Thursday, December 28, 2017

Kotas Reviews Ocean Spray Mocktails Tropical Citrus Paradise

Well, well, the holidays are winding least until the next holiday of course! And what's right around the corner? 2018! Hopefully it doesn't have a baseball bat and want our lunch money. Anyway, what better way to try and ring in something resembling a new year than by drinking a whole lot? Still, not everyone enjoys the glory of intoxication. For that, we have today's little adventure. Ladies, Gentlemen, I present to you, the Ocean Spray Mocktail.

Non-Alcoholic? Wel...I guess I'll try it.
Non-alcoholic versions of alcoholic drinks have been around since forever. Notable ones include the Shirley Temple, the Arnold Palmer, and the "Water", but pre-packaged versions? Sure, I suppose that's a thing. We called 'em "Mixers" back in my day though. Anyway, the packaging is kind of ho hum. It's got a picture of some juice on it, trussed up like a cocktail, but you know, that's it. Still, it's not what's on the bottle, but what's in it! Let's drink!

It was a lot more pink in person.
Well, it's definitely juice. Very sweet juice. I think it's trying to emulate a Hurricane, but since I haven't had one of those in decades, I don't really know. It's very...grapefruity, which isn't a juice I normally go for. Still, I turned to my secret ingredient for making drinks taste better...rum! Yes, I put rum in the Mocktail to make it a...well, not a real cocktail, but something boozy.

Sadly, adding booze didn't really improve the flavor too much. The rum clashed with the juice (probably because I added too much...oh, shut up) and the flavors didn't really compliment each other. Perhaps vodka would have mixed better, but I'm still a little disappointed.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 1 Frowny Face. I guess it's fine, since it is drinkable, but I did not care for it and wouldn't really want to drink it again, even with some booze. It's overly sweet, cloying, and very very grapefruit. Still, I'm sure someone out there would like this, so feel free to try it. Just bring me a beer instead.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Kotas Reviews Maple Water

Coconut water has been trendy for a while now. If you don't know what coconut water is, basically someone decided that refining the slop that comes out of coconuts was an unnecessary step in the refinement process and just bottled the stuff straight up. Now, it's been the healthy beverage advocated for by athletes and health nuts alike. Me? I can't stand the stuff. I dislike most coconut products in general, and as a flavoring, it isn't my first (or second or eleventh) pick. Still, maybe there's a product that appeals to me? I suppose we have to find out. Ladies and gentlemen, today we crack open some Maple Water.

Yup. Mostly water.
According to the reputed scholars at Drink Maple's Labeling Institute, maple water is just "maple syrup before we boil it into actual maple syrup". Straight from the tree to your throat is where it's at, apparently. Uh, hooray I guess? Honestly, I didn't even know this was a thing until my spouse brought some home one day, but I don't know why I'm surprised at anything anymore. This job is tough sometimes, but we do what we do. 

The label isn't very fancy, just some text, a circle, and a maple leaf. I guess it's hard to make interesting packaging for what is effectively tree squeezin's, so they have my sympathy here. I think the labeling is just somewhat sterile is all. Maybe put a whole maple tree on here? Some bucket icons? Anyway, it's what's inside that counts, right? So let's pour one up.

Yeah, it basically looks like slightly tinged water. It does kinda vaguely smell of maple syrup, but other then that? It's water. Now, I'm not opposed to paying for water in a bottle. I regularly do so as a convenience for camping trips and other outdoor activities, but I can't seeing myself pay too much for bottled water, because it is after all just water. Maple water price wise is about the same as coconut water, which is around $2-$3 a bottle, so I don't know, I kind of expected a bit more from this? Whatever, down the hatch!

Have you ever drunk something that tastes like nothing until after you stopped drinking it? This is what drinking maple water was like. I drank some water, then suddenly smelled maple syrup. It was really weird. I know taste and smell are very tightly linked in the old sense bucket, but my tongue was telling me "water bro" while my nose is all "syrup, yo". It was very...disconcerting to say the least. My 4 year old didn't like it though, so I got to "enjoy" her sampling. Hooray.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 0 Faces. I don't hate it, but I would never seek this out as a treat or a refreshment or anything. If you hand one to me, I would drink it out of politeness. It's just water with the lightest note of maple taste and a heaping of maple scent, but only after you drink it. I'll give it this, it was quite refreshing, but so is tap water. Try it if you want, or just, I don't know, add a few drops of maple syrup to your glass of water.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Kotas Reviews Hot Cocoa Oreos

Happy Holidays everyone! This is a magnificent time of the year for me, because so many new Holiday themed stuff comes out! Now, most of this is food, because food is super convenient for me to experience and review, but I occasionally sneak in something else. Not today though, today we return to my bread and butter, or should I say cookie and filling? That's right! It's another Oreo review. Ladies and gentlemen, today we look at Hot Cocoa Oreos!

Clever girl...
So, hot cocoa eh? This is not the first time that Nabisco has seen fit to grace us with a drink themed flavor, but this one certainly seems to fit the profile of the cookie better. I mean, come on, look at that logo! Replacing the "o"s with marshmallows? Brilliant! Still, does the taste hold up to the glory of the packaging? Only one way to find out!

*Bum bum ba Duuum, boooooooooown*
Well, it smells...mostly like a chocolate Oreo. I suppose this is to be expected, but I don't want to be fooled again by a "special flavor cookie" that's just their regular cookie with shitty coloring. Anyway, these look like someone just opened up a Chocolate Oreo, a regular Oreo, and smushed them together. You know what? It tastes exactly like that too. It's not bad, and it IS different from something you can already buy, but much like Holiday Brew, this is just two flavors you already had combined into a somewhat convenient package. UNLIKE the Holiday Brew however, this costs considerably more to buy (same price as regular Oreos, much less in the package). And that, I think, is the kicker. If this was in a standard Oreo package, I'd be happier. They taste just fine, but I can either buy two packages of these, or buy one each of Regular and Chocolate Oreos, smush them together myself (with more creme no less!) and pay THE SAME PRICE. The flavor is fine though.

On the whole, this gets Zero Faces. The flavor is pretty good, and the themed artwork is nice, but the premium you pay for something you can basically do yourself is not a great value. Holiday Brew is the same price as regular Mtn. Dew, and yes, that DOES matter when it comes to limited edition things. If you can't bring me something unique, then don't charge me a premium. The cookies do taste fine though, so if you MUST have them, no one will be hatin'. Judging maybe, but not hatin'.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Kotas Reviews Float Nashville

Hello Everyone! It's the Holiday Season at last! Honestly, the whole Christmas/New Year's package deal is probably my favorite time of the year. I love the lights, the ornaments, the giant inflatable monstrosities that festoon people's lawns, the cards, the eggnog the wrapping paper, the music, the ribbons, the TV specials, on the noise, noise, noise, NOISE! So of course I dragged my family to Nashville's Opryland Hotel to see all the Christmas Fuss right at the start of the season. While I was there, a buddy of mine goaded invited me to try out an isolation tank. So, of course I had to. Ladies, Gentlemen, Hippies of All Ages, let's take a look at Float Nashville.

Seven Days a Week!
Float Nashville is a little shop in a business park in a part of Nashville I never visit. Luckily, it was only about 15 minutes from the hotel. I admit I was somewhat skeptical of the whole affair, but you know what? Trying things is sort of my idiom these days, so what the heck, eh? The office itself was fairly small and cozy, and the staff was pretty laid back and friendly. The lady at the desk answered all of my questions and didn't bat an eye at the simplicity of them ("So, is it really a tank? Really? For sure?"). We ended up going for a 90 minute session.

So, first thing, you don't need a bathing suit or anything at this place. They put you in a private room with your tank, a robe, and such, and the door locks, so you have that going on for you. I'm told you can wear a bathing suit, but eh, if you are gonna go, you might as well go whole hog. First, you put in some earplugs. Then, shower, but don't use the provided conditioner. This is to keep things pretty clean. Before you even enter the room though, they flush the tank and put in the...rather large amount of Epsom salts that lets you actually, you know, float. So, you've showered, and you've made sure the fresh water spray bottle and clean hand towel are situated to be at hand in case you get some of the water in your eyes (spoiler...I totally did and was super grateful for the spray bottle). Time to enter...THE TANK.

Definitely not an oven.
The thank itself is a little boxy contraption with a door on it, some pumps at the bottom, and many handles to grab onto. It looks a bit like a miniaturized Star Trek style shuttle craft. The door swings freely, so you aren't locked in or anything (which was a concern for me, since I have been known to get mildly fearful when in confined spaces), and the mood lighting will shut off once it senses no more movement. I stripped down and started to shower...and the shower head popped off the wall. It was certainly surprising. Anyway, I had to robe up and inform the staff. Without a shower head, the shower pipe still put out enough water that I could go ahead and keep going, so that's exactly what I did. It was only a little awkward. The things I do for my art. Still, IN WE GO!

My own private spa treatment.
So, you slide on it, shut the door, lay back, and relax. The water is 94 degrees, which is theoretically the surface temperature of our skin, but they apparently don't know that I'm a furnace inside. Still, it wasn't unpleasant getting it. And boy, do you really float. All that salt did an excellent job of keeping me above water. I opted to use this little ring thing for my head for comfort, but I probably didn't need it. The only things I could see were...nothing, and the only things I could hear were the sound of my own heartbeat, my breathing, and a very quiet background hum that I assumed was the pumps, which were otherwise not running. I certainly felt isolated, so I just laid back and tried to blank out. 

Mission fucking accomplished, because I dozed off. It was really easy to fall asleep in this thing, and I had absolutely no fear of rolling over and drowning because you float really, REALLY well and it's very comfortable. Like what I feel a water bed should feel like, instead of what it actually feels like, which is weird. The illusion of isolation is certainly there, but if you stretch out enough you hit the edges of the tank, which sort of brings you back to reality. I did have a fairly vivid dream, but it wasn't a dream that was particularly unusual or insightful. Just vivid. Upon waking, I apparently still had time in the tank, and while I was relaxed, I did get a bit bored. No hallucinations, no great revelations, just me and dark and quiet. Super comfy though. When time was up, they turned on some loud yet trancy music, and I showered off, got dressed, and exited. I'll give it this, though: I had a bit of stiffness in my neck and back from the longish drive to Nashville, and my time in the tank cleared that right up.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 1 Smiley Face. I certainly didn't hate it, and in fact found it very relaxing and nice. But that's all it was: nice. It was an extended Epsom salt soak, in the dark, with earplugs. Given all the stuff people say about floating, I feel like I missed something, and for $74 a session, I'm not convinced it was "totally worth it". Still, this is about what I'd expect to pay at a spa for some long treatment, and I must say I do want to try it again. I'm not sure if it is totally for me, but I can't help feeling like I need to do it again to really get the most out of my time with floating. That's weird, I'll grant you, but it was a nice experience. On the whole, definitely give it a try, if you've got the time and money. It's definitely not for everyone, but it is both better and worse than I expected. Super chill time, but don't expect to have your mind blown.