Category Archives: Mixers

Review: Hoosier Momma Bloody Mary Makers

As you prepare for New Year’s Eve festivities, forget not the aftermath: Tomorrow morning may hurt, and the solution may very well be found in a nice Bloody Mary.

The curiously named Hoosier Momma Bloody Mary Maker (B+), from the great state of Indiana, of course, is the latest ready-to-go Bloody to cross through our doors. It doesn’t take long to see this isn’t V8 and Worcestershire: Moderately chunky, with pulp bits, and laden with little flecks of spices. Despite the flecks, the standard version isn’t all that spicy. In fact, it has more sweetness than other Bloody mixes, a bit citrus on the finish, and very lightly spicy with a touch of horseradish.

Hoosier Momma Spicy Bloody Mary Maker (B-) kicks things up with a Tabasco-like rush. Sadly, I think this works against the mixer, coming across with raw heat and dulling the fun of this mix. The sweetness is still quite strong, but after the sugar and spice, I don’t get much more than simple tomato juice flavor.

My only other issue with this mixer is with the packaging. These mixes come not in bottles but in jars — like fat mayonnaise jars. It’s certainly unique packaging, but it does make it hard to pour the stuff inside, particularly if you’re working with a single serving or narrow glass. I get that it helps showcase Hoosier Mama’s chunkiness, but a) it’s not really that thick, and b) a wider-mouth bottle would have been more practical.

each $8 per 32 oz. jar /

hoosier momma bloody mary mixer Review: Hoosier Momma Bloody Mary Makers

Excuse Me, Do You Have Pussy in a Can?

Discovered this oddball energy drink at the train station in Munich. Turns out you can get away with a lot more here (of course) than you can in the U.S. I bought a can and frankly it’s not that bad. Flavored (strongly) with lychee, the exotic fruit drowns out the (all natural) active ingredients, including guarana, caffeine, ginseng, gingko, and some other stuff I can’t really read because it’s in German. Further analysis and commentary is left as an exercise for the reader. Additional reading:

pussy Excuse Me, Do You Have Pussy in a Can?

Review: Powell & Mahoney Bloody Mary and Bellini Mixes

Complex cocktails in ready-made form won’t ever lose their popularity, and bottled Bloody Mary and Margarita mixes will probably forever be at the top of that heap.

Powell & Mahoney makes more than 10 such mixes, including a Bloody, Margarita, Mojito, and even a Hot Toddy. We sampled two of them — the Bloody Mary and the Peach Bellini. Thoughts follow.

Powell & Mahoney Bloody Mary Mix – This mix makes a very straightforward and fresh-tasting Bloody, vodka or no. Thick but not too much so, it offers lots of fresh tomato flavor, clear Worcestershire kick, and very very mild spices. The heat-seeker will want to kick this up with a healthy dose of hot sauce or Tabasco, but if you’re looking for pure tomato character with a smattering of basic spices, this mix is arguably better than doing it yourself. A-

Powell & Mahoney Peach Bellini Mix - Just add Prosecco and you’ve got this Venice-originated classic. Essentially just water, sugar,and peach puree, this makes for a fresh and really fruity cocktail (don’t skimp on the Prosecco, by the way). The nose of the mixer, sans wine, is more apricot than peach, but when mixed 2 (Prosecco) to 1 (mixer), the peachiness comes alive. It’s not at all thick, so don’t expect any puree chunks in your glass, for better or for worse. A-

about $6 each (750ml) /

Review: Icelandic Glacial Spring Water

We’ve resisted reviewing bottled water on this blog, but finally we’re caving in.

Water from Iceland doesn’t sound entirely eco-conscious, but Icelandic says it is a carbon neutral product — in fact, it says it this the first CarbonNeutral (a private certification) bottled water in the world.

Sourced from Iceland’s Ölfus Spring System, this protected zone has no farming, animals, or buildings allowed within the 128,000-acre area. 0.1% of the annual spring flow is harvested from surface water; the remainder (reportedly double the world’s bottled water consumption) returns to the ocean. The bottling plant is hydroelectric-powered, packaging is made from 75% recycled materials, and carbon offsets are used to bring the water back up to carbon neutrality. As “green” products go, it’s hard to find any real fault with Icelandic.

On to the water. Total dissolved solids are 62 mg/l, and the pH is 8.4. The taste is very neutral, with a good mouthfeel and body. It doesn’t have that plastic taste that so many bottled waters succumb to, nor does it taste metallic like heavier mineral waters. There could be the slightest touch of citrus here, but otherwise it tastes like water should: Like nothing.

A / $7 for 6-pack of 500ml bottles /

 Review: Icelandic Glacial Spring Water

Review: Lights Out Relaxation Products

Relaxation mania continues with Lights Out, a whole series of products designed to help you sleep more evenly, fight stress, anxiety, jet lag, and all that other bad stuff.

Lights Out contains chamomile, skullcap, rose hips, valerian root, L-theanine, and GABA, but it’s probably the 5mg of melatonin that really does the trick.

The 2-oz. shot comes in two sucralose-sweetened flavors — tropical and, oddly, cloud berry — and both tastes are fair enough. The cloud berry version is largely innocuous and vaguely citrus and apple in character. The tropical is stronger, primarily redolent of coconut.

Strangely, the product is unique in that it also comes in a solid form: a chocolate brownie and a chocolate chip cookie. Both were exceedingly dry and crumbly, and hardly the delicious dessert confection you might be expecting.

As for the effects, with both the shot and the dessert products, I found myself falling asleep relatively quickly, with vivid and rather intrusive dreams to follow. Both times I woke up around six in the morning and had difficulty getting back to sleep — though the six-hour release time of Lights Out may have something to do with that. Still not sure how effective these are, though I felt fine and productive the following day. That said, I’m not exactly clamoring for another brownie.

C+ / about $4 per product /

lights out Review: Lights Out Relaxation Products

Review: Zenify: The Live Stress Free Drink

How stress-free to you get if you drink Zenify? So stress-free that you stop using capitalization. I swear — outside of the nutrition facts box, there’s not a capital letter to be found on this can of relaxation beverage. It’ll knock the shift right out of you!

Zenify is designed to “get you focused” by countering the effects of caffeine with “increased Alpha Waves,” and increasing the amount of seratonin and dopamine in the body. Zenify says it can even treat everything from anxiety to ADHD via its GABA component. Other ingredients include L-Theanine, Glycine, and vitamins C, Niacin, B6, B12, Folic Acid, Pantothenic Acid, and Magnesium. It comes in a lightly yellow, lightly carbonated format, contained in a 12 oz. can.

As beverages go, this Stevia-sweetened (and 50-calorie) product doesn’t taste bad. It’s promoted (naturally) as a vodka mixer, but solo it is quite drinkable. Lemon/lime is the base, with some pineapple notes thrown in. Very easy to drink, with really light flavoring and a moderate, not cloying body.

Am I feeling relaxed? As always, I hate to make any snap judgments on issues like this, but my Alpha Waves aren’t complaining.

A- / $55 for 24 12-oz. cans /

zenify Review: Zenify: The Live Stress Free Drink

Four Loko Rises Again as “Poco Loko”

You can’t get rid of Four Loko that easily, folks…

CHICAGO, Sept. 7, 2011 – Responding to popular demand, Phusion Projects, LLC recently announced the introduction of Poco Loko, a new version of the company’s Four Loko product with unique flavors and in a smaller can size with lower alcohol by volume.

Poco Loko is available in 16-ounce cans at 8 percent alcohol by volume, and comes in four unique flavors: Green Apple, Black Cherry, Mango and Lemonade; most of which are not available in 23.5 ounce cans.  The product, which will be available in four packs and in single cans, is being introduced in order to meet consumer demand for additional products and flavors, and to continue diversifying the Phusion Projects line of products.

“We’ve always been a company that listens to what our consumers want,” said Chris Hunter, one of the co-founders of Phusion Projects. “Poco Loko is a great product to bring to market, and we’re excited to re-introduce fan favorite Green Apple, originally from the Four Loko XXX Limited Edition line.”

As with all Phusion Projects products, Poco Loko is a flavored malt beverage that does not contain caffeine, guarana or taurine.

poco loko Four Loko Rises Again as Poco Loko

Review: Baileys Mudslide

Few cocktails in the panopticon of chain restaurant beverages imbue the spirit — the very heart — of panty peeler so thoroughly as the Mudslide. A chocolate, creamy, boozy frozen concoction, this is dessert — and usually drunkenness — in a glass.

Now Baileys brings the Mudslide to ready-made status, or as near as is humanly possible. Just take this 1.75-liter jug of “vodka, chocolate, coffee, and cream liqueurs,” pour into a blender with an equal amount of ice, and pulverize until it’s smooth. You can make it as thick or as thin as you’d like. The more ice you add, the more you cut down the (admittedly weak) 25 proof alcohol level.

When complete (I didn’t even try to taste this unblended and sans ice), it’s a credible beach beverage, but hardly a knockout. The booziness comes off as much harsher than the alcohol level would indicate — more rum-like than vodka-like — and the sweetness is cloying. Chocolate and coffee are almost afterthoughts to the raw sugar notes, and the mass — which separates after about 10 minutes into a creamy tan-and-foam cocktail — is tasty enough in a sorority sister way, but it just doesn’t come together as a composed whole.

Frankly, I think you’d get better results from putting regular Baileys, a squirt of chocolate syrup, and some ice into a blender, and you wouldn’t spend much more, either.

C+ / $16 per 1.75-liter bottle /

Baileys Mudslide Review: Baileys Mudslide

Review: Just Chill Natural Stress Relief Beverage

Will “one sip” of this “relaxation beverage” give you “instant enlightenment?” Perhaps not, but it certainly won’t hurt.

The ingredients of Just Chill should be largely familiar to readers who’ve explored this nascent category: The ubiquitous L-theanine (150mg per 8.4 oz. can), vitamins B and C, magnesium, zinc, Siberian ginseng, ginkgo biloba, and (perhaps the only unusual additive) lemongrass. It’s all delivered in a “tropical chill” flavored can of carbonated water, “crystalline fructose,” natural flavors, fruit juices, and stevia.

The taste is very mild and innocuous: vaguely pineapple and mango character atop a lightly carbonated base. It goes down just fine, a stark contrast to some of the less savory entrants into this category, and it lacks that viscous character that seems to be so common in fructose-flavored beverages.

As always, it’s hard to speak to the promised psychoactive effects — relaxation without drowsiness, in this case — of Just Chill on a limited sampling, but it certainly hasn’t hurt my mood any, and I’m hardly feeling tired. As always, your mileage will likely vary.

50 calories.

B+ / $2 per 8.4 oz. can / [BUY IT HERE]

just chill Review: Just Chill Natural Stress Relief Beverage

Review: Small Hand Foods Gum Syrups

The thing about gomme (awesome word) is that when you’re perusing cocktail recipe books, everything seems to call for it. But when you actually get some gomme, you can’t find a thing to make with the stuff.

I’ve had Small Hand Foods’ line of gommes, or gum syrups, sitting on the counter of Drinkhacker HQ for months, with nothing to do with them. Finally I made, you know, an effort, and cooked up a variety of cocktails with the stuff so I could review them before they, you know, expired. (Recipes follow, courtesy of Small Hand Foods.)

Gum syrup is a lot like it sounds: Syrup that is thickened considerably by the addition of gum arabic. Unlike regular sugar syrup, gum syrup adds viscosity to a drink, and on its own it is noticeably more mouth-filling. The catch: Who has gum arabic handy when you need it?

Small Hand Foods comes to the rescue with pre-bottled gommes: an unflavored version, and the more intriguing pineapple gum syrup and raspberry gum syrup. The company also makes orgeat (almond syrup) and grenadine, neither in “gum” versions (and neither reviewed here).

As for the three gum syrups, all are impressive and work well in the cocktails that call for them. I tried them alone and in recipes. They’re wholly as intended: Thick, viscous, and quite flavorful. The flavors are all more aged than I’d expected: The standard gum syrup has a rich, caramel character to it, and that translates through to your drink, like it or not. Huge, authentic pineapple and raspberry notes are found in the flavored versions, though clearly neither is quite as tasty as fresh fruit macerated in syrup would be. They also bear the same aged sugar character as the standard gum syrup, which is unusual, but adds an interesting spin to a cocktail.

All told these are excellent cocktail ingredients. Shortcuts, to be sure, but when a recipe calls for gomme, who else are ya gonna call?

Refrigerate after opening.

all varieties: A- / $12 per 250ml bottle /

Hotel Nacionale Speciale
Adapted from the Hotel Nacionale, Havana, Cuba

1½ oz rum (white or aged)
¾ oz fresh lime juice
¾ oz Pineapple Gum Syrup
½ oz apricot brandy

Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a lime twist.

Clover Club
Adapted from Harry Craddock, The Savoy Cocktail Book, 1930

1½ oz gin
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz Raspberry Gum Syrup
½ oz dry vermouth
½ oz egg white

Add all ingredients to mixing tin and shake vigorously without adding ice. Then add ice and shake again. Double-strain into a chilled coupe glass.

small hand foods gommes Review: Small Hand Foods Gum Syrups

Review: Demitri’s Bloody Mary Seasonings

You know at a glance that Demitri’s is not your everyday Bloody Mary mix. The color and thickness of A1 steak sauce, Demitri’s is not a “just add vodka” mix. You need tomato juice (and lots of it): A mere 2 ounces of the mix will flavor a full quart of tomato juice or V8. The vials these mixes come in are reminiscent of a bottle of soy sauce, and they also come in convenient pouches, perfect for flavoring a pitcher of Bloodies at a time without having to refrigerate the leftover mix.

We tried all four of Demitri’s Bloody seasonings as well as its two “RimShot” rimming powders.

Demitri’s Bloody Mary Classic Recipe – Really rich, a recipe that lets the tomato juice shine. The heat is mild and the flavor is meaty, savory, and classic — a perfect balance of everything you want in a Bloody Mary. Looks good and tastes even better. A

Demitri’s Bloody Mary Chilies and Peppers - The Classic Recipe kicked up a notch, as Emeril might say. Here you still get a good slug of tomato and rich, Worsterchire-like savoriness, then the heat comes on, lingering as you enjoy it. Definitely one for those who like moderate heat — but not an overwhelming amount of spice — in their Bloody. A-

Demitri’s Bloody Mary Chipotle-Habanero - Lots of heat here, and while it fires up the mouth and stomach, it really burns the lips. Habanero will trump the mild chipotle every time, so if you’re looking for heat, you needn’t look further than this blend. It’s right on the edge of how hot I can handle my breakfast — though perhaps I used too much in my sample cocktail — but fireheads will love this one. B+

Demitri’s Bloody Mary Extra Horseradish - The name says it all. This is perhaps the sweetest of the bunch, and the extra horseradish in the recipe doesn’t add much to the experience. There are notably no “chunks” of anything in the mix, and perhaps having the horseradish pulverized into a virtual liquid keeps it from making much of a showing. Stick with the Classic and add your own horseradish if you’re a junkie. B+

Demitri’s Bloody Mary RimShot! – Rimming a drink is always a matter of personal taste for the drinker, but with Bloody Marys they make a lot of sense. After all this is a drink that is often garnished to within an inch of its life, so why not go all the way and spill over the edge of the glass with more stuff? This rimmer is something you can pretty easily do on your own. While Demitri’s claims (of course) a secret recipe, it comes across mainly as coarse salt, celery salt, and ground pepper. The celery component is really clear hear, and then the pepper takes over. Good balance in the blend; I’d buy it just to get it all premixed and in the handy rimming tin. A-

Demitri’s Bloody Mary Bacon RimShot! - Bacon and salt are two of my favorite things, and sure enough they work perfectly with a Bloody. Taste’s authentic and makes you instantly crave a bacon cheeseburger. The effect is much different than the standard RimShot, and, for my money, it’s a more exciting, surprising, and complementary addition to the drink. Bacon always makes for a conversation piece, too. A

mixes: $11 to $13 per 16 oz. bottle; RimShots: $8 per 4 oz. tin /

Demitris bloody mary mix Review: Demitris Bloody Mary Seasonings

Review: HealthGuard Be Happy Mood Booster

Most “relaxation drinks” require consuming 8 to 16 ounces of sugar water to deliver their dosage. Be Happy comes in a much more manageable shot format — a good thing considering many of these concoctions are not the best tasting beverages in the world.

Be Happy, designed by a doctor, is careful to note it does not contain melatonin, that it provides “a sense of calmness without causing drowsiness.” Ingredients to reach that include Chocamine, L-Theanine, and GABA, all delivered in a naturally-sweetened, chocolate-cherry-flavored recipe.

The flavor is at first sharp and off-putting — a bit like a cheap candy that’s melted into a cup of lukewarm water — but one adapts to it quickly enough. The chalky, lasting, and bittersweet aftertaste it what takes some getting used to: Be Happy is, indeed, best consumed fairly quickly and chased with water.

As for the psychoactive results, an hour later I’m feeling plenty calm, a little on the sleepy side, but mostly unaffected. Certainly no worse for wear — though perhaps a nap is in order.

40 calories.

B / $12 for four 2-oz. bottles /

be happy Review: HealthGuard Be Happy Mood Booster

Review: Jarritos Mexican Cola

jarritos mexican cola Review: Jarritos Mexican ColaHipsters who want a soft drink know how to order their fix at any taqueria: By asking for a Mexican Coke instead of a can of domestic crap. Why? Because in Mexico the Coca-Cola is made with real sugar. Here, of course, it’s made with corn syrup.

Is that worth the extra buck? You be the judge, but personally I just prefer drinking from a bottle than from an aluminum can.

Now there’s another alternative: Jarritos Mexican Cola. Jarritos already has 11 flavors on the market, but none of them are the classic cola recipe… and none of them have caffeine. Jarritos Mexican Cola is the first that does, and we got to give an early bottle a whirl.

The taste is different — closer to Pepsi than Coke — with lots of cinnamon, and a bit of chocolate character to it, both perhaps a nod to Jarritos’ Mexican origins. At first I didn’t really care for it — it was a bit close to root beer for my tastes — but as I sipped my way through the bottle I warmed up to it. Bonus: at 12.5 ounces, it’s that much bigger than a 12-oz. Coke.

Nice as an alternative to other sodas but, you know, there’s a reason they call Coke — especially the Mexican variety — “The Real Thing.”

B+ / about $2  per 12.5 oz. bottle /

Recipe: Drinkhacker’s Sangrita

My secret sangrita recipe on Food Republic. Dig in!

Review: Jose Cuervo Low-Cal Margarita/No-Cal Margarita Mixes

Pre-bottled margarita mix is certainly one of the biggest scams perpetrated on the American public since the Flowbee. Really, people, how hard is squeezing out some lime juice and adding a little sweetener, if you’re so inclined?

And yet the just-add-tequila margarita mix remains and, judging by the vast amount of shelf space these mixes command, it remains a top seller.

Now Cuervo is taking things to an extreme: Ripping the calories out of margarita mix with a no-calorie mix and, if you’re too lazy to dump in your own tequila, by offering a sub-100-calorie pre-mixed “Light Margarita” as well.

It’s not our usual bailiwick, but we took a stab at tasting them both.

Jose Cuervo “Zero Calorie” Margarita Mix isn’t terribly surprising: It’s simply a blend of artificial sweetener and some kind of lime essence (sans calories). The flavor is a bit like a diet Sprite that’s gone flat, which could be worse, and if you’re on an extreme diet, well, you probably shouldn’t be drinking margaritas but, if you can’t stop yourself, then I guess this will do in a pinch. Adding tequila (even 100% agave good stuff) actually doesn’t help things at all: It gives the mix a bitter edge and brings out its artificial character. Bottom line: If you want to save calories, skip the mix altogether and just add lime juice the way you’re supposed to. C- / $7 per 1.75-liter bottle

Jose Cuervo Authentic Light Margarita (pictured) – I’m not sure how Cuervo can put the words “authentic” and “light” right next to each other, considering this product certainly has no actual lime juice and is flavored with the same artificial sweetener as the “zero calorie” mix above. This one works better, probably because there is so little alcohol in it. (Cuervo claims it is composed of Cuervo Gold, triple sec, and “a twist of lime.”) And yet somehow this ends up at just 9.95% alcohol. It’s not awful, with real tequila bite, better and more authentic-tasting citrus character, and only a mildly cloying finish. If you need something for a tailgate party in a plastic bottle and there’s a diabetic in the crowd, well, I suppose it will do.* C+ / $15 per 1.75-liter bottle

Cuervo Authentic Light Margarita Review: Jose Cuervo Low Cal Margarita/No Cal Margarita Mixes


* Drinkhacker does not offer medical advice and has no idea if this stuff is diabetic-friendly.


Review: iX MiXers

One way to prevent a hangover is to try any number of hangover prevention products before you go out. (I’ve reviewed dozens of them on this blog.)

Another idea: Drop your poison into a hangover-stopping mixer directly, bypassing the need for a preliminary (and often nasty-tasting) pre-cure.

That’s the idea with iX MiXers, a pair of 250ml cans of soda-like mixers: Naturally flavored, lightly sweetened (well, 20 grams of sugar worth), and lightly carbonated… and, presumably, filled with anti-hangover vitamins, minerals, and those ever-important electrolytes.

It’s not entirely clear what those additives comprise: There is no list of post-modern herbs and long-chain chemicals in the ingredients list, but  a can will give you 20% of a daily dose each of Vitamins A, B6, B12, Zinc, Niacin, and Pantothenic Acid, plus 60% of your daily Chromium needs. Everything else in the ingredients is either a preservative, sweetener, flavor, or a coloring agent. Oh, and water. I can’t comment on iX’s hangover prevention claims — I don’t think it’s possible to drink enough cocktails made with iX to even become drunk, much less hung over — but a day after trying them out I can say I feel fine.

iX is available in two flavors:

iX Citrus looks lemony from the yellow can, but the flavor is more Orange Crush. It’s fizzier than the “lightly carbonated” label would make you believe, and sweeter, too. On its own or in a mix, it’s fine, but the resulting 7 and 7, say, turns out more like a 7 and Sunkist. If you’re a fan of orange sodas, this will fit right in, but I find it too reminiscent of my youth for enjoyment in a cocktail. B

iX Berrie — spelled thusly — is a pretty clear play for Red Bull, a big berry character, almost candy-like. A little more easy-drinking than the Citrus version, but after a full can the strawberry/raspberry/Jolly Rancher mix gets a little cloying. It’s a bit more refreshing than the Citrus version, though it makes me wonder why iX didn’t go with some vitaminized classics: Cola and lemon-lime? Hmmm, business idea! B+

about $1 per 250ml can /

iX MiXer Review: iX MiXers

Review: Jack Daniel’s Whiskey & Cola / Ginger & Cola

Lately a backlash has been brewing (no pun intended) against pre-mixed, ready-to-drink cocktails, cocktails which actually have nothing to do with the products advertised on the label — whether it’s vodka, rum, whiskey, or something else — and are in fact simply flavored malt liquor pawned off to an unsuspecting audience.

Now some savvy drinkmakers are taking an alternate — if astonishingly obvious — alternate tack: Putting the actual ingredients promised on the label into the bottle. Shocking, huh?

Jack Daniel’s (which has had its own line of semi-nasty flavored malt beverages, Country Cocktails) is the latest to join the fray, adding its iconic Tennessee whiskey to cola, ginger ale, or diet cola, to give you these new, eponymous ready-to-drink spirits.

The recipes should not come as a shock: JD, plus one of the aforementioned ingredient flavorings (ah, plus carbonated water and caramel color), and that’s it. The flavors are authentic and legitimate: Whiskey & Cola (A-) tastes like just like you added Jack to a can of Coke. Whiskey & Ginger (B+) is also completely real, if a little less successful because the ginger ale used is a little on the sweet side, and lacks much in the way of bite. (We didn’t taste the Diet Cola version, which is also available.)

The only problem many will see with this approach is the strength of the finished product: At just 5 percent alcohol, no serious Jack & Anything drinker would ever water his beverage down this much. There are a variety of laws in place determining how strong these beverages can be, of course, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re really drinking something on par with a beer, not a cocktail (which would probably be more in the range of 10 to 30 percent alcohol, depending on how you mix it).

But maybe that’s a good thing. Sold in aluminum bottles and perfect for the tailgate or the BBQ, these aren’t products for cocktail hour, they’re made for sitting in front of the TV or out on the porch while the sun goes down. For what these products are trying to accomplish (which, to be honest, is not a lot), they succeed admirably.

That said, it’s another question altogether as to how tough it is to make one of these drinks on your own: Is it really that complicated to take the world’s number one selling whiskey and the world’s number one selling soda and pour them into a glass together? Ponder your own self-disgust as you sip away…

$9 for four 12-oz. aluminum bottles /

jack daniels whiskey and cola ginger family Review: Jack Daniels Whiskey & Cola / Ginger & Cola

Review: Samovar Tea Blood Orange Pu-erh and Nocturnal Bliss

We don’t just get wine and whiskey here at Drinkhacker. Sometimes we get (and drink) tea.

Here are two new varieties from the pros at Samovar, both in closeable bags (not a fan).

Samovar Tea Blood Orange Pu-erh – Pu-erh is named for a shopping area in Yunnan Province, China and it encompasses a variety of tea types, both raw and cooked. This Pu-erh is quite citrus in tone. The tea flavor is mild and pleasant with woodsy overtones, and the orange (and grapefruit) oil leaves a moderately lingering finish. Refreshing and summery, and not at all pungent. B+ / $18 (100g box)

Samovar Tea Nocturnal Bliss (pictured) – An herbal blend featuring all-organic ingredients including rooibos, lemon myrtle, lavender, cornflower, and stevia. Very pretty! Lemon is big here, overpowering the floral notes of the tea, which come off more in line with a Ricola cough drop. For an herbal tea, it’s awfully earthy. Needs sweetness to balance it out. B- / $18 (100g box)

samovar tea nocturnal bliss Review: Samovar Tea Blood Orange Pu erh and Nocturnal Bliss

Ice Is Nice

How do you get good ice at home?

My quest took me from my freezer to New England and back again.

Some say the world will end in fire. Some say it will end in ice. I hope it’s the latter. Finding a good ice cube to chill your cocktail is hell enough as it is.

Wired has the rest of my adventure in all its glory

Review: Dream Dust Sleep Aid

dream dust Review: Dream Dust Sleep AidFollowing on the heels of a variety of “relaxation shots” comes Dream Dust, which is not dust but rather a liquid in the familiar plastic “shot” bottle, designed to help get you to sleep. (Motto: “Better Sleep, Better Health, Better Life.”)

The composition is very similar to Mini Chill, including Vitamin B6, Magnesium Zinc, GABA, L-Theanine, 5-HTP, and — probably most importantly — Melatonin. The flavor: Light berry, a little watery, with a chalky finish. The effect: Not bad. I fell asleep about 40 minutes after drinking a 2 oz. bottle of Dream Dust and stayed out all night, with pleasant and vivid dreams. Waking at 6 a.m. I found myself groggy but fairly refreshed and overall ready to face the day, with no feelings of sluggishness as the afternoon wore on.

Dream Dust is about on par with Mini Chill for both palatability and effectiveness. It’s certainly worth a shot (get it?) if you find yourself having trouble nodding off.

B+ / $2 per 2 oz. bottle /