A few years back, alcohol producers and advertisers made a startling discovery: Women like to drink alcohol, just like men! Now the lady-drink epoch is in full swing, and while women are still used mainly as props in alcohol advertising, a recent influx of female-targeted liquors have given womenfolk a bunch of pink-hued, sugary, low-alcohol, low-calorie booze options with names like Qream and Girl to make that objectification go down a bit smoother. Because what self-respecting lady would drink plain ol’ beer or whiskey when she could have lactose-free peach-crème liquor served in a perfume bottle and endorsed by the man behind the song “Milkshake”?
But fear not, guys: You’re not restricted to the sum total of non-pink booze offerings should you want to get your man-drink on. Lest dudes feel left out of the gendered-booze trend, Three Olives vodka—always good for a flavored-vodka aberration—recently introduced a flavor called “Dude.” Wait, don’t whip out that obvious joke just yet: In this case, “Dude” flavor translates to “Mountain Dew,” or to put it in less trademark-infringing terms, “lemon-lime flavored.”
Since The A.V. Club can’t resist a good excuse to drink novelty booze, we decided this micro-trend was reason enough to concoct a boys-vs.-girls booze showdown, pitting these gender-targeted liquors against one another in an entendre-laden Taste Test. Sadly, both Qream and Girl proved unattainable (seriously, stop it with the obvious jokes), but we found a couple of MVPs of the girly-booze trend to rep for the ladies: Nuvo sparkling liquor, a “luxury” brand targeted specifically at women who like their booze to look like perfume and have a name reminiscent of contraceptives; and SkinnyGirl margaritas, the low-calorie, pre-mixed margarita concoction of Bethenny Frankel of Real Housewives Of New York “fame.” (Frankel recently sold SkinnyGirl for an alleged $120 million, and the brand is now everywhere; there was literally a wall of the stuff at our local grocery.)
Try as we might, we couldn’t find any other male-targeted liquor to join Dude on the boys’ team; but we found a reserve player in the form of a mixer, Bear Semen energy drink, which claims on the label to be “the manliest drink on earth.” Combined with Dude, this could potentially have us all sprouting testicles from our foreheads after one sip.
The taste: Not to blow your minds or anything, but none of these products tasted particularly great. Bear Semen was the winner by default, in that it tasted pretty much like any ol’ energy drink. But really, the taste is irrelevant, as Bear Semen’s value is strictly ironic; the name and the old-timey label of a man fighting a bear are the real “draws” here.
Skinnygirl and Nuvo were in a dead heat for the “least offensive” award: Some testers (of both genders) shuddered at the sour, watered-down, margarita-ish flavor of Skinnygirl, while others conceded that if they were hardcore dieting, the agave-sweetened, 37.5-calories-per-1.5-ounce Skinnygirl would be a less-than-terrible option. (Less terrible than not drinking at all, at any rate.) Nuvo smelled and tasted almost exactly like Bonnie Bell lipgloss, which pleased our resident girly-drink enthusiast Josh Modell but turned off many others who don’t dig cloying, fruity sweetness. The combination of “French white wine, ultra-premium French vodka, French sparkling wine, exotic fruit flavors, and a touch of carbonation” sounds like the stuff (exotic French) hangovers are made of, but there’s no denying that Nuvo goes down as easy as soda-pop.
Neither Skinnygirl nor Nuvo are heavy-hitters in terms of alcohol content—12.5 percent and 15 percent, respectively—so at 35 percent, Dude is definitely the winner when it comes to inebriation; but it was a big loser in the taste department. Even Mountain Dew fanatic Nathan Rabin shuddered at its antiseptic flavor, which approximated a Dew-Windex cocktail. When combined with Bear Semen—a drink we imaginatively dubbed “Dude Semen”—it was tolerable, a slightly more citrusy version of a vodka-Red Bull. If you consider the dudes of Jersey Shore (who, incidentally, would probably love Dude Semen) to be the epitome of masculinity, then perhaps you could call this drink “manly.” But real men and women would be better served by booze free of color-coded labels and other not-so-subtle gender signifiers. You know, like whipahol.
Extra credit: Surprisingly, everyone was game to try a “suicide” of all four products; even more surprisingly, it was probably the best-tasting of the lot. The lemon-lime of the Dude complemented the sourness of the Skinnygirl, which was offset by the sweetness of the Nuvo. And throwing Bear Semen into the mix gave us an excuse to dub the cocktail “Babies In Your Mouth”
• “As far as I’m concerned, that tastes like really watered-down cheapo tequila with a little bit of lime. Hey, I can make diet booze by adding water to regular booze too!”
• “Someone left their empty margarita glass in the sun. All the ice melted and all that is left is a hint of a margarita that was once there.”
• “Watery, but doable if REALLY cold. If I was watching calories I would drink it.”
• “I’ll take the fat-girl alcohol any day.”
• “More sour than I expected but a passable lime margarita.”
• “I think I liked this the best, though that’s not saying much. It must be because of that charming Bethenny Frankel.”
• “It tastes like when you get down to the melted ice in a margarita and keep drinking until the glass is dry. But worst-case scenario, I would drink it. I would never drink any of the other things.”
Nuvo sparkling liqueur:
• “The bottle is made from thick glass and is very heavy. Probably too heavy for them girly arms.”
• “The color reminds me of hand soap. Mmm, delicious hand soap.”
• “The flavor is not anything special. Kind of like pink champagne and cherry soda.”
• “Looks like bubble bath, tastes like rosé watered down with ditch-water. This is nasty, astringent, pucker-inducing stuff. On the bright side, if the ladies don’t want to drink it, it’ll probably work as nail-polish remover.”
• “Not sure why this exists.”
• “Really sweet but something I would drink with the girls/on the beach. Carbonated alcoholic drinks in general get my vote.”
• “I hated. It totally reminded me of Nuvaring, and it was just gross. Pink and bad aftertaste, and I would hands-down always drink any one of the ingredients before I drank them all together. It might not be HORRIBLE with OJ though.”
• “Oh my God, that is terrible. It doesn’t even register as a flavor for me, unless ‘horrible’ counts as a flavor.”
• “Tasted like powdered lemon/lime Gatorade mixed into vodka. I know from personal experience. Would drink if it was available.”
• “Gross. Mountain dew is terrible and so is this. Like citrus-flavored gasoline.”
• “If you take it like a shot, you take it like a man. If you sip it, you’ll make the same mistake I did.”
• “This was advertised to us as Mountain Dew vodka. This is true as far as the color and scent, but the flavor is just messed-up.”
• “I haven’t tasted liquor this bitter and astringent since Malört.”
Bear Semen/Dude Semen
• “Bear semen was an energy drink. Big deal. Nice marketing, dudes.”
• “I’m disappointed this stuff isn’t opaque, and doesn’t have the general consistency of hair conditioner. ’Cause what’s more refreshing than that?”
• It’s kinda fruity, sweet, and generic, especially for something that’s supposedly so manly. That aside, though, I like it better than anything else we tried today. It’s a pretty effective mouth-rinse, if nothing else.”
• “I’m still trying to get my head around the idea that there’s nothing manlier than guzzling animal cum. Though I have to say, getting the stuff in the first place probably does get people’s energy levels up. I’m not sure how that carries over to the drinker, though.”
• “Tastes exactly like its name: delicious.”
• “Tastes like Red Bull’s retarded half-cousin. So, pretty okay.”
• “Bear Semen reminded me a lot of Red Bull. I expected something a little more aggressive with a name like Bear Semen, so I was a bit disappointed.”
• “Dude Semen I would drink, because it has alcohol as opposed to plain ol’ bear semen.”
• “Expectations? Horchata and salmon jerky. Maybe some dingleberries.”
• “I want to comment on the can’s label, which features a bare-knuckle boxer confronting a standing bear ready to attack. That seems like the worst way to get a bear to release its seed. I think a man in a beekeepers suit giving the bear a reach-around in front of a milk maiden’s bucket would be the way to go.”