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10 Celebrity Refreshments

Advertisers know that the taste of a better lifestyle will sell products. Celebrities learn this as well, and can make a killing putting their name on something that can impart even a little of their charm on a fan. These beverages just might be the perfect gift for a fan that you know.

1. Marilyn Manson Absinthe: Mansinthe

Musician Marilyn Manson, a longtime absinthe fan, partnered with Markus Lion and Swiss distiller Matter-Luginbühl in 2007 to create his signature liquor called Mansinthe. Manson took a hands-on approach to the development of the product and tested it for quite some time before approving the final product. Reviewers rate it between average and rather good.

2. The Situation's Low-Calorie Devotion Vodka

Making a "health drink" out of vodka is an exercise in cognitive dissonance, but then again, so is "reality" TV. Devotion Vodka resulted when New Jersey native Drew Adelman combined vodka with a protein supplement and formed a partnership with Mike Sorrentino to market the drink. Sorrentino goes by the name "The Situation" in his role in the TV series Jersey Shore. He also manages a fitness club. Devotion Vodka is promoted as low calorie, sugar-free, and gluten-free. The tagline for the vodka tells us it is "infused with casein" (brand name PeptoPro®). Casein is a material derived from milk that is used to make pizza cheese, paint, glue, and protein supplements.

3. Ron de Jeremy: the Adult Rum

After 30 years and a couple of thousand films, Ron Jeremy is the best known man in the adult film industry. You may recognize him from mainstream films as well. Now that name (and face) is on bottles of rum. Ron de Jeremy comes in two forms, regular rum and Ron de Jeremy Spiced, with extra flavor. Both are advertised with the tagline "the adult rum." As if there were any other kind. The product came about as a joke, according to Jouko Laune and Olli Hietalahti of One Eyed Spirits, which produces the liquor. "Ron" means rum in Spanish, and the name Ron Jeremy opens up a world of puns to fuel advertising and word-of-mouth. It's a gift that sends an extra message in addition to "I know you like rum."

4. Dan Aykroyd's Crystal Head Vodka

Crystal Head on Bar

Crystal Head Vodka looks exactly as you would expect: a bottle of vodka in a glass skull. Crystal head is a collaboration between actor Dan Aykroyd and artist John Alexander, who are both interested in the paranormal aspects of crystal skulls. The vodka itself is filtered through quartz crystals. The bottle actually came before the vodka -in fact, the original plan was to put tequila in it! Aykroyd already had a deal to import Patrone tequila to Canada, so vodka was selected instead. That it was launched in 2008 was supposedly unrelated to the 2008 movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Those who have paid around $60 a bottle tend to treasure the skull more than the spirit. Image by Flickr user Kevin Takaki.

5. Justin Timberlake's 901 Silver Tequila

Launched in 2009, 901 Silver Tequila is named for the area code of Justin Timberlake's hometown, Memphis Tennessee, but it is marketed to remind people of 9:01 PM, the time to drink tequila. Timberlake's name does not appear on the bottle, but he founded the product, which is manufactured by Tequilera Newton in the heart of Jalisco, Mexico.

6. Willie Nelson's Old Whiskey River Bourbon

One of Willie Nelson's most popular hit songs is "Whiskey River," which inspired the name of his Old Whiskey River Bourbon, launched in 2001. Produced by Heaven Hill Distilleries in Kentucky, the 6-year-old Bourbon is distributed by Drinks America. Each bottle comes with a guitar pick, and part f the proceeds go to Farm Aid.

7. Vince Neil's Tres Rios Tequila

Vince Neil of the band Mötley Crüe introduced his Tres Rios Tequila in 2007. Although the Tres Rios site is no longer there (but still linked on Neil's website), the tequila is still sold in stores.

8. Danny DeVito's Limoncello

Limoncello is an Italian dessert liqueur made from lemons. Danny DeVito's Premium Limoncello may have come about as a joke after he (jokingly?) blamed a strange 2006 performance on a TV talk show on too many limoncellos. It was only a few months later that his personal brand of the drink debuted. It is possible that the entire event was a marketing ploy, but most likely it's an example of life handing him lemons and DeVito making limoncello out of it. It compares well with other brands of limoncello, but comes in a frustratingly opaque bottle. The original website promoting the product is either defunct or under construction, but it is still available at a liquor store near you.

9. Two if by Tea, from Rush Limbaugh

In June of 2011, conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh introduced a bottled sweet tea called Two If By Tea. The product site is full of Tea Party and tea puns. The tea comes in regular and diet plus raspberry flavor -no alcohol here. The drink is only available online, but you can order in large quantities.

10. AC/DC The Wine

Australian band AC/DC launched their signature wine collection last August, which includes several varieties: Back in Black Shiraz, Highway to Hell Cabernet Sauvignon, Hells Bells Sauvignon Blanc, and You Shook Me All Night Long Moscato. The labels for each depict a different AC/DC album cover. They are a product of Warburn Estate winery. Like the song says, "Have a Drink on Me."

The Rolling Stones, KISS, Motorhead, and Whitesnake have all released wine collections. In fact, signature wine is such a popular investment choice for celebrities that I decided to stop the list here. You can learn more in the post 10 Celebrities Who Own Wineries. I also passed over quite a few celebrity beverages that appeared to be simply endorsement deals for existing products. Learn about the founders of some classic potables in The Men Behind Your Favorite Liquors.

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Wine
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by Tilar J. Mazzeo

Between the vine and the liquor store, plenty of secrets are submerged in your favorite bottle of vino. Here, the author of Back Lane Wineries of Sonoma spills some of the best.

1. DIGITAL EYES ARE EVERYWHERE IN VINEYARDS.

Certain premium estates in Bordeaux and Napa are beginning to look a little more like an army base—or an Amazon.com warehouse. They’re using drones, optical scanners, and heat-sensing satellites to keep a digital eye on things. Some airborne drones collect data that helps winemakers decide on the optimal time to harvest and evaluate where they can use less fertilizer. Others rove through the vineyard rows, where they may soon be able to take over pruning. Of course, these are major investments. At $68,000 a pop, the Scancopter 450 is about twice as costly as a 1941 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon!

2. THERE ARE ALSO LOTS OF COW SKULLS.

They’re not everywhere, but biodynamic farming techniques are on the rise among vintners who don’t want to rely on chemicals, and this is one trick they’ve been known to use to combat plant diseases and improve soil PH. It’s called Preparation No. 505, and it involves taking a cow’s skull (or a sheep’s or a goat’s), stuffing it with finely ground oak chips, and burying it in a wet spot for a season or two before adding it to the vineyard compost.

3. FEROCIOUS FOLIAGE IS A VINTNER’S FRIEND.

The mustard flowers blooming between vineyard rows aren’t just for romance. Glucosinolates in plants like radishes and mustard give them their spicy bite, and through the wonders of organic chemistry, those glucosinolates also double as powerful pesticides. Winemakers use them to combat nematodes—tiny worms that can destroy grape crops.

4. WHAT A CANARY IS TO A COAL MINE, ROSES ARE TO A VINEYARD.

Vintners plant roses among their vines because they get sick before anything else in the field. If there’s mildew in the air, it will infect the roses first and give a winemaker a heads-up that it’s time to spray.

5. VINTNERS EXPLOIT THE FOOD CHAIN.

A trio of wines
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Small birds like blackbirds and starlings can clear out 20 percent of a crop in no time. But you know what eats little birds? Big birds. Falconry programs are on the rise in vineyards from California to New Zealand. Researchers have found that raptors eat a bird or two a day (along with a proportion of field mice and other critters) and cost only about as much to maintain as your average house cat.

6. THE BIG PROBLEMS IN TASTING ROOMS ARE VERY SMALL.

Winemakers are constantly seeking ways to manage the swarms of Drosophila melanogaster that routinely gather around the dump buckets in their swanky showrooms. You know these pests as fruit flies, and some vintners in California are exploring ways to use carnivorous plants to tackle the problem without pesticides. Butterworts, sundews, and pitcher plants all have sweet-sounding names, but the bugeating predators make for terrific fruit fly assassins, and you’ll see them decorating tasting rooms across wine country.

7. WINE NEEDS CLEANING.

Winemaking produces hard-to-remove sediments. Filters can catch most of the debris, but winemakers must add “fining agents” to remove any suspended solids that sneak by. Until it was banned in the 1990s, many European vintners used powdered ox blood to clean their wines. Today, they use diatomaceous earth (the fossilized remains of hard-shelled algae), Isinglass (a collagen made from fish swim bladders), and sometimes bentonite (volcanic clay). Irish moss and egg whites are also fine wine cleaners.

8. ATOMS HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS.

About 5 percent of the premium wine sold for cellaring doesn’t contain what the label promises. So how do top-shelf buyers avoid plunking down serious cash on a bottle of something bunk? Most elite wine brokerages, auction houses, and collectors use atomic dating to detect fraud. By measuring trace radioactive carbon in the wine, most bottles can be dated to within a year or two of the vintage.

9. FINE WINES GET MRIs.

Even with atomic dating, there are certain perils involved in buying a $20,000 bottle of wine. Leaving a case in the hot trunk of your car is enough to ruin it, so imagine what can happen over a couple of decades if a wine isn’t kept in the proper conditions. Back in 2002, a chemistry professor at University of California at Davis patented a technique that uses MRI technology to diagnose the condition of vintage wines. Not planning any $20,000 wine purchases? This is still good news for the consumer. This technique may soon be used at airport security, meaning you’ll be able to carry on your booze.

10. THERE’S A TRICK TO AGING YOUR WINE.

If you end up with a bottle of plonk, Chinese scientists have developed a handy solution. Zapping a young wine with electricity makes it taste like something you’ve cellar aged. Scientists aren’t quite sure how it happens yet, but it seems that running your wine for precisely three minutes through an electric field changes the esters, proteins, and aldehydes and can “age” a wine instantly.

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Big Questions
Why Do People Drink Mint Juleps at the Kentucky Derby?
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Whether you plan to enjoy the race from Churchill Downs or don an elaborate hat in the comfort of your own home, if you're watching the Kentucky Derby, you may find yourself sipping on a refreshing mint julep this weekend. But, why?

The drink—a cocktail traditionally composed of bourbon, sugar, water, and mint—has been a Kentucky favorite since long before Churchill Downs came into play. In fact, in 1816, silver julep cups were given as prizes at Kentucky county fairs (a change from the stuffed animals they offer today). And before that, a “julep” was considered medicinal, “prescribed” for stomach problems and sore throats.

Though mint juleps have likely been enjoyed at the Kentucky Derby since the beginning—legend has it that founder Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., planted mint for cocktails when he founded the track in 1875—the cocktail wasn’t declared the “official” Derby drink until 1938.

It was just a few years ago that the Derby switched to a more “authentic” version of the mint julep. For almost two decades, the 120,000 mint juleps served at the races were made with Early Times. Based on the aging process, Early Times isn’t considered bourbon (just “Kentucky whisky”) in the U.S. In 2015, they switched to Old Forester, which is also owned by the Brown-Forman Corporation.

Even with the switch to “real” bourbon, what most revelers actually get is the Old Forester Ready-to-Serve Cocktail mix, not a handcrafted mint julep—unless you’re willing to pony up $1000. For the past 13 years, Brown-Forman has served a special version of the drink made with Woodford Reserve small batch bourbon. It’ll set you back a grand, but hey, you get to keep the pewter cup—and proceeds benefit the Jennifer Lawrence Arts Fund (yes, that Jennifer Lawrence). In 2016, the Oscar-winning actress—and Louisville native—founded the organization "to assist and empower organizations that fulfill children's needs and drives art access to positively impact the lives of young people."

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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