Sunday, August 1, 2010

Zwack in Black

You may have heard reports, as I have, about the exotic and mysterious Hungarian liqueur Zwack, and you may have heard how some say its herbal inscrutability outmatches even Jagermeister.

Well, what you heard were not lies. I'm performing the Great Hungarian Zwack Test right now, even as we speak.

The first shot I sipped slowly, trying to analyze just what the heck I was tasting. Since they say it's made with at least 40 different herbs, I guess trying to narrow the specific perceptions down is futile. It definitely tastes stronger, more pungent and more powerful than Jagermeister, but at the same time it also tastes better.

Despite its mega-medicinal oomph, somehow I feel as if the casual drinker might be more likely to enjoy this than Jager. Don't ask me how that's possible; I know it's a contradiction. Possibly because it's slightly sweeter, and thus lends itself more readily to mixed drinks. I hear that Red Bull-laced Zwackbombs, in the spirit of Jagerbombs, are growing in popularity. Ugh. Thanks but... no. I'll take my product uncut. It also tastes far cleaner than Jager, if that makes any kind of sense. What was it Dean Martin said was the secret to his health? "Clean liquor."

For the second shot, I tossed it back in one gulp and paused momentarily, like Dr. Jekyll with his secret formula, waiting to see what rough beast would begin slouching towards Hungary, waiting to be reborn. There came a moment of clarity, in which the center became unnaturally sharp while the periphery became as pleasantly soft-focus as a closeup of a female on the old Star Trek.

I was reminded of Lynda Barry's Cruddy, in which our protagonist Clyde is handed a bottle labeled "Corpse Reviver" by her father who, while driving, says "Drink this, Clyde; it'll give you another eye."

"He took more glugs and I took some glugs. It was a strange kind of booze, that Corpse Reviver. It didn't taste bad. It didn't burn. Not in the first ten seconds. And then it just exploded and made you exhale sentimental ignitable funes. I got wobbly, very wobbly. He got wobbly. He said we ought to drink one to Uncle Lemuel and to any other son of a bitch stupid enough to get in our way."

Point being, I like an herbal liqueur with a good psychoactive kick. It ain't exactly absinthe, but lordy, it'll do. No doubt I'll be prattling on about Zwack for a long time to come, and yeah, I know it's pronounced "Zvock" but I don't let the facts get in the way of a blog title pun.

But wait, there's more - it turns out there's actually an even more pungent, even more bitter, version of Zwack called Unicum. It's the original version of the formula, actually, and it's such a powerful thing that they don't even really bother trying very hard to market it to Americans. Finding a bottle of Unicum will be my next mission.

- - JSH

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