Pulque with tomato, left, and pineapple (image: Alejandro Linares Garcia)
As the year winds down and we head into the holiday season, it’s time to start thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Author Jeff Cioletti can recommend one that readers are very likely to stick with throughout 2017: Drink adventurously.
While tequila and mezcal also make his short list, so does another agave product, pulque, which Cioletti describes as “the mildly sweet, considerably viscous beverage with a milky-watery appearance that results from fermenting agave sap directly from the plant.” Flavorwise, it’s a mix of earthy and citrusy, often served at pulquerias mixed with fruit juices and other flavorings.
China’s famously redolent, often high-proof white liquor “tastes similar to nothing you’ve ever had before,” says Cioletti. “There is really nothing to compare it with; it’s its own animal.”
3. Chili Pepper Beer
Yes, brews infused with hot peppers, from sriracha stout to pepper porter, are just waiting for capsaicin junkies.
Aka fermentables, pruno is produced within the confines of prison walls, made with any manner of fruits (including, as the name suggests, prunes) or other ingredients and yeast from bread. Cioletti isn’t advocating a lockdown just to try it, but he does point to a legal, commercially available brand called—what else?—Pruno, sold in a black-and-white prison-striped bottle.
5. Bourbon-Aged Beer
“Barrel-aged brews have been a bit of a double-edged sword,” says Cioletti. “The residual bourbon (or other spirit, sometimes wine) can hide a lot of the flaws.” However, it can also add plenty of flavor and complexity.
This cacao-based spirit from South America tastes like fruit, not chocolate, since it’s made from the rich, pulpy fruit that surrounds the prized cacao beans.
A super bitter quaff often associated with Chicago, this is a wormwood-based take on the Swedish spiced bësk spirit, a cousin of absinthe. Note: The “Malört face,” that grimace after downing a swig, is immortalized in various photo montages and videos online.