Taking a jab at Guy Fieri in 2024 feels worn out and tired, unworthy of the insightful discourse normally found on this website. After all, there have been countless masterful strokes of savagery aimed at Guy Fieri the frosted-hair harlequin, who runs a bit at odds with Guy Fieri the person deeply involved in amazing humanitarian projects he has established throughout his career.
Fieri’s everlasting presence on the Food Network seems to accomplish a task everyone can unilaterally agree is of noble intent: Shining a light on non-chain, mom-and-pop culinary establishments that could use a bit of publicity and acclaim. I happen to know one of these folks who owns a business that received a considerable increase in foot traffic and money in the till thanks to a segment of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. There was a good chance that had she not been asked to participate; the doors would have closed on her small sandwich shop a decade ago. Now she’s able to provide full healthcare and benefits for her staff.
The best I can surmise is that for every amazing thing he does — officiate weddings for gay couples, establish culinary education and literacy programs in schools, run a relief trailer serving meals during natural disasters — he seems to counterbalance it with truly goofy stuff like hanging with conspiracy theorists at a UFC match, fist fighting a hairdresser, or coining a weird virulent, borderline bawdy term like “donkey sauce.”
But Fieri the Guy isn’t what’s up for review here today. Rather, it’s the latest of a successive number of products to which his unique brand has been affixed, a ready-to-drink alco-punch. And I must admit: It’s not that bad. Fieri and his partners at Two Roads Brewing Company avoided some of the pitfalls of these malt-beverage-based drinks which have become so popular over the last several years. Flavortown Spiked Punch is not overly syrupy nor reliant on flavoring, nor does it have a heavy alcohol/malt influence. It’s light and approachable with grapefruit, citrus zest, and watermelon running throughout, complemented by just a touch of bitterness on the palate. The finish is clean and lingering with a slight note of hops at the end. It’s incredibly drinkable and crisp, and before I knew it, more than one can had been finished.
The press release compares it to “Kool-Aid, but not too sweet,” and I’m somewhat inclined to agree with the assessment, but it also dumbs down how balanced and flavorful this is without reliance on becoming too sugary or fruit-forward. I had a hard time placing where I had tasted a similar flavor profile before, but about halfway through my first can I realized it bore a passing resemblance to a can of Ruby Red Squirt. Had it been given a pretentious name like “Malt+Grapefruit” or “Citrus Elysium Shores” most people wouldn’t blink an eye at drinking this regularly.
Sometimes my personal preferences run counter to that of popular culture. And in most instances, I am firm in my conviction that my contrarian opinion bends toward the truth. This time I am running with the populist devils and giving this one five chili-infused smashburgers deep-fried and slathered in a weird opaque white sauce with a side of BBQ bacon jalapeno whoopers. Try it alongside a shot of Doritos Nacho Cheese Hooch!
A- / $12 per 6-pack / flavortownspiked.com