| Booze |

Rum at H-E-B -- Who Knew?

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Houston does not adhere to the same liquor laws as New Orleans, where even pet stores are allowed to sell hard alcohol. Nor does Houston adhere to the same liquor laws Philadelphia, where no booze at all is vended in grocery stores and beer is sold in establishments separate from state-run wine and liquor stores.

With beer and wine available for sale at most grocery stores and harder stuff on offer at Spec's, we are smack dab in the middle.

Well, actually, maybe a little more to the liberal NOLA side now that H-E-B is carrying Rhumbero, a "premium blend" rum.

This story continues on the next page.

Marketed as to "use in place of rum to make Cuba Libres, Piña Coladas, Plater Punch, Mojito, Daiquiris, or any of your favorite rum-based cocktails," Rhumbero, which "captures the taste and quality of various Caribbean rums," is rum that is not rum. Available in ABV levels of 14 percent, 17 percent (found at H-E-B) 20 percent, and 24 percent, Rhumbero definitely isn't as strong as real rum but definitely has the potential to get you wasted if you drink it like wine.

Upon opening the plastic (classy, yes) bottle, an undeniable aroma of cheap rum pervaded my kitchen inciting a Proustian flashback of sorts to a spring break trip to Bermuda with a cross-dressing theater group I belonged to in college. Rather than searching for lost time by penning a seven-volume novel, I decided to make myself a cocktail.

Given that a jigger of standard 40 percent ABV/80 proof alcohol is 1.5 ounces, I figured the same alcoholic effect could be rendered by using about, oh, 4 ounces of rhumbero.

I figured wrong. Four ounces in combination with some fresh mint and 4 ounces of diet Sprite did not make for light mojito-esque beverage that one could sip by the pool and then, if necessary for some reason, go operate a forklift. With the sprite and mint masking the already light flavor of the alcohol, I felt at first like I was drinking soda until rising from my chair was required and the floor seemed to quiver as if in the midst of the earthquake.

At $10.99 per bottle, Rhumbero is for better--no, for worse--a cheap way to get drunk on Sunday via something other than beer and wine and have the worst hangover of your life on Monday. Houston, you have been warned.

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