CANADIAN KAHLUA—Doomed by Hershey’s!

OPEN LETTER TO HERSHEY’S CANADA

Dear Hershey’s,

Last year I made my very own cream liqueur, combining full cream, cheap Canadian rye whisky, and melted Hershey’s Chipits. The recipe was a grand success, and even if it did languish in our fridge until clumps collected at the bottom of the jug, it was only because my parents/co-chefs could not conceive of the cream staying fresh long enough for us to consume it at a moderate rate rather than binge-drink it before the cream’s “best before” date. (I know, right? How could they not understand that whisky kills EVERYTHING?)

I was so proud of our homemade booze.

I was so proud of our homemade booze.

My homemade liqueur’s label may also have played some small part in its relegation to the back of the fridge—you be the judge, as I don’t have a marketing degree; I’m just a small bear with two brain cells. But whether or not anybody deigned to drink it, I considered our Canadian Cream a glorious concoction, worthy of a second act.

In other words: Liquorstore Bear’s Homemade Kahlua Knock-Off.

Now, Hershey’s people, if you’ve ever had this particular hooch, you know it’s coffee-flavoured. So my mission this Christmas was to combine coffee-type ingredients with, well, any kind of hard alcohol.

004My first impulse was to use actual espresso, brewed in a stovetop Bialetti. But my mother, who is lazy, instead presented me with a bag of coffee-flavoured Chipits. These, she said, we could melt the same way we’d melted regular Chipits for our Canadian Cream. It would be faster, the melted chips would impart a creamy mouthfeel, and no one would have to bounce off the walls after drinking the leftover espresso.

“Awesome,” I said, and got the vodka ready. This involved beating a plastic mickey against a table until the cap broke off. (I don’t have any thumbs.)

Meanwhile, my mother melted the coffee-flavoured Chipits. (I am not allowed to use the stove because I am irresponsible.)

Chocolate chips melting copy

As your product melted (correctly, in a double boiler), a most offensive odour began to drift through our kitchen. “That,” I said, “does not smell like coffee.” Yet, in a weird way it did. But in an even weirder way, it really did not. I peeked at the ingredient list:

sugar

hydrogenated palm kernel oil

cocoa powder

natural and artificial flavours

dextrose

modified milk ingredients

soy lecithin

OMG, Hershey’s! Notice anything? Like…pssst! There’s no coffee in these coffee-flavoured Chipits! Not a bean!

How in the name of all that is furry can I make my own Kahlua with these weird little palm kernel oil pellets that contain no coffee? Holy crap, Hershey’s, it’s a Christmas miracle that there’s even COCOA in them!

So here’s what happened next: My Kahlua knock-off project got aborted! Which left me with a bottle of vodka to pound. In other words, it was a win for me.

Not so much for my mother, though, who foolishly used the melted Chipits to make a cheesecake for Christmas dessert. Go figure, she thought those freaky little coffee-fakers would blend into the other ingredients and perhaps mellow out. But OMG, no. They did not mellow out at all. In fact, just one cup of those wretched little coffee-flavoured Chipits ruined dessert—every single guest left it uneaten! Not even to be polite would they eat that cake.

Those coffee-flavoured Chipits are an abomination.

So anyway, Hershey’s, you kind of wrecked Christmas dessert for us, which meant we had to get drunk instead. Which, in all honesty, I didn’t mind, but my family thought it kind of sucked.

Yours truly,

Liquorstore Bear

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Unspeakable evil at LBHQ, and some Hallo-whining

My Fellow Inebriates,

LBHQ is overrun with kids. It smells like pumpkin guts. For some reason there is NO beer in the house. I feel almost as bad as the recent owner of this arm.

severed hand

But there are far scarier things going on at LBHQ. Remember my precious Canadian Cream?

I was so proud of our homemade booze.

I was so proud of our homemade booze.

It’s been in the fridge for eleven months. No one drinks it. And no one lets me drink it! And today, my mum wanted to shove a pumpkin pie in the fridge, and guess what was in the way?

My mother is evil.

A great day for America

My Fellow Inebriates,

Oh, to be an American today…. As a Canadian I can’t get in on the action (so my parents tell me), but in the US it’s the 80th anniversary of the day beer became available in the US—the beginning of the end of Prohibition. Back in 1933, thirsty citizens lined up at bars and taverns all over the country waiting for midnight to strike so they could finally enjoy a legal brew.

daily-news-announces-prohibition-1933Prohibition was, no doubt, one of the dumbest legislative ideas ever conceived, spawning an infamously violent underground economy and string of HBO series concerned with the crimes committed in the name of supplying and procuring alcohol to a populace that undoubtedly wanted it. Lasting an unbelievable 13 years, Prohibition produced—in addition to the gangland events that continue to supply screenwriters with fodder—some unintended consequences for alcohol production in America: consequences that would delay America’s international acceptance as a serious wine producer and instead mire it with a persistent reputation for producing bathtub moonshine.

Consider something as simple as grape planting. Driven to produce their own wine during the dry years, Americans created a demand for hardy, disease-resistant, “no-brainer” grapes that weren’t necessarily optimal for making wine. California grape growers increased their land allocation by 700% to accommodate the demand, ostensibly for table grapes, tearing up decent vines and planting crappy consumer ones because this was the only way they could stay in business. Growers even produced thick slabs of grape concentrate bearing cautionary labels: “After dissolving the brick in a gallon of water, do not place the liquid in a jug away in the cupboard for twenty days, because then it would turn into wine.”

ProhibitionThe result was a steady flow of barely drinkable near-vinegar that would render the US’s fledgling wine industry internationally risible. Illegal wine was hideously unstandardized and even watered down. At best it was undrinkable; at worst it was unsafe for consumption. Worst of all, those citizens in such thrall to alcohol that they sought out and drank it anyway could find no psychological help.

Prohibition destroyed or caused serious winemakers to flee the country. When the dry years finally ended, grape cultivators would be left with large swaths of thick-skinned, flavorless grapes planted for the sake of easy transportation, and an industry brain drain that left behind little winemaking knowledge.

Thus April 7 is cause for celebration, my fellow inebriates. In the years since the Volstead Act was declared unconstitutional, American winemaking has followed a long road to recovery. Not until the 1980s did it manage to penetrate the international wine market with any degree of seriousness, and its fight against European derision is to some extent still being waged.

Okay, so logically, I should be reviewing some American wine here. This was the plan, but my parents are being dickheads again, and they wouldn’t buy any. (Apparently “we” are drying out for a while.) So I’ll tell you instead about the Canadian Cream in the fridge.

20121117_095219

How does this tie in with Prohibition? It doesn’t really, except that it’s a good example of what happens when citizens with very little expertise decide to make their own booze. Cooking up our own Irish cream variant seemed like the best idea we’d ever had, but four months later the stuff is looking a bit gross. Sure, it passes the sniff test, and my mum baked something with it last month, but it has some weird curds that have to be strained out of it, and nobody OMG! I totally want to drink it but I can’t get into the fridge really wants to drink it.

Fridge attempt