Will This Booze Make You Evil?

Anheuser-Busch Jekyll & Hyde liqueurs

Anheuser-Busch Jekyll & Hyde liqueurs

I Paid: $11.99 per 750-milliliter bottle (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 1 stars

Marketing: 4 stars

Marketing always matters, but it’s critical in the world of spirits. To get picked up by distributors, stocked by stores, and eventually noticed by consumers, your product has to stand out from the constantly changing, almost infinite number of liquor choices.

In that respect, kudos to the Anheuser-Busch-developed Jekyll & Hyde, two distinctly different but complementary varieties of sweetened booze that are sold as a pair. (Selling one $12 bottle of liquor is fine and dandy, but if you can essentially guarantee that you’ll sell two, now you’re talking.) The two bottles have a wavy cut to them so that they stack together, and the two half-face portraits of the benevolent Dr. Jekyll and the malicious Mr. Hyde smush together to produce a single image. The two beverages are—in theory—meant to be chilled, then layered, so that the licorice-tasting Hyde can lend depth to the berry sweetness of Jekyll. All fine in theory, and then you start drinking the stuff.

Hyde, make no mistake, fits the “evil” role fairly well: It’s kind of herbal-molasses-y with an aspirinlike bite to it, despite its somewhat unexpected syrupy sweetness. It smells like Good & Plenty—never a great sign from a gastronomic perspective, unless you’re opening a package of Good & Plenty. With ice cubes, it mellows, but it’s still not good drinkin’.

Jekyll, it turns out, is the real villain in this duo. It smells like Pop Rocks and tastes like watermelon Jolly Ranchers with just a faint thoughtful hint of cherry Dimetapp. Jekyll is like a stranger who seems polite enough in casual conversation and somehow persuades you to let him crash on your couch after the party’s over. Then you wake up at 4 a.m. and realize that Jekyll is standing right next to your bed, nude except for elbow-length rubber gloves and a Styrofoam ball gag.

The chilled, layered shot thing, incidentally, doesn’t help: Hyde is just too damn sweet, and everything tastes like melted movie theater candy.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow Chowhound on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.

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