Left a Bad Taste: Alcoholic Flavors

Left a Bad Taste: Alcoholic Flavors

My first sip of alcohol was from a margarita at the age of 5. Its Slush Puppie appearance coupled with my curiosity led to extreme whining and grabbing until I got what I wanted. I was quite the charmer, but my mom–despite not really being a drinker–must’ve had enough to acquiesce to my demands.

It tasted of the ocean. Yech.

Not the good kind.

Not the good kind.

High school was where alcohol consumption really took off for the people I knew. I had vowed a straight edge lifestyle throughout 9th-12th, but there was one night in the attic of a friend’s that I accepted my inevitable fate of boozin’. There was no verbal peer pressure, but I did feel compelled to go with the group for the sake of consistency. I was given a glass of vodka poured from a plastic traveler bottle, the swill mixed with room temperature Surge.

It was the liquid form of disappointment.

Two lackluster experiences kept putting off any interest I had in alcohol despite my father’s career as a wine salesman. I had never imbibed enough to feel even the slightest buzz, and all tastes were an inclination to stick with chocolate milk for the rest of my days, a sentence I would’ve gladly carried out.

Now a man with a well-stocked home bar and penchant for nightcaps, I look inward and wonder if I can accurately describe the taste of alcoholic beverages to those who’ve never partaken. Partook? Partooken.

Perhaps these will serve as warnings to underage readers. To those sub-21s: I know the urge can be strong, but read these descriptions and see if your next drink isn’t accurately depicted.

Beer – Urine

Sofia Vergara

I doubt anyone will ever admit to tasting urine. I will, however, admit that I came dangerously close one night in college. After a hardy night of partying, it was time to turn in. Unfortunately, I couldn’t enter the hallway with my goal to drunkenly empty my bladder as there was drama unfolding outside my room. I wasn’t the type to risk wetting the bed due to my nervous system being delightfully impaired, but I was even less content with stepping  through an intoxicated argument.

Thanks to my slovenliness, there were plenty of empty water bottles strewn about. You can guess what happened next.

Morning. I open my fridge to grab something to quell the budding hangover, but I fortunately had the common sense to open my eyes before chugging. My smart idea to store the aforementioned bottle in the fridge almost led to the worst hair of the dog anyone has ever had.

I didn’t drink it, but intrigue led me to take a whiff. Hey, no one would know unless I posted this on a website years later, right?

I gagged and nearly chucked all the ups. This was mostly from the smell of cold urine being potently horrendous, but I must admit that it also related to the odor/idea of alcohol following a bender. It makes your stomach turn and forces a declaration of never drinking again.

And that smell was reminiscent of the cheap beer I had “enjoyed” throughout my collegiate years.

Don’t do it, kids.

Wine – Rotten Fruit


Mushy bananas are great for use in recipes, but how delicious does a black peel and curled fruit look to you? Soft apples? Squishy grapes? Mildewy strawberries?

You kids enjoy your Kool-Aid, your fruit juice, your Hawaiian Punch, and all that nonsense. Did you ever imagine what those would taste like if they spoiled? No, because no kid can just drink a little fruit juice. That stuff will be gone before the end of the day. It’ll never have the chance to spoil.

But pile those grotesque and outdated fruits into a blender, hit “purée,” and tip the container back. Is that what you want to have in your glass? Do you think you look classy swirling a slogfest of old fruit in your chalice?

Don’t do it, kids.

Whiskey – Chewing on a Pencil


You’re sitting in class, busy filling in bubbles on a Scantron sheet, deliberating between B) and C). Your nerves and confusion lead you to nibble on the eraser, but you need that dry; a soaked eraser will only smudge your mark on B) over through A) and C). You can’t chomp on the metal band unless you want that shooting pain through your fillings. Biting the graphite is uncomfortable and will leave gray marks on your white teeth. Your teacher forbids gum, the jerk.

So you stick with the body of the pencil; it’s malleable enough, doesn’t inhibit your writing, and softly calms the nerves.

You’re chewing on wood, kid. How does that taste?

Tastes like whiskey.

Whiskeys are known for tasting like certain woods. Does that sound appealing in the least? Every sip will remind you of those stressful tests, of the fibers and shavings getting caught between your teeth, of you accidentally swallowing the “No. 2″ emblem. You don’t even like orange juice with pulp in it, so why are you turning your writing utensil into the same material within your mouth?

Don’t do it, kids.

Gin – Air Freshener Teabag


Can’t say I’m a massive fan of tea, but I’d be silly if I ignored the benefits of it. Tea can help ease symptoms of sickness, provide caffeine for those who hate coffee or soda, and either warm you during frozen days or chill you during a sweltering summer.

What’s your favorite tea? Oolong? Black? Green? A blend?

What about Pine Tree Tea? If so, that’s what you’re getting when you drink gin. I believe that garbage trucks take discarded Christmas trees to gin distilleries so they can blend the forest for the G&Ts.

Even tonic water, a cure-all for mediocre-to-poor cocktails, can’t extract the confier from between your canines.

Don’t do it, kids.

Vodka – Nail Polish Remover


Vodka is likely the most versatile of spirits out there. You can add it to nearly any solid or liquid to give it a potent kick. Grape Juice? Add vodka. Coffee? Add vodka. Gelatin? Add vodka.

Many sisters and their brothers will have come across the odor of nail polish remover some time in their lives. It’s a necessary tool for cosmetics, sure, but would you drink it? With all the brands of vodka out there, that’s a heavy “yes.”

All that’s happening is the ruination of tasty flavors. That grape juice can now remove the OPI from your nails. That coffee’s caffeine is now less worth the trouble. That Jell-O has gone from a delectable snack to springy punishment.

Hey, I love the smell of shampoo, but I’m not going to inject any into a watermelon and eat it.

Don’t do it, kids.

Rum – Smoke


It’s easy to confuse the flavor of rum with that of Coca-Cola; they’re quite inseparable. Rum without Coke is like gin without tonic, minus the worry of finding a squirrel hair in your liquor.

But rum on its lonesome is a different beast. It seems to be uncharted territory for today’s bar hopper, but it is possible to drink rum straight. It’s great for those that like to stand open-mouthed over a bonfire.

Secondhand smoke seems to be one of the most hated materials in America, and you want to liquefy it and serve it as a beverage? Couple that with the extreme burn of high-proof rums, and you might be better off chewing on a piece of kindling.

Smoked meats and cheeses are fantastic. Rum’s smokey flavor, on the other hand, will make you place your hand to test its temperature.

Don’t do it, kids. 

Tequila – Regretful Cactus


I’ve already mentioned hangovers, but they’re a result that no one desires. If you want to guarantee a rough following day, then you’ll want tequila.

Tequila is primarily made from cactus. It can contain a worm. A worm. You flip out if a fly touches your sandwich. You want to drink from a worm.

Do I need to say anything else?

Seriously, just don’t do it, kids.


Piss, moldy fruit, pencils, pine needles, solvent, smoke, and worm cactus. Which one of these appeals to you? If the answer is “none,” then stop thinking that drinking is cool. You’re going to hate the taste, loathe your actions from being intoxicated, and regret the next day.

Don’t do it, kids.






Adults, on the other hand: go nuts! Your palate is refined and educated. You know the true deliciousness of all of these beverages.

  • Beer – Wheaty, malty, liquid bread that matches so many savory meats.
  • Wine – Sweet, bubbly, tart ambrosia from classy parts of the world.
  • Whiskey – Orally applied hair regrowth serum that evaporates on your tongue.
  • Gin – Selected citrus whose praises were sung by Snoop Dogg himself.
  • Vodka – A bottled Swiss Army knife, smooth enough to add to anything.
  • Rum – Spices that encourage you to enlist as a pirate. Add coconut for perfection.
  • Tequila – Party in a glass, agave in your belly, smile on your face.

Shhhhhhhh. Let’s just keep this between us grownups, okay?

Images via NY Daily News

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