Never Say Never: Except for Hazelnuts and Licorice

Gentle Readers, clearly this is going to be the season of confessions for The Practical Cook. They say it’s character building. Lean in close. You see, though I’m very willing to try most any food that won’t kill me, I have entire categories of beverages I won’t touch. Or I swore I wouldn’t touch. Or taste. Ever. Never say never, particularly out loud.

Coffee Unadulterated: Better Bitter Than Sweet

Coffee Unadulterated: Better Bitter Than Sweet

I do not like sweet drinks; I do not viscous drinks. I have no desire to sip a sugary colloid through a straw. This stance has kept me way far away from mixed drinks and hard liquor in general. The cocktails category is replete with things that can most generously be described as fruity, less generously called barfalicious.

Raspberry Martini, Spotted in the Wild

Raspberry Martini, Spotted in the Wild

But alas, I do try not to be hypocritical, and I become a zealot when people say “I hate curry,” (me: “what, what do you mean, how much have you eaten, what did you try, define curry, have you had XYZ, I need to cook for you”). So was the reaction of some wonderful experts in the field of cocktail creation, who also happen to have a keen sense of culinary adventure as well, that sometimes I even agree with. More on that later, let it suffice to say I’ve found the Waldorf to my Statler.

Love the Glass, Fear the Contents

Love the Glass, Fear the Contents

So let the record show, though it doesn’t happen often, I was wrong. There are cocktails I would drink in this world. Here’s the tally, based on early and somewhat limited research. Note that this was a taste test, not a drinking contest. Flavor, people, flavor. The Practical Cook does not advocate downing a forty for research purposes.

1. Licorice. I still hate it. Really and truly I do. One item was a shot of something that screamed “anise” to me, and not in the good way. I smelled, sipped a wee bit, and reaffirmed my loathing.

Licorice: My Sworn Enemy

Licorice: My Sworn Enemy

2. Really good dark rum. Wow, it does taste like molasses. Who knew? Not sure I want to drink it, but I do want to cook with it more.

Let there be rum.

Let there be rum.

3. Really good vodka. Whatever I tasted made me think of coconuts, though it was NOT a flavored item. It has the disturbing quality of being water-like in appearance, but not in taste and texture. This messes with my mind. It was good though.

4. Vermouth-based drink, contents unknown. This was the winner. Served with an orange slice, it made me think of Ruby Red grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed. This is why cocktails can be so dangerous! It was sharp without being bitter, not nose-hair burning with alcohol, and clean. Fascinating.

Mystery Vermouth Drink: Tasted Like Grapefruit and Sunshine

Mystery Vermouth Drink: Tasted Like Grapefruit and Sunshine

5. Scotch, in a Rob Roy. I can still taste the smoke, in the please make it stop way. Aficionados tell me to keep trying, and I may, but wow. For the record, I’m not a huge fan of smoked anything: cheese, salmon, liquid, etc. It’s a face-punch type flavor for me, so blunt I can’t taste around it.

Special thanks to the good people at Peccadillos in Carrboro, NC, for the opportunity to expand my palate and my horizons. It’s a fantastic spot for anyone with a sense of adventure.

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Next up, Think Outside the Cereal Box: Combining Cereals for All-New Taste Sensations.

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