by FRANK THOMPSON
Welcome, friends, to the kickoff of Cheap Drinkin’ Wednesday! This no-doubt-soon-to-be-famous weekly look at the less expensive beverages on offer around our fair city will hopefully enlighten as well as entertain. The Girl and I will be purchasing, taste-testing and evaluating various libations that will appeal to the budget-conscious as well as those simply in search of a cheap buzz.
Our maiden voyage begins with the insouciantly-named HAPPY JUICE. Marketed as a “premium malt beverage”, this crimson elixir comes adorned with a smiley face…or is it?
The casual imbiber should take note of such subtle clues as the devilishly leering grin on the seemingly innocent logo. There’s evil in that bottle, friends. Pure alcoholic malfeasance in a non-recyclable. Note the malevolent cast of the eyes; the expression that says “you may have the time of your life, or you may wind up pantsless in a dumpster behind a Popeye’s chicken.” Adventure awaits, but you pays your money and you takes your chances…
…which brings us to the economics of the whole thing. Let’s be honest. If you’re anything me, the only reason you might consider drinking this glorified day-glo turpentine is because you can’t afford Chateau Lafite. (If it makes you feel any better, Happy Juice could also be called Chateau La Feet for its very specific bouquet, but more on that in a moment…) A buck-eighty gets you a full 24 ounces of this Jus Du Joie, leaving enough change from a fiver for a big-ass bag of pork skins and a Chunky.
The color of Happy Juice is not one generally found in nature, which adds significantly to its allure. A murkily iridescent red, it glows with a sort of evil seductiveness, promising much more than it will likely deliver. (The hot tattooed stripper of cheap beverages, if you will.) There’s also something vaguely medicinal about it, beyond the taste similarities to store-brand Robitussin. It’s Dr. Jekyll’s devil’s brew, or perhaps something in a hypodermic in one of the shitty Star Wars prequels nobody liked.
To call Happy Juice a heady concoction would be not only an understatement, but far too lofty a description. A powerful smell of premium unleaded mixed with Fruity Pebbles head-butts those whose noses get within arm’s length of an uncorked container.
This is rocket fuel, friends. Make no mistake. This is the overture for a little performance we call Jo-Jo And The Amazing Technicolor Throwup, playing nightly in parking lots and municipal trash cans across the land.
After giving the Happy Juice a few moments to breathe, The Girl and I decided to give it a shot. (No, seriously, we both considered getting a gun and shooting it while we still had time.) For a moment we were befuddled by the etiquette of the whole thing. Does one decant before pouring? Is Happy Juice considered a wine? A beer? A mixer, even? (I must tell you all sometime about the wino my college roommate and I feared we had killed after giving him an extra-large cup of MD 20/20 and Skol vodka, which he promptly chugged. But I digress…)
We settled on tumblers, which seemed appropriate. A jaunty clinking of glasses, and bottoms up…
Imagine if you will, a base of cold, flat off-brand lemon/lime soft drink. Something sold by a down-at-heel grocery store and called Melon Yellout or Mountain’s Day, in cans with color schemes and logo shapes identical to the real thing. Open it up and leave it out overnight. Now add some rubbing alcohol to the point that you start to develop anxieties from childhood associations with that smell and the proximity of a doctor’s needle. Got it? Now think of the Jello served in individual cups in grade school lunchrooms, melt one down and throw it in. Top off with Zima, Old Spice, and Listerine yellow.
Happy Juice is neither happy nor juice. Angry Chemical Slurry would be much more accurate.
The Girl and I looked for something to kill the aftertaste of stale Pop-Tarts and Windex. I went with salsa, she with dill pickle chips, which proved the most effective. Neither of us can attest to the intoxication brought on by Happy Juice, as a single sip was enough for both of us. I can only guess, but I don’t imagine it leads to a good drunk. Swilling Happy Juice is never followed by smartly dressed Gatsbyesque misbehavior and witty repartee. Undershirt-clad louts in doorway shouting ineffectual threats at grubby neighbor children, yes. Noel Coward around the bar at Antibes, no.
After giving the rest of the bottle a proper burial, we noticed the sink draining much more quickly and efficiently than before. Make of that what you will.
The verdict? Happy Juice is likely to appeal to those for whom such dandified concerns as taste, smell, and overall palatability are immaterial when compared to getting smashed quickly. May be of passing interest to teenage girls, who will abandon it for Boone’s Farm after the first good hangover. Again, only speculation, but a Happy Juice hangover has got to be beyond painful. If you ever experience one, please don’t tell me about it.
NEXT WEEK: Colt 45…BANG!!!