Four Loko has had its metaphorical gonads cut out from underneath it; Joose is in the staging area for the chopping block.
What's a lonely hobo, desperate hipster wannabe or unsocialized computer-bound geek to do for that alcoholic, caffeinated hit?
On Monday, Vickie disclosed the existence of CREAM, alcohol-infused whipped cream in a can, in Orange County. Today, she headed to Hi-Time Liquors in Costa Mesa and bought one can of vanilla flavor and one can of chocolate flavor.
Not to be outdone, I declared that I could make a better alcoholic whipped cream than could come from any can. I am, after all, a food snob with a cooking bent. While Vickie was buying cans of stuff, I came armed with a pint of Trader Joe's heavy cream, a bowl of vanilla sugar, and a bottle of bourbon. Two minutes later, I had alcoholic crème Chantilly.
First, the store-bought product. The product is made in Temperance, Michigan. Har de har har. That can't be an accident, though we wonder how they get the "grain neutral spirits," given that alcohol over 151 proof is illegal to purchase in Michigan. The containers look like hairspray cans, the reason for which will soon become clear, and there is no ingredients list: it must contain some cream, because there was no deliberate misspelling ("kreme," "creme," etc.), but it's mostly nitrous oxide-propelled alcohol. (Yay, the kids can huff when they're done getting drunk! Someone got paid to come up with that great idea.)
There are a lot of visual problems with the product. The chocolate version, while better-tasting (or at least better at disguising the chemical taste of the alcohol and foaming agent), comes out of the can looking like, well, the aftereffects of a night getting drunk on alcoholic whipped cream. The texture was preternaturally light, almost like a chocolate mousse, and on first taste, it reminded me of the slightly "off" flavor of chocolate yoghurt at Golden Spoon. Soon, though, the cream started fizzing on my tongue (not words I'd ever thought I'd string together in a single clause) and the chemical aftertaste set in. After two minutes sitting out in a shot glass, the chocolate oxidized and started to turn a disturbing shade of brown-black. Whipped cream shouldn't rust in air.
The vanilla looks innocent enough. It looks like normal whipped cream when it comes out of the can and doesn't change color in mid-air, but the texture is more liquid than gel, and the vanilla flavor is not strong enough to overcome the strong chemical odor and taste of the grain alcohol. In fact, there was precious little vanilla flavor at all; it tasted like a cross between a can of Reddi-Wip and a can of Aquanet. Whipped cream shouldn't taste like hairspray.
Then there's its reaction with pretty much any other liquid, including saliva. Upon being squirted--sloshed, really--onto a cup of high-quality office coffee, it started to foam. Visibly. Unappetizingly. If it's doing this on top of a cup of second-run Folgers, what is it doing in your stomach?
Reaction around the office was more positive (for the most part) toward the homemade alcoholic cream, but it didn't come without its sacrifices. For fair comparison's sake, the two mixtures needed to be 30 proof (15% ABV). The only alcohol likely to be able to raise the proof to the required level without ruining the texture of the whipped cream was Bacardi 151º, and it took nearly 100 mL (almost 7 Tbsp.) of that liquor to "liven up" a pint of heavy cream.
The alcoholic vapor rising from the scent was intoxicating by itself; the cream acted solely as an agent to get rum into the mouth. If you like rum, you'll like this--maybe. I found it overwhelmingly alcoholic-tasting. As a dessert topping, it might actually work, particularly for a soft, caffeinated dessert like tiramisù. As a way to get a buzz on, survey says: BZZZZZZZT. If you're going to go to the trouble of making alcoholic whipped cream, why not just drink the alcohol?
Is there a clear winner here? Yes. Homemade alcoholic whipped cream won handily; no one who tried the canned product liked it enough to request seconds, whereas the homemade cream was a popular choice, particularly atop a slice of apple pie. When you make your own, you can use a reasonable amount of liquor for flavoring.
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The CREAM product, while better than the Whipped Lightning that staff writer Chasen tried (and that our sister paper, the Houston Press, tried), was bad enough that even with prompting, cajoling and mockery, Ted the Ed. couldn't even polish off a whole can before it became completely unpalatable. We'd hoped to get him drunk on the stuff and have him liveblog the experience, but after just half a can (187 mL, or about the equivalent of a big glass of red wine) he was done. He said he felt something; whether it was tipsiness or dyspepsia will have to remain a mystery. We gave him a consolation shot of Woodford Reserve for his efforts.
Does that mean high-school kids won't try it? Of course they will, and some of them might even get drunk in the process; pity the parents who have to clean up after the inevitable acute esophageal reversals. A replacement for Four Loko, though, it certainly is not. Sorry, kids; back to drinking your parents' liquor and replacing it with water or flat Coke for you!
Thanks to OC Weekly editor Ted B. Kissell for being the guinea pig in what may be the most disgusting human experimentation ever done for Stick A Fork In It. We procured our CREAM at Hi-Time Wine Cellars, 250 Ogle St., Costa Mesa; (949) 650-8463; www.hitimewine.net.