Project LUSH: 100 martinis, three ambitious gays and one very drunken Spring
At Time Out Chicago we love a good challenge, especially when it involves booze. Having already chipped away at Kit Kat’s enormous drink menu over the years, we thought it our duty to officially taste test their 100+ martini list and bring it to the public. It’s a hard job, but somebody has to do it.
Of course, an undertaking like this doesn't happen overnight (we aren’t really fans of hospital visits), but over a six-week period in a venture we're calling Project LUSH. Join Jason Heidemann (Gay & Lesbian editor), Mark Bieganski (Senior Online Producer), and I (editorial intern) each week as we chronicle our tantalizing tastings and drunken antics and culminating in a finale slide show that determines our very favorite Kit Kat cocktails.
Oddly enough, our first martini tasting began with us thinking about sobriety. No, we weren't giving up on our challenge (or the bottle for that matter), but as professional journalists we thought it would be best to think of ways to stay sober during our first round of marathon martini tasting. Drinking water, nibbling on food, and sharing each martini was all part of our master plan, but we soon realized that scheme was doomed. The mixologists at Kit Kat informed us that in order to truly experience these frothy concoctions, we would each need to be served a full pour in all its glory. Of course, we agreed. Who are we to argue with the experts?
Here is our slightly blurry recap of the night’s events and our thoughts on the first 15 of Kit Kat’s martinis.
Drink 1: French Riviera Blue (vodka, pomegranate juice, Hypnotiq, orange juice, pineapple juice)
We all agree unanimously on this drink. It is a perfect martini for summer and a perfect way to start our evening. Fragrant, fruity, and fun.
Drink 2: Hollywood Rock Candy (vodka, Hypnotiq, pineapple juice, rock candy garnish)
Visually, this drink epitomizes Hollywood: flash and fun. From its vibrant, blue color to the rock candy garnish, it is quite the temptation. Jason enjoyed the sweetness of this candied delight, but Mark and I thought if we drank more we would be put into a diabetic coma.
Drink 3: French Pear (vodka, St. Germain liqueur, pear and pineapple juices, champagne)
All three of us enjoyed the fizzy feeling we got from the champagne, but opinions were mixed over the taste combination of pear and St. Germain. Overall, a nice twist on the typical, fruity martini.
Drink 4: Bellini-tini (vodka, peach schnapps, mango juice, champagne)
The glamour of Sex and the City is definitely evoked with this twist on a classic. Adding mango was a perfect touch, although Mark thought it was a little lackluster compared to some of Kit Kat’s more adventurous options.
Drink 5: Key Lime Pie (vodka, cream, lime juice, graham cracker rim)
The graham cracker rim and uncannily similar taste to a real key lime pie are what sold us on this drink. Move over Florida Keys, this recipe puts your key lime to shame.
Drink 6: Girls Night Out (vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry juice, orange juice)
Girl’s aren’t the only ones that should relish in this cosmo-like concoction and bar favorite. Mark and I thought the flavor was spot on, but Jason said, "the girls can have it."
Only six drinks in and Jason was already feeling a little “wobbly” and Mark and I couldn’t pronounce words correctly. Either this would be a huge disaster or it was the beginning of a great night.
Drink 7: Chocolate Raspberry Truffle (vodka, chocolate and raspberry liqueurs, cocoa rim)
Chocolate lovers, this is a drink for you. The booze smell burned Jason’s nose, in a good way, and the combo of chocolate and raspberry liqueurs gave Mark a Fannie Mae candy fantasy. Unfortunately, it’s a little on the sweet side, but if you love chocolate that much, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Drink 8: Mint Chip (vodka, mint liqueur, cream)
While I was lured to the green color of this drink like a moth to a flame, Jason was too scared of the green dye to have more than a few sips. Color issues aside, this a smooth (not too mention adult) way to satisfy your chocolate and mint cravings.
Drink 9: Samoan Girl Scout Cookie (vodka, coconut run, crème de cacao, butterscotch liqueur, dash of coconut cream)
The liquor combination in this drink make it way too naughty, and tasty, to think about Girl Scouts. This drink is the spitting image of the popular cookies with an amazing presentation of caramel and chocolate swirls in the glass (It made Mark tell the bartender he would be there every day (okay, maybe we were getting a little drunk at this point).
Drink 10: Godiva White Chocolate (vodka, Godiva white chocolate and chocolate liqueurs, cream, cocoa rim)
Maybe we just like alcohol, but every cup of hot cocoa should taste like this. We all agreed, very smooth and perfect for a winter’s night, although I don’t think I could have more than one of these chocolate treats.
With our wits in a bit of disarray we decided, as professionals, it was important that we maintain a clear head. Thankfully, we were able to sample some of Kit Kat’s great appetizers to sober up. Chicken satay with a peanut curry and a grilled cheese with brie definitely satisfied our drunken cravings.
Drink 11: Lava Lamp (vodka, floating jello shots, splash of sprite)
Maybe it’s the fact that I’m in college, but I absolutely loved this drink (something about jello shots and frat boys), and my tasting partners agreed. The drink was incredibly smooth and balanced, even with the floating pieces. A much more sophisticated and clean way to enjoy those jello shots.
Drink 12: Kool-It (vodka, grape liqueur)
Regressing even further in age, this drink calls back to those summer days as a kid, but this definitely isn’t what mom used to serve you. Mark and Jason both liked this fun twist on a kid favorite, but I thought it was a little lacking in taste.
Drink 13: Island Paradise (vodka, mango and lime juices)
This drink made me want to jet off to the Caribbean. I thought it was a great combination of flavors, however Jason and Mark thought they didn’t marry well, even with the sugar rim.
Drink 14: Peanut Butter Cup (vodka, chocolate and hazelnut liqueurs, cream, peanut butter cup garnish)
Another one of our favorites from the evening, this candy-inspired drink definitely satisfied our sweet cravings. Beware, this martini is just as addictive as the foiled candies. The peanut butter cup garnish was fun especially when you dunk it in the booze.
Drink 15: Lime Drop (vodka, sugar, lime juice)
As our last drink of the evening, one would think we would barely be standing, but as the go-getters we are, we stayed focused until the end. Jason and I thought this was a great twist on the Lemon Drop. Refreshing and classic taste, but Mark would much rather go for its cousin, the tantalizing Key Lime Pie martini.
After maintaining some composure after our first tasting, Jason trekked it home for a very long nap (11 hours to be exact), I attempted, but failed, to do homework, while Mark stayed for a few more (and paid for it with a horrible hangover the next day).
15 down, 85 to go. This is going to be one drunken Spring.
Project LUSH appears every Thursday on the TOC blog.