White Lotus Vodka

By: Delicious Brands

Suggested Retail Price: $27.99 for a 750-milliliter bottle

Taste: 3stars

Marketing: 4stars

Watch our columnist test the hangover claims!

Vodka’s the spirit for people who don’t like to drink∗—all of the alcohol, none of the flavor. And while a bunch of candylike flavored vodkas have injected their sickly chemicals into our drinks, a new brand called Lotus (marketed in both White and Blue varieties—the latter is caffeinated) has taken vodka-doctoring to the next level. Here’s the spiel: If you drink Lotus to excess, you won’t get a hangover. Now, you won’t see that kind of text on the website; the company is too smart to come right out and say it. Here’s what it will say:

We wanted a vodka that helped us balance having fun at night with working during the day. … After years of creating different blends, we finally hit it right. When our friends started emptying the sample bottles in minutes and thanking us in the morning, we knew we had gotten it right.

Clear enough. Lotus’s taste is unremarkable: It has a relatively clean finish, and despite boasting “a very, very faint pear” tone, you’d be hard-pressed to differentiate it from the New York Times–favored brand, Smirnoff. But does it prevent hangovers? A five-drinks-per-hour experiment was conducted, and to the brand’s credit, this subject woke up feeling fine.

To be skeptical about the Lotus claims: Anecdotally, drinking premium vodka seems far less likely to cause hangovers. Although they’re brought on by many variables, hangovers seem to be exacerbated by the presence of fermentation by-products called congeners, which get stripped out in greater numbers in ultradistilled liquors such as vodka.

∗Exception: In the former Soviet bloc and its satellite states.

Alouette Berries & Cream Spreadable Cheese

By: BC-USA Incorporated

Suggested Retail Price: $3.99 to $5.99 for a 6.5-ounce tub

Taste: 3stars

Marketing: 2stars

Alouette brand spreadable cheese inhabits a curious niche in the cheese world. It certainly isn’t highbrow stuff: It’s not a sharp seven-year cheddar or a nutty Bûcheron. But it’s also not Cheez Whiz or Kraft Singles. The eminently middlebrow Alouette is agreeably mild and easy to spread, and its typical flavors—garlic or shallot—are deployed with tact and discretion. It’s mass market but nicely executed.

Therefore, while the concept of a berries-and-cream spreadable cheese kicks against American norms of what cheese is supposed to taste like, one would hope that an Alouette incarnation would live up to the brand’s reputation. Lo and behold, Alouette Berries & Cream (a limited-edition holiday flavor) comes through. It tangos a delicate, dangerous dance between sweet and savory, and manages to balance both dexterously. It can be successfully spread in a crêpe (it’s sweet enough to turn into a passably intriguing breakfast item), but it can also hold up to a Ritz or other savory cracker. The whipped cheese has a smooth, light texture and tastes of raspberries with a hint of cranberry tang.

The extent to which consumers will trust the company’s unconventional applications (the website suggests spreading the product on shortbread cookies and pound cake) is unknown, but one can’t help but applaud its culinary boundary-smashing. In that very limited sense, it’s a shame the holidays are a mere two-month ordeal per calendar year.

See more articles