Wednesday, July 22, 2009


As long as I can be reasonably certain that I am not dealing with (legendary, mythic?) blindness-inducing, wood-based moonshine, I am open-minded about alcohols produced for drinkers below the poverty line.

Sometimes this means drinking fermented liquids that occur naturally and are served fresh (variations of palm wine); sometimes it means semi-flat, room-temperature cousins of beer derived from unlikely grains (millet, for example); sometimes it means wines improvised from fruit and sugar; and sometimes it is distilled spirits of a bitingly chemical nature (such as "Godfather").

In many parts of West Africa there is also a booming business in "wines" "tonics" and "bitters" (14-28%). These are, bar none, the cheapest means of obtaining drunkenness--you could buy three 12oz bottles for $2. To further seduce their target, these products often boast all sorts of favorable side effects, much like the potions and elixirs legislated away from the world's wealthy drinkers by organizations like the FDA.

"Waist and Powers" is a regional classic, blushed at in some countries as an intimate resource for (older) men and marketed, elsewhere as a middle of the road, energy wine. It is the closest thing that I have seen to a regionally recognized brand--throw a muscle man on the bottle call it "Waist and Powers" and you're done. Sometimes it is opaque, swimming with the pulverized herbs and essences that underlay its quasi-medicinal claims--in these instances, it often tastes bitter, complex and gag-inducing, though, somehow, Dr. Pepper-ish when combined with Coca-Cola. Other times, as with this bottle, it's a totally drinkable relative of a cheap vodka cherry coke cocktail long after the ice has melted, complete with lemon wedge.

Dark Chocolate wine, though it combines two things that I deeply respect, was inspired by a moment of dubious thinking.

Deep Love, I have not yet tried.

And this thing:

I don't understand this thing at all. It contains something that is either illegal and poisinous or magical and destined for global fame. There is a slim possibility that it is physically addictive. There is also a possibility that (owing to the complete non-existence of quality control for these tipples) the bottle I sampled was an aberration, accidentally or intentionally dosed with something that subsequent bottles will not possess. It warrants some at-the-distillery research, some interviews of its Liberian fans and perhaps some sort of double blind clinical trials.


  1. best use of photos yet. each post should have this proportion of words to pics - it is tremendously more illustrative (and you get to shave off almost 1k words each time you put one in, so...bonus)

  2. Night Train Express. Because the Night Train wasn't fast enough for you. Is is possible that you got your original taste for these products from one ceremonial trip to the IMAX in Philly, one that "chris f" knows all too well?

  3. Foo! I didn't know there were any Philly people watching this blog. In fact, there is little evidence of readership whatsoever, so, thanks two times!

    Yes, that tribe started me on ghetto wine. Yes, Night Train Express is faster. Yes, "chris f" knows too well.


  4. don't tell anyone but foo is me


  5. also-

    the whatnot I had to type to make sure I'm not a spammer was


    who knows what that means in french??