"You're making a subjective judgment on good products," whines Larry of Sunset Foremost, a sprawling booze shop that features an endless variety of compelling wines, although Larry can't brag that he has everything. Where's his stock of Very Berry, for instance? "It's a myopic view to think drinks are only for drinking," he adds. Fair enough. How about trying Truffles as a suntan lotion?

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