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Dec 10, 2007 06:53 PM

What is/was Tango?

I don't know what made me think of this stuff, but I recall it as a preferred tipple of underage drinkers when I was much younger (my buddy Louie in particular, not then known for his discriminating tastes).

If pressed to guess, I'd say it was a cheap orange-flavored vodka, produced well before hundreds of flavored premium and super-premium vodkas came along. But for all I know, it could have been a citrus-flavored fortified wine or a grain neutral spirits based liqueur like Southern Comfort.

I'm guessing it was probably a late-stage alcoholic's drink, in the same class as wino wines like MD "Mad Dog" 20/20 and Richard's Wild Irish Rose, drinks also favored among underage drinkers in my town for their high impact-to-cost ratio.

Does anyone remember this stuff, what it type of booze it actually was, who made it, whether it is still produced? My old friend Google hasn't been much help.

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  1. Think Tang and Cheap Vodka............Tango

    7 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      Yes, I remember the artificial orange flavor, but I'm not referring to a cocktail that the drinker would have to mix up. This stuff was bottled as Tango, and I'm pretty sure that the good folks behind the Astronaut's Beverage would have nothing to do with this stuff. But perhaps the name was deliberately intended to evoke a connection with Tang?

      1. re: MC Slim JB

        I do not know anyone actually living today that drank the stuff (only kidding), but what I am referring to is exactly as you describe and suspect.

        If I had to take a guess, I believe the marketing campaign and name selection was directly borrowed from Tang in the 60's and it popularity with the astronaut program. I can remember my older brothers and their friends purchasing and consuming the
        liquor when they were teenagers........along with Boone's Farm. Tango was a favorite of the drunks on The Bowery........aprropriated referred to as "The Bowery Bums". They all had a pint in their back pockets.......even if the bottle was empty.

        Another spirit was Thunderbird...........when someone would ask you 'What's New"?...............the reply was always....."Thunderbird"

        1. re: fourunder

          "What's the price? Forty, twice" (meaning a bottle cost 80 cents.)

          Boone's Farm was another popular one among my hometown's teens, along with a dreadful bottled sangria by the name of Yago. Anything for a cheap buzz, I guess.

          1. re: MC Slim JB

            Yago is still quite popular in the Northeast, or at least here in New Jersey.

            1. re: fourunder

              The slogan, "What's the word? Thunderbird. How's it sold? Nice and cold. What's the price? Forty twice."

              Also, I used to drink Tango in college. I went to Univ. of Michigan in the late 80s, and it was sold at all the fine liquor stores patronized by laid off auto workers in Ypsilanti.

        2. re: fourunder

          This is what I remember - never saw the commercial stuff. Tang powder poured into a partial fifth of vodka and shaken until dissolved.

        3. I never heard of that one and I thought I drank everything cheap in my teens until I got my first job at a fine wine shop when I was 18.

          On only a related note, Tango in the UK is an orange soda made since around 1950. The company added several other flavors in the 90's like apple, cherry, and black currant (which is pretty good.)

          By the way, did you know Tang was invented in 1957, first sold in 1959, and it wasn't until 1965 that the space program used it? I thought it was invented for the space program.

          1. Thank you - I'm not nuts. Tango was my first liquor store purchase at age 13 in 1967 in Westchester County, NY (Hey, I was big (lucky) for my age. It was kinda like a "screwdriver in a bottle" an orange-favored drink with alcohol (vodka?) mixed in. Amazing that there is nothing listed in Wikipedia but it's right up there with MD-20/20, Boone's Farm Apple Wine, Schlitz Malt-Ripple and the dandelion-wine we used to steal from the neighbor's shed.

            1 Reply
            1. re: hockey12589

              We drank it in Queens, mid 70's. This brings back funny memories. The buddy of mine who loved it was named Rusty. He was 1of 5 siblings all with bright, big red 70's hair! He Absolutely loved Orange Tango. I l dug the graphics. The label was vaguely Soviet, bare bones design. Excuse me while I go and upchuck all the sweet booze I guzzled before I sneak into CBGB's....

            2. Wow.This post brings back memories.At the risk of dating myself I remember drinking Tango on the Long Island Rail Road with a group of friends as we headed to Madison Sq. Garden for a Peter Frampton concert.Talk about a quintessential 70s experience. And it was as already described.A premixed bottle of what tasted like Tang and vodka.

              1. Oh yeah a real blast from the past. Tango was a really cheap screwdriver in a bottle. We were consuming it in the very early 70's along with Boone's Farm and Cold Duck was around then as well. Dizzy and puke wow what pleasure (ha ha)! Those were the days though.

                1 Reply
                1. re: enahoek

                  let's not forget Pink Catawba wine