On this episode of the “VinePair Podcast,” hosts Adam Teeter, Joanna Sciarrino, and Zach Geballe prepare for Halloween by discussing some of the scariest trends in drinks right now. Plus, for this Friday’s tasting, your hosts try Shiner’s TexHex Bruja’s Brew IPA and TexHex Twin Dream Double IPA. Tune in for more.

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Adam Teeter: From VinePair’s New York City headquarters, I’m Adam Teeter.

Joanna Sciarrino: And I’m Joanna Sciarrino.

Zach Geballe: And in Seattle, Washington, I’m Zach Geballe.

A: And this is the “VinePair Podcast.” Spooky edition.

J: Adam, did you have a werewolf bar mitzvah?

A: I mean, it’s my favorite song ever. Zach, play it.

Z: Oh.

A: Such a great song.

Z: “Boys becoming men, men becoming wolves.” There’s really…

A: It’s so good.

Z: It’s about the epitome of American comedy in the last 30 years.

A: It’s so good. So we thought we would chat today about scary drink trends, drink trends that are scaring us.

J: Scaring us.

A: And no, ladies and germs, it’s not just natural wine.

Z: Yeah. Emphasis on the germs there, Adam.

J: Nice.

A: I feel like — Whoops, that’s a lot. I feel like… Ooh.

Z: That’s really the theme of this entire podcast, let’s be honest.

A: Guys, it’s been a long day. Anyways, I feel like there are a lot of trends out there that are scary, though.

Z: Oh yeah.

A: That freak us all out. Made us go bump in the night, or that go bump in the night. Zach, what is your scary drink trend?

Z: So one of the ones that has been scaring me is the return of everything “tini.” I am old enough to have worked and lived through the tail end of everything “tini” craze once — i.e., any drink could have the word or the suffix “tini” appended to it and be put on a menu, and I think we are back in those days. And that’s not to say that any of the individual drinks are themselves bad, but there’s actually a good reason to be scared of this trend. There are two good reasons to be scared of this trend. One is that a lot of the drinks are bad, unfortunately. Many of them are not well balanced. They’re overly sweet. They’re kind of ridiculous. And not in a way that I generally enjoy, but in a way that I find less appealing personally. But also because, frankly, it becomes very difficult for consumers, whether they are cocktail lovers, whether they’re experienced drinkers or not, to navigate a drinks list when it has seven different “Martini” variations on it. And we’re getting there in multiple directions right now. We’re getting into the high-end version of that, which didn’t exist previously but I find kind of confusing, when now any drink that’s basically got gin or vodka in it can be considered a Martini.

A: Yeah, man.

Z: I feel like that we’re getting kind of out there with what we’re calling these drinks and we’re calling them our version of a Martini when it has… I mean, yeah, it’s a stirred cocktail made with gin or vodka that’s served up, but how is that functionally different than your Appletinis or whatever? Those were probably shaken, to be fair, but whatever. Point is, it’s confusing and I think it doesn’t do the drinker a whole lot of a service, because many of them don’t really adhere to what makes the Martini a great cocktail. And I’m not going to sit here and proselytize for it. That’s what “Cocktail College” exists for. Tim McKirdy mentions the greatness of the Martini I think every episode. Is that in his contract, guys? You would know better than I would.

A: No, it’s not.

Z: Okay. Tim does that for free.

A: Yeah.

Z: But Tim is the biggest advocate. But he’s not wrong,  A) that it’s a great cocktail. B) That at its fundamental core, the drink has a central tension to it that when you start adding in a bunch of different ingredients, you just kind of lose. It doesn’t make the drink bad. It can make those drinks really good. But they’re not really a Martini at that point, they’re just something else. They’re a gin cocktail, which, hey, those are good. I like gin cocktails. More please. So my spooky trend, my scary trend No. 1 is the rise of the “tini,” the “Frankentini’s Monster.” I don’t know. I’m trying here, guys.

J: I like that.

A: I like it.

J: I like that.

Z: Joanna, you got to have one.

J: Okay. Mine’s kind of related, I guess. But the lovely youths on our team have clued me into one.

A: I swear if you use mine, I’m going to be real upset.

J: Like influencers. I mean, these people are very scary, but Kylie Jenner and the Kardashians have their own Martini, which is trending on TikTok apparently. And people love this recipe. But it’s literally just a Martini glass with three olives and vodka poured into the glass. And people love Kylie Jenner’s-

Z: Just room temp vodka?

J: I think it’s chilled vodka.

Z: I hope it’s room temp.

J: I think it’s chilled vodka.

Z: It would be right.

J: To be fair.

A: Oh my God.

J: Let’s be fair to Kylie, but that really scares me.

A: Can we just get rid of the Kardashian-Jenners?

J: Oh man. Yeah, me too. I’m so with you. But I think, more generally, I think these types of celebrity and influencer drinks trends that take hold, they’re really scary to me.

A: I mean often too, because I think what’s scary to me about these is that they’re so uninformed. The drink itself.

J: Oh yeah.

A: It’s just what they like to drink, which is fine, but then everyone takes it as gospel and then they’re like, “Oh,” I mean, this idea that we had that celebrities are experts in everything. That didn’t work out well, guys, two years ago, for four years prior to that. Celebrities don’t know everything. And so this idea that… I mean, the one that really pisses me off is Stanley Tucci cannot make a Negroni. I’m sorry. I mean, he’s a cute little man, but when you watch him dump the Campari and the vermouth into a shaker with some gin, and then he shakes it and talks about how he also sometimes adds maraschino and you’re just like, “Dude, this isn’t Negroni, and why are you shaking it?” And then people think it’s gospel. The only person who’s a celebrity and you should never ever question their cocktails…

J: Immune to this.

A: Dude, Barefoot Contessa.

J: Yes.

A: If you f*ck with Ina, I’ll f*ck with you. She’s a queen. But besides that, no one. Yes, I agree. It’s so annoying. And now they’re experts in making tequila and they’re experts in making rum. They’re not. It’s an annoying trend.

J: What’s yours? Very scary.

A: Very scary. Well, mine was another Gen Z trend, which is the vodka water.

J: Oh yeah.

A: I just don’t understand it, it’s freaking me out.

J: We have a piece about this coming up soon on the site.

A: It’s a majorly trending cocktail. It is literally vodka and water.

J: If I were a bartender, I’d be really scared of this one.

A: I’d be like, “No, my license is going to get revoked for over-serving you.” We are just totally ripping the veil off of the idea that it’s about anything more than getting f*cked up once we’re drinking vodka waters. Right? That’s all it’s about at that point. It’s not about interesting flavors. It’s not about conviviality. It’s just about getting f*cked up. I just don’t understand this drink at all.

J: Don’t you think if it were that, wouldn’t it just be drinking vodka? What is the water?

A: No, because they want to stay hydrated.

J: Right.

A: Because it’s this belief that they’re staying hydrated while they drink it.

J: So it’s more than that.

A: But it’s like, get f*cked up but don’t regret it tomorrow.

J: You should just drink light vodka at that point, right? Right, guys?

A: So this one is a really scary trend to me. So far they’re all spirits-, basically, based. Zach, what’s your next one?

Z: Well, mine is kind of, I don’t know if you would even say it’s necessarily spirits-based. It’s just sort of, we are now in this phase of everything alcoholic. We have taken every beverage concept under the sun and been like, “But what if you put booze in it?” And out Dave Infante I think is the foremost chronicler of all things that have alcohol added to them. And I both bow in respect and also fear Dave’s encyclopedic knowledge of this. But we are so deep now in the hard lemonade, tea, soda, milk, God knows what else? Hard water, which is different from vodka waters, to be fair. And it’s almost like a weird fun house mirror version of what you were just talking about, which is also we have to have everything be able to get us f*cked up. People are no longer willing to just combine a non-alcoholic drink with alcohol, it has to be done for them, which-

J: Mixers, remember those?

Z: No. No mixers, Joanna. Just RTDs or die. Yeah, this is a little bit probably my crotchety old man take, but just what is the point of many of these things? I don’t really understand it. And I almost believe that at least half of them are functionally just promotional gimmicks in the long run anyhow, and so maybe they work from that standpoint. But yeah, they scare me and I don’t want to drink them.

J: Yeah. I agree.

Z: Do you have another one, Joanna?

J: Okay, I’ve got another one. I think this one is waning, I’m hoping. But charcoal. Charcoal in our drinks.

A: Yeah. That freaks me out.

J: I mean, I think that is straight-up dangerous. That’s just bad for you. But it has this…

A: Activated charcoal’s the rage.

J: Yeah, activated charcoal… right. But it has this health halo around it. People think it’s good for you, but actually it’s quite bad and dangerous for you.

Z: I mean also the drink looks cool. That’s really, I think like 80 percent of it.

J: Right, because you’re drinking a black drink. But let’s stay away from that everyone.

A: Yeah. You know what scares me? All these natural wine people who pretend they were not part of the problem and now they’re part of the backlash, and they’re all jumping on the bandwagon and being like, “Oh no, we didn’t mean this kind of wine.” And now they’re trying to all of a sudden distance themselves and be like, “No, no, no, we liked Burgundy the whole time.” That scares me. This idea that they’re going to try to forget what they created. No, no, no, you need to own this, because we’re not going to forget. So here’s the deal: Now a lot of them are popping up in publications where they’re being quoted and stuff like that. And I’m like, no, no, no, no. You created this. Own the creation. You drank wines like these, that’s cool now that you’ve decided that a lot of these wines are bigger than you wanted them to be, but you were pouring them. “I love these wines from Austria.” And now all of a sudden it’s like you’re pouring, and I love wines from Austria. I’m talking about these natural wines from Austria, some of them may or may not have a cow on the label, but that’s the thing. You created this, you’re about this. Stop. It’s really annoying, scary.

Z: Yeah. I have a wine thing that’s scaring me as well.

J: Go.

Z: And it is the wine list that… How would I put this? It’s the wine list where it’s very clear that 80 percent of the wines on the list, the restaurant or wine bar has one bottle of. And this is not a new trend, but it makes me very unhappy. I think we talked about this a few different times in relatively recent episodes, just indirectly or just in passing. But I think that one of the things that I hate about the way a lot of wine lists are built in this country is — or not a lot of them, but in noticeable wine lists are built, is a belief that you A) have to show that you have this incredible breadth of wine available, including whether it’s classics, trendy stuff, whatever, and that you are incapable of making, I guess, for lack of a better way of putting it, a sort of editorial decision about what does and does not need to be on your list. And if your answer is, “Okay, well I’m going to have a 500-bottle list, but 400 of those SKUs I have one, two, maybe three bottles of,” who are we doing a favor for here? Why does this exist? And this isn’t, again, like I said, this isn’t new, this has, in some way or another existed for quite a while. But I feel like we should… I think hopefully, I would like to think that we could be moving past this as, for example, some of the publications that might exist in part to reward restaurants and bars that have very extensive wine lists that meet certain criteria are, I would like to think, waning in their importance or at least are not as important to a newer set of wine directors, I would think. Why are we still doing this? As I think you said on the last episode, Adam, a tightly curated list that has 60, 70, 80 bottles that are really good, diverse, there’s some stylistic range, price range, age range, etc.,  is so much better for guests, is so much better for everyone who works there, it’s better for the restaurant, than this sprawling mess where everything is on the list. It’s like your wine list should not remind me of the Cheesecake Factory, let’s put it that way.

J: Yeah. That kind of wine list scares me.

A: That kind of wine list really scares me. It’s too much, and then I’m not ready when you finally come and ask me if I’d like to make my selections. I’m like, “No, there’s too much here. There’s too much here.” I can’t get through it. You know what also scares me? The wine list on the f*cking iPad.

Z: Oh, yeah. I’ve never encountered that.

A: Oh, I hate that. It’s because, “Oh, it’s so big guys. We can’t contain it in a book.” I’m just like… Oh, I hate it.

J: I feel like something else re: wine list that’s quite scary is the ones that I feel like we’ve been encountering lately that are very expensive.

A: Yeah, that really scares me. I think the wine lists where the bottles are basically all over $80.

J: Or a hundred, yeah.

A: Or a hundred is very scary and is becoming the norm, especially in New York.

J: Yeah.

A: And again is why, then, you’re going to see people start drinking other things instead.

J: Yeah.

A: 120,000 percent. Anything else, Joanna? Or should we drink?

J: No, I think we should drink this scary beer that we have here.

A: Yeah, we do. So Joanna, what beer do we have?

J: So this is a new release from Shiner.

A: Yes.

J: It’s called Tex Hex.

A: There is nothing about this that would make me think that this was a Shiner Bock beer besides the fact that it says “Shiner.”

J: I know. So it’s Bruja’s Brew. Bruja is witch in Spanish, correct me if I’m wrong.

Z: You are right.

J: Cool. Quite scary for the season.

A: Werewolf Bar Mitzvah.

J: So we have an IPA here and…

A: Double IPA.

J: Double IPA?

Z: You mean werewolf quinceanera?

A: Most interesting thing is, they’re brewed with cactus water.

J: Yes.

Z: Okay.

A: Bing bong. Okay, so what are we trying first?

Z: I think the Bruja’s brew, the regular IPA, and then we’ll drink the double.

J: Okay.

A: Here’s the double. There’s the single. First of all.

J: Okay.

A: They look more like traditional IPAs. Here’s the single. I don’t like the nose of the single.

J: I have the single here.

A: It’s very malty.

J: Pretty bitter for me, but doesn’t linger.

A: But very malty. I’m curious what the cactus water does here.

Z: Looks good on the label? I don’t know.

A: Brewed with cactus water. I don’t really know.

Z: Is there a health halo around cactus water? Probably, right?

A: Probably.

J: Well, yeah. Oh, we have a piece coming up about this, so I’m curious.

A: It’s interesting. I wouldn’t put it down. I wouldn’t say I don’t want to drink it. It’s a fine beer, but it’s not amazing.

Z: I think it’s a perfectly acceptable IPA. I don’t have a…

J: Me, too.

A: Yeah, it’s a perfectly acceptable IPA.

Z: Yeah. I don’t think it’s… Whatever, it’s just… Yeah. That’s how I would describe it. I’m curious…

A: If this was on draft at the local bar and someone handed me a pint of it, I’d be like, “Cool. That’s good.”

Z: Yeah. I’m curious to try this double, which clocks in it? 9.5 percent ABV, so back to our Voodoo Ranger conversation from the other day.

A: I mean, you can smell how sort of sweet this is because of the alcohol.

J: Yeah.

Z: Oh, yeah. Wow.

J: It smells very fruity.

A: Oh, to me this is too big.

Z: I feel like I get more of the cactus notes on this, for whatever reason. It has a cactus-y smell to it.

J: Gosh, I don’t think I can…

Z: Maybe that’s the hops, I don’t know.

J: Cactus notes for me.

A: Yeah. I don’t know. I mean, you know what? Who knows? It is a big beer, though. It’s aggressively hoppy. I think this is trying to jump on the Voodoo craze.

Z: Oh, for sure.

J: Yes. This is an enigmatic IPA brewed with cactus water and a vexing duo of Idaho Seven and Citra hops.

A: So do they have to harvest the cactus to get the water?

J: I don’t know.

A: That’s a lot of cactus probably.

J: Yeah.

A: If this thing’s going to scale.

J: It’d be nice to know more about the process.

Z: Do you think that with cactus water we are talking about the liquid that is inside a cactus when you cut it down, or are we talking about just steeping cactus into water? I have no idea.

A: I’m assuming the liquid inside the cactus.

Z: I mean, my assumption. But I don’t know if cactus water is a defined legal term for a thing. I don’t know.

A: I don’t know. You’d have to… Yeah. I wonder if this is regulated by the TTB. Interesting. Aloe water is the water from inside the Aloe plant, right, that everyone drinks?

J: Yeah, or coconut water, or maple water.

A: I think that it’s… I mean again, who knows? I would assume it’s water from inside the cactus plant.

J: Me too.

A: Which feels very Texas.

Z: For sure.

A: I also feel like that’s got to take a lot of cactus. Cacti.

Z: I mean presumably they have abundant cacti.

J: A lot of it, yeah.

A: True. Interesting. I don’t know what I’m thinking about.

J: I like these, I don’t know. I think they taste good.

A: Yeah, they’re fine. They’re interesting.

Z: Yeah.

A: I take back my earlier “I’m meh on them.” I think they’re good. I think they’re interesting. I think that it’s a cool story to give to someone. Like, “Hey, here’s an IPA brewed with Cactus Water.” The second one is just, it’s too strong for me. I can see why people would like it. I mean, this is definitely a Voodoo Ranger competitor. And I could see if you liked Voodoo Ranger, you would like this. But the first one I enjoyed.

Z: Yeah.

A: So, all right, well, spook on y’all.

J: Happy Halloween.

A: Happy Halloween.

J: Have a great weekend.

Z: Sounds great.

Thanks so much for listening to the “VinePair Podcast.” If you love this show as much as we love making it, please leave us a rating or review on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever it is you get your podcasts. It really helps everyone else discover the show.

Now for the credits. VinePair is produced and recorded in New York City and Seattle, Washington, by myself and Zach Geballe, who does all the editing and loves to get the credit. Also, I would love to give a special shout-out to my VinePair co-founder, Josh Malin, for helping make all of this possible, and also to Keith Beavers, VinePair’s tastings director, who is additionally a producer on the show. I also want to, of course, thank every other member of the VinePair team, who are instrumental in all of the ideas that go into making the show every week. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll see you again.

Ed. note: This episode has been edited for length and clarity.