The 'Shroom:Issue 179/Critic Corner

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Director's Notes

Written by: Hypnotoad (talk)

Shroom2017 Anton.png

And just like that, it's February, and not even that, but we're almost done with February too! Disgusting! As time relentlessly races forward, our writers here remain to at least provide idle entertainment. Enjoy the extra 6 weeks of winter, I'll be here enjoying warm weather regardless.

Thank you for voting Half-Baked Reviews as January's Critic Corner Section of the Month!! Be sure to give your love to all of our sections here, and give a shout out to our writers whether in chat or in their forum threads dedicated to their sections. Be sure to vote vote vote!

And now for my regular announcements: We've decided to implement in Critic Corner something similar to News Flush over in Fake News, where no formal sign-up application process is required for one-time or limited sections. From now on if you just want to send in a single review for something you just read, watched played, tried, whatever, you just have to send me your review privately either to me directly in chat, or in a message to me on the forum at least one week before each 'Shroom is to be released! There's no commitment or obligation to provide a full monthly section (although you absolutely can shift it into one if you so choose), just send us your thoughts on a thing and we'll feature it here! If you have any questions or curiosities about this, please feel free to ask!

As always, if you would like to help Critic Corner, we always have openings for more writers! You are free to write for sections such as Character Review and Movie Review, or really anything you'd like to do! There's no pressure to have a huge section; they can be shorter and concise! The application process is very simple, starting with reading the Sign Up page, and sending your application to Ninja Squid, our Stats Manager on the forum. Any idea you have is welcome, and if you have any questions or need help signing up, please feel free to reach out to myself or other 'Shroom peeps!

Section of the Month

Place Section Votes % Writer
1st Anton's Half-Baked Reviews 13 68.42% Hypnotoad (talk)
2nd All-Time Smash Merit Ranking 4 21.05% SonicMario (talk)

Reviews / opinion pieces
This is Snake. Colonel, can you really feel it?

'Shroom FM

Written by: MrConcreteDonkey (talk)

Very busy this month so these are going to end up very short and/or very messy, sorry. I will say I think January this year has been much better in terms of albums than January last year, so that's a good thing. But I have only listened to like 6 new albums. A lot of interesting stuff coming in Feb though.


Perfectly alright pop album. Not really any drastic highs or lows to speak of. There's a couple of interesting beats and neat, atmospheric moments in the instrumentals. Vocals are strong but I can't really remember much of it, to be honest. I keep seeing it called "alt-pop", I'm not really sure what this means or how it applies here. There's some quirky moments in the instrumentation, and I guess a few slower, more emotive tracks - but it's still very straightforward pop music.


I'm sure I've mentioned this somewhere before but I generally find these shorter albums a bit harder to connect with. This was definitely the case for me with Earl's last album, 2018's Some Rap Songs, though having listened to it more since I've come to appreciate it more as a full project, because the songs are great. I think that's one of the things that I'm not really fond of SICK!, though the main reason is that the songs here are much, much weaker. The beats are well-produced, sure, but often get really, really repetitive. Take '2010', for instance, Earl's verse is good but the beat is like the same 10 seconds repeated ad nauseam, fine at first but by the end very grating. The guests appearances here are also really mediocre - I like Armand Hammer but their verses on "Tabula Rasa" are nowhere near as good as Earl's, and then, uh, Zeeloperz on 'Vision'. I'm not sure if it's the production on the track, but his voice on it is basically nails on chalkboard to me - which is a real shame because it's the best beat on the album and his verse takes up half the track. Then right near the end there's a solid three tracks that are just plain average, nothing interesting to say about them. All that said, the final track is excellent though, one of the few moments where everything seems to come together well, though this just makes everything else feel all the more disappointing in hindsight.


This was the first album I listened to this year, released on January 1st so probably one of the first to come out this year full stop. And man what a great start this was, this was absolutely gorgeous. From the same guy behind Parannoul, this is a very bright and tranquil ambient album. There's noisy moments but it all still has this sense of calm to it, provided by this tender instrumentation and the presence of nature noises. Production is superb as well, really makes the whole thing feel so alive. The long track times might put some off but it all develops and builds dynamically and manages to stay fresh. Very, very good album, overall.


Dawn FM... firstly, a total ripoff of 'Shroom FM. For shame, The Weeknd. But yeah, as for the album, it's basically More The Weeknd. Did you like After Hours? Do you want more After Hours? If yes, check this out. Honestly I wasn't even aware the Weeknd was due a new album (or that it had been two years since 'Blinding Lights' stormed to number one), I had heard 'Take My Breath' but I thought that'd be a standalone single, or from some After Hours outtakes project. So yeah, very similar vibes to After Hours. That's my take on it, at least. It's not a criticism at all, I think After Hours is a good album - Dawn FM does have that concept of the titular radio station behind it with a few monologues and other noises, but it doesn’t feel that fleshed out or interesting outside of that. But there's a lot of good songs here, so that doesn't really matter. It's a fun and another solid project from the Weeknd even if the core themes aren't executed in the most interesting way they could be.

All-Time Smash Merit Ranking

Written by: SonicMario (talk)

Hello again! it’s time for the 3rd iteration of my Smash merit rankings. Throughout January and early February, we had Link, Mythra, and Rosalina voted and then covered over on the forums. Click the name hyperlinks if you want to see those first. But let’s get into the first of our top two, you could say… I’m really feeling this one, hehe.

Shulk from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Categories Fighter Info
Fighter Number 57
Fighter Group Smash 4 Veteran
Franchise Xenoblade
Game of Origin Xenoblade Chronicles (Nintendo Wii, 2010 (JP), 2011 (EU), 2012 (US)

While I will again admit I’m not an RPG guy, Xenoblade Chronicles is a game I checked out the story by watching an all-cutscenes video on Youtube to see what Shulk was about. And you know, I absolutely loved the story just watching it. I don’t want to give too many things away but this was a case where I became a fan of the game even if there’s no way I could find myself playing the game (I did rent Xenoblade at one point, but when it comes to RPGs (That aren’t Paper Mario or Undertale) I definitely get kind of small brained. So when I tried Xenoblade, I kept getting curb stomped to these guard things that I knew was just in the beginning of the game at the end of Chapter 1. I didn’t even reach any mechon fights before I realized this probably wasn’t my kind of game. But I felt like at the very least I found a way to appreciate the character and Shulk’s world just through watching what happens in it. I could also gush about the music, but some of the titles of the music might be considered some form of spoilers. I'll at least post a link to a soundtrack list though. Just be warned if perhaps you get spoiled by any titles.

I’ll make sure not to get into too much spoilers for the later parts of the story. I’ll just cover much of what you get into at the start of the game, where you’re told of about a story of a legendary fight between two titans. The Bionis and the Mechonis, at some point of the fight they sort of injure each other causing neither to move any longer although the life that sprang from each continued their eternal war. The special things about these titans is basically a good majority of the game. Every location you’re in is part of one of those titans. It’ll look like you’re on a regular planet, but in some places you’ll find out that you were on say the shoulder of the Bionis somewhere. Aside from the location you meet Shulk as a young homs (Basically the Xenoblade universe’s word for humans).

You soon learn about the legendary sword at the center of this game. The Monado, a weapon capable of switching attributes for some versatility in battle. That versatility is in full-force in Smash Bros. as well. As you have the options to give Shulk a higher jump to help him recover, increase his weight so you can’t get launched easily, and more. The Monado allows the user to also get visions of the future, Shulk gets a forewarning of events in the future. Usually danger to himself and/or his friends. In Smash, that’s implemented as a counter. Though while that’s not as exciting as actually knowing what your opponent is doing it is at least at first the longest lasting counter (Though they do try to balance it by making sure that the more you use it the less the counter window lasts)

Back to Xenoblade itself though, Shulk goes through a pretty emotional journey with plenty of surprising plot twists along the way. And pretty lovable party members, from the big dependable Reyn, the small clumsy noon Riki, the noble hero Dunban, and more.

I fully recommend at least checking out what Xenoblade 1’s story is about even if you can’t find yourself interested in actually playing the game. I have also seen Xenoblade 2’s story shortly after Pyra & Mythra were confirmed but I definitely wasn’t as invested into the story for that one. I may explain about this more once I get to doing Pyra (I didn’t feel right getting into Xenoblade 2 heavily yet with Mythra) but something about Xenoblade 1’s story made me invested in seeing what happens next, while for Xenoblade 2 I was closer to just watching to know Pyra/Mythra’s whole story.

And even besides me liking the story of his game, I find Shulk pretty fun to use in Smash. I love the attribute changes. Keeping in mind the pros and cons of each form you take. Are you at high percentage? Go with your shield so that your stock lasts a little longer then it would. Are your foes at high percents and you think you can land a good blow? Use Smash to launch them further to just about assure a KO. Need to wrack up some damage? Enter buster mode. And so on and so forth. It’s certainly one of my favorite new movesets to come out of Smash 4, and I continue to use him quite a bit in Ultimate.

I’ll end off by saying that Shulk’s inclusion is something of a miracle given it basically took a cult following campaigning hard to get the game to the US. And even when it did, it probably still struggled to find that many sales because it was made a Gamestop exclusive. Though thanks to things such as the New 3DS port, though more credit should go to the definitive version on Switch it is much more widely available. Xenoblade seems like the kind of franchise that would normally get overlooked from representation from Smash since it seems more niche then many of the other franchises. Thankfully Shulk did make it in the game, and with other games like Xenoblade X and Xenoblade 2 the series is blossoming, heck it wasn’t that long ago that Xenoblade 3 was announced. With Shulk already sort of like the Marth of the franchise. (Though I am aware that if you count Xenogears, Shulk is far from the first hero in the somewhat related series). I do feel that like although he does kind of count as an anime swordsman, a term that’s become derogatory in the Smash fanbase and not even really having the special reputation of the Square Enix representation the unique abilities of his sword really make him stand out. And I’ll repeat, Xenoblade has a fantastic story. I really recommend either finding out what happens whether you intend on playing the game itself to find out or just watching what Shulk’s story is all about.

And now on to who was voted #1! And it’s none other, then the first 3rd party character to ever join Smash Bros.

Snake SSBUltimate.png
Categories Fighter Info
Fighter Number 31
Fighter Group Brawl Veteran
Franchise Metal Gear
Game of Origin Metal Gear (MSX2, 1987 EU/JP) (NES, 1987 (JP), 1988 (US), 1989 (EU)

I have barely played a minute of any Metal Gear game, but I think it’s fair to say Solid Snake has a huge impact on the history of the Smash Bros. games. He is as I already mentioned the first 3rd party character, though more then that he’s the first character from a generally mature-rated franchise, one that amongst the crowd of Smash. He stands out as looking more realistic then any of the characters in Brawl. Some even still ask if he truly “fits” in Smash to this day. While I myself prefer the more cartoony characters in Smash, I don’t think there should really be a huge limit on what character’s appearance or franchise tone (Though I’ll admit Bayonetta is perhaps somewhere close to the grey line where it’s a little too much, but I’ll get to that when we get to her. That said even with that I would not cut her if I was somehow put in a position to do so)

It should be noted that even though Metal Gear looks just about as realistic as your average Call of Duty. The franchise is full of unrealistic situations and even silliness that could only come out of the mind of Hideo Kojima’s work. I think it’s Snake’s codecs in Brawl that shows this in full, having Snake and his friends react to all the different Nintendo fighters. I appreciate that they even let all the ones with Brawl characters come back in Ultimate. Even if it’s a shame that nothing happens with any of the other fighters. Not even a blanket “Otacon… I don’t recognize this fighter!” as what you do when you try to have the Palutena’s guidances talk about DLC fighters.

Though I suppose part of what made Snake such a surprise is that while he has something of a root in the NES days. He definitely fell out of the Nintendo fan subconscious in the PS1 era, Metal Gear did get Twin Snakes ported to the Gamecube. But it still felt like Metal Gear had moved on to being a more Sony-related franchise. He wasn’t the first character people would of thought would be the first choice for a non-Nintendo character to make Smash. That distinction definitely falled onto Sonic the Hedgehog and/or Mega Man. It’s probably true that Snake may have never made Smash, were it not for the fact Sakurai and Kojima were such good friends. Kojima’s son wanted a character his dad had created to make it into Smash, so he got together with his good friend and the two managed to pull the strings necessary to bring Solid Snake into Brawl. Kojima had also reportedly begged Sakurai to put Snake in Melee, but at the time of development was much too late.

Still, even if the first ever inclusion of a non-Nintendo character was the result of a personal favor between two friends. it slowly opened the door for the future of the franchise. It only broke the window a little bit, as the only other 3rd party character to make it into Smash immediately was Sonic the Hedgehog. That would immediately start to expand however upon Smash 4. Where we would get Megaman and Pac-Man (Even if sadly, Snake wouldn’t be returning due to how petty Konami was being to Kojima at that point) and then Ryu, Bayonetta, and Cloud Strife in DLC. Before it feels like the floodgates really opened to 3rd parties when Ultimate came out. Starting with fellow Konami represenative Simon Belmont all the way to even opening the door for heckin’ DISNEY to let Nintendo use Sora. Every fan of every 3rd party character to ever make Smash has Snake to thank for eventually opening the window for them.

Maybe some would say Smash would have found a way to include 3rd party characters at some point even without Snake’s inclusion but that shouldn’t put any dent on the legacy that the E3 2006 trailer for Brawl put on the internet. It would be the first among many moments since that Smash Bros. has broken the internet. The reaction videos we have to Sora’s trailer from October of last year can be linked back to crowd reactions and forum messages in E3 of 2006. Smash Bros. has been bringing hype announcements from sources outside of just the 1st party characters for 15 years. I think it’s fair to say Solid Snake’s inclusion started a real new era for the franchise that I’m sure it will never look back on. There are a small contingent of fans that would have preferred Smash to remain first party only, but there was just no turning back once it happened. And any gatekeeping in arguments against certain 3rd party characters have fallen one after another since. Even when the next Smash possibly cuts a good majority of the Ultimate case, I don’t think there’s any doubts that 3rd party inclusions are going away anytime soon. It will be hard to follow-up what came after Ultimate, but I fully expect characters like Crash Bandicoot, Tails, and plenty more to be on the table for the next game. And we can always look back at the moment Snake lifted that box on Battlefield as the moment Smash Bros. was changed forever.

These two characters were admittedly actually took a bit of thinking where to rank. Earlier in this batch I had gotten to rank Mythra which is from the same franchise of Shulk. Because of how relatively recent she was. She’s less then Steve mainly due to Minecraft being on Nintendo systems older then Mythra’s existence as a character. Shulk however does predate Minecraft’s existence on Nintendo systems. While Minecraft it self technically predates Shulk, he is more firmly a Nintendo property. And because Xenoblade has definitely flourished in recent years thanks to Xenoblade 2 and the definitive edition of Shulk’s game (Not to mention the upcoming Xenoblade 3). I think it’s fair to put Shulk over Pit and Ness at the moment, however Shulk just doesn’t have the major reach of most Mario characters.

And then we get to Snake, who while I praise as the beginning of the 3rd party inclusions in Smash. He is sadly one of the lower end in merits (Of the 3rd party characters I mean) since it’s true his connections to Nintendo really waned even if he occasionally pops up every now and then such as when Meta Gear Solid 3 got a port to the 3DS. Though otherwise Metal Gear games are rarely put on Nintendo consoles now. That said, remember that I’ve mentioned sometimes x-factors can assist in some ways. In regards to perceived difficulty of the character and popularity for them to include them in Smash. Snake’s return to Ultimate as such sort of boosts up his return, as Sakurai had to strong-arm Konami after they were so petty toward Kojima during the years that unfortunately lined up at the time of Smash 4’s development. There’s a good chance a strong showing in the ballot is also what brought Snake back, given I believe it was mentioned that many of the top characters were previous characters that were in Smash. For now, I think I’m putting Snake and Shulk together with Snake the edge. Both are below Rosalina but have some factor and/or relevancy that puts them above Pit and Ness at the moment. We just got a new Xenoblade game announced, While a Metal Gear game is probably rarely ever getting onto a Nintendo system ever again, I think where Snake is currently is the farthest that the x-factors regarding his inclusion brings him just that slight edge right now. If perhaps Shulk has a surprise major role in Xenoblade 3 maybe he’d have a case to be retroactively higher then Snake. But even then, then their spots on this list are just a bit interchangeable. They’re both worthy characters in their own right though

1. Link
2. Banjo & Kazooie
3. King K. Rool
4. Sonic the Hedgehog
5. Rosalina & Luma
6. Snake
7. Shulk
8. Pit
9. Ness
10. Steve
11. Mythra
12. Wii Fit Trainer
13. Chrom
14. Dr. Mario
15. Piranha Plant

Anton's Half-Baked Reviews

Written by: Hypnotoad (talk)


Yep, it’s still Winter here, and despite everyone gearing up for Spring with Valentine’s day come and gone, Easter coming around, it really doesn’t matter because the north is still getting slammed with blizzards and even Florida here is sitting in the 40s many days. Good thing alcohol is shelf-stable, so I still have a bunch of eggnog to review! As we delve into alcoholic eggnogs, all kinds of different egg-based nog-adjacent drinks started popping up, typically all variations from different countries or cultures, which was pretty fun to explore.

Additionally, all of the content in this section either is, or is served with, alcohol. Drink responsibly, and follow your region's respective drinking age laws, please! Otherwise have a blast.

Art is provided by fellow bean, Cookie!

Santa Clara Rompope

Rompope effectively is to Mexicans what eggnog is to Americans: an eggy, creamy, spiked holiday dessert. As described in three paragraphs of a Lucky Peach cookbook that does a phenomenal job of summing up what amounts to very little information relative to other historical drinks, rompope was first produced by super cool Mexican Catholic nuns in the 1600s, using milk, sugar, spices, egg yolks, and rum.
Still not sure it's necessary for it to be that yellow.
The most popular brand in Latin America–Santa Clara–is also the original, named after the convent it came from, and is also the one I happened to buy. One ingredient was never revealed by Sister Eduviges, the nun responsible for making rompope, but many versions mix in pistachios, walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, chocolate, etc. to thicken it or add flavor, and any of them could be what was missing.

Not sure which press release liquor stores like Spec’s and Applejack is getting their information from regarding Santa Clara using only natural ingredients, as the intense yellow hue is thanks to Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Caramel Color, meant to provide a visual signal that egg yolks were included. Most astonishing to me was that it can be kept at room temperature, despite including milk and eggs, a feat likely accomplished in no small part to sodium benzoate. It’s typically drunk at room temperature, which may account for the necessity of making this shelf-stable after opening, but I still plunked a couple ice cubes into it. Not much spice to it, but rather tastes mildly rum-like and sweet, with a custardy creamy dairyness to it. As I take small sips, it coats my entire throat with a really pleasurable velvety smoothness, followed by gentle warmth from the alcohol, which feels entirely like how cough syrup does but instead tasting like vanilla pudding. The simplicity, relative to traditional eggnog, works highly in rompope’s favor. If you try this and your complaint is that it’s missing cinnamon or nutmeg, just go ahead and add it yourself, but it’s entirely fine without it

Santa Clara Rompope checked off pretty much all of my internal subjective checklist for what qualifies as a tasty alcoholic drink, including gentle sweetness, smooth feel, and mild slow-rolling burn. Incredibly easy to drink, leading to me sipping my way to feeling pretty good, lifted, and surprisingly focused for someone feeling so warm and fuzzy. This will absolutely be an addition to future holidays, and will have a permanent place on my liquor shelf to have in reserve at all times. What I’ll be looking out for now are other brands, and if they taste just as good, but without the unnecessary artificial colors, which apparently aren’t even really legal to use in the first place..


Eliodoro González P.'s Ponche Crema

This description sure is doing a lot of heavy lifting for the drink.

Ponche Crema, another cream and egg-based liqueur, is the pride of Venezuela, and has spread to adjacent Caribbean islands, namely Trinidad and Tobago. The specific one I got is branded ‘Eliodoro González P.’ and apparently calls itself the original despite the drink being made in family homes prior. The full list of ingredients on the bottle is just milk, eggs, sugar, and alcohol, which is a bit more simple than a lot of homemade ponche crema recipes I’m seeing online, many including lime or lemon to cut the eggy taste. A major factor to not be missed is that Eliodoro’s is made instead with grape alcohol, rather than rum. I’m finding it really silly how there’s just SO many basically-eggnog drinks from different parts of the world that are pretty much exactly the same as each other, barring a single ingredient, or type of alcohol used, and each one is a feat of tradition, innovation, and heritage pride, trumpeting to the heavens about their unique invention, and nearly all of them serving the same function and permitting your own personal tweaks (type of alcohol, spices, etc) that just really blurs any line between the types that wasn’t already blurred. This is not negative commentary towards ponche crema specifically, but it’s by this time that I decided I’ve had enough.

Getting on to trying it, the first noticeable thing is that it’s incredibly thick, but still smooth and creamy. Basic alcohol burn that’s neither here nor there, but surrounding it is absolutely no flavor, it’s just creamy texture and alcohol. I really don’t see the point of this when you could just instead add better alcohol to regular eggnog and just have a more enjoyable time. Maybe it’s eggnog for people who just really hate how eggnog tastes..? After being refrigerated and sitting in there for a couple weeks it got really thick, more towards gooey, while the alcohol feels much more present and flavor becomes more spiced. Ponche crema lore indicates that there’s a secret ingredient(s) in here that’s not listed on the label, and maybe this is it. Not entirely sure what the science is behind that, but it made me not trust my initial experience. It’s noticeably not as sweet as eggnog or other egg-based liqueurs and cordials, and definitely not as flavorful, so I'm just really not seeing what the purpose of this is if not just being a Venezuelan national meme as the only value I can see in this is the creamy texture, which can be emulated by less-expensive milk and cream.

I’m thinking that what I need to do is either buy another brand that aligns more with how Venezualans actually make Ponche Crema, or to just follow one of their recipes myself and make it at home. Perhaps the rum that everyone else adds is the key, adding a warm sweetness that would bring it all together. Eliodoro’s greatest invention wasn’t recreating an established product, but rather convincing the world, and Venezuela, that this is a product worthy of being made into a Christmas tradition and source of cultural pride, with an entrepreneurial spirit carried all the way through to the Total Wine & More giving it its own special endcap display and advertising push that was critical in convincing me to buy this in the first place.


Southern Comfort Vanilla Spice Flavored Egg Nog

I was already going to get this one because it really stood out from all the others around it with both its color scheme and the curiosity it struck me with saying ‘Southern Comfort’, but seeing it constantly topping lists of ‘best eggnogs’ and being in everyone’s recommendations made this a must-try. The two flavors available are Traditional and Vanilla Spice, each at $3.59 for a quart. The prospect of the special flavored one simply being vanilla, a flavor and feeling I feel should already be present in a wintery drink like this, left me feeling not-too-confident in the Traditional; it appears almost every opinion online shared about this recommends the Vanilla Spice anyways. The Southern Comfort website woefully lacks any information other than a recipe page that basically says mix their brand of eggnog with their brand of alcohol and drink it, shock, surprise, wow. Luckily I photographed every inch of the bottle a while ago to preserve the information.

I wonder how many other brands can pivot to nogs.

To know what I’m getting into, first I had to get original Southern Comfort whiskey. The recipe was crafted in 1874 in New Orleans by Martin Wilkes Heron who wanted to have a whiskey that was sweet and smooth, rather than harsh and strong, creating a whiskey liqueur with fruits and spices; the original recipe included cherry, lemon, orange, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, and honey. To me, it’s alriiiiight, but has a very specific powerful sweetness to it that I feel needs to be cut or mixed with something else to give it either another layer of SOMETHING, or to bring it back towards the middle. Very fruity, almost like candy.

As for the eggnog, it’s made with milk, cream, corn syrup, egg yolks, flavors, spices, some thickeners and stuff, not anything that’s really surprising, and it truly is an actual eggnog. It’s notable that this is made by Hood, a dairy brand that makes an eggnog widely popular in the northeast US and thus ends up on many best eggnog lists with websites and writers based in NYC, but pretty hard to find elsewhere like here in Florida. The ingredients of Hood’s regular eggnog products look pretty similar to the Southern Comfort eggnog, so I feel safe in saying that the quality of the SoCo will reflect the quality of the others. It’s also important to say that this is non-alcoholic. The smell it has is very mild, no big slap in the face, but definitely noticeable cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla, all warm feelings. Smooth, creamy, not-too-thick, definitely doesn’t feel heavy but rather like melted ice cream and lighter than many other brands. For the flavor, too, it’s very subtle with the spices, with the same spices respectively making themselves known. BIG points from me in that the egginess of the eggnog isn’t really there, so it doesn’t give me that initial gag factor that I can’t help but get with a lot of these. Most importantly, though, the eggnog itself is too sweet all on its own, and it seems to be crafted specifically to be paired with the liqueur. With the alcohol in it it takes on the signature fruitiness, shifting it to almost like a tutti frutti flavor; bubblegum candy more so than winter spices. Definitely serves as a dessert drink, but hardly something you’d want to chug; save your sugar quota for the other holiday cookies and treats.


Evan Williams Original Southern Egg Nog

I don't know, for a brand so revered for its high quality and prestige, you'd think it'd have a prettier bottle design.

I will say, it’s hard looking up information about this one because not too far off the shore of basic liquor store webpage entries is a deep dive into intense whiskey and bourbon culture, praising Evan Williams as a legend and arguing about whether a Glencairn glass was used properly, if even used at all, heaven forbid. What makes this ‘southern’ appears to be just that bourbon is used, as that’s the common denominator in a bunch of southern-style eggnog recipes. I used to be acquaintances with a whiskey/bourbon snob and I can’t really say that I ever enjoyed being around them at all or doing anything with them because just yammering on about aspects of a liquid I think tastes like crap for hours and hours keeping me isolated away from the gossip I want to be involved in with the rest of the group, but now they’re effectively dead to me so I am free. I get that there’s a lot of interesting nuances in crafting and enjoying alcohol, and it can become a passion and focus, but maybe don’t infodump that to your gay friend who keeps telling you that he doesn’t drink it and instead likes fruity nonsense quite literally every single time you see him. As this is an Evan Williams, and he’s a legend, I hear, there are A LOT of reviews for this egg nog out there, and pretty much all of them scream praises into the heavens of it, all while pretty comically giving it like a B+, or 80/100, or similar review results. I will assure you, though, my annoyance with this came after I tried this eggnog, so my actual review is unaffected, just embellished with my bitterness.

Evan Williams Original Southern Egg Nog is traditional eggnog blended with Kentucky straight bourbon whisky, rum, and brandy. One side of the bottle says to just chill and enjoy, while the other side says to garnish with fresh nutmeg, cinnamon, or mint leaves, the latter being something other reviews take with great seriousness, while I didn’t bother. The liquid itself is pale and milky with a hint of warmth, and is thick without being alarmingly gloopy or separated. Even without adding nutmeg myself, that’s the first noticeable smell I get while lifting the glass towards my face, but underneath that is just an alcohol smell. The first swig of it and the alcohol burn is there and strong, but quickly quelled with the cream. I’m kind of surprised at how relatively strong the alcohol is in this given that it’s only 30 proof. Mostly tasting warm vanilla and any sweetness I can smack my mouth at is more like caramel, which just tells me I’m tasting bourbon, so if you like bourbon here you go. While the sensation of a melted Vanilla Crème Brûlée Yankee Candle coats my mouth, the alcohol itself shoots down my throat and feels unpleasant in a way that someone who doesn’t like grain liquors would complain about. Despite it being a real eggnog with actual milk and egg in the ingredients, I’m not really feeling like this is one, and more just a cream liqueur with bourbon in it; that’s not a fault, per se, but I think they could just drop the egg nog branding and sell this year-round, rather than seasonal, and maybe make more of a profit. Who knows, maybe they already studied that, but if not and someone from the company here is reading this, give me some of the cut and I’ll join the legion of bourbon reviewers who write like they’ve never tried anything else.


Fireball Non-Alcoholic Cinnamon Flavored Holiday Nog

In a grand marketing revelation of ‘how has this not been a branded product yet??’, Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey released in late 2020 Fireball Non-Alcoholic Cinnamon Flavored Holiday Nog, initially sold exclusively at Walmart, forcing me to make a trip there where I nearly got trapped inside forever by some workers who weren’t on the same page with each other over which exit was ok to go out of following covid protocols. That whole name, Fireball Non-Alcoholic Cinnamon Flavored Holiday Nog, is loaded and needs to be broken down some. ‘Fireball’ is a top-selling brand of cinnamon-flavored whiskey, made by Sazerac, that leans into the heat sensation in use and branding, complete with a cute mascot. This specific product, though, is only licensed from Sazerac, and is rather made by Kemps. ‘Non-alcoholic cinnamon flavored’ indicates that this has no alcohol, a far cry from the original’s 66 proof, implying that the cinnamon flavor will be similar to how the whisky tastes. ‘Holiday Nog’, as I explored last month is a branding-friendly way of saying that the drink is trying to emulate eggnog in terms of flavor, texture, and general purpose, but lacks critical ingredients such as eggs or cream; in the case of this beverage it’s lacking eggs, with milk and cream remaining primary ingredients. Sugar, nutmeg, carrageenan, cornstarch, turmeric, and annatto are all present with their respective duties of flavoring, thickening, and coloring the drink, but curiously cinnamon is absent, or at least not visible and hidden within one of the various ‘flavors’.

This feels like an attempt to domesticate frat bros.

This holiday nog can be consumed on its own for a non-alcoholic experience, or if you just didn’t want to spend $10+ more after admiring the thrift of this only costing $3. I can say right away that this just isn’t thick enough; like, yeah, it’s thicker than whole milk, but not much more than heavy whipping cream. There’s also really nothing more to it than cinnamon flavor and a kind of je ne sais quoi that gives it the Fireball-specific tinge, which, if you’re unfamiliar, tastes exactly like swallowing an entire pack of Big Red. I feel I need to emphasize that it’s not like a cinnamon spice flavor that’s woodsy and warm, but rather a kicky candy cinnamon. Really wondering where that nutmeg went; maybe it sank to the bottom and I didn’t shake hard enough, or their proprietary cinnamon flavor just blew it out?

How can I get a liquor-branded eggnog and not put that liquor in it, so of course I tried that. ‘The Dragon’ recommends serving this with 1 part Fireball Whisky, 2 parts Holiday Nog–a Firenog, if you will–so that’s what I did. Almost overwhelming with the cinnamon, which would be horrific in normal circumstances, but with this being a themed specialty drink for a limited holiday release I really didn’t mind. The Fireball Whisky makes itself known with that strong alcohol punch in your throat, but the nog absolutely cuts the burn almost entirely. One thing I appreciate about Fireball Whisky is that the cinnamon sensation very much masks the alcohol burn feeling, as you’re just left with what would otherwise feel like just strong cinnamon flavor, a feeling that makes Fireball a liquor that’s easy to drink a lot of, and this same phenomenon is carried through with their holiday nog. I think this one also would be better served with the suggestion I had for the Evan Williams Egg Nog, probably more so as the Fireball one barely even tries to mimic an eggnog aside from a little extra thickness, in that they could just remove the ‘holiday’ branding and just sell it year-round as a combined Fireball cinnamon cream liqueur, and probably glean more profits. But, then again, direct hits of cinnamon blowing out your senses is absolutely a Christmas thing.

This is the correct way to drink Fireball.


Verpoorten Advocaat

The bottle is deceptively heavy, which should've clued me in on its density.

Made with eggs, sugar, and brandy, this is yet another eggnog-adjacent product hailing from a country housing people who personally told me that they have no idea what eggnog is. I can’t blame them too much, though, as prior to researching all of this I had no idea what advocaat was. It is an incredibly thick and creamy alcoholic drink that gets its name for being seen as a lubricant of the throats of important speakers at parties, such as lawyers. Verpoorten also puts forth that the name is based on a bastardization of avocado, from an avocado-based brazilian drink that had its green mush replaced with egg’s yellow gunk. Important to know, it contains no dairy, like milk or cream–at least unless you want it to, then I guess add it because none of this really matters. What grants advocaat its unique thickness, though, is using only egg yolks which are then whipped and thickened further through heat, which…also isn’t much different than other drinks like rompope. The exact mixing and cooking methods to yield each specific item eludes me, and maybe one day the wisdom will be bestowed upon me.

The particular one I got is made by Verpoorten, a German company, while advocaat itself is traditionally Dutch. I chose to not include prices for all of these because it’s all kinda variable depending on location and size, and they’re all generally in the same price range: ~$3-5 for real eggnogs, $4-7 for the alternatives, $8-17 for the liquors, plus or minus a few bucks. Meanwhile, Verpoorten Advocaat was a hefty $37, for reasons I can’t fully justify. If it’s because it’s an import, then what about the other thousands of imported liquors at the liquor store? Is it that in combination with it being a specialty product coming in at a lower volume? Either way, obviously, I bought it, because it was just itching at me as something I need to try because it’s otherwise difficult to find and the company only ships to Germany, and the biggest fear I had was ‘what if it’s effectively the same thing as eggnog but with a couple negligible tweaks like how pretty much all of the others have been?’ Well, that fear was unfounded and replaced with another.

The first sign given to me was that, when I went to shake it, it just completely did not move. I brought this over to my brother’s place for a simple family night together, because I’ve become known for bringing weird things to force everyone to try, and I surely was not going to drink a $37 bottle of egg gunk on my own. The show of it being unshakeable was enough to shake the cores of my brothers. Pouring it out was another grand display, unnervingly thick, very much a batter-like consistency with no exaggeration, slopping out of the bottle slowly like ketchup or bbq sauce, and plopping down into a mound in my glass rather than sloshing out to occupy all free space as a liquid should do. Intensely rich, it goes down much more like a pudding, which makes the alcohol burn a bit more shocking. As you can expect, too, trying to sip at pudding-like egg goo from a glass is not exactly the easiest thing to do, and I feel I should be using a spoon instead. Although not present, there’s a hint of vanilla in it that’s just a step above subtle, and a slight nuttiness too, and I feel sits at a good spot. Definitely feels like a drink that warms you up for the holidays and is special enough to become an interesting focus, but not something that I could see carried through many other occasions.

I also mixed it into some Woodford Reserve Rye Whiskey, and I was mesmerized by how the advocaat just kinda plunked into the bottom of the glass and maintained shape. After stirring it into homogeneity and sipping at it, I knew I was onto something. The creaminess of the advocaat brought out all of the flavors promised by the whiskey, and the whiskey diluted the advocaat into something I could actually drink. Lakituthequick (talk) informed me that drinking advocaat is viewed as left-wing, unless whipped cream is added and then it’s viewed as right-wing or elite, predicated on ‘advocaat’ translating to ‘lawyer’ in dutch. Can’t say I’m a fan of the political alignment, but I tried it with whipped cream anyways, and it sure did heighten the experience into something that seemed plausible. The whipped cream tempered the alcohol, and provided a softer (and more familiar) texture sensation that eased the gummy advocaat along with it, also lending some sweetness that provided extra depth. I really don’t see another way to genuinely enjoy this, because drinking it straight has no net gain; if you’re in it for the alcohol then just drink like schnapps, and if you’re in it for the eggy thickness then just have pudding. The minor addition of whipped cream does open the door to a better understanding of advocaat’s greater place in the egg liqueur pantheon as well as Dutch and German culture: gratuitous treats. Verpoorten’s marketing for their advocaat leans heavily on it being used as an ingredient in an incredible amount of recipes for baked goods, desserts, sweets, and even savory meals and sandwiches, as well as cocktails like the Snowball, so I guess that will be my next venture, and as advocaat is often drank for Easter in Germany and The Netherlands as well (eggs, custard, very easy transition), it may be rightfully thematic for me to thrust upon my family a nice cake made with this.


Keen eyes may notice that I did not include coquito here, which may feel like a shame. I can assure you’ve I’ve tried some–homemade and store-bought–and just simply have a better review to put it into later down the road, which I am looking forward to doing!

The 'Shroom: Issue 179
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