The Bloody Mary has been my drink of choice lately. I have been known to consume them in bars where the waitress wasn't even sure if they had the mix on hand. Last winter, I was at Meijer and saw a shelf tag under some empty real estate that was called Hot D Wake Up juice. I laughed hysterically. I took a photo.
Months went by with nary a thought of Hot D Wake Up juice, then it randomly came into my head one day. I immediately hopped on The Google and found the Hot D web site. In a more conservative office, a site with such a title surely would have been blocked from my computer, but access was granted. I was directed to Pzazzsauces.com to place my order from Cowboy George, "Director of Deliciousness." A few days passed and my shipment arrived in a Styrofoam box plastered in "Fragile" stickers. I felt like the father in A Christmas Story when his leg lamp arrived in a large crate.
Sunday morning came soon enough and this meant Bloody Mary time.
I extracted the bottle of Hot D from my refrigerator, opened it and took a whiff. "This smells familiar," I thought. Two seconds of contemplation revealed the resemblance: Cocktail sauce. As a shrimp lover, this was OK with me. Next up to be evaluated was the color. For some reason, I was expecting this to be bright red because, you know, it's made from tomatoes. But no. The color was more like that of A1 steak sauce. So was its texture. Thus answered the question I had about "does it look brown because it's in a brown glass bottle or is it brown liquid in a clear bottle?" It's brown liquid in a brown bottle.
For my first time experimenting with Hot D, I decided to mix some Smirnoff into it, straight up, over ice. No garnish or anything. This would reveal the true flavor of Hot D Wake Up juice. Plus, the ingredients indicated that the mix came with most of the accoutrements one normally applies to tomato juice, and then some:
Compare our premium ingredients:
Red wine vinegar
Allergens: Fish, wheat
The texture was very odd as far as Bloody Maries are concerned. As opposed to being a semi-thick liquid with random spice chunks floating about, it was more of a sludge with some thicker globules throughout. Again, it resembled A1. Perhaps I will add some A1 to a future Hot D Bloody Mary mixture.
I soon realized I was doing myself a disservice by not jamming this thing full of pickles, olives and celery. The 1.33 shots of vodka I had out into the almost eight ounces of mix were imperceptible. I added another capful of Smirnoff. I could now taste the vodka a bit but the flavors were still wimping out.
The burn I have come to love just wasn't there. Prior to adding the extra vodka, the heat was nonexistent unless I did some post-sip mouth smacking. Even then, I could only perceive a slight tingle at the sides of my tongue. After the extra booze was added, I began to detect a slight "after shock" -- a bitter taste in the back of my throat that I'd sooner affiliate with some bitter medicine than with a spicy drink.
Perhaps this was due to the blank "expiration date" field on the label. Maybe I was drinking a bottle of the very first experimental batch. Or maybe the taurine prevented expiration.
Admittedly, panic was beginning to set in. The bottle of Hot D indicated that there were only four servings available to me, and I now had only three left. It would take lots of experimenting to perfect my drink, which is sad considering that this mix supposedly contains all the items you'd put in a Bloody Mary to spruce it up.
At this point, I had no choice but to finish my drink while watching Mad Men, which is appropriate since the characters on that show are always drunk. Drinking in the morning and writing about it ... I was now a true writer.
As I sipped onward I began to ponder my situation. "Round two will feature a Claussen Kosher Dill and some hot sauce," I thought. "Maybe I'll squeeze a lime section into it."
Sure, some garnish would be OK, but unless that pickle brine really did the trick, the fact that I had to add more to this already complex mix meant that Hot D was a failure. There was no saving Hot D. It couldn't stand alone. Now I had to experiment in order to serve my taste buds and get the most out of my $10 plus shipping.
Two thirds of the way through my first drink I was feeling pretty OK -- My typical Sunday morning nap craving had been put to rest.. I'd been up 'til 2:30 AM with a generous quantity of Pabst Blue Ribbon in me and I only got seven hours of sleep. Despite the sub-par taste, Hot D truly D woke me up. Perhaps my next spin on this drink would give me some afternoon delight.
For all intents and purposes, this review should end here -- Hot D Wake Up Juice is not an all-in-one Bloody Mary solution. But with three servings left, I had to find out how it fared as a foundation for a more complex mixed drink. A few days later, it was time to get serious.
I assembled my reinforcements:
- Claussen kosher dill pickles
- Frank's Red Hot sauce
- Garlic-stuffed olives
- Garlic powder
- Black pepper
All of these ingredients were combined in a mason jar with ice, Smirnoff vodka and Hot D Wake Up Juice. I screwed the lid onto the jar and agitated the mixture. Shaken, not stirred, my good man.
Despite the inclusion of all my favorite Bloody Mary fixins (I usually base my Bloody Maries upon V8 juice), this new drink continued to be unpleasant. If I were served this drink in a bar, I would honestly consider sending it back. There was some sort of sludgy sweetness that came up from behind and overtook all other flavors. Perhaps the use of honey instead of high fructose corn syrup was making Hot D flaccid. Perhaps the cocoa powder was causing performance anxiety. (Update: My friend Shaun suggests that this taste is likely the taurine ... a logical explanation). The only improvement for this round was the fact that the harsh after shock had somehow diminished despite the addition of more hot sauce.
It's official: Hot D Wake Up Juice hits the gag spot, not the g-spot.