A Tawdry Booze-Filled Heaven

by Justin D'Olier on September 2, 2011 | (2) Comments |

During a recent visit to the ESPN 1420 AM studios – I moonlight as a sports talk radio host when I’m not bootlegging – I was talking to an on-air personality when an advertisement with him doing the voice over played on the radio. I stood in awkward silence for a few moments trying to process the contradiction of talking to someone and hearing their voice playing from the radio at the same time. It was part time travel, part multidimensional. I asked him if it ever became normal to hearing your own voice on the radio. He said, “not really. It’s always a little weird.”

This is exactly how I feel about alcohol distributors’ annual Holiday Shows. For those of you unfamiliar with these bawdy bastions of bacchanalia, every year before the holiday season each local alcohol distributor organizes a “Holiday Show”, which is akin to a tawdry, booze filled heaven. The distributors rent out a ball room, fill it wall to wall with booths offering samples of their various offerings (and, yes, by offerings I mean alcohol), and invite all their clients to attend under the guise of tasting through the portfolio to aid their purchasing decisions for the upcoming holiday season. Essentially, it’s a thinly veiled excuse to get clients hammered in the name of product awareness, but hey, who am I to judge?

I’ve attend various Holiday Shows, yet, each time, I still can’t shake the sensation that something is amiss.

Let me get this straight. You want me to come to a resort ballroom where you will hand me a glass and turn me loose in a room filled with free food and hot women serving alcohol for five hours and all I have to do is write about the experience?


The entire time, I keep expecting a large Samoan security guard to tap me on the shoulder and brusquely escort me from the premises. I can’t possibly be invited. This is amazing. I am Wayne and Garth meeting Alice Cooper.

I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!

For some reason, the awkwardness has a tendency to abate after the third shot err… taste of Peligroso Tequila.

I can only assume that my initial feelings of shock and awe will eventually subside, but, much like hearing your own disembodied voice blaring from a radio, I doubt that the feeling of wandering aimlessly around a ballroom stocked with an endless assortment of free drinks will ever lose it’s mysterious bewildering appeal. Until that time, I will remain a faithful steward to the Drink with Aloha community and continue to attend said events and report back on my findings, in the name of science, of course. I love science.

Scientific Alcoholic Musings from the Youngs Market Hawaii Holiday Show (in the name of science):

2008 Reynolds Family Chardonnay: Reynolds Family bucks the trend of the typical big, bold, buttery Napa Chardonnay. I had the pleasure of meeting Steve Reynolds, who explained his father’s philosophy when he created a more reserved style of wine as “It’s an effing grape.” Well said, Mr. Reynolds.

The 2008 is a smooth, balanced and toasty Chard that dances on the palate. Absolutely fabulous.

2009 King Estate Acrobat Pinot Grigio
2008 King Estate Pinot Grigio
2008 King Estate Domain Domaine Pinot Grigio

The entire King Estate line up is lovely, with light fruit, and a clean fresh finish. The Acrobat is the cheapest of the bunch, but easily the best bang for your buck. It has most of the lusciousness of the its bolder cousins at a fraction of the price. Solid buy.

Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades on ice

Cue the angel chorus

Armand de Brignac Champagne: I asked the Armand de Brignac representative if a ray of sunshine appeared from the heavens, an angel chorus began singing, and a bolt of lightning struck every time a bottle of Armand de Brignac was opened. He responded, “Everything but the lightning.”

The brut (Gold) is fabulous, the blanc de blanc (Silver) is smooth and amazing, and the Rose (Pink) is bold, balanced, toasty and luscious, like spreading mascarpone on a buttered biscuit. It is everything a champagne should be, provided, of course, you have $300 to drop. But, really, can you put a price on sunshine and an angel chorus?

One Hope Wines: Half of the proceeds from One Hope Wines go to charity. I sincerely wish the wines were as good as the business model.

2008 Murphy Goode Pinot Grigio: Surprisingly toasty and bold, this is a Pinot Grigio for a Chardonnay lover.

Choya Umeshu
Choya Excellent (w/ Cognac)

Oh umeshu. How I love thee. Sweet and light with a refreshing sourness that balances the flavor on the palate. I have no idea if this is good umeshu or bad umeshu (if such a thing exists), I only know that I am as giddy and atwitter as a freshman girl drinking her first wine cooler under the bleachers at a High School football game whenever I drink the stuff.

Dos Maderas 5 + 5: Aged for five years in oak barrels and another 5 in sherry barrels (hence the 5 + 5), Dos Maderas would be yet another in a long line of smooth and solid yet utterly unspectacular rums if it weren’t for the totally unexpected sherry finish. Delightfully unique.

Peligroso Silver
Herradura Reposado
Corso Anejo

I have trouble separating the various premium tequilas on the market, so I picked from favorite from each category (Silver, Reposado, and Anejo).


Sexy bottle. Sexy tequila.

Peligroso is a new “ultra premium” tequila in the style of Patron. Usually, slick marketing campaigns and flashy product displays signal a poor quality product – if it was that good, why would they need to push it so hard? – but Peligroso Silver is easily one of my new favorite silver tequilas. It has a smooth mouth feel with just the right zesty kick on the finish. Versatile, smooth, and spicy. Well worth the try. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the bottle is cool enough to mount on your wall.

Herradura Reposado has a seductive sweetness on the finish that makes me blush. Literally. I actually blushed.

Corso Anejo is bold, burly and complex, just like an anejo should be, but the standout feature is the finish which lingers for an incredibly long time on your palate. People who take shots of this instead of sipping and savoring it deserve their hangovers.

Domaine de Canton (ginger liquer): Syrupy, sweet, spicy gluggable ginger syrup. Oh, and it has alcohol in it too.

Root: My mom said “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Maestro Dobel Tequila: I saved the best for last. Holy mother of mercy. Where has this been all my life? Maestro Doble is unlike any tequila you’ve ever had. It’s a blend of extra anejo, anejo, and reposado tequilas that are subsequently filtered, lending them the crispness of a silver, the mouthfeel of a reposado, and the bold flavor of an anejo into a panty moistening alcoholic flavor explosion. It tastes like a tequila, but drinks like a rum. Heart stopping. You should stop whatever you’re doing, buy a bottle of Maestro Dobel, and have a sip right now. I don’t care that you’re at work. Just tell them it’s Maestro Dobel. If they don’t believe you give them a taste. They’ll come around. [Author’s Note: The Drink with Aloha “legal counsel” has directed me to inform you that we take no responsibility for what happens should you actually decide to drink on the job (even if we think drinking Maestro Dobel would be worth the consequences).]

[Author’s Note: A big thanks to Christa Wittmier and the folks at Youngs Market Hawaii for throwing such an amazing event and inviting Drink with Aloha along for the ride.]

2 responses to “A Tawdry Booze-Filled Heaven”

  1. Dave Newman says:

    Nice coverage of the event Justin! I can vouch for the Maestro Dobel as I stood behind the table pouring hundreds of samples of the tequila over the course of 8 hours. The last hour and a half was utter madness. So many people coming back for seconds and thirds. All in the name of product research I am sure. As a matter of fact I think I remember seeing someone you know stop by a few times….

    • Ha ha. Nice. I can’t complain. By that point, I was kicking it by the pool with the little one, sipping on a Tropical Itch – surprisingly decent resort cocktail, I’m sure the pool and sunshine factored in to this opinion – and sharing an ice cream sundae. Not a bad day.