My stats tell me that an intrepid reader found this page by googling “Mad Jacks Rum”. That’s a tick off the ol’ bucket list. I now feel like a public service, giving back to the masses, eager to engage in guilty pleasures of low class alcohol. Because unlike almost anything else, that’s something I can be considered an authority on.
Mad Jacks Rum, saviour of debaucherous New Zealand teens from Cape Reinga to the Bluff. Some might call it rum, but that’s a misnomer. It’s actually rum flavoured vodka, but is now a far cry from its glory days. Mad Jacks Gold Rum is its new incarnation (I say new, but it’s been singing its siren call to disenfranchised teens since May 2003). See, because alcohol is subject to delicious tax monies for politicians and adults just want to ruin everyone’s fun, low cost, high potency (read: dangerous) alcohols got extra tax dumped down all over them. Glibness aside, it was probably all for the best. There are many reasons that New Zealand has a vile binge drinking mentality and the availability of strong, cheap (I liked to say efficient) spirits doesn’t help young livers as much as it aids their wallet.
In any case, this rum flavoured vodka still costs $9.95 for a 1L bottle, but it’s a svelte 13.9% alcohol instead of a much headier 23%. 14 year old Leon would’ve raised a riot, but 28 year old Leon is content to muse that it was probably for the best. It’s a wonder how little issues seem to rankle your ire once you’ve ascended their reach. If it’s not in your relevant period, it’s not relevant. Period.
Mad Jacks’ bedmate Kristoff Vodka never really appealed, because if you can imagine foul tasting water and shitty vodka, it was a hybrid of their worst attributes. Mad Jacks on the other hand had a taste that could easily be masked by coke’s caramelly confection. Or, y’know, you could skull it straight from the bottle. If your liver is untarnished, you can do some damage before things get truly vile. It also has the failsafe vomit response, cleansing you from all ills. You’re a teenager, you’re indestructible, right?
I think back to my first dalliance with Mad Jacks. Waay back in 2001. It was a different world back then. 9/11 (or 11/9 if you were to flip the dates for down under relevance) had yet to happen and the innocence made us feel indomitable. Ah, who am I kidding? We were all angsty teens who just wanted to be liked. What’s changed? It was the Shakespeare production cast party (because despite an abiding love of The Bard, let’s just say the existence of a ritualistic illegal drinking occasion didn’t exactly hamper our desire to be involved) and my best mate had procured a fine bottle of rum flavoured vodka.
There was reassurance in the gnarly swashbuckling pirate visage on the bottle, armed with two cutlasses. With another friend, we didn’t crossbone so much as skulled that bottle, chugging away as much as soon as possible. The rest of the night was a buoyant blur. Things seemed hyper-real. Conversation flowed smoothly, unfettered by nerves and the aforementioned angst. Confidence emboldened my spirit. We danced, joked, sang. I kissed a girl (and I liked it), then almost too soon the post midnight hour struck and we scampered off home.
We realised with some mirth that my mate had accidentally lifted a Victorian hat from the costume department. We chuckled through the neighbourhood, causing lightheaded mischief as only drunk teens could. We all took turns vomiting in assorted bushes on the way home and stumbled back to bed. Truly a picture book in the making. I awoke in the morning to parents, guardians of propriety and responsibility. They cooked me eggs and noted my frazzled state. “Obviously we know what you got up to tonight. You’re probably feeling pretty rough right now, so this should help. We’re sure this won’t be the last time, but it’s the one time we’re on your side. Everybody gets one. This is your responsibility now. We love you and trust you and want to keep trusting you. Just try not to mess up too bad.”
I turned out alright, didn’t I?