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Southern Comfort

In our previous installment of Booze Behaving Badly, we took a fledgling spirits company to task for one of the most ill advised marketing campaigns in spirits industry history. This week we’ll assay yet another suspect new release, from one of the country’s more venerable brands.

Southern Comfort recently rolled out a concoction called Fiery Pepper — a combination of their patented peach and whiskey-flavored liqueur and Tabasco sauce that SoCo VP Mark Bacon believes “will challenge (consumers’) senses and fire up the night.” He neglected to add, “and possibly induce a nasty case of morning-after fire ass.”

Now, mass-produced infusions are nothing new, and while I myself am not a fan by any stretch, I understand their utility in the marketplace, as well as the consumer appeal, particularly among entry-level drinkers who don’t know any better.

Still, the Southern Comfort brand has always maintained at least a modicum of street cred among serious drinkers, and so my first thought upon tasting Fiery Pepper was “why did they do this?” (My next thought, incidentally, was “when the hell did I become the Andy Rooney of booze reportage?”)

I’m not saying that mixing SoCo with Tabasco is a bad idea. On the contrary, the pairing has a certain appeal. Particularly if you happen to be, say, in a fraternity at Mississippi State. What I am saying is that the existence of a product such as this suggests that there are an alarming number of truly lazy sods in this world.

It’s not like hot sauce is prohibitively expensive or hard to find, right? And I think most reasonable people would agree that spicing up the hooch yourself with a dash or two straight from the bottle beats a prefab blend whipped up in some laboratory somewhere.

So that pretty much leaves convenience as Fiery Pepper’s raison d’etre. It’s a product targeted at the hordes of feeble mouth-breathers who are apparently so indolent that the amount of exertion required to shake a goddamn bottle of Tabasco is too much to handle.

Make no mistake, these booze-swilling sloths really are out there. In force. How else to explain the enormous popularity of Bud Light Lime, ready-made rum & Coke, and the Coors Light “Cold Activated” can, which turns blue to let you know when you’ve officially stopped trying.

A core principle of salesmanship is convincing people they need something that they, in fact, do not. The more shit we covet, the more cash the shit-shillers pocket. So you can bet your Snuggies and Clappers and Dust Mop Slippers that our opportunistic corporate enablers will continue to do everything in their power to facilitate our languorous slouch toward inertness.

We’re living in an age defined by the marketing slogan “there’s an app for that,” and it stands to reason that unless we resist the temptation to allow computers and gadgets and booze companies to do everything for us, we’re destined to become the fat, lazy and stupid leisure addicts from the space station in WALL-E.

Well, I say enough is enough. Thanks but no thanks, Anheuser-Busch. We can squeeze our own damn limes into our beer. And trust our senses to determine when the optimum drinking temperature has been reached. And while we’re at it, anyone over the age of 21 who hasn’t mastered the art of pouring shouldn’t be drinking alcohol in the first place – so take those vortex bottles and stick ’em up your ass!

As for Southern Comfort, well interestingly enough, writing this post had helped me discover a newfound appreciation for a spirit that, frankly, I’ve neglected for many years. Not the Fiery Pepper, mind you. I’m talking about original SoCo served the way the God intended – in an Alabama Slammer… it’s a drink that gives you all the drunk, with only half the morning-after fire ass.

Read the previous installment of The Imbiber on Food Republic.

Dan Dunn’s book “Living Loaded: Tales of Sex, Salvation and the Pursuit of the Never-Ending Happy Hour” is available at Amazon, Borders Barnes & Noble and wherever books are sold. Follow Dan on Twitter and Facebook.