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Evan Williams Cinnamon Reserve Review

Cinnamon flavored alcohol seems to be slowly following in the footsteps of spiced rum; companies are beginning to spit their own takes out, bit by bit.  Goldschlager’s gone through somewhat of a surgence, we were treated to Fireball Whisky not too long ago, and even the latest offering from Malibu, Island Spiced, promises “caribbean rum infused with coconut, vanilla and a hint of cinnamon.”

And here we have Evan Williams, certainly no stranger to flavor-infused spirits.  They’ve already granted us affordable liqueurs in the form of Reserves (honey and cherry), each sharing their own bit of success.  Naturally, a new flavor has worked its way out of the distilleries and onto store shelves.  Cinnamon Reserve promises a “hot cinnamon taste” along with “a hint of fire and spice” and, if my time with Honey Reserve was any indication, one heck of a sticky, syrupy experience.

A picture of cinnamon churros with 2D flames is certainly eye-catching amidst aisles of black, white and brown labels.  The copper color of the full bottle proves to be misleading, as the spirit’s saturation quickly fades when poured, unlike the more consistent Honey Reserve.  On the nose there’s a definite cinnamon character (what a shock), though I can’t help but compare it to Fireball, which is far more forward.  It’s odd too, since Fireball is a cinnamon-infused whisky, while Evan Williams is merely a liqueur, so the bourbon-whiskey essence is played down.

If you gave me both Cinnamon Reserve and Fireball in a blind taste test without trying either beforehand, however, I’d have thought very differently.  Where a shot of Fireball tingles your mouth and taste buds like a tasty, spicy chicken wing, Evan Williams gives you a more straightforward cinnamon flavor with cordial and bourbon essence immediately on the finish.  More cinnamon briefly creeps back up, but it doesn’t stick around nearly long enough to leave a remotely strong impression.

Much like Crown Royal Maple, the cinnamon of Fireball felt like it was an actual part of the whiskey.  Yet with so much flavor, combined with a fairly tame amount of alcohol (66 proof), Fireball lacked the soul of a true whiskey.  What it offered instead was a rather refreshing experience, given the gimmicky premise.  Evan Williams, by comparison, wants to be a jack of all trades.  It wants to feed you the added flavor, but not so that cinnamon is the only thing it offers.  Sadly, the rest of the drink is not very worthwhile.  That lingering, syrupy character which Honey Reserve bathed in is present here, bringing out an experience that makes me suspect this stuff has high fructose corn syrup.  It doesn’t have this issue quite as bad as Honey Reserve, but without as much of a flavorful profile, it’s hard for me to be generous.

I hate turning this review into a comparison, but it’s damn-near inescapable.  Evan Williams have simply found themselves stuck on the backburner once again.  Honey Reserve was an ample supply of honey, but once considered alongside Wild Turkey’s American Honey, the lower price tag began to make even more sense.  Not that Honey Reserve was a bad product, it just didn’t have much of a place amongst vastly superior (Wild Turkey) and commendably different peers (Jack Daniel’s, Bushmills).  Cinnamon Reserve can at least enjoy the potential for more accessibility in recipes, though if my town is any indication, its not going to be the easiest bottle to find.  What we have here is a spirt that feels timid, afraid of giving us the flavor and experience touted on the very bottle.  It’s not a bad drink, per se, but when you can get a more authentic and fulfilling experience for literally the same price elsewhere, it’s tough to look at the glass half full.

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Posted by on March 23, 2013 in Alcohol, Alcohol, Blog, Drinks, Review

 

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Just Another Step (A Journal Entry)

I write personal journal entries whenever I have the time and can manage to put it down.  These come infrequently.  Like any journal, it’s a lot of personal thoughts and feelings, stuff I can’t possibly imagine sharing, much less on a public level.  But this latest journal entry is something I’ve been wanting to share.  It’s very expository and nothing will likely come of this post.  But for the few who might still notice what I have to offer, this is a piece which, though barely proofread and only just now written, is still very close to me.  No pictures, just the text and what I have to offer.  If you read it all then you should understand why.  If you don’t, no matter, I’ll just be back with what I already have.

I still can’t believe I’ve reached a point where I truly enjoy alcohol.  I can remember when I thought it should be done away entirely, all due to the hazards that come with it.  But now I see it as this incredible way of life in some ways.  The industry is daunting, albeit with no shortage of overly wacky creations, but you get that everywhere.  And the way I like to enjoy alcohol the most?  Cocktails.  It’s like food in how the right two (or more) ingredients can create something truly wondrous.  In a way, this is how I (and many others) got started drinking.  I hate to be another subject of the cliches, but my tolerance came with rum and Coke.  Before long, however, I was seeking different stuff.  Actually, scratch that, I wanted to try different stuff from the get-go, which is what I did.  Bacardi Oakheart, Devil’s Cut by Jim Beam, Jameson and Bailey’s, Captain Morgan Black, Jack Daniel’s Honey.  These were among my first forays into drinking, which has ultimately led to a still-developing appreciation for the individual beverages.  And while the last two of the aforementioned liquors made me realize just how tasty alcohol can be, it wasn’t until I repeatedly dipped into Jameson’s territory that I truly understood the integrity and complexity that comes with a single distilled beverage

As I said, mixed drinks and cocktails were (and still are) my means to enjoy drinks in social gatherings.  And after having Jameson mixed with Bailey’s, I thought “why not mix it with Monster Irish Coffee?”  As horrible an idea as that was, I’d still relive it before combining Jameson with, say, ginger ale.  In fact, before long, I came to find that Jameson doesn’t belong in any recipe.  There were two results I always got when mixing Jameson: the burn and alcohol would tear right through the rest of the drink, eradicating any and all enjoyment, or the combination would be so watered down and nasty that I might as well grab a low-end pack of beer.  It was around that point, after trying Jameson on its own, that I started enjoying the drink for what it was, learning that it’s one of those drinks that literally needs to be taken on its own.

If I mix Jameson with something, the repugnant results make it feel like the drink (Jameson) is saying “don’t mix (and ruin) me, enjoy me as I am.”  And when I do the true character and nature of Jameson comes through.  Nothing more than a bit of ice or a splash of water is needed.  So far, no other drink has come together with various flavors and characteristics which intrigue and impress me with each little sip.  Certain rums certainly offer the flavor and even an instantly satisfying experience, but they aren’t nearly as unique and ever-provoking as something like Jameson.

The experience of it all is like a mental journey, originating with my taste buds and sense of smell, two things I often feel like I live for. With that, having even a small drink of Jameson is like having an exchange with myself.  I want to be seen for who I am, not for how I mix with others.  I feel I have something different to offer, something many others may or may not have, and even I probably don’t know what.  There’s definition, but there’s also a lingering mystery and depth behind it all.  The key difference, however, is that I’m nowhere near a renowned and celebrated status, except on an extremely small and local level.  In that sense, Jameson is the Daniel Day-Lewis of alcohols, and I’m just one of the Lipnicki’s from The War, with Elijah Wood and Kevin Costner.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2013 in Blog

 

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Southern Comfort 100 Proof Liqueur Review

Personal note: My internet has been completely out the past week (thanks to terrible service and prices on AT&T and Comcast’s parts) and it won’t be restored until this coming Saturday at the earliest.  So until then it’s just my phone and occasional time at my friend’s place.

My experience with Southern Comfort has been a bit, how might you say, inconsistent.  The original batch is easily one of the sweetest hard alcohols you’ll find.  It makes sense, since even the 100 proof variant says that it’s a liqueur (go ahead, check the bottle).  For all its syrupy sweetness, Southern Comfort can be a very enjoyable drink on its own.  I even tried a sip of the Fiery Pepper variant and found it rather stomachable.  Now the Black Cherry flavor, that’s one which will forever live in infamy among my (empty) collection.

But I’m able to cast a putrid drink aside if other offerings are solid.  And since I’m a sucker for drinks that are intense and/or high in proof, I decided to grab a 100 proof bottle.  I figure it’ll either have more burn or less of sweet factor, which might make cocktails using 70 proof SoCo a bit more interesting.

The dark purple label and noticeably dimmer color help distinguish this bottle, not unlike Captain Morgan 100 Proof (though to more success).  To my surprise, upon opening the bottle, the scent isn’t terribly imposing.  On the nose I’m beginning to get some Black Cherry deja vu, bringing some ripe anxiety to the table.

I take a sip and the sweet flavor almost immediately gives way to the burn of the alcohol.  It very quickly goes from that heavy, almost dark peach flavor to the tangling burn of a comforting liquor as it massages your chest.  The drink is still very sweet, yet less dominant and cordial; in other words, it feels a bit more adult.  There’s still no mistaking this for an actual bourbon, and one shot of this can definitely leave your throat and mouth dry.  Whether the extra $5 is worth the climb is a question of personal preference.  If less sweetness and higher potency is what you want out of SoCo, then this is a viable option.  But if you enjoy SoCo the way it is, then I can think of little to persuade you to make a permanent jump up the proof ladder.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2013 in Alcohol, Blog, Review

 

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Godiva Liqueur Review (Chocolate & White Chocolate)

Chocolate Liqueur Review

Great, now I’m reviewing alcohol.

I originally thought I’d be subjecting a more conventional bottle to my scrutiny, but while shopping, a couple little devils caught my eye.  For the longest time I’ve been curious about Godiva’s chocolate liqueur, but couldn’t see myself justifying the $30 price tag they come with.  This isn’t so much because of the beverage itself, but because of what other drinks I could mix it with in my collection (or lack thereof).  So I took the sampler’s route and bought a 50 milliliter bottle of the regular chocolate and white chocolate flavors.

It’s been a long time since I had Godiva chocolate, but given their name and reputation, this should be an interesting treat.  The bottles look nice, dark and elegant, almost like some high-class chocolate syrup.  Sometimes a really nice bottle is all it takes to catapult my attention.

Aesthetically, the regular chocolate variant looks like perfect chocolate milk, complete with a silky appearance and almost irish cream-like scent.  As I take an initial sip, the burn from the alcohol faintly lingers about my throat while the chocolate flavor gives off a mild personality.  The burn comes up more as I work my way, but becomes nonexistent on the finish.  I can’t help but think of irish cream mixed with chocolate syrup while I finish what little I have.  This is definitely something that could stand on its own as a post-dinner drink, like eggnog except you’re not limited to one time of the year.

White Chocolate Liqueur Review

Now, I love white chocolate.  I think it’s a bit of an unsung sweet that, when good, holds up on its own.  When paired with the right stuff it’s incredible, but they aren’t always so clear-cut.  It’s kind of like how I view Jameson whiskey–you really need to know what it can and can’t go with.  Needless to say, my hopes are quite high for this one.

Other than the white label, the bottle itself for this sample size is interchangeable.  A bit coy, really.  Once again, we’re talking silky smooth texture here, like a slightly thicker milk.  The burn from the alcohol is far less apparent to me, which is fitting with the mild flavor of white chocolate.  Much like how the chocolate flavor makes me think of irish cream, this one simply makes me think of milk (white chocolate milk, anyone?).  Because the flavor is so unimposing, I don’t really register the fact it’s white chocolate until the finish.

It’s probably my own bias, but on their own, I prefer the white chocolate flavor.  That said, I’m still pretty dry on recipes either of these could be used for, especially the white chocolate variant.  Other than a coffee or milk-esque drink, my creative juices simply aren’t flowing.  I enjoy both on their own, but I’m not so sure I’d shell out the price tag for a whole bottle of either one.

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2013 in Alcohol, Blog, Review

 

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Looking Forward To: 2013

2013 might already be 1/12 the way done, but if Gangster Squad is the best we’ve been treated to thus far, then the good has yet to come.  Okay, so the recent Star Wars announcement was pretty sweet and, in all honesty, I now have no reservations about it.

But whether we’re talking film-related stuff or not, there are some things which the current year has me trembling to get.  So here we go, some of the things I’m curious to see what 2013 holds.

Star Trek Into Darkness

I’m still kicking myself over not catching The Hobbit in IMAX so I could catch the Star Trek Into Darkness prologue.  At the very least, this ties for my most hotly anticipated film of 2013.  To my surprise, 2009’s Star Trek was something I instantly fell in love with, and the first two trailers for Into Darkness had no trouble selling me.  Like a kid who first saw Harry Potter, I’m driving myself mad wanting to see what this sequel will actually provide.

The Place Beyond the Pines

Some might say Limitless was Bradley Cooper’s initial attempt to be taken seriously, but it wasn’t after Silver Linings Playbook that he actually had me convinced.  Now we have The Place Beyond the Pines, where he shares the screen with Ryan Gosling, Ray Liotta and Eva Mendes.  After seeing the trailer, I really wish I had the chance to go to TIFF last year.  Thankfully, the film isn’t far away from its wide release and it’s already looking like a Top 5 contender for me.  Hopefully it will deliver a similar effect to something like Mystic River did in its accomplishment at giving your mentality a true cage beating.

Catching Fire

I (finally) read The Hunger Games around the turn of the new year, and in a nutshell, I though the first 310 pages were solid, but those last 60 pages…I felt strangled.  If there’s anything Suzanne Collins is an expert at, it’s leaving you wanting more.  The book ended in such a way that it rattles me apart to not pick up and read Catching Fire before the film comes out, much less the first teaser.  Unfortunately, I already know how the book ends (thanks a lot, Cracked and Amazon), but I’m also interested to see how this ending will be led up to.  And the pain of not (further) ruining the movie for myself proves tougher and tougher every day.

Evan Williams CInnamon Reserve

In the status update for my blog, I showed interest in covering and reviewing alcoholic beverages.  Specifically, I’d be talking about spirits and cordials.  One company that’s recently caught my attention is the generally affordable Evan Williams.  I’ve already tried their “spiced” eggnog, which felt a tad harsh was while still being tasty, as well as their Honey Reserve, which is a surprisingly decent option.  And wouldn’t you know it?  While browsing for recipes to use my bottle on, I found they’re releasing a Cinnamon Reserve variant, which will make for a trio of Reserves thanks to Cherry Reserve (that’s a lot of Reserves).

Saivon Lapsi by Eternal Tears of Sorrow

Set aside the name and Eternal Tears of Sorrow are a fairly conventional, yet enjoyable, group.  Though they’ve slipped since the excellent A Virgin and a Whore, there’s still some symphonic/melodic fun to be had with their sound.  The released music video for their new album is definitely more akin to their 2010 release which, though not bad, isn’t nearly as inspired as I’d like them to be.  Still, they tend to deliver some good material amidst less inspired parts, so hopefully Saivon Lapsi won’t skimp out too much.

Ethera by VIsions of Atlantis

Congratulations, Visions of Atlantis, you’re finally getting a second album out with the same lead singer!  When I brought up this group to the heavy metal club at my college, our president immediately compared them to Lacuna Coil.  I see a bit more Nightwish, but hey, to each their own.  Either way, the band gives us some very cheesy stuff; though to be fair, that’s to be expected with power and symphonic acts.  I thought Trinity and Delta were both fun works in spite of these inherit shortcomings, so hopefully we’ll get plenty of the energy much of Delta offered up.

Circle by Amorphis

I seem to fall back on bands who, though I definitely like, have trouble releasing truly great material as of recent.  Amorphis slipped after the excellent Silent Waters on Skyforger, and The Beginning of Times left little to no lasting impression.  The band’s core sound does still work, but it seems like many of the times they experiment it produces very mixed and forced results, at best.  Hopefully Circle will harken back to Silent Waters and maybe a bit of Eclipse, which I’d compare to Dream Theater’s Images and Words.  Why?  Because it’s metal while being relaxing, two things that normally shouldn’t go hand-in-hand, but somehow both groups pulled it off.

Bioshock Infinite

The last time I could really game passionately was my first two years of college, back when financial stability was some sort of a reality for me.  But between game prices, an all around overemphasis on (online) multiplayer and generally stagnant progress, gaming has essentially been kept on my back-burner.  But Bioshock Infinite just might be the next new release I purchase, the last one being Halo 4.  I’m a huge fan of the first Bioshock and the second, though I haven’t finished and not as good for what I’ve played, is still solid.  The previews for Infinite look terrific and hopefully the elevated location won’t compromise a lack of linearity for eye candy.

Grand Theft Auto V

Just going to come out and say it: I’m not a GTA fan.  I really like Saints Row, but GTA has never honestly struck that chord I wish it would.  The GTA games have always been games more of curiosity than complete and utter enjoyment to me.  So yes, the trailers and announcements for GTA V have me interested, but I want to know just how FUN the game will actually be.  GTA IV played and handled so sluggishly that it made entertainment more scarce than it needed to be.  I honestly got more fun out of seeing my character fly out of vehicles and get splatter than I did actually playing any of the missions.  Hopefully GTA V will have a more refined feel as opposed to being, well, GTA IV.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2013 in Alcohol, Blog, Film, Movies, Music, videogames

 

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Quote Reviews 100th Post: Movie Drinking Games

It’s probably safe to say that the main reason people drink alcohol is because it’s the closest thing we can get to the effects of drugs.  But given their (il)legality, our options are more than scarce.  Now, I’m not one to try and encourage people under the age of 21 to drink, but that has more to do with–again–legality than the actual idea of enjoying the occasional buzz.  It’s been brought up several times before, but the point still rests: there’s clearly a knot in a system which lets you die for your country before you can/should have drink for cheers sake.  Stay away from the booze until you’re technically allowed, boys and girls, it’s not worth trying to be Mr. BA.  But, I digress.

All that being said, I think many of us enjoy an occasional drinking game.  And being a film lover, one of my favorite ways to go about it is with movie (or TV show) drinking games.  Although I’m more one to get a decent to strong buzz than to just trash or waste myself away, so oftentimes when I look up a drinking game online it’s just preposterous.  There will literally be so many rules that you’d clear a 1.75 liter bottle halfway through any movie.  Since the only way I can enjoy most alcohol is by diluting the flavor as a mixed drink or cocktail, having that much rum, vodka, whiskey, tequila, etc. is a bit…much.  So when I try to think of a good drinking game, I like to try something more reasonable and easygoing.  That way moderate and virgin drinkers can both have a good time together.  Some will be a shot every couple or so minutes, others will have us go stretches without anything and then BAM, get about four simultaneous shots ready (these are the most interesting).

So here are a few drinking games I’ve though up, a couple of which I’ve tried and others that have yet to be experimented first-hand.

Finding Nemo: Every time someone says “Nemo” or “Sharkbait.”

Yugioh: Every time someone breaks/bends the rules of the game, of a card effect or comes up with a random effect for anything when dueling.

Zombieland: When a rule comes on screen or is mentioned; Twinkies are brought up; a song is played; Tallahassee mocks or insults someone.

Back to the Future (Part 1): Marty lets slip a future reference while in 1955; someone says “McFly;” the DeLorean doesn’t work; Doc talks in techno-babble or doesn’t get a metaphor/reference (such as “this is heavy,” “weight has nothing to do with it.”)

Dude, Where’s My Car?: Every time someone says “dude” or “sweet” (I think we all know what scene we’d all die at…)

The Sandlot: When Ham says “you’re killing me, Smalls;” Smalls says “the biggest pickle;” someone hits a baseball with a bat; Squints adjusts or cleans his glasses.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: For pop-culture references; when Wallace is a dick to Scott; a song is played; text/subtitles come up on screen.

The Fast and the Furious: Car techno-babble is used; we clearly hear car exhaust; when NOS is used; Vince and/or Letty act stuck-up; a song is played.

Dances with Wolves: An Indian name is used or mentioned; John/Dances with Wolves narrates.

The Dark Knight: Whenever the Joker laughs, mentions his scars or says “why so serious;” Batman speaks in his raspy voice; someone says “the Batman.”

Inception (tread with caution): Whenever “dream,” “idea” or “subconscious” is said or mentioned.

The Lord of the Rings (mention for marathon): Someone says “precious,” “ring(s),” “hobbit(s),””Tookie;” a location is mentioned (Mordor, the Shire, Rohan, Gondor, etc.); Legolas makes an obvious observation; a character mentions eating or drinking or takes part in said activity; someone puts the ring on; for every narration; when the Nazgul shriek; someone speaks in non-English; someone is referred to as “son of…;” Pippin acts silly or clueless; someone cries or is on the verge of crying.

I’ve given you some of my favorites so what about you?  What drinking games have you done that led to an awesome, laughter-filled night?  Also, what are some of your favorite drinks to have?  Specifically, I’d like to know what mixed drinks you might be fond of.  A couple of my favorites are Sprite mixed with coconut flavored Bacardi and honey flavored Jack Daniels mixed with Ginger Ale.  Also, on one of the more popular mixed concoctions, does anyone else think that regular Coca-Cola mixed with regular Captain Morgan tastes just like Vanilla Coke with an added kick?  Hopefully I’m not the only one.  I guess I know what my next experiment will be: Captain Morgan and Vanilla Coke.  That is, of course, after I get a job…which may be a while.

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2012 in Blog, Film, Movies

 

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Quote Review: Raging Bull (1980)

“Don’t overcook it. You overcook it, it’s no good. It defeats its own purpose.”

Scorsese gives us probably his most hard-hitting film (pun not intended) in the over three-decade-old Raging Bull, providing a great break in the routine of inspirational boxing films.  This examination of a tragic inevitability isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s sure to stick with viewers long after their (first) experience with it.

 
 

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