Pinnacle Vodka has a flavor for pretty much everything under the sun, but we wondered: do they actually taste like the food depicted on the bottle? Does the cookie dough taste like that stuff you lick off of a spatula? Does the marshmallow taste like evenings spent around a campfire? Do the snozzberries taste like snozzberries? We don't know that last one, but to find out the rest, I sat down with a lineup of nine Pinnacle vodkas and tasted them to see if they really delivered on their promised flavors, shot after shot. Chronicled below are my accounts of the similarities of their smells and tastes to the real things, from worst to best.
9. RAINBOW SHERBET Aroma: 2/5 - Definitely not one of rainbow sherbet. I’d say the smell it most resembles is Skittles, which, while indisputably delicious, are not rainbow sherbet. Granted, the last time I had rainbow sherbet was (*COUGH*COUGH*YESTERDAY*COUGH*COUGH*) many, many years ago, so I could be misremembering this one. Taste: 1/5 - No. Again, just like Skittles, except the vodka taste in this one is super-overpowering.
8. MARSHMALLOW Aroma: 3/5 - A little plastic-y, but otherwise captures the inherent sugariness of a marshmallow. Not a strong scent though, so maybe that’s not as easily recreated in a vodka. Taste: 1/5 - Nope. Nothing really there in terms of marshmallowiness except for a cloying sweetness that screams sugar. Tastes more like syrup.
7 (TIE). CINNAMON ROLL Aroma: 3/5 - Extremely sugary on the nose. Smells like pure frosting with added cinnamon and a hint of industrial yeast. Taste: 2/5 - A bit spicy, surprisingly, which is totally not a normal element of the flavor profile of cinnamon rolls. But IT WORKS, goddammit, Marty! Sweetness and hotness rule here. It also leaves a tingling sensation on your tongue much like an actual cinnamon roll, but not due to icing-induced numbness.
7 (TIE). TROPICAL PUNCH Aroma: 4/5 - Verrrrry pungent smell on this one, kinda like that concentrated puff of air inside a pack of fruit gummies. A pleasant one, for sure. Taste: 1/5 - Not fruit punch-y at all. The smell is exemplary, but the taste leaves something to be desired. When you think of fruit punch, you think of that overly sugary stuff you got at Chuck E. Cheese's between rounds of skee-ball. This is basically pure vodka with a hint of fruit.
5. COCONUT Aroma: 1/5 - A little too chemical for my nose’s… uh… tastes? It smells more like a coconut-scented car air freshener than an actual coconut straight off the tree. Taste: 4/5 - Pretty damn good, with a nice toasted element in the flavor profile. I love coconut, and this almost captures its essence.
4. RED LIQUORICE Aroma: 2/5 - Whoa! This stuff smells JUST LIKE Swedish Fish! In a great way. Except for the fact that it’s supposed to smell like red liquorice, which is my favorite of the two accepted types of liquorice. Taste: 4/5 - They nailed the red liquorice taste moreso than the smell. There’s a distinct anise flavor, but it takes a backseat to the cherry essence. This is decent stuff.
3. ATOMIC HOT Aroma: 4/5 - Yup, that’s definitely candy! Got a huge whiff of cinnamon, almost like taking the cinnamon challenge except with a more variable outcome. There’s also a strange grassy/earthy element in there. Taste: 3/5 - The grassy element is still there in the taste! Cinnamon is dominant, of course, but I really can’t shake the fact that this vodka has a vegetal earthiness. Drinking this should count towards your daily recommended five fruits and veggies per day.
2. WHIPPED Aroma: 5/5 - Smells just like huffing the real stuff, but without the adverse effects. Taste: 4/5 - There’s a definite grain note that detracts from the whipped cream flavors, but otherwise it’s a spot-on interpretation.
1. COOKIE DOUGH Aroma: 5/5 - There’s a buttery, brown sugar-y note in this thing that's beautiful and evocative. I feel like I’m at home and my lovely mother is baking cookies, except I’m actually in a sweltering photography studio alone and texting my girlfriend for moral support. Taste: 5/5 - Holy cookie, Batman! It's like drinking a liquified doughy glob with chocolate chips, just like the front of the bottle promised. It's even got a bit of the butteriness I smelled in the taste. A triumph of vodka engineering! And it handles like a dream.
THE AFTERMATH Despite the fact that I just locked myself in a room for an hour and casually sipped/swilled nine shots of vodka with palate cleansers, I'm feeling enlightened. Cookie Dough and Whipped were definitely the two top dogs here, which is interesting considering that the bottles say they’re “imitation” varieties. Rainbow Sherbet takes the lowest spot due to its failure to deliver on those promises of Summery flavors.
The lesson here? Sugary confections, overall, lend themselves well to vodka -- if it works as a dessert, it'll probably work in a bottle of distilled starch. I may not have reached an elevated sense of consciousness on the matter, but I can confidently say that Pinnacle's ability to recreate flavors is pretty damn impressive.
Adam Lapetina is a food/drink staff writer at Thrillist, and wholeheartedly believes that the best things in life are fried. Read his musings on Twitter at @adamlapetina.