Review: Store-Bought Jel Shots, Shooters, and...BuzzBallz?
Sometimes, liquor stores will confront their patrons with confounding options…such as, say, boxed wine from Australia. Other times, such offerings go beyond perplexing to flat-out amuse and disgust the potential shopper.
That’s the feeling people might get when encountering pre-made Jello shots perched by the cashier at their local booze shop. Though they’ll certainly catch your eye, coming in vibrant pinks and greens, blues and purples, these items will almost certainly make your stomach churn before you can even begin to debate whether or not bringing them to your friend’s upcoming party as a joke would be funny or just plain mean.
It felt important to embark on this debate. So I loaded my arms with a variety of small, multi-colored beverages called “Jel Shots,” “Twisted Shotz,” and a curious item deemed a “BuzzBallz.”
I chose the Jel Shots first, in four flavors—yellow (peach flavor), blue (blueberry), green (apple), and purple (grape), all at 13% alcohol by volume. The grape, as an example, contained vodka, artificial grape flavor, some blue dye and some red dye. They were pure liquid upon purchase, but the cashier informed me that they would be best if I “put them in the freezer” when I got home. Either he meant refrigerator, I figured, or he realized that these Jel Shots actually tasted best when frozen, providing a distinct sharpness to the artificial grape…refreshing. Overall, the four shots cost three whole dollars.
When I presented the Jel Shots to my friends, they acted with less trepidation than I’d expected. However, the shots proved difficult to open, and in doing so, bright, alcoholic goop from within spilled over our fingers and onto the countertop. (Note: Jel Shots are easy to clean off your kitchen counter.) Taking the shot itself went a lot smoother. Deemed “doable” by my friends, Jel Shots have an initial unpleasant flavor before you begin to think, “That’s actually okay.” Of all the Jel Shot flavors, grape ranked as the most enjoyable.
The Twisted Shotz had caught my attention next. Catchy, themed flavors like “Root Beer Flirt” and “Miami Vice” made them stand out from the pack of brightly-colored, compactly-packaged liquor shots, but what made them truly irresistible was the “twist” for which they get their title. Sold in packs of four, each of which cost $5.99 (read: what a save!), these shots (shooters, really) get divided in half so that two, separate flavors can collide in your mouth. What a fun concept!
In the case of Root Beer Flirt, one side of the shot glass contained Root Beer Liqueur, a refined beverage rare enough to evade even most connoisseurs, while the other holds vodka with cream and the ever delicious “natural plus artificial flavors.” As far as Miami Vice is concerned, let’s just say it’s one half “Strawberry Daiquiri” and one half “Pina Colada” (because “natural plus artificial flavors” isn’t particularly descriptive). Each shot was a whopping 20% ABV.
Root Beer Flirt proved a generally pleasant surprise. Besides being very easy to open each individual shot, the packaging had another ingenious aspect. As my friend pointed out, “Regardless of how this tastes, I will keep this shot glass for future shooters.” It’s truly a great value, if you think about it—getting a free, innovative shot glass with your purchase! Another friend swallowed the shot and exclaimed, “Ooh, crème fraîche!”
Miami Vice provoked a different reaction from the group. After gulping it down, someone evaluated, “On a scale of one to tolerable, I’d give this a one.” Not all Miami Vice drinkers got that far, as a vast majority of the substance proved unswallowable and wound up covering the kitchen table. Upside: The lingering smell was better than the taste.
Last but not least, the BuzzBallz sounded more like a domain name than an alcoholic beverage and looked more like a single tennis ball canister than anything I’ve ever bought to imbibe. In other words, it was perfect.
Weighing in at 20% ABV, BuzzBallz come in a variety of flavors, but, following in the footsteps of Eve before me, I ended up carrying a “Forbidden Apple” home with me. The ingredients list promised the most natural beverage compared to the previous selections, which means that apple and lemon juices actually make it into BuzzBallz amidst the vodka, apple liqueur, and blue and yellow dye. Meanwhile, the green, transparent can invites drinkers to “Have a ball!!” in subtle deference to its form.
With a consistency reminiscent of cough syrup, BuzzBallz really “is what it is.” Any apple-flavored vodka owning up to its nature should taste something like medicine while providing a kick to get you through the rest of your night, with or without puking. Feel like taking that kind of a gamble? Pick up a BuzzBallz at your local liquor store!
So, do you or don’t you bring Jel Shots, Twisted Shotz, and/or BuzzBallz as a joke to your friend’s Halloween party? The answer, of course, depends on how much you like your friends. And on how much they like to…experiment.
All photos by Jessica Klein
Tags: Parties, Spirits