Wednesday, August 8, 2007

We just mix it all with Sprite, anyway

A story in Monday's Des Moines Register described a display cabinet that was recently built in the offices of the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division in Ankeny. The cabinet holds one bottle each of the top 100 brands of distilled spirits sold in the state. The idea is to promote the sale of premium liquor. The division acts as the wholesaler for all hard liquor sold in the state, so the more top-shelf booze that gets sold, the more money the state makes.

One could argue that it's scandalous for the state government to spend $14,000 on a custom-built liquor cabinet to promote high-end spirits. The real scandal, however, is that it's in the interest of state government to encourage people to drink more liquor. If people aren't going to get exercised over a disgrace like that, then they shouldn't bother being upset over the financial specifics of how the state chooses to promote alcohol consumption. (If we were to go down that road, we could also ask how much money the state makes on cigarette taxes. I don't know the answer, but I will flat-out guarantee you that it far, far, far exceeds the amount of money the state has spent on tobacco-related health problems.)

Anyway, here is a picture of the cabinet. I cannot believe that the Register didn't post a high-res photo. I'd imagine a lot of people would be curious to see where their favorite poison ranks in Iowa's top 100. But the newspaper did run a sidebar with the top 10 (which can be seen in the top left corner of the cabinet). From this list, it appears Iowans could stand to drink a lot more premium liquor -- and the Register could stand to learn a little more about cheap disgusting liquor:

1. Black Velvet Canadian Whisky
(Ewww! It's sad to say it, but alcoholics are the prime driver of sales of distilled spirits, and Black Velvet has long been the alcoholic's favorite. Why is Black Velvet -- which makes even the cleanest glass taste dirty -- the top-selling Canadian whiskey in Iowa, rather that Crown Royal, Seagrams VO, Calvert, Canadian Club, or every granddad's favorite, Windsor Canadian? Because it's the cheapest, of course. Meanwhile, AP style buffs will note that only Scotch is whisky. Everything else is whiskey. Don't blame the paper, though; the Black Velvet label says "whisky.")

2. Captain Morgan Rum
(Captain Morgan makes half a dozen varieties. Which one are we talking about? Captain Morgan's Original Spiced Rum, naturally. One million puking coeds can't be wrong.)

3. Hawkeye Vodka
(An old European proverb holds: "If you can't get your vodka from Russia, get it from Poland. If you can't get it from Poland, try Sweden. If all else fails, try Marshalltown." Hawkeye may or may not be Iowa's nastiest vodka, but it's certainly our cheapest, which is why it's the well vodka of choice for saloons between the rivers.)

4. Five O'Clock Vodka
(Another well vodka, one with an even more troubling name than Hawkeye. "Oh my God, are you drinking?" "Yes, but just vodka." "But it's too early in the day!" "No, it's Five O'Clock!" "Oh, OK, then." Always think twice before choosing a product whose very name is designed to make you feel less like the dissolute alkie you probably are.)

5. Jack Daniel's Black Label
(You know, you can't really argue with this. I was always partial to Jim Beam, but if you prefer Tennessee whiskey to Kentucky bourbon, one can't go wrong with Jack. By the way, if you're one of those people who sadly refers to your bottle as your buddy -- "Me 'n' Johnnie Walker was sitting out on the porch ... " -- remember that the guy the distillery is named after was "Jack Daniel," not "Jack Daniels." The brand name is a possessive: Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 Brand Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey.)

6. Bacardi Light Rum
(You could do a lot worse in a rum. But you could also do a lot better.)

7. Smirnoff Vodka
(The vodka that nearly killed me. Smirnoff's classic red-label, 80-proof vodka has been rechristened "No. 21," for some pretentious reason. It's a step above the Hawkeyes and Popovs of the vodka universe, but you still might find it in the well in some places.)

8. Barton Vodka
(If you're going to drink a cheap vodka, then at least get one with a funny, inappropriate name -- Hawkeye, Five O'Clock -- or a fakey old-country name -- Popov, Smirnoff. Don't waste your $6.89 on something named after your fourth-grade teacher or that bald white guy who lives on the other side of the cul-de-sac.)

9. J├Ągermeister
(Oh yeah, there it is, baby! Sometimes you just want to close your eyes and drink like it's 1993, and do it out of a shot glass with some kind of sticky residue on the outside. J├Ąger was the Captain Morgan of the '90s.)

10. Jose Cuervo Especial
(This is another one that's totally fine. Cuervo Especial is the No. 1-selling tequila in the world. I'm sure some connoisseur somewhere can rattle off a dozen better-tasting, less-headache-inducing tequilas, but come on. It's Cuervo!)

So there's the top 10: Four cheap vodkas; two trendy-trashy Greek Week favorites; three perfectly acceptable staples; and atop it all, that sweet, golden relapse from Canada. No wonder the state is trying to get boozers to move up the scale. It's a matter of pride.

BONUS
I'm trying to identify the other bottles in the picture. (The top shelf is Nos. 1-20, left to right; the next shelf down is 21-40; and so on.) Here's what I have so far:

11. ???
12. Seagram's 7
13. McCormick Vodka
14. ???
15. Crown Royal
16. ???
17. Jim Beam
18. Canadian Ltd.
19. Southern Comfort
20. Popov Vodka
21. ???
22. ???
23. Absolut Vodka
24. Skol Vodka
25. Kessler Blended Whiskey
26. Ten High Bourbon
27. Malibu Rum
28. ???
29. Canadian CLub
30. Paramount Peppermint Schnapps
31. DeKuyper Peachtree Schnapps
32. ???
33. ???
34. ???
35. Chi-Chi's Margarita
36. Juarez Tequila
37. E&J Brandy
38. ???
39. DeKuyper Pucker Sour Apple Schnapps
40. ???
41. Windsor Canadian
42. Grey Goose Vodka
43. Hennessey Cognac
44. ???
45. Bailey's Irish Cream
46. Paramount Gin
47. Kahlua
48. Tanqueray Gin
49. Chirstian Brothers Brandy
50. ???
51. Bacardi Limon
52. ???
53. ???
54. ???
55. Cuervo Strawberry Margarita
56. ???
57. ???
58. Old Crow Bourbon
59. ???
60. ???
61. Juarez Tequila Gold
62. ???
63. ???
64. ???
65. ???
66. ???
67. ???
68. ???
69. DeKuyper Hot Damn Cinnamon Schnapps
70. Ancient Age Bourbon
71. DeKuyper Buttershots Schnapps
72. ???
73. Absolut Citron Vodka
74. Rumple Minze Peppermint Schnapps
75. Tortilla Tequila
76. ???
77. Seagram's VO Canadian
78. ???
79. Tequila Rose
80. ???
81. Skyy Vodka
82. Stolichnaya Vodka
83. ???
84. Everclear
85. ???
86. ???
87. Maker's Mark Bourbon
88. ???
89. Gilbey's Gin
90. Wild Turkey
91. ???
92. Paramount Triple Sec
93. ???
94. ???
95. Bombay Sapphire Gin
96. Gordon's Vodka
97. Gordon's Gin
98. Calvert Extra
99. Svedka Vodka
100. ???

Bottoms up.

4 comments:

Nicholas Bergus said...

21. Phillips UV Vodka
80. Phillips UV Vodka Red
100. Patron Silver Tequila

JC said...

11 CUERVO ESPECIAL
12 SEAGRAM 7 CROWN
13 MCCORMICK
14 PHILLIPS
15 SEAGRAM CRN RYL
16 PARAMOUNT WHITE
17 JIM BEAM
18 CANADIAN LTD
19 SOU COMFORT 70
20 POPOV
21 PHILLIPS UV RSP
22 ADMRL NLSN SPC
23 ABSOLUT
24 SKOL
25 KESSLER
26 TEN HIGH
27 MALIBU NATURAL
28 G W FIVE STAR
29 CANADIAN CLUB
30 PARAMOUNT
31 DEK PEACHTREE
32 CDN RSRV BRN GL
33 SEAGRAM EXT DRY
34 PARAMOUNT AMRTO
35 CHI-CHI'S MRGTA
36 JUAREZ
37 E & J
38 CANADIAN MIST
39 DEK SOUR APPLE
40 LAUDERS
41 WINDSOR SUPREME
42 GREY GOOSE
43 HENNESSY V S
44 CUERVO GOLD MRG
45 BAILEYS ORIG IR
46 PARAMOUNT
47 KAHLUA MEX LIQ
48 TANQUERAY
49 CHRISTIAN BROS
50 FLEISCHMANN RYL
51 BACARDI LIMON
52 NIKOLAI
53 BEAMS 8 STAR
54 PARAMOUNT GOLD
55 CUERVO A STW MR
56 P MSSN GRD AMBR
57 FIVE OCLOCK
58 OLD CROW
59 CASTILLO WHITE
60 JUAREZ 30
61 JUAREZ GOLD
62 D MCGLDY CHERRY
63 BACARDI GOLD
64 KORSKI
65 PARAMOUNT
66 HAWKEYE
67 SCORESBY RARE
68 BURNETT'S
69 DEK HOT DMN 30
70 ANCIENT AGE
71 DEK BUTTERSHOTS
72 ARROW
73 ABSOLUT CITRON
74 RMPL MNZ PEP SC
75 TORTILLA
76 SUNNYBROOK
77 SEAGRAMS V O
78 D MCGLLDDY M SN
79 TEQUILA ROSE
80 PHILLIPS UV
81 SKYY
82 STOLICHNAYA 80
83 HAWKEYE LIGHT
84 EVERCLEAR 190
85 D MCGLDY FR VNL
86 DEWARS WHT LABL
87 MAKERS MARK
88 TORTILLA GOLD
89 GILBEYS
90 WILD TURKEY 101
91 KETEL ONE
92 PARAMOUNT
93 PHILLIPS UV
94 RYAN'S ORIGINAL
95 BOMBAY SAPPHIRE
96 GORDONS
97 GORDONS
98 CALVERT EXTRA
99 SVEDKA
100 PATRON SILVER

PCS said...

Well, there we go. Thanks, guys.

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