Troubling Trends: The Rise of Fireball
The tragedy of whisky liqueur replacing bourbon in ski towns
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.
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