The Velveeta martini tastes like a bad joke
From this Wednesday, Velveeta in partnership with BLT Restaurant Group to release a limited edition “Veltini”. The drink combines Velveeta-infused vodka, olive brine, and vermouth in a cheese-rimmed martini glass with a cocktail of Velveeta-stuffed olives and Jumbo Velveeta Shells & Cheese. According to Kelsey Rice, senior brand communications manager for Velveeta, the Veltini is “rich and creamy and tastes like a dirty martini but taken to a whole new level with delicious and outrageous twist and toppings!”
In its advertising, the Veltini commands a shiny and smooth presence. But in person, the drink looks like a deranged cheese monster, with olives as piercing eyes and a dripping rim of Velveeta cheese as an unhinged mouth. A martini might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but at least the drink shines like a crisp sip for the right elegant occasion. The Veltini, on the other hand, feels like someone threw a plate of cheeses into warm bath water. And ordering it inside the spacious and sophisticated BLT Steak near the White House feels like an inappropriate college joke.
On first sip, the drink lacks all of the cheesy flavor it claims to promote. Instead, an intense rush of olive and brine salt hits the back of your throat. Sure, it could be worse. Other than alcohol, the other cheese elements add little to the drink. The edge of the creamy cheese floats on the otherwise smooth liquid like curds in the mouth. The olives and pasta look like they’re from a day-old grocery store pasta salad that no one wants to touch. It wasn’t until the end of the drink, which took nearly an hour, that I detected a strong cheese flavor.
Nerdy crossovers are always a gamble, but once in a while they pay off. Van Leeuwen’s Kraft Mac and Cheese Ice Cream has received rave reviews from online critics for its subtle, yet “magical” and “surprisingly delicious” cheese flavors. Another beloved cheese drink is cheese tea, a cold tea with a frothy layer of milk and cream cheese and a pinch of salt, a combination that first emerged in Taiwanese night markets in 2010 and quickly found an audience overseas. Velveeta is no novice in this field: at the beginning of June, he published its own cheesy-scented, colored nail polish with Nails Inc. But for a drink that claims to ooze cheese from all sides, the Veltini ends up falling flat.
If you dare to try the Veltini, you can order between 5 and 8 p.m. at Five BLT Steaks (in DC, New York and Charlotte) and Florentine, the BLT’s Italian outpost in Chicago. According to a server, some diners were able to score the drink early, if they asked nicely. For daredevil drinkers in other cities, you can even boat a kit for two Veltinis through Goldbelly – if you’re willing to shell out $50.
Velveeta and Veltinis dominated our dining experience, but the best cheesy bite came from the popovers which come Free with every BLT meal. These light and fluffy buns offer strong Gruyere flavors, but you can’t tell just by looking at them. Which goes to show that maybe less cheese is more cheese.