While strolling down the booze aisle at CVS recently, something caught my eye.
It was a tall vertical package with small bottles of brightly colored liquid peeking out of it.
"Forget the expensive bar tab," it read. "Thanks to the Modern Cocktail, you can now shake up your favorite cocktails at home. Our pre-measured cocktail mixers bring a new twist to traditional martinis...each individual mixer is perfectly blended, allowing you to easily create a variety of gourmet cocktails in the comfort of your own home."
And then there was something about transforming yourself into a "master mixologist," two words I utterly loathe.
But, always having been a fan of mini bottles of alcohol (they make you look like a giant!), I was intrigued. So I picked up three packages in different flavors and headed to the checkout.
It was there that I discovered the neon-hued bottles don't actually contain any alcohol at all. They're portioned mixers, meant to be poured in a cocktail shaker and blended with ice and a liquor of your choice. In this case, the package called for gin, vodka or tequila to prepare martinis and margaritas, and sparkling wine or champagne to make champagne cocktails.
Questionable mixers and tequila in hand, I returned to the office to experiment.
The first thing I learned is that you can make a cocktail shaker out of a clear plastic drinking cup and a styrofoam cup. Fill with ice, tequila and mango margarita mix and shake. The second thing I learned is that the orange salt that comes with the kit to rim the margarita glass does not pair well with a mango margarita. I think there's a reason sweet, fruity margaritas often get a sugar rim.
That said, I honestly can't imagine anything that would taste good with this particular brand of mango margarita. The flavor is somewhere between fake mango juice and Lysol. Topped off with tequila, it leans more toward the chemical Lysol flavor and away from anything naturally occurring. I found the same to be true for the "Margarita Authentico" mix, which is supposedly intended to resemble an authentic lime margarita, but in actuality looks like radioactive Mountain Dew and tastes like imitation lime juice and dirt.
After that, I moved away from the margarita mixes and into the martinis. The martini mixes are less an assault on the taste buds, partially because they seem less syrupy than the margarita mix. The margarita mixes, according to the photos, are intended to be blended in a blender with ice to make frozen drinks, which would mellow the awfulness of the flavor. The martini mixes--grapefruit, blood orange, lemon drop, sour appletini and candy appletini--are palatable. I could see mixing these with vodka and not hating every sip. But I can also see a horrendous hangover the next morning.
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Finally, the "Champagne Toppers," which sound better than the others primarily because they involve champagne, and how to you mess up champagne, right? I wish my mind had never thought those words, because no sooner had I pondered the sterling nature of champagne, then it was like Dionysus himself reached down to mock me from mighty Mt. Olympus.
THIS. This is how you mess up champagne. By attempting to create a "modern cocktail" and fancying yourself a "mixologist." I would never adulterate champagne with the likes of this syrupy swill.
And for the record, the "Grapefruit Bellini," "Blood Orange Mimosa" and "Mango Mimosa" mixes are exactly the same as the grapefruit martini and mango and blood orange margarita mixes. Way to cut corners, Modern Cocktail, purveyor of hangovers and haunter of my tastebuds.
If these are indeed the future of cocktails, send me back to the past. I'll take potential poisoning from bathtub gin over the Modern Cocktail.