The Beggars take your questions, part 5 – Booze Edition

Well folks, what can I tell you:  it’s a Mike-heavy week again.  But that just means that you can get your New Year started off right, by complaining about terrible junk food and learning more than you ever wanted to know about alcohol!

I think that’s a fair balance, don’t you?  Normally when we troll through our search logs to find questions, we look for those people who are seeking advice on technique, suggestions on recipes or explanations for some of the more disastrous experiences one can endure in the kitchen.

This time, as Tina snuggles into bed to rest up through another 200-hour work week — where she works so hard that the days actually extend themselves to spite her —  I thought I’d take the initiative to respond to some of the booze-related inquiries that our innocent readers tapped into the internet, hoping for some kind of coherent response.

So let’s top up our glasses and dive in!

what does frangelico taste like?

I’ve had my fun at the expense of Frangelico, because to my mind it’s still the Toffifee of the liquor store.  It’s kind of odd and European, it relies on nutty flavors even though it looks like chocolate, and the packaging relies far too much on 1970s yellow to be entirely trustworthy.

“But Grandma, I– there’s dust on this box…”

But the truth is that there are few liqueurs that you can rely on to be as versatile, accessible and easily-mixed as Frangelico.  This is doubly true if you’ve got a mixed crowd of people, and any percentage of them is alcohol shy.

That’s because Frangelico is a sweet liqueur, and one that’s relatively mild.  At 48 proof, it’s only slightly more than half as strong as a rum or a gin, so the harshness of alcohol is less likely to be off-putting.  Combined with a hazel nuttiness, it becomes the booze equivalent of Nutella, but without the shocking fat content.

Best served in coffee, or with vodka to form a chocolate cake shot that I absolutely have to try one of these days, it’s a bright and accessible liqueur that’s worth having around.

does creme de cacao go bad?

Just to be safe, I’ll answer slightly more than this question is actually asking.  That’s because chocolate liqueurs come in three varieties that are somewhat close in name, but have measurably different expiration dates.

Chocolate liqueurs are not unlike our friend Frangelico up there, but with the principle flavor of chocolate.  They have a normal liquid consistency, like a vodka or a rum, and come in both colored and clear varieties.  Godiva brought out a bunch of these a few years ago, any of which are reasonably good, and all of which will last a good long while, as long as you take care of them like anything else in your liquor cabinet — firmly closed, out of the light and in a dry spot.

Chocolate cream liqueurs are a slightly different story, and should be afforded the same care that you might show to that lingering bottle of Bailey’s hanging around in your cupboard.  Because cream liqueurs are blended with actual, honest-to-goodness dairy, they are best kept in the fridge once they’re opened.  They’ll still stay good for a while in the cupboard, but in the cold they can stay fresh for months, if not more than a year.

Creme de cacao is somewhere in between, in that it’s a thicker, more syrupy consistency as compared to chocolate liqueurs.  It’s not as much at risk to spoil as a cream liqueur might be, but deserves a bit more care all the same — creme de cacao will last a long time, but it can dry up on you (and seal the lid of the bottle in an unbreakably sticky seal) before long without the proper care.

Whichever one you actually have, the most important thing is to keep the bottle clean, cool and dry — funkiness only develops when you leave bottles open and let creatures take hold.

what goes good with smirnoff lemonade?

Remorse?  Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

A refund?  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

No, no wait — a better, cheaper cocktail that you can make yourself?  Haaaaa ha ha ha ha ha.

God I never get tired of ragging on this product.

the cost of a 6 pack of bud light lime?

Has gone down lately, I know!  Man is that ever a vote in its favor, I’ve got to say.  When we reviewed Bud Light Lime last summer, I paid between $13 and $14 for a six-pack, which was an absolute luxury rate.

I freely admit that — sucker for novelty that I am — I was happy to fork over to try something new in the “Refreshing Cervesa” product world.  With only Corona as my alternative, it felt like a reasonable investment with a potentially high return.

But you know what makes me feel a whole lot better about buying it, leaving it out in the snow for the afternoon, and drinking six of them while I watched football this past weekend?  That it cost $12.25 Canadian, exactly the same as every other premium domestic at the store, so I didn’t feel like a chump for overpaying more than once.

Plus!  Classy ads!

what is a liquor that tastes like beer?

Now here’s a question I don’t think I have ever seen before.

Is it the question of someone who wants to take their first steps into harder drinks, but still wants to stay within the comforting flavor embrace of beer?  Is it the question of someone who’s supped nothing but vodka their entire lives, and wants to know what brews taste like without breaking their streak?

It’s not entirely clear, but after a bit of research I have two suggestions that I can offer:

Malt Liquor is technically not a beer, even though that’s a bit of a split hair.  In truth they’re really just high-octane brews, containing a greater alcohol content than beer is allowed to carry by law.  The processes to brew most (I said most, Trappists, so don’t get your robes in a bunch) over-proof beers rather tend to favor strength over quality, which has the added benefit of making them (ahem) affordable.  So, as long as you have no  issues with judgmental cashiers and have a craving to obey Billy Dee Williams, then have at it.

Barley Wine is another, likely more appealing option.  Brewed to a strength of anywhere from 10% to 13%, Barley Wine has the complexity of a liqueur while staying true to its roots.  Sweeter and slightly heavier in texture, it’s a beverage that you can chill, pour and savor the way that you might with an Amaretto or even a Scotch.But it still tastes basically like beer!  So your integrity, whatever that happens to be reliant on, will remain intact!

And that’s it for this time around, folks!  The weekend is just around the corner, and if your week has been anything like mine, a few good cocktails are in order.  Break ’em out, mix ’em up and don’t be shy with those questions!

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  • jen

    Any suggestions on what to do with leftover barley wine? Can it be mixed with anything? I optimistically bought some over the hoidays but I can’t stand the beery taste and my husband doesn’t like the sweetness. Maybe it can have a new life as a cocktail?

    • Mike

      Jen, one word for you: Margarita.

      You don’t like the beery flavor, but the ice, a little lime and some tequila will dry that out no problem. He doesn’t like the sweetness, but in a margarita it actually works.

      And failing that, what guy has never wanted to have a beer slushie?

      • Tina

        Beer slushie??! What kind of advice are we giving these people! The margarita sounds delightful, though.

        Jen – if you don’t like the beer taste I would also suggest making a Leg’s Up, which a friend introduced me to in High School after she went on a trip to Austria. Tamp the flavor with a shot of either banana or peach (schnapps) and the sweet liqueur will help that right out. Sounds gross, I know, but I had a fierce addiction to banana beer for years afterward.

        • Mike

          That, madame, sounds like a challenge. I will be procuring a six-pack on the way home tonight, and there is a bag of ice in the freezer.

  • Louise

    I just had to comment to say that Toffifee is my absolute favorite candy!! Except in the States they’re called Toffifay (interesting…why the difference, I wonder?). And they’re usually sold in packs of four. Finding a rare package of 15 is like finding the Holy Grail!!!

    Love your site, by the way! How about a hearty (but non-cream based) soup recipe?

    • Hellcat13

      Word on the Toffifee…have you ever seen the Christmas packs of FORTY-EIGHT, Louise? I get one every Christmas and hoover the package ridiculously fast. My husband makes fun of me every year when he goes to get one three days after Christmas and they’re gone.

      • Mike

        I would like to merely point out that Toffifee is the treat nobody ever buys for themselves. I’m not sure it’s even on the shelves in a prominent way when it isn’t gift-buying time.

      • Louise

        Wow. I have never seen a 48-pack!! It’s probably for the best, because I would most likely end up in a candy coma on a regular basis. But just knowing that they exist warms my heart.

        • Louise

          Also — as I mentioned, finding a 15-pack is close to impossible where I live in Pennsylvania, but the 4-packs are sold in almost any gas station/convenience store in the candy bar aisle, so I buy them for myself often. It’s one of my few candy indulgences.

    • Tina

      Louise – Have you tried Pappa al Pomodoro? It is easy to make, deliciously more-ish, and DIRT CHEAP. Stale bread and tinned tomatoes turning into dinner? Yes please!!

  • Hellcat13

    Coincidentally, I’m also the type who thinks licking the rim of the Frangelico bottle so it doesn’t get that crusty build up the next time it’s opened is an acceptable form of clean-up. I like hazelnut. I stay far away from the Nutella aisle or my ass would be the general shape of a hazelnut. It makes me terribly terribly sad that my best friend is allergic to nuts and can’t know the joy that is hazelnut.