Alcohol for the New
December 8, 2009 2:07 PM   Subscribe

I've just started drinking alcohol this year. Help me find a cocktail/drink that doesn't taste like cough syrup.

So far the only real alcoholic drink that I know I like is sparkling wine (bubbly), whether pink or white. I've had a version of a Long Island Ice Tea at Wagamama that was all right. I don't like alcopops; they taste too much like cough syrup. Whiskey and bourbon are much the same. I did plow through a box of sherry chocolates but I don't know how sherry tastes like on its own. I don't like beer, though Beez Kneez (honey beer) tastes OK.

I see my friends ordering all sorts of mixed drinks and I don't even know where to begin! I like chocolate, vanilla, Nutella, coffee-type flavours, and have been curious about liquer hot chocs/coffees. I'm not a big fan of fruity flavours, except if it's melon or banana (milkshake-ish) or lemonade. Flower flavours are good, and I really like ginger ale/ginger beer.

What would you recommend? Are there any drinks that don't taste overwhelmingly like cough syrup? I don't think I have a pretty high tolerance for alcohol (2 and a bit glasses of champagne and I'm already wobbly) so nothing crazy, but I'm up for experimenting.
posted by divabat to Food & Drink (85 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
You might go for the White Russian.

Bonus points for The Big Lebowski reference.
posted by rocketpup at 2:12 PM on December 8, 2009 [5 favorites]

Sounds like Kahlua-based drinks would work for you - start with a Kahlua-and-milk.
posted by Paragon at 2:12 PM on December 8, 2009

Try a jack and ginger; 1 shot of whiskey in ginger ale. Otherwise, there are plenty of chocolate martinis, all with various amounts of alcohol/chocolaty aspects. A white russian isn't very couch-syrup-ey; it's cream, vodka, and Kahlua. Those should get you started.

Have you tried many vodka-based drinks? I have a hard time imagining how they would strike one as tasting like cough syrup. Decent vodka shouldn't have much flavor at all, and you're free to blend it with just about anything fruity.
posted by craven_morhead at 2:13 PM on December 8, 2009

A shot of amaretto in a cup of coffee, especially one made with an espresso machine, is divine.
posted by mdonley at 2:13 PM on December 8, 2009

You might want to look into the possibilities with St Germain. It's pretty light - I only drink it during the summer months, but that's just me. Check the recipes on the site and see if there's anything that sounds appealing.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:13 PM on December 8, 2009

How about a gin & tonic? I think they're refreshing without being fruity, and certainly not cough-syrup-like (unless you grew up with juniper-flavored cough syrup...).

You can also add Bailey's to coffee or hot chocolate. It's very rich and cozy--not so much a bar drink as an at-home with friends or family drink.
posted by Meg_Murry at 2:13 PM on December 8, 2009 [7 favorites]

Frangelico is a hazelnut liqueur that is quite lovely, I think - would be fabulous in coffee/chocolate. Baileys is also nice, and if you can get it, the caramel flavored Baileys is lovely all by itself.

If you like lemonade, order a shot of vodka citron (lemon flavored vodka) chilled, with sugar on the rim. It's a shot - you wouldn't sip it - but it's a nice flavor and goes down smooth.

The Buttery Nipple is also a pleasant caramel-candy-tasting shot, but beware - they're easy to overindulge in.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:14 PM on December 8, 2009

Kahlua and Milk --yum!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kubra Libra --which is Rum and Coke and a wedge of lime

You say you don't like fruity drinks, but personally I think Fuzzy Navels (OJ and Peach Schnapps) are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Add a little Vodka to it and get a Hairy Navel.
posted by I'm Brian and so's my wife! at 2:16 PM on December 8, 2009

Singapore Sling. Tequila Sunrise.
posted by meadowlark lime at 2:16 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Southern Comfort and lemonade.
posted by fire&wings at 2:16 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you like vanilla and ginger ale, I highly recommend mixing vanilla vodka with ginger ale, along with ice and (optionally) a splash of bitters.
posted by brain_drain at 2:16 PM on December 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

Seconding a gin & tonic.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:16 PM on December 8, 2009

I'm a fan of ginger ale as a mix for whiskey (rye) or gin, probably with some citrus like a lime wedge thrown in there.

I also enjoy drinking whiskey with some amaretto and ice. I've heard this called "a godfather" when made with scotch but I do it with Canadian rye.

I would also suggest not completely writing off beer until you've tried a bunch of varieties. The same goes for red and non-sparkly white wine. Even if you just get sips from friends drinks, you might surprise yourself and find something you enjoy.
posted by utsutsu at 2:16 PM on December 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

You say you don't like beer, but give a chocolate or coffee/espresso stout a try. Stouts don't really have that typical lager beer taste at all.
posted by zsazsa at 2:17 PM on December 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

Meet the amazement that is Firefly Sweet Tea vodka.

Mix it with lemonade and you end up with a tasty, delicious, yet satisfyingly intoxicating concoction of wonder.
posted by missjenny at 2:17 PM on December 8, 2009 [7 favorites]

If you know you like sparkling wine, maybe try a light white wine like sauvignon blanc. And be patient. Alcohol is an acquired taste.
posted by something something at 2:17 PM on December 8, 2009

Lemon vodka and tonic water, with a little lime or lime juice, tastes remarkably like 7-up or sprite and is very delicious and refreshing.
posted by muddgirl at 2:18 PM on December 8, 2009

I hate the taste of alcohol, but a properly made long island iced tea is yummy.
posted by The Deej at 2:19 PM on December 8, 2009

Stick to clear liquor like gin or vodka. You've started with some pretty boozy liquors.

I second trying a gin & tonic with lime. Or go even easier and have a gin & ginger (ale). Or a gin & bitter lemon. It's considered a summer/warm weather drink, but it tastes good year round to me.

Also, try a cosmopolitan. They are yummy.
posted by bluedaisy at 2:19 PM on December 8, 2009

Also seconding the gin & tonic recommendation -- for an extra crisp and interesting flavor, try it with Hendrick's gin, which is infused with cucumber and rose petals.
posted by brain_drain at 2:20 PM on December 8, 2009

Sonic cherry lime-aid and ketel one vodka. Mmmmmmmmm
posted by pearlybob at 2:21 PM on December 8, 2009

Wheat beers were the gateway beer with which I got my girlfriend into beers. They're smoother, not as bitter, much more pleasant tasting if you're not used to beer. They're also called 'Hefeweizen'. Hoegaarden is a common brand. There are also some nice wheat beers that are blended with fruit like apricot or raspberry. I don't know what you could find where you are but look around.
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:22 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding the White Russian.
posted by Lucinda at 2:25 PM on December 8, 2009

If you live in the NE US, get your hands on some coffee brandy and milk. Game over.
posted by Palerale at 2:26 PM on December 8, 2009

Staten Island Ferry is equal parts Malibu coconut-flavored rum and pineapple juice. Definitely does not taste like cough syrup or lighter fluid. I usually drink vodka-and-orange, but the SIF is a nice change-up.
posted by infinitewindow at 2:27 PM on December 8, 2009

Beer-like things: lambics (fruit beer, tastes like good flavored soda), hard cider. I'd try more wines, too. I especially like mead (honey wine).

nthing suggestions for Kahlua drinks.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:28 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Magic Hat's Circus Boy is one of my favorite Hefeweizens. Delicious, smooth.
posted by InsanePenguin at 2:28 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Brandy Alexander.
posted by dirtdirt at 2:29 PM on December 8, 2009

How has no one suggested a Mudslide yet? Malibu (coconut) rum, Kahlúa, Irish cream (Bailey's-it's creamy and vanilla/toffe tasting), and cream. Yummmo. A lot of places will make them frozen, and frozen mudslides are the milkshake of the liquor world. My old bar would serve them with whipped cream, malted milk balls, and chocolate syrup drizzled on the side of the glass, so it was like you weren't even drinking.

If you're looking for something to sip, irish cream (Bailey's is the most common) on the rocks is super delicious. Their mint and caramel flavors have mixed reviews, but I like both.
posted by AlisonM at 2:31 PM on December 8, 2009

The Dark and Stormy (black rum, spicy ginger beer - not sweet ginger ale) might suit you.
Do you like anise/licorice? Try something like a Sazerac (rye whiskey, bitters, and Pernod -or absinthe if you're dangerous - with a little sugar and a twist of lemon).

But you'll need something to go to when you're at some place where they only know how to mix 3 or 4 cocktails.
One of my favorites is the Gimlet, either in gin or vodka - just booze and lime juice, maybe some sugar, shaken with ice and strained.
Or staples like Irish Coffee (coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar and cream) or a Bloody Mary (vodka, tomato juice, and spices/bitters/whathaveyou)

I'd expect that most times you tell someone that you're new to drinking, they're going to give you something sweet, since most folks don't like the taste of alcohol. But these are too sweet for your tastes, sounds like. Find a swank hotel bar or someplace quiet and respectable (not a crowded place where it's all lager and intant cocktails) with a real bartender; tell him what you're doing and he or she will be happy to make you a few things to try.
posted by bartleby at 2:33 PM on December 8, 2009

Amaretto and ginger ale is a good mix that if I recall doesn't taste too syrupy.

My go to cocktail when I'm not in a beer mood is a vodka/ginger ale or vodka/7up. You can also try the old standard vodka/cranberry.

If you like honey beers, then wheat beers with a slice of orange is always a good thing to try, but your list of preferred flavours might mean that you'd like a stout which has much darker notes. If a local brewer has something like a coffee porter (around Toronto Mill St. makes a good one) then you should give that a taste.
posted by dnesan at 2:34 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Midori sour. One part Midori, one half part sweet and sour mix. Melony and tasty.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:35 PM on December 8, 2009

If you like lemon, what about lime? Margaritas are good.
posted by CathyG at 2:36 PM on December 8, 2009

Welcome to the wonderful world of boozing! Spirits can be an acquired taste for many, but it's one well worth developing. You may want to start off with highballs, which are pretty much base spirits plus mix. This will help you hide the initially-strong taste of the spirits behind whatever you're mixing it with, be it a rum & coke, a gin & tonic, or a rye & ginger ale (my favorite). The problem is that you're pretty much just drinking soft drinks or juice all the time.

If you want to try an actual cocktail, on the other hand, there are a ton of resources on the net if you know where to look. Earlier this year, the weekly Mixology Monday event ran a theme on "first time" cocktails which you might want to take a browse through.

My recommendation would be to try a Sidecar: measure equal parts cognac, triple sec, and lemon juice (Freshly squeezed. Always freshly squeezed. Always.), shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass. The great thing about this drink is that it's very flexible: If it's too sour, pull back on the lemon juice. Too sweet, use less triple sec. Too strong, less cognac. You'll figure out what you like pretty quick.

Mixology can be a lot of fun. You get the creativity and craftsmanship of the culinary arts, plus you get drunk! Woo!
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 2:39 PM on December 8, 2009

It's slightly fruity, but you can't beat a good Pina Colada. The flavours of coconut milk, pineapple and rum all set each other off perfectly.
posted by hnnrs at 2:41 PM on December 8, 2009

Caipirinhas and mojitos.
posted by ajp at 2:53 PM on December 8, 2009

Do yourself a favor and discover the Pimm's Cup. You can find a recipe online, or go to a local bar that makes one - either way, it's a summery sort of drink; lightly alcoholic and more refreshing than overwhelming. You'll get bonus points for ordering this because hardly anybody does, and because it's a 'tennis cocktail', which means you'll look effete and superior drinking it. Everybody likes an effete and superior drinker.

If Pimm's Cups aren't your thing, try a Mudslide (kind of a coffee milkshake that'll knock you on your ass), a Hurricane (tropical goodness that'll do the same), or a Long Island Iced Tea (oblivion in a glass - properly made, you'll never see it coming).

Also, you should know that unless you're hanging out in the kind of douchbag-laden frat-den that employs half-wits for bartendters, you should be able to ask the bartender to hook you up with something you'll like. Tell him/her what you'd like to taste and tell them to surprise you. I have long been a fan of girl drinks (link), and usually just ask a bartender to 'make me something fruity'. If the bartender asks a few questions to whittle down the list of things they might make for me, then I know I'm in for a lovely beverage. I tip well for this.

Have fun.
posted by Pecinpah at 2:54 PM on December 8, 2009

My personal recommendation is to go with a really strong ginger beer rather than the dirty Sprite that passes for ginger ale these days. It can cover a surprising volume of even the stiffest booze.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:55 PM on December 8, 2009

I came in to suggest the dark & stormy (dark rum and ginger beer), but I see it's already been done, so I'll second it. Get the darkest rum you can find - black strap rum is excellent. And get the spiciest ginger beer you can find, too.
posted by echo target at 2:58 PM on December 8, 2009

Kubra Libra --which is Rum and Coke and a wedge of lime

Um... that's a Cuba Libre if you're going to actually try to order one.
posted by rkent at 3:00 PM on December 8, 2009 [3 favorites]

Overproof rum, splash of lime cordial, good Jamaican ginger beer.

Though a banana daiquiri isn't going to disappoint, either.
posted by holgate at 3:01 PM on December 8, 2009

Ginger, lime and mint are popular flavours for cocktails which you would probably like. They go together or with other things, but choosing any of those three as a base would be a good start. They also mix well with a variety of liquors so you've got plenty of choice, but more neutral things like gin, vodka, tequila would also be a good start for you.

We have very similar tastes. My favourite is what I call Gin and Ginger: schweppes dry ginger ale, gin, a slice of lemon, slice of lime and a good squeeze of lime juice. The fizzy ginger ale lifts up the aromatic oils from the lemon and lime skin into your nose when you take a sip while the juice balances out the bite of the gin (swap that for vodka if you want it slightly sweeter). It's similar to a Moscow Mule if you're looking for a known cocktail to order.

What I've done to widen my drinking experience is to figure out a few key ingredients I know work, like I've suggested here, then either look at cocktail websites online or go through the menu everytime we're drinking out and try things that feature those ingredients. By taking note of what's in what I'm drinking I've been able to widen my range of known tasty beverages as well as work out a few things to avoid (sake cocktails, ug). Mixed cockatails are lethal alcohol-content-wise but, here at least, they're also expensive so only having one or two in an evening is fine.
posted by shelleycat at 3:02 PM on December 8, 2009

Seconding Pimm's Cup.
Ramos gin fizz.
posted by jet_silver at 3:03 PM on December 8, 2009

Oh for heaven's sake, order a Tom Collins. And after that, try a Vodka Gimlet with ice on the side. Both are warm weather drinks. The first is lemony, the second, lime.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:04 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Um... that's a Cuba Libre if you're going to actually try to order one.

This is a Miami drink; do not order this in Cuba. (It'd be the equivalent of ordering a Stupid Filthy Yankee in Boston.)

Seconding most "girly" drinks mentioned: long island iced tea, Singapore sling, pina colada, tequila sunrise, and pretty much anything with ginger ale. That's a whole lot of summertime beach drinking, right there. I'd stay away from gin and tonic, I think: I like them, but non-drinkers say they taste like windex.

To avoid the beerness of beer, try all the 'hard' apple ciders. They're pretty much like candy, and hot cider is a great winter warm-up. Same with all the spiked coffees with creme liqueurs.
posted by rokusan at 3:20 PM on December 8, 2009

Seconding Firefly sweet tea vodka.
posted by greta simone at 3:22 PM on December 8, 2009

Try a Tom Collins. I usually for the the cherry and the orange slice when I make them at home.

2 oz gin
1 oz lemon juice
1 tsp superfine sugar
3 oz club soda
1 maraschino cherry
1 slice orange
posted by empty vessel at 3:31 PM on December 8, 2009

I second the people who rec'd the Dark and Stormy. Here in Florida I scored a pretty spicy/delicious/thick ginger beer from Whole Foods and the flavor was good and weird enough that I find myself craving it occasionally.

Also it looks like nobody rec'd a black russian, which is just a white with no dairy. They're pretty intense, but if you want it weaker and like the coffee flavor, just up the dose of liqueur.
posted by dervish at 3:37 PM on December 8, 2009

nthing stick with white liquor, and further recommend unflavored, if you want to find out what you like with a minimum of too-sweetness and cough-syrupy-ness. try something super simple, like a (white) rum and coke (or diet coke), or a gin (or vodka) and tonic, or even a bloody mary.

This is a Miami drink; do not order this in Cuba. (It'd be the equivalent of ordering a Stupid Filthy Yankee in Boston.)

rokusan, I had to read this twice to remember the rest of the freaking world is not embargoed to go someplace that lies closer to the continental US than our 49th and 50th states and Puerto Rico. that being said, I would never order a Cuba Libre in Cuba.

I would order a banana daiquiri.
posted by toodleydoodley at 3:40 PM on December 8, 2009

You mention Beez Neez and I see from your profile you're from Brisbane, here's the tip: I didn't like beer either until someone offered me a good beer. For me, that was Boag's. Don't even bother trying VB, New, XXXX or any similar populist crap, but if anyone you're out with has a Boag's, Cascade, Cooper's, Little Creatures, Redback, Hoegaarden, St Arnou or Barron's ask them if you can have a sip. Find one you like. Don't worry, it is an acquired taste.

As for spirits, due to an unfortunate incident during schoolies week I (still!) can't do bourbon, but I used to like vodka and orange and gin, lime and lemonade[1].

If wine's on offer, try a riesling or if red, a shiraz. The same thing goes as for the beer, don't let cheap goon turn you off "proper" wine (but you only have to spend $15/bottle to get something reasonable).

I'd also avoid the cocktails everyone's suggesting if you know you've got a low tolerance.

[1] For you North Americans, lemonade = Sprite in .au
posted by m1ndsurfer at 3:46 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Try a mojito.

White rum, sugar , lime, sparkling water and mint = a tasty and refreshing beverage that will make you feel like Hemingway in Cuba.

Properly made (i.e. not pre-mixed or anything horrible like that) they are absolutely delicious.
posted by elder18 at 3:46 PM on December 8, 2009

I also recommend a dark and stormy. But the right combination is kind of elusive, I had to try several brands of ginger beer before I found the one I love. Ginger beer is not alcoholic, just a more spicy version of ginger ale. I use D&G Spicy Jamaican ginger beer, I can get it at my local grocery store in the imported foods section. And Captain Morgan Tattoo Black Rum, because it's the only one my small local liquor store carries and it's not to pricey. They don't carry Gosling's, which is the recommended brand. Highball glass full of crushed ice, 1 oz black rum, fill up with ginger beer.
posted by raisingsand at 3:57 PM on December 8, 2009

You can't go wrong with old standards like the gin & tonic, or the 7 & 7 (aka lemon-lime soda & whiskey).

Also, Frangelico is awesome, although ordering it in bar may prompt the bartender to laugh at you for drinking "Mrs. Butterworth's"
posted by gnutron at 3:59 PM on December 8, 2009

Stay away from tonic water if you don't like sweet. My fav is my GF's concoction called a "Sunny Day". Top shelf vodka (Prefer Kettle One) with club soda and either a splash of OJ or the juice from 2 orange wedges. Nice and refreshing without being overly sweet. Reminds me of Florida. Also if you like sparkling wine you may like a Mimosa. The place we have brunch always uses Freixenet, a Spanish Cava instead of Champagne and that's what we've been using. The Cordon Negro Brut is the one we use. Good price and great flavor. We usually mix about 1/3 OJ to 2/3 bubbly.
posted by white_devil at 3:59 PM on December 8, 2009

My go-to is a vodka-cranberry, but that probably won't work for you, since it is fruity. With that in mind, I would go with a whiskey sour (whiskey and sour mix or lemon juice). You can ask them to go heavy on the sour, and it will be just like lemonade, but drunkening. I also think a shot of creme de menthe and a shot of creme de cacao and milk shaken over ice is DELICIOUS.
posted by Night_owl at 4:09 PM on December 8, 2009

I don't like beer, though Beez Kneez (honey beer) tastes OK.

Assuming you're still in Brisvegas, the bottlos these days are stocking more & more new sweetish or fruity beers every week - probably to attract the ex-alcopop drinkers, since alcopops were slapped with a higher tax to dissuade teenage drinkers.

So, voila! Make a beer sweet & palatable to new drinkers & avoid the tax!

Beez Kneez has been around for a while, but you could also try Monteith's Radler or Summer Ale. The Radler is lemonadey, Summer Ale is gingery.

I think James Squire also just put out a version of the summer ale, and there are plenty of others - I occasionally buy them by mistake, without seeing the "light & refreshing beer infused with zingy pomegranate flavours" labelling, which really ought to be in bold red warning-sign font on a fluorescent sticker twice the size of the bottle itself.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:33 PM on December 8, 2009

I tend to seize up when faced with a bartender, and I constantly celebrate the day my mother took me aside, shortly after my 21st birthday, and said, "When in doubt, order a Kir or Kir Royale." The Kir is white wine and Chambord (black raspberry liqueur) or sometimes Cassis (blackcurrant), the royale is sparkling wine instead of still. I am mostly a wine drinker these days anyway, but the Kir is a little more festive and very easy to sip slowly, just sweet enough to not make you make That Face but not so sugary you have a hypoglycemic attack. And they don't turn terribly fruity on you, it just cuts the bite of the wine.

My husband is a fan of the entire cream/chocolate spectrum, and tends to order White Russians, Toasted Almonds, Bailey's rocks, or will even dive into whatever the Godiva-liqueur special is. I like a White Russian for the fat buffer, but it is indeed a fat buffer, so your mileage may vary. I'm just as happy with vanilla vodka or vanilla/spiced/flavored rum and coke (or whatever Firefly vodka is at hand, with whatever soda goes best with it), though.

If you've got a sporting bartender, don't be afraid to say, "look, I want X, make me a cocktail like that."
posted by Lyn Never at 4:54 PM on December 8, 2009

Seconding PhoBWanKenobi: there are a lot of people I know who don't like beer, but really go nuts for a lambic or a hard apple cider like Woodchuck. I like beer, but my local brewpub makes a hard apple ale that is more or less impossible to resist.
posted by charmedimsure at 5:08 PM on December 8, 2009

Ooh! And this time of year, a hot buttered rum- spicy and yummy, no cough syrup weirdness, tastes not at all alcohol-y but still packs a punch.

Oh, wait, I see you're in Brisbane. Perhaps in July?
posted by charmedimsure at 5:11 PM on December 8, 2009

Just a note: American lambics (which are usually sweeter) typically are the variety with fruit added, but a lambic does not mean "fruit beer". It's just a spontaneously fermented style, and can be quite sour in the geuze and other varieties.

That said, any Lindeman's lambic with a fruit on the label will be sufficiently fruity and sweet to work.
posted by kcm at 5:21 PM on December 8, 2009

Midori is a melon liqour you might like. I use to drink sweet tarts a long time ago but when I looked online, I'm getting all kinds of weird recipes. What I remember is Midori, vodka, sour mix, and 7-up. It's very glowy and people will be very curious about what you are drinking.

I'd also 2nd asking the bartender for suggestions. Ask what kind of Kahlua or coffee drinks they have. Don't do this at a busy time. If you do it when the bar is slow, a bartender will have a lot more time to help you out.

One last thing, if you don't have a high tolerance, you can ask the bartender to make it (your drink) light. That way you can still drink the hard liquors/mixes without over doing it.
posted by stray thoughts at 5:23 PM on December 8, 2009

I like chocolate, vanilla, Nutella, coffee-type flavours, and have been curious about liquer hot chocs/coffees. I'm not a big fan of fruity flavours

I'd recommend 6 oz hot coffee with 1 oz Kahlua and 1 oz Bailey's in a large mug. Stir and top with whipped cream.
posted by marsha56 at 6:12 PM on December 8, 2009

Blood and sand is my drink of choice this winter. The basic ingredients are scotch, sweet vermouth, cherry brandy, and orange juice, but I'm seeing it modernized a bit at bars here and there. Strong, smooth, and sweet without being cloying.

The San Jose in Austin is doing Victorian lemonades (St Germain, sparkling white wine, lemonade, and lavender syrup).

I also had a "Afterschool Special" from Frank's, which was a very tasty mix of Patron XO Cafe tequila, Bailey's, and Godiva Chocolate Liqueur, sprinkled with a bit of chocolate cayenne powder. The powder seemed important because it gave it spice and an unexpected tanginess that cut through the sweet.
posted by lunalaguna at 6:37 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I forgot. Can you get the NZ 42 Below Feijoa vodka in Brisbane? It's great with apple juice.
posted by lunalaguna at 7:00 PM on December 8, 2009

Rye and Ginger

Vodka and soda with a wedge of lemon squeezed in - very light and yummy

and an invention of my own - vodka and soda, with a dash of Kahlua - it brings out the caramel flavour of the kahlua
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 7:01 PM on December 8, 2009

Daddy Katze advised me long ago to stick to clear liquors, either straight up or mixed with nothing more than water. He contended that all the additives (juices, sodas, simple syrup, etc.) contributed to godawful hangovers. Lo these many years later, I agree with him. Try good vodka on ice with or without water and a twist of lemon or lime. A nice clean flavor and if imbibed wisely results in very minimal after effects. As a bonus, it's a nice, unfussy, grown up looking drink
posted by Allee Katze at 7:15 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Toasted Almond! Equal parts amaretto, kaluha, and cream. I make it with whole milk at home and that is fine.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:17 PM on December 8, 2009

Nthing the Dark & Stormy if you like Ginger Beer. I've found success making this with just about any kind of rum. Gosling's makes a deliccccccious Ginger Beer made specifically to go in a Dark & Stormy (never had their rum but the Ginger Beer is great)
posted by haveanicesummer at 7:37 PM on December 8, 2009

I don't care for sweet drinks, so I'm partial to Greyhounds and Salty Dogs. A Greyhound is vodka and grapefruit juice; a Salty Dog is the same in a glass with a salted rim. I find the mornings after to be less awful if I stick to straight whisky, though. Any kind of sugar seems to hang me over something fierce.
posted by workerant at 7:43 PM on December 8, 2009

Try one of my favourites, the Ferrero Rocher: Vodka, creme de cacao (best with the white chocolate version, I usually use Godiva), Frangelico, and milk. Tastes like drinking a Ferrero Rocher candy, but one that burns a little. If the burning is anathema, it can be made without the vodka.
posted by ilana at 8:29 PM on December 8, 2009

I don't know if you can get these where you are, but I am partial to Caesars (vodka and Clamato juice). More tangy and less thick than a Bloody Mary. Canada's #1 cocktail is tasty as sin!
posted by VanCityChica at 8:59 PM on December 8, 2009

Adding my voice recommend trying Dark and Stormy, gin and tonic, margaritas (anything made with ice is a godsend right now). I'd also suggest trying mango daiquiris. My god, I would give my spleen for a mango daiquiri right now. Tastes just of mango and ice, with a little kick at the end. Kahlua over ice is lovely as well, and if you like chocolatey stuff Mozart liquer over ice is good too. Really, most liqueurs do well over ice.

Apple ciders are good sipping drinks, and even stock standard Strongbow's cider is pretty tolerable. They do a sweet, original and dry versions, too.

Honestly, don't be intimidated by drinks menus. I worked out what was good for me by starting at the top of the cocktail list at my student bar and getting to the bottom, though thankfully not all in one sitting. If you're feeling decadent, sent a night aside to hit up the Bowery bar in the Valley and have a stab at their cocktail list. It's pretty comprehensive, and last time I was there the bar staff were very, very good.
posted by Jilder at 9:04 PM on December 8, 2009

Screwdriver. It's vodka and orange juice, but since vodka has virtually no flavor it just takes likes orange juice.

Cranberry juice and vodka is also good, for similar reasons.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:29 PM on December 8, 2009

As there are a lot of people recommending Dark & Stormy, bear in mind that in Brisbane that is a pre-mixed drink (alcopop, RTD, whatever you want to call them) made with Bundaberg Ginger Beer (yum) and Bundaberg Rum (yuck). A decent cocktail bar will make you the real deal, but don't judge it by the canned version.

As many have suggested, you might like wheat beer (Beez Kneez is a wheat beer, if a rather insipid one). The Belgian Beer Cafe (corner of Edward and Mary Streets) is a good place to try lots of these, including fruit beers. Try to avoid the really strong Belgian Ales though.
posted by GeckoDundee at 11:31 PM on December 8, 2009

chocolate, vanilla, Nutella, coffee-type flavours

when i was a bartender i used to make a drink for people who would request these flavours, i called it... oh, i can't remember, but it was butterscotch schnapps, kahlua, and frangelico shaken with milk. sweet, but the kahlua offsets the over-sweetness of the schnapps, and the milk makes the whole thing mild. the frangelico gives it a really light nutty taste. it should be 2 parts kahlua to 1 part butterscotch and 1 part frangelico.

I'm not a big fan of fruity flavours, except if it's melon

ask for midori and cranberry (ideally with a squeeze of lime), such a summer drink, it will be really refreshing in brisbane this summer! cranberry juice has some dryness to it, and is only slightly sweet, so it really offsets the sweetness of midori - which is melon based liqueur. the squeeze of fresh lime gives it a fantastic zing (i don't know how else to describe it). you might get funny looks from bartenders who haven't heard of this combination before, but ignore them if you do.

I really like ginger ale/ginger beer.

the moscow mule! it's a staple on even the most basic of cocktail menus in australia. if it's not, request vodka, bitters, lime juice, topped with ginger beer.


neither of these include lemonade, but i think that you might like capirioskas and capirinhas. they've been pretty popular in australia for a while now. the capirioska is lime, sugar, ice and vodka. capirinha is lime, sugar, ice and rum (cocktail bars should serve brazilian cachaca). they may sound strong, but the ice melts quite quickly into the sugar and it's light and fresh.

oh, and nthing gin and tonics. i only realised recently that it was the tonic that makes this drink so great. i even started drinking it (just the tonic) as a soft drink.
posted by skauskas at 12:22 AM on December 9, 2009

Sorry if I repeat anything - I don't have time to read all the comments.

If you don't have a high tolerance for alcohol, I'd probably avoid cocktails, except for special occasions, since they usually have a lot more alcohol in them. Plus in Australia they tend to be pricey, and dependent on where you drink. So anyway, I'll try and stick to things easily orderable anywhere here and roughly equivalent in price to a beer or glass of wine.

As someone above said, if you like vanilla and ginger, vanilla vodka + dry ginger ale is lovely.

If you like sherry, maybe try ordering a glass of muscat, which is likely to be nicer than the standard pub sherries, and a bit less nanna. (If you're buying a bottle on the other hand, try a Spanish pedro ximinez).

You could try some of the fruity beers around - that Bellevue Kriek cherry beer seems to be getting pretty prevalent. Or you could try drinking shandies - beer with lemonade (also a bit of a nanna drink, but I like it). I also like ordering beer with a tiny dash of lime (brown lime Bickfords) which takes the beery edge off. In any case, I found I got into beer when I started valuing it for its refreshingness, rather than the taste per se.

Pimm's and lemonade is lovely, but you're best ordering it at slightly fancier places, or places with restaurants attached, because it's so much better with the full salad garnish - citrus, cucumber, mint etc.

I've taken to ordering pastis lately, which might work if you like aniseed, but it's a bit of a hassle trying to get anyone to serve it right and the price can vary wildly. Almost all pubs/bars have it, but most of the time the staff don't realise - the brands readily available are Ricard and Pernod and you'll probably have to point to it. You want to ask for a small amount in a tall glass, and then ask for another glass of (flat) water (no ice). You can then dilute it to your taste - 5:1 is about standard. It's fun to watch it go cloudy!

I had a St Germain on the rocks the other week and that was lovely if you can find it. Other elderflower liqueurs seem to be around a bit too.

Keep in mind also that there are drinks which are more summery and drinks which are more wintery. I'd probably wait for winter for the sherry for example.
posted by Emilyisnow at 12:23 AM on December 9, 2009

I started drinking late (hello, Muslim upbringing) and still get confused around pubs and clubs where I'm expected to drink. I think beer is gross and find most cocktails, especially fruity ones, a little foul. A gin and tonic is the perfect fallback as anyone can mix it and the variation in quality is often less offensive. A screwdriver (orange juice and vodka) also does well. Also relatively hard to mess up, especially if it's freshly squeezed orange juice. Bloody Marys and Bloody Caesars nearly put me off mixed drinks for life. Ugh.
posted by tavegyl at 1:05 AM on December 9, 2009

Nothing beats Gin and Tonic. You may want to try Absinthe with apple juice, careful it's 60% (Green Fairy Absinthe - from the Czech Republic).
posted by Bacillus at 3:43 AM on December 9, 2009

Bailey's plus butterscotch schnapps(plus milk if you want to stretch out the alcoholic impact). It's like liquid candy!
posted by owtytrof at 6:28 AM on December 9, 2009

Two words -- Drink Dogma.
posted by cross_impact at 7:07 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I like OJ or cranberry juice and vodka, or grapefruit juice & bourbon.
posted by theora55 at 8:51 AM on December 9, 2009

Consider a dessert wine, like an Eiswine?
posted by Citrus at 12:05 PM on December 9, 2009

Sham Pain

2 oz white wine
1 oz Lillet
1/2 oz St. Germain
The juice of half a lime
Simple Syrup to taste
Shake, strain, and top with soda.

The best sparkling wine you'll ever have, it's tastes like what I always expect champagne to taste like, before I'm continually disappointed by what most champagne actually tastes like.
posted by Jawn at 6:02 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

When I started drinking I had somewhat similar taste as you (though I lurvvvve me some beer, just not disgusting Bud-type American beer), very fond of nutty warm flavors and hated whiskey. I always ordered an Amaretto Sour--it's relatively cheap, ubiquitous, simple, and won't get you hammered. If you're someplace nice enough you should inquire about nocello + coffee as the perfect after-dinner dessert drink. Walnut liqueur from Italy. So good. Frangelico, Drambuie, Apple Korn, Calvados are other warm-flavor options you might like this time of year.

Cape Codders might veer too cough-syrupy for you, but they're worth a try maybe...Chambord might possibly change your mind about cough-syrup-y dimensions. It could veer that way but it's so tasty and much better than the normal berry flavors...

I don't know anyone who finds basic stuff like martinis and gin and tonics offensive tasting, by the way. Safe bets. Mojitos, mint juleps, and margaritas are also popular favorites...

This time of year, you might enjoy kirs (bit of creme de cassis + sparkling wine) or champagne cocktails.

And you won't find it at bars probably, but a hot toddy made with ginger tea or ginger liqueur is delightful.

It's the wrong time of year but come summertime, caiparinhas and Pimm's cups are divine, as are sloe gin fizzes.
posted by ifjuly at 10:28 AM on December 24, 2009

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