If you haven’t heard the news, Arby’s recently released two limited-edition vodkas that sold out in minutes. Yup, vodkas. And yes, minutes. But if the idea of Arby’s releasing its own hard alcohol wasn’t a goofy enough stunt on its own, it’s the two flavors they created that really caught our attention: Arby’s Curly Fry–flavored vodka and Arby’s Crinkle Fry–flavored vodka. We’re living in strange times, everyone.
The fast food chain sent us a kit containing both varietals, along with all the necessary ingredients for special cocktails inspired by the flavors of the fries. Of course, the vodka didn’t come straight out of an Arby’s drive-thru; Arby’s worked with Tattersall Distilling Company, based out of Minneapolis, to make these liquid fries possible. Our curiosity around the vodka was insatiable, but there was someone else who we knew would share our fascination: Brendan Kelly.
Kelly is the lead singer of punk rock band The Lawrence Arms (they’re awesome, you should check them out) and, full disclosure, is a former colleague of ours, having previously worked for Onion Inc. But he has an alter ego that not nearly as many people know about: He’s the person responsible for the wildly popular Nihilist Arby’s Twitter account, which has nearly 400,000 followers and spouts existential dread while proclaiming that you (and all of us) should enjoy Arby’s.
Here’s a timely example of one of the Nihilist Arby’s tweets, which pretty much sums up the entire account:
Kelly expressed disappointment that he couldn’t get his hands on any of the Curly Fry vodka, so we invited him to The Takeout’s headquarters to join our staff for a taste test. If life is meaningless, might as well drink Arby’s, right?
One 750ml bottle of either the Crinkle Fy or the Curly Fry vodka would have set you back $60, if you were one of the few people who managed to snag a bottle before they sold out. The kit we received had one 100ml bottle of each variety, along with some inventive cocktail ingredients.
Of course, before we charged into the mixology portion of the taste test, we had to taste each vodka straight, to see if either tasted like their namesake french fry inspirations.
First, we tried the Crinkle Fry–flavored vodka. Everyone had some pretty interesting thoughts on this one. Associate editor Brianna Wellen, upon taking a sniff, said, “What’s that smell like? Straight vodka.” We said cheers, and tossed it down the hatch. “It is a little salty,” she added after a pause.
“It’s remarkably oily,” said Kelly. “It’s gross. It tastes like drinking fat. It, like, slid down my throat. It felt like it went down in one solid glop.” Others agreed.
“That doesn’t disappoint, in terms of what I was expecting,” he added.
I can’t say I’ve ever heard anyone describe vodka as having a “gloppy” texture, but he wasn’t wrong. It definitely had some thickness to it that none of us were prepared for, and left sort of a film behind. But it was also sweet, containing a tame vanilla flavor with some rounder notes of potato. To be perfectly honest, however, there was absolutely no way I would have identified it as french-fry-flavored vodka, or even more specifically, Arby’s fry vodka.
Staff writer Angela Pagán agreed with Kelly. “I second the oily nature,” she said. “It kind of sat in my mouth a little bit.”
“You can smell a syrupiness,” said Marnie Shure, Takeout editor in chief, noting that a press release from Arby’s indicates that the Crinkle Fry vodka is made with both kosher salt and sugar.
Ultimately, I thought the Crinkle Fry version tasted more like schnapps than vodka.
We were more interested in tasting the Curly Fry vodka, which came next. Arby’s press release indicated this product was “distilled with cayenne, paprika, onion, and garlic,” none of which really came through in a sniff test. It smelled a little more like meat than anything else. Meat vodka. Is that a thing? Arby’s, if you’re reading this, we’d love to see a roast beef vodka in the near future.
After we tipped our shot glasses, Shure noted the shocking difference between the two vodkas. This one, unlike the first, wasn’t sugary or “gloppy.”
“It’s not as viscous, right?” Kelly agreed. “It goes down, and even though it [causes] a burn along the sides of your tongue, it’s not heartburn immediately, like the other one. There’s just a little more nuance to it.” We tasted the slight spiciness of the cayenne, which was much more interesting than tasting straight up salt and sugar.
“And it’s a little less grotesque,” Kelly said. “Like, [it doesn’t have] this-is-what-the-orcs-drink-in-Mordor vibes to it.” I didn’t think we’d be discussing the evil realms of Middle Earth during an Arby’s taste test, but I wouldn’t have guessed we’d ever be drinking Arby’s vodka either.
“It’s like Arby’s put all their money into the Curly Fry one, and then somebody said, ‘We should do another one!’” Wellen said. “This is definitely a promotion to remind people that Arby’s has Crinkle Cut fries.”
Next, I played bartender and shook up a Bloody Mary, following the instructions that came with the Arby’s vodka kit. One of the ingredients that stood out from the rest was the packet of Horsey Sauce (a proprietary mayo-based horseradish sauce), which kind of threw me off. I can’t say I’ve ever mixed mayonnaise into an alcoholic beverage before. I had some mixed emotions while shaking the whole thing up. You might say I was shaken too.
The finished Bloody Mary looked a little like cream of tomato soup with small white flecks floating around in it. That’s what everyone wants in a Bloody Mary, isn’t it? Little unidentifiable bits?
I took a sip and wondered why it tasted so familiar. Then I realized the drink tasted like cocktail sauce due to the horseradish, which Arby’s included in the kit alongside the Horsey sauce. Everyone agreed it was slightly better than we thought it would be, if a bit too sweet.
After a sip, Kelly said, “I don’t like the mix, but the vodka can hang in there.”
That’s the best we can say about this vodka: it can hang. For those of you sorely disappointed that you missed out on the chance to try Arby’s-branded vodka since it sold out so quickly, I’m here to assure you that you’re not missing out. Sure, there are some bragging rights involved when you get to say you’ve tasted Arby’s-branded alcohol, but that’s pretty much it.
I think you’d get far more satisfaction out of a Beef ’n Cheddar loaded with Horsey sauce while drinking a Bloody Mary. Sounds like a square brunch to me. Anybody got Sunday plans?