It’s Hard Out There.

It started a few years ago when breweries in the United States began to offer “hard cider” or, as it’s known in the rest of the world, “cider”. It caught on. People liked having an alcoholic fruit beverage made with a fruit other than grapes, and the convenience of having alcohol in their apple juice without having to go to prison or add their own alcohol since the combination of apple juice and vodka has the taste, smell, and many other attributes of butane. Soon pear cider followed, and although cider from other pomaceous fruits hasn’t caught on yet someone out there is cultivating medlars right now.

What did follow was “hard” versions of other beverages. “Hard lemonade” was soon offered, and then “hard orange soda”, quickly followed by “hard grape soda”, which caused red wine producers around the world to say, “Why didn’t we think of that?” until they tried it and realized they hadn’t tried it because it was terrible. There was “hard ginger ale”, and “hard iced tea” for people who wanted all the Southern charm of a mint julep without the mint or the julep or anything else except the alcohol. There was “hard cream soda” and “hard fruit punch” for people who wanted to combine all the joys of childhood nostalgia with a DUI. At some point someone started making “hard root beer”, or, as it’s known in the rest of the world, “what is wrong with you?”

Source: gifimage

Maybe it started earlier than that. The flavors of amaretto and Irish cream had been added to coffee for decades by people who wanted to combine the taste of liqueurs with being able to stay jittery all night. In the early ‘90’s a brewery west of the Rockies started making a beverage called “Zima”. It was very popular with a previously untapped demographic, guys who wore turtlenecks all the time, even though it was really just a combination of Sprite and vodka and had all the taste, smell, and many other attributes of sparkling butane. In chain restaurants glazes and barbecue sauces infused with bourbon and other whiskies became a staple and were slathered on steak, chicken, fish, and pork, which meant some nine-year olds who ordered the all-you-can-eat rib platter were able to combine all the joys of childhood with a DUI without the nostalgia.

As history has shown there is no idea so terrible that it can’t be made worse by marketing. Not content with “hard” sodas, teas, juices, sparkling waters, and milk, as well as milk substitutes made from soy, almonds, oats, rice, and eggplant, the industry started offering “hard” versions of other items. Salad dressings, pretzels, breads, peanut butter, mashed potatoes, garden gnomes, and pies had new labels indicating proof. “Hard cheese” took on a whole new meaning. Candy bars couldn’t be purchased without ID. Editorials suggested the Eighteenth Amendment hadn’t been such a bad idea after all.

Still the trend continued. It wasn’t until one morning in the shower when we opened a bottle of shampoo and were hit by the fragrance of aquavit that we looked at our shelves and admitted we had a problem.

 

12 Comments

  1. Bookstooge

    Honestly, with your profile pix of you, the dogs and that “bottle”, I thought you already knew you had a problem 😉

    As long as they don’t start making “hard” dog food though…

    ps,
    isn’t your site supposed to save my comment information? I’ve noticed recently that I have to enter it all in for every comment I make. I don’t remember it always being like that. Just wondering if it is your site or my browser.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Fortunately I’ve learned to restrict myself to no more than one bottle per night.
      And I don’t know what’s going on with the comment information. Ever since WordPress did an upgrade everything seems to be off. I’ve tried everything I can to get it back to how it used to work, but I’m pretty sure it’s my site.

      Reply
  2. The Huntress915

    Hey…..I loved Zima, and yes it may have been a combo of Sprite and Vodka but what’s wrong with that? lol
    Also, as someone who’s taken up the keto diet for health reasons and who has never been much of a beer drinker, hard cider is tastier albeit more expensive at times than beer.
    My youngest son who is a bodybuilder once told me that drinking one beer amounts to eating half a loaf of white bread and hard cider isn’t metabolized by the body the same way. Yes that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’ll stick with your youngest son’s story about the cider too. If he’s a bodybuilder he must know a thing or two about metabolizing. Although drinking one beer isn’t exactly the equivalent of half a loaf of white bread. I mean, have you ever tried to wrap salami and cheese in a glass of beer?

      Reply
  3. Arionis

    Remember this gem?


    Arionis recently posted…Stephen King Jr? Not So Much.My Profile

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Wow, yes, I do remember that gem. I even thought about it as I was writing this, but you’ve reminded me that at the same time this commercial was running my school bus used to drive past a bar (those were the days) that had a neon sign that said “Beer on tap” in the window. And I’d always think, are they drinking shampoo in there?

      Reply
  4. Ann Koplow

    It’s hard not to be addicted to your blog, Chris. I don’t see that as a problem.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      There are some good addictions, and I’m happy to be one, especially since I’m addicted to your blog too.

      Reply
  5. mydangblog

    My favourite is hard pink lemonade, but it’s too easy to get drunk on something that doesn’t taste like it has any alcohol in it, so I avoid this stuff–it’s just too yummy.
    mydangblog recently posted…My Week 257: The Phantom MenaceMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Avoiding hard pink lemonade, or any sweet hard drink, is a good idea. Some people think it’s strange that I want my alcohol to taste like alcohol, but there’s a method to that madness. As much as I enjoy the flavor of a good scotch or a craft beer the burn tells me to slow down.

      Reply
  6. Kristine Laco

    I drank a lot of cider when we lived in Australia. It took three years later for it to catch on here, but it wasn’t the same. It seems sweeter and more appley. Maybe my tastes have changed. Maybe it just tasted better with warmer air and no kids.
    Kristine Laco recently posted…Risk Your NeckMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Everything in Australia is dangerous, so there probably was something distinctly different about cider down under. I find there’s a wide variation in ciders around here. Something I found interesting when I was in Britain was a drink called a “snake-bite” which was basically half lager and half cider. Why anyone thought up that combination is beyond me–it wasn’t that tasty. Or there was the “snake-bite black” which was made by adding a tablespoon of creme de cassis. It seemed almost too elegant for the rough-looking guys who stood at the bar drinking it.

      Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge

%d bloggers like this: