Taste Test: Tomato, Root Beer, And Espresso Vodkas

Three Olives Tomato, Root Beer, and
Triple Shot Espresso Vodkas

Back when men were men, women were subservient,
and godless homosexuals hid in the closet, vodka tasted like vodka—i.e., like
nothing. Those were the salad days, before any combination of fruit juice or
goopy liqueur and the suffix "-tini" transformed what was once a stiff drink to
take the edge off into a night out with the girls. Time was when a man could
wake up bleary-eyed in the morning and take solace in knowing that, even though
we've lost our way as Americans, there at least wasn't root-beer-flavored vodka
out there.


That time has passed. Listen attentively, and you
can hear Boris Yeltsin rolling over in his soused grave.

You'd think that if any country were on our side
in this war, it'd be England. What with their strong beer and football
hooligans, surely they'd sooner break that bottle of pomegranate vodka over
your head than drink it. You'd be wrong: Inside every hooligan beats the heart
of a metrosexual who only wants to sip Flirtinis and make bitchy comments
during What Not To Wear. It's an English company, Three
Olives, that has released three new flavors—Tomato, Root Beer, and Triple
Shot Espresso—in its ongoing campaign to besmirch vodka's good name. They
join Three Olive's 13 other fruity flavors (we mean that figuratively, if you
get our drift): passionfruit, mango, pomegranate, cherry, berry, grape,
watermelon, chocolate, orange, vanilla, green apple, raspberry, and citrus.


That's quite an array. What would John Wayne
think? Cue Denis Leary's novelty song "Asshole": "John Wayne's not dead. He's
frozen, and as soon as we find a cure for cancer, we're gonna thaw out The
Duke, and he's gonna be pretty pissed off."

We kid, of course. The A.V.
staff has virtually no power drinkers in Chicago, with one
notable exception (guess who!), and at least one fan of What Not To
(guess who!). So wussied-up vodkas are just the ticket for the
fairies flitting around our office.

Taste: We tried each flavor two
ways: straight and mixed with something else. We looked at the Three Olives website for recipe
suggestions, but they were a little hoity-toity for what we had access to in or
near our office. (One quarter cup of "basil infused simple syrup"? Huh?) We did
try one recipe, which called for the root-beer vodka to be mixed with a
lemon-lime soda. Why? We asked ourselves the same question after we tried it.
Other than that, we kept it relatively simple: tomato vodka with Bloody Mary
mix; root-beer vodka with root beer and ice cream; espresso vodka with a
bottled Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino.

On their own, the vodkas were surprisingly strong
across the board. I think we mostly expected them to be "infused" with the
"essence" of their respective sources, not overwhelmed by them. A quick whiff
warned us, as each vodka practically knocked us over with its aroma. On the
tongue, each hit first (and hard) with the source flavor, followed by a vodka
exit flavor. (Plus, of course, that gentle, comforting warmth in the throat
that says "Relax, man. Everything's going to be just fine so long as you keep
drinking me.")


If there was a flavor for "abomination," it'd be
Three Olives' tomato variety, which tasted less like vodka and more like a
clear, burning variety of disgusting tomato juice. (Get on this, PepsiCo!) Root
beer inspired mostly ambivalence, not outright revulsion, with everyone's
sentiments mostly summarized by, "Not bad, but unnecessary." The syrupy Triple
Espresso got the best response, especially when mixed with the
Frappuccino—The Onion's Chicago staff has discovered a
new, delicious way to start its morning.

Office reactions:

Three Olives Root Beer Vodka straight:

— "I think it'll be better as a root-beer float."

— "It's a little minty."

— "It really tastes like root beer at first, then
vodka as the exit flavor."

— "It tastes like licorice. I don't like

— "Smells good. Tastes decent... reminiscent of Jäger & Dr. McGillicutty's."

"It smells like root beer, but doesn't really taste like it. It tastes like a
few molecules of A&W; floating in vodka. Kind of pointless."

— "Tastes like my childhood, only slightly
drunker. Would drink again, possibly mixed with other things, and would call it
a root-beer bloat."

— "I'd rather do a shot of this than the other
two, but I'd still rather just shoot regular vodka."


Root Beer vodka + 7UP:

— "I think it's better straight than with the

— "Because it almost tastes bitter."

— "This is too fruity; I wouldn't be able to drink
a whole glass of this."

— "Horrible, horrible idea."

— "Okay, what exactly is the point of this? These
are two great tastes that taste lousy together."

Root Beer vodka + root beer & vanilla
ice cream:

— "It's good. It's the best
way to enjoy root-beer vodka, I think."

— "You cut it with real root beer, and it's good."

— "I don't wanna share!" "It's okay."

— "Oh, delicious vanilla ice cream! No wait,
booze. That's not what I want."

— "This is better than the 'virgin' version."

— I can barely taste the
vodka—and root beer floats are always delicious, so this is a winner!"

— "Kinda delicious, though I think there's very
few things that aren't improved by the presence of ice cream. It may be because
we were just eyeballing it rather than measuring, but I think the vodka may
have impaired the yummy, bubbly foam that makes root-beer floats so good. It
tastes good, but the texture is different."

Three Olives Tomato Vodka

— "It smells like a fermented pizza." "Ew, I can
smell it over here."

— "It's definitely not good."


— "It tastes kinda sweet.
It's like a really sweet tomato paste."

— "I'd do a shot of the root-beer vodka, but I
wouldn't do a shot of this."

— "It's like a vodka tomato."

— "How little can I put into this cup?"

— "That is almost impossibly foul. There's a whole
bouquet of incredibly awful flavors they've managed to pack
in there."

— "Wow, they let salsa go rancid, then
blendered it into vodka. Bad call."

— "It isn't just tomato vodka, it's like tomato,
basil, oregano, and garlic vodka. It's like the pizza beer, only way stronger."

— "Satan's puke tastes like this."

— "According to the surgeon
general, this drink is disgusting."

— "Horrible, disgusting smell and an even worse
taste. It reminds me of V8, which I hate."

— "It tastes like a drunken farmer fertilized his
tomato crops with vodka. I approve."

— "Good for feeding to enemies, bad for anything
else. Smells like a rotten pizza, tastes like evil."

Tomato vodka + Bloody Mary mix:

— "It makes the Bloody Mary sweeter—more
tomato-y. I will finish this."

— "It's like an alcohol Hot Pocket."

— "Do they have bacon-flavored vodka yet?"

— "I think it makes a somewhat superior Bloody

— "It's surprisingly delicious after tasting the
straight tomato vodka. More of a tomato taste than your average Bloody
Mary—I like it."


— "It's not as flavorful as a Bloody Mary ought to

— "I imagine this is the only
context in which tomato vodka is a good idea. And it is a good idea, It made it
much more, um, tomato-y. I'm taking the rest home for Sunday brunch drinks."

Three Olives Triple Espresso Vodka

— "Wait, it's black?"

— "It's definitely the most syrupy." "Yeah it's
almost like a liqueur."

— "Ohhh, that's good."

— "That is really strong."

— "I'd totally drink this; it's really good."

— "It tastes like coffee grinds without the grit."

— "It's like a less-creamy Baileys. Not bad at

"Tastes a lot like a Black Russian. I'd love to try it on ice with a little
cream, but it's good as-is."

— "It's a bit too
sweet—Starbucks should adopt this and market it to drunks to for hangover

— "I'm not huge on coffee flavor, so I would never
drink this as a shot, but I can see how other people would. It's pretty
pleasant, but a little syrupy. Much more like a liqueur than a vodka."

Espresso vodka + bottled Starbucks Mocha

— "That's somewhat delicious."

— "It doesn't even taste like alcohol."

— "It's way better with a Frappuccino."

— "Okay, I should probably stop drinking."


— "If I was a Starbucks barista, this would be my
daily recommendation!"

— "Yum... this seems like a great way to start your
day, perfect for Monday mornings."

— "A great way to begin the day, provided you're
able to take a nap a couple hours later."

— "It's deliciously strong. I see why they
call it triple espresso instead of just single espresso. But it tastes like
coffee instead of booze. Can we sneak the rest of this into the office
coffeepot and watch people fall over drunk tomorrow morning?"

Suicide: Tomato + Root Beer + Espresso

"I've never had anything kick in my gag reflex like that before. That's for the
suicide, but could also apply to the tomato."

Where to find it: Liquor
stores, booze emporia, packaged-goods retailers. Recipes are available at threeolives.com/newflavors.