Troubling Trends: The Rise of Fireball

The tragedy of whisky liqueur replacing bourbon in ski towns

The Fireball mascot hates Fireball so much he throws up fire balls. PHOTO: COURTESY OF FIREBALL

The Fireball mascot hates Fireball so much he throws up fire balls. PHOTO: COURTESY OF FIREBALL

The saddest part of my ski season happened in Montana. Now, Montana is my third favorite state in the Union—I appreciate the long straight highways, very large skies, and the ability to fit in while skiing in Carhartt coveralls. The Treasure State, I always assumed, represented the last vestiges of American ski town grit.

So you’ll understand my confusion, sorrow, and general life demoralization when I attended a ski patrol party in Montana (Montana ski-patrollers being, like, the bedrock of the ski town crust) and a red-cheeked patrolman passed me a bottle of nearly empty Fireball. The bottle of Maker’s on the kitchen counter? Untouched.

This was the apogee of the worst trend in America since snowblades. Nary a chairlift or a ski town barstool seemed Fireball-less this winter. From Mountain High to Jackson Hole, the sugary, cinnamon-flavored liqueur is the new rallying drink of choice. My question is: why? The slogan for Fireball Whisky is, “Tastes Like Heaven, Burns Like Hell,” which is cheesy, and not even half true. Heaven tastes like a mix of powder snow, Beyonce, and Brie.

And what’s wrong with bourbon? It’s been an American tradition since the early 18th century—Hemingway, Twain, Salinger, all bourbon drinkers. How many of your American heroes drank Fireball? None, because Canadians invented it in the 1980s and the only American heroes since then are Bruce Springsteen, who doesn’t drink, and Shane McConkey, who drank Jack and was born in Canada.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m no holdout. I’ve guzzled Fireball and I own snowblades. I like a good time and I’ll try anything twice, especially if it has booze in it. But I feel the same way after drinking cinnamon whisky as I do after I snowblade. Really bad about myself. It might have something to do with all that sugar. Fireball has 11 grams of sugar per shot, compared to zero for bourbon, and has 12 percent less alcohol.

So while you are getting hungover with your breaux, I’ll be getting drunk and talking to your girlfriend. Cheers.

Add a comment

  • PNW

    Who cares, name another alcohol that EVERYONE can realistically drink and have a good time.

  • Larry Day

    I live in Bozeman, MT. Bourbon is still my drink and I’d never heard of this “Fireball” until now. No Thanks.

  • Derf McStanley

    Awesome article, and so true. There was one glaring oversight in the article though . . . you assume us ski bums actually have a girlfriend. Powder AND a girlfriend?! Sounds like something out of a movie . . .

    • DagNabit

      Ha, sounds like you got ol TOB’s panties in a wad… Good job! He sounds like a snit anyway.

  • TOB

    You’re a gaper, who obviously wants to sit by a fire alone, contemplating your shitty stock investments! Enjoy being a sophisticated “ski-bum” and I’ll go shot for shot with your girlfriend!

    • Toasty

      Shot for shot with fireball with someones girlfriend is basically a sorority party you sissy…

  • Notasmuchofadickasthatguy

    Wow what a dick. Good thing you don’t live here.

  • Bigstix

    Seriously, how’s it any different then all the ski towns shooting Sambuca, Fernet, Jager or Tuaca back in the day. Don’t get me wrong, I drink copious amounts of whiskey (and rip on the mountain), but I also drink Fireball with your (probably not) would be girlfriend. She loves how it make her feels like she’s drinking whiskey and the way it makes my lips taste. Haaaa I love your magazine John!

  • Tasha Witham

    Maple Crown Royal is a my choice flask filler. It tastes like booze and breakfast. Not so bad to drink at first chair. Not that I ever drink that early…..;)

    • DagNabit

      uh huh… you wait till second chair cause you are still getting your gear on when you hit the first chair???

  • FmrSunshiner

    One thing the article missed is the amount of Fireball that’s being consumed at the mountain leading to people becoming intoxicated and injuring themselves and others. I can think of a handful of accidents I responded to and found a partial bottle of Fireball on them, one incident the gentleman will never walk again. Don’t get me wrong nothing wrong with a beer or two during the day, they are quite tasty.

  • Ryan

    That was a waste of copy space. Whether it’s Fireball, Wild Turkey, Peppermint Schnapps, or whatever ‘trend’ shooter people are throwing back, they come and go as often as you change your drawers. The great thing is Fireball wouldn’t bash a bourbon because there’s no need. They play in completely different arenas for drinkers and in fact can both be consumed by the same person. Uh-oh. Does this mean we might have to play together and not have a reason to gripe? Do better…

  • Oktoberfisher

    This article hit home in fine fashion. We have group of 12-15 guys that head to the High Sierra’s for 5 days of Fishing, Cribbage, and Drinking…. not necessarily in that order. When we were younger, Shots of Makers Mark were the hail call for every zero hand in cribbage amongst other things. Fireball made its first appearance last trip. While I resisted at first, something about being able to actually enjoy breakfast and feel less like a pile of crap in the morning seems kind of appealing.

  • djej

    First of all, if beyonce and brie are boggling up my powder snow heaven, I’m gonna have to drink as much fireball as it takes to rid myself of this horribly untalented, bland heaven. Also, you can’t stop a trend. Especially with close minded annoyance of a new emerging beverage amongst young partiers. Just let people drink whatever they will and don’t cry and rant all over the internet about it. Last I checked, you were still allowed to drink whatever you choose, especially in Montana. That being said, chill out and stop fighting this fad. Thank you.

    P.S. My girlfriend would never talk to someone who’s obsessed with Beyonce. Really, good luck with that.

  • Todo

    Blasphemy! How dare you speak ill of Fireball!

  • DagNabit

    Montana Girlie men take the tiara from California. Next up, where to get the best MANicure in Red Lodge.

  • Mcshlonkey

    Frat boys and their fake alcohol choices… First Soco now this crap. Sack up and drink something real.

  • Montaña Lagrimeo

    I will never forget ordering shots of Fireball for a buddy and myself just to try it out for the first time in Squaw. The bartender at the Auld Dub smirked at us and rolled his eyes saying it was a girls drink. Needless to say, I mostly only buy it for the ladies now, but it is not as bad as Fernet or Jaeger… Still like my tequila any day of the week over that junk

  • JP

    This article is down right annoying. “Heaven tastes like a mix of powder snow, Beyonce, and Brie” what? that statement is 66% false. And also, when was the last time schnaps was frowned upon at basically any ski area, by any skier? I think you’re confusing the average hard charging, nut deep powder hounds with a wine and cheese “apres-ski” city slicker who thinks the only ‘trails’ are the marked ones with names.

  • jack boner

    This is some serious anti-Canada propaganda. People want to get drunk. Don’t hate on them because they drink other types of alcohol than you. Grow up and stop being a judgmental douche.

  • Drew Tabke

    Really, Montana? I’d expect Fireball to stay confined to someplace lame like Colorado.

  • Rocky

    Truer words were never spoken

    • Rocky

      Fireball is horrible

  • SoHardCore

    Ski article of the year! Fireball is for flamers!

  • SugarStash

    You’ll have to forgive us here in Montana… see we have over 30 breweries, 2nd nationally for craft breweries per capita, dozens of distilleries dedicated to the fine craft of whiskey, hot springs that serve alcohol, drink most out-of-staters under the table, and still shoot a dime out of the sky. And all this fun? $30 bar tab. So like the spoiled brats we are, sometimes we just have to give in, shoot a jagerbomb, down some fireball, crack an Oly, and catch a damn trout. And tomorrow- we’ll do it all again.

  • poach ninja

    Fireball is good for the backcountry flask. Don’t judge me…

  • Alex

    John Clary Davies is an asshole. Get over yourself you elitist prick.

  • Sam Mortensen

    Did Hemingway, Twain, and Salinger ski? Good comparison though.

  • BOB

    That’s just like your opinion…dude. Fire in the HOLE!

  • Jared Frasier

    Being from Bozeman, we’ve seen this trend slowly creep in, but it was mainly with the kids coming in from out of state to enjoy our over-abundance of powder and cheap liquor.

    That being said, not all of us have taken a liking to it. I have a bottle, but cannot stand it except for in few concoctions I’ve devised when gifted with bottles by drunk frat-boys from CO.

    Drink #1 – The Denison
    2oz Fireball
    2oz Cock/Bull Ginger Beer
    3 Large ice chunks in a tumbler
    Garnish with ridicule for the recipient thinking that your Dry Fly whiskey is not good enough for them.

    Drink #2 – Big Red
    3oz Fireball
    1oz Campari
    3 Large ice chunks in a tumbler
    Garnish with a sprig of mint. Add a throat-punch and if a dude orders it.

    In other news, Bozeman now has a whiskey bar called “Copper Whiskey Bar & Grill” on 101 E. Main. They have over 80 whiskeys and plenty micro on tap as well. I heard a dude ask for a Fireball and the gracious barkeep just said, “Yeah, I’ll see if I can find it…” and then shook his head at the other and never got back to the guy.

  • G3

    Yeah, well, if you ever ordered JAEGER you’re just as guilty. That sludge is good for nothing except a sugar headache.

  • Brian

    So you are shit talking fireball and snow blades. It sonds like you hate spring skiing. When we aren’t out bagging big spring lines we like to have fun. Nothing says fun like some silly short skis, dumb outfits and some smooth drinking hard liquor. Sounds like you suck at life old man. Loosen up.

    P.s. have at all the lame dowdy fireball hating girlfriends you want. You obviously missed the memo that Scandinavian babes have a weakness for the cinnamon goodness.

  • 5EVR

    It is disappointing so many posters do not see the perfection of Beyonce, Brie and Blower powder.

  • WhiskyQueen

    I’m in Bozeman and I’m of the unfortunate young age crowd into this sad up trend. But, I want to punch anyone dude who buys me a shot of fireball in his fireballs….I’ll forever be a real Montanan Whiskey gal!

  • Kentucky Bourbon Drinker

    The Makers stayed untouched because…well, it’s not *really* bourbon; I don’t know what it is – but, it’s sure not bourbon. Maybe bourbon swill. Makers is what Kentuckians serve to people who think they like bourbon but wouldn’t know the difference between bourbon or say…Dr. Pepper.

    Take a real bourbon – something made from the experimental barrels at Buffalo Trace Distillery or another small barrell producer – there are several around. Willet’s is good, Angel’s Envy is wonderful…

    Until you man up and drink real bourbon – you’re only comparing flavored whiskey to unflavored whiskey so your argument is invalid.

  • Inferno

    One of these days, people need to grow up and stop insulting others based on what they like to eat and drink. Are you that insecure with your manhood that you have to take away someone else’s man card to replace your own which is long gone?

    Who cares what people like to drink? Beer is only 3-8% and nobody talks trash about somebody being a “woman” for drinking that. Coke is 0% alcohol, and nobody calls somebody a “woman” for drinking that. Who the hell cares what kind of tastes people prefer? Mind your own damn business and stop searching for stupid reasons to insult other people.

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