John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to jemcintyre@gmail.com, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Have they no decency?

My former colleague Claire Abt tells me that there were so many things wrong with this that she had to share it:

New Jim Beam Red Stag black cherry-flavored bourbon

Kentucky apple martini — a unique cherry-apple flavor:
Jim Beam Red Stag bourbon, DeKuyper red apple liquor and sweet & sour, topped with squeezes of fresh lemon

[A brief pause to permit you to shudder]

This is still the land of the free, and it ill becomes anyone to disparage another man’s tipple, but, great Caesar’s ghost, this is monstrous.

My first alcoholic drink was bourbon and Coke, but when I became a man, I put away childish things. You can mix vodka with what you will, and you’re free to imagine that you can distinguish one kind from another. Gin as well can be mixed with many things, though tonic water is one of the better and gin achieves its apotheosis when combined with a little dry vermouth. Rum seems designed to mingle with fruit juices.

But whisky and whiskey — Scotch, Irish, and bourbon — with which only brandy can compare as supreme achievements of the distiller’s craft — should be granted their dignity.

If you like your bourbon with a little something sweet, mix it with a little sweet vermouth and enjoy a Manhattan.

But bourbon flavored with black cherry and mixed with red apple liquor and sweet and sour mix? [You may shudder once more.] Good Lord, it’s enough to drive a man to drink.

20 comments:

  1. Might as well mix it with black cherry flavored Kool Aid and save a buck. Sounds to me like they're on the same level class-wise...

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  2. The horror! The horror! I couldn't even read the rest of the post, I'm experiencing selective hysterical blindness. Ahhhhhhhhhhh..........

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  3. I was at a cocktail event recently where, due to a sponsorship arrangement, a fine bartender was forced to make a drink with this foul stuff. His solution was to use as little as possible.

    He gave me a taste of it straight. The flavor is just like cough syrup.

    What a way to besmirch the illustrious Beam name. The real Beams over at Heaven Hill must be furious.

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  4. Wow. My cousin recently combined Schmidts and Jagermeister, apparently on purpose, and I imagine that putting black cherry in bourbon is equally vile. (I can only imagine because, of course, I have no intention of trying either drink.)

    I'm still shuddering.

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  5. Like the other "new drinks" such as flavored beers, this is not meant for the discriminating or sophisticated drinker. It will be snapped up by the younger party generation and make enough money for Jim Beam. Those who like their bourbon neat or with a splash of branch water were not asked for their opinion and are not expected to drink it.

    Retired in Elkridge

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  6. Yes, I've seen this in the liquor stores, and I try not to look at it. I try to remember that the Jim Beam folks are responsible for Booker's. And Knob Creek. And for that, I suppose I can let this other transgression go.

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  7. There seems to be a correlation between editorial expertise and liquor expertise. Wonder why!

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  8. John,
    It's also a crime to taint good vodka.

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  9. Were my father alive, he would stand and salute you -- or at least raise a glass in your honor. I shall do the same, as soon as I get upstairs to get a glass.

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  10. I was sitting at a bar recently, minding my own business, when a young lady next to me ordered a chocolate martini. The bartender, instead of escorting her promptly to the door, actually served her! I'll never go back there again. And the sad thing about it is, she really seemed like a nice person.

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  11. This would never have happened if we hadn't repealed the 18th Amendment. All bourbon would continue to be made in stills hidden back in the woods and there wouldn't be corporate marketing departments dreaming up these kinds of ideas.

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  12. Jim Beam is (like other companies) interested in the bottom line primarily and the quality of their product only as it affects that bottom line. Unless people refuse to drink their "good" stuff because they make "vile" stuff, and possibly even then if enough people buy the "vile", they won't care what you think about it.

    I also fail to understand why people insist on judging other people's worth as human beings by what they drink (chocolate martini? So what? and the bartender has a job to do...)

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  13. Let's be realistic about how people are. People make instant evaluations of others on the basis of what they drink, what they wear, where they come from, how they speak, and any other element of observed behavior. One may not approve of this tendency toward superficial snap judgments, but everyone must certainly be aware of them.

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  14. "I also fail to understand why people insist on judging other people's worth as human beings by what they drink (chocolate martini? So what? and the bartender has a job to do...)"

    Of course I judge people's worth as human beings by what they drink. What else is there to go on?

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  15. I just heard a podcast featuring you. I haven't yet read one word of your blog but I look forward to many hours poking around. For 40 years I was an editor at the National Institutes of Health. I did it all: scientific editing, fact-checking, copy-editing, and proofreading. I retired 2 years ago. Reading a newspaper these days is quite painful for me; maybe reading your blog will ease the pain. It will be shared pain, at the very least.

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  16. Oh, my heavens . . . this is certainly one reason we have the word "ghastly." Professor, may I have permission to slink off and hurl?

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  17. Of course I judge people's worth as human beings by what they drink. What else is there to go on?

    That attitude's a trifle ironic for a man who calls himself "Bill W.", eh?

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  18. It's not ironic at all--it happens to be my real name plus initial.

    When the bartender brought the chocolate martini I demanded my check and stormed out, righteously indignant, without finishing my seventh, genuine, martini.

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  19. put it this way - Jim Beam is a cheap product and they have been successful because they used to leverage Absolut to get things done. Now that they dont have Absolut they need to come up with gimicks to get people to drink their product.....Kid Rock should be ashamed to be part of this

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