I’m compelled, nay driven, to write about this beverage but words continue to fail me. And I’m an attorney. Spinning piles of bullshit into persuasive arguments is what I do. Words are my friends.

But the barely opened bottle has been in my fridge for a month now. I stare at it daily. I feel like Edgar Allan Poe, and Hey! Ball is the heart under my floorboards.

Hey! Ball: Whisky Highball Taste is a Japanese alcohol-free whiskey high ball… soda? Thing. Kind of. I can tell you what’s in it, and I will shortly, but that isn’t going to help you truly understand what the hell it is. The sum of its parts is an H.P. Lovecraftian nightmare even though the parts themselves are immediately familiar: carbonated water, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavor, citric acid, caramel color, MSG (the only wrench in the mix), and sodium l-ascorbate, which the internet tells me is a mineral salt of citric acid. See? Nothing too scary. Like when you turn on the light and the monster in the corner is just a pile of clothes on a chair. Except I said “Lovecraftian” for a reason.

I want to blame this on the MSG but that’s too simple. It’s not MSG’s fault. Quite frankly, poor MSG has had a rough few decades being misunderstood and maligned. I forgive you. I understand you.

High-fructose corn syrup (which one can’t think of without conjuring pictures of flapping American flags and childhood obesity) isn’t the culprit either.

Normally when I try something new, strange, borderline bad, I’ll keep trying it. Things can sometimes be just too new upon first blush and worthy of a second or (if you’re me) tenth chance — or more. This is how I know I like cuttlefish flavored chips: the first one was just confusing, but the eleventh one was delicious.

I tried a thimble full of Hey! Ball and screwed the cap back on immediately. Game over. Hey! Ball is the worst thing I have ever put in my mouth.

This drink is 100% alcohol-free. Japan, how did you bottle the feeling of drinking Everclear for the first time using fake sugar syrup and “flavors”? What in the actual fuck are you doing over there on those islands? Should we be worried?

Alternative uses:

  • Give to preteens, tell them this is what alcohol tastes like: solve underage drinking
  • Ever had the urge to drink antifreeze or turpentine? Don’t. Just get a Hey! Ball
  • Rust and hard water stain remover
  • Revenge
  • Proof there is no God and we are alone on a rock on the cold, dead, plane of space-time fabric

No more beverage aisles in my local Asian supermarket for me, thanks. I’ll be over in the snacks where the seafood-flavored chip delights lurk, just waiting to be given an eleventh chance.