When a libation comes along trying so desperately to be chic and using more food-industry clichés than the most purple press release, we have to give it a shot. 12 Noon to Midnight (or 12NtM as the kid's aren't calling it) is “all natural,” “chef crafted” and “a signature part of your lifestyle.” Okay, but what is it? A fizzy non-alcoholic drink meant to be sipped, but only between noon and midnight, at brunches and sophisticated cocktail parties. Made from a “blend of herbs, spices, fruit juices and organic teas,” it sounds like an 8-year-old's idea of a grown-up drink. Just throw everything in! With no commitment to any flavor profile whatsoever, 12 Noon to Midnight achieves a rare simultaneous feat: it's noxious yet utterly bland. Like Fresca with bathroom cleanser.

Wait, this is fancy stuff. It's sold in Whole Foods. It comes in a snazzy translucent bottle. It even got a write-up in The New York Times, which dubbed it a “sophisticated non-alcoholic quaff,” “a refreshing newcomer” and “a delectable partner for ripe melon.” Wow. Either there's heroin in the Gray Lady's water supply or the wall between advertising and editorial has been bulldozed to smithereens.

12NtM comes in two flavors, Blanc and Rouge. We sipped — rather, we tried to sip — a bottle of Blanc at a recent brunch, spontaneously hosting an impromptu tasting panel of expert drinkers (read: friends). The results? Universal loathing.

— “no commitment to any flavor profile whatsoever”

— “It tastes like something melted.”

— “Yes, like melted Glade air freshener.”

— “I'm getting a Lysol sort of thing in the back of my throat.”

— “bland yet vaguely medicinal”

— “I'm not sure why I feel compelled to finish this glass. Oh, right. Because we paid for it.”

— “Terrible. I wouldn't touch this stuff again.”

— “like Orange Glow filled with seltzer”

— “That is some bad shit!!!”

Indeed. We didn't get around to mixing it with alcohol. Why sully good booze with this crap?

Totally apart from its redundant name (if it's “noon,” we don't need the “12”) and atrocious ad copy, 12 Noon to Midnight is the most hideous, ill conceived beverage we have tried in half a decade, and that includes the time a friend's 8-year-old niece played bartender with mixers from a party held years before she was born.

[@elinashatkin / eshatkin@laweekly.com]

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