What to Drink This Week: Orchid Mango Liqueur
I skew pretty heavily towards soda-based cocktails, historically. Even when I was younger and thought that Mike’s Hard Lemonade was truly the best thing I could buy — not only because it meant a liquor product bore my name (which at the time was as good as having a personality of my own), but because it was sweet without having to touch any actual fruit.
Listen, I went through my Tiki Bar phase just like everyone else in the Internet, but here’s the thing: Chopping up fruit and maintaining a fridge full of six kinds of fresh fruit juice is a joyless chore, fraught with the perils of spoilage. Have you ever jiggled a can of pineapple juice and felt a thud? That is a real and true risk, and one you do not want to run.
(By the way, does anyone know the modern, ecologically-responsible way to dispose of that particular rotted food horror? I’ve had it happen to me with both pineapple and tomato juice — oh hush, don’t you judge — and I’m always paralyzed by my responsibilities as a recycler. Do I open it and dump out the frothy, ruined and consolidated remains? Do I chuck it in the blue box with no regard for the awful surprise that awaits the poor soul at the processing plant? I am at a loss.)
My point is simply that while I would very much like to dabble in more complex cocktails, I know in my heart of hearts that I’m too much of a complete slob to keep up the habit. The best I can manage on a casual basis is to purchase the soft drink that most closely approximates a fruit I’d like, and then saturate it as fully with vodka as I can manage on a work night.
I would like to do more, but… well, how to put this without exaggerating? Chopping fruit is the worst thing in the world and I hate it. I mean, if I wanted to prepare some kind of mango cocktail for Tina and me, look at the sort of agonizing, awkward hell I’d have to go through:
Or yet another painful, uncomfortable method:
That is just balls. What other fruit requires a three-minute demonstration to show you how to simply access it? Peeling mango is about as much fun as doing math while your hands are covered in paint. Have you ever had the misfortune of answering the phone when you’ve been handling mango? The juice has the incredible ability to invade even the smallest corner of electronics and make their components permanently adhesive. Good luck using the 9 button for the next year and a half, because you may have accidentally brushed it with your thumb within 2 hours of slicing mango.
By which I mean, handling fruit can be a hassle. Could there be no easier way? Of course, hooray there is, or I wouldn’t have been yelling at you about mangos this entire time.
Orchid (or if their website is still down, try their sadly quiet Twitter feed, or their lonely Facebook page) produces a variety of rich liqueurs that touch on flavors you may recognize from the previous decade: lychee, mango, pomegranate and guava. Presented in a bottle that’s exactly two inches too tall to fit in even the most generous liquor cabinet, there is so very much about Orchid that would tempt you to dismiss them as just one more girl-drink factory.
To begin with, the flavors are just a wee bit behind the curve, particularly lychee, the very mention of which awakens a sickening rage inside of me. The colors are equally familiar, and likely best associated with what you’d expect from bottles stashed in a girls’ dorm room in 1997. It’s a pity, too, because the contents are so much different than I would’ve expected.
You guys, it’s actually mango juice. It’s not mango-infused vodka, and it’s not flavor-science-candy-flavored liquid with vodka dumped in it. This is actually real, slightly pulpy and entirely authentic feeling mango juice, poured into an incredibly effeminate bottle and fired up to 16% ABV. If your mind is not blown by that, I would urge you to consider a few things:
- This means you never have to buy a mango again for the purposes of a cocktail.
- This means you never have to clean, peel and slice a mango again for the purposes of a cocktail.
- This means that you never have to break out your blender to make mango martinis or gin punches, not ever again.
- This means that’s awesome.
I realize that there’s a danger to being this enthusiastic about a product that’s essentially a shortcut — do I love it because it’s good, or simply because I’m lazy? And to that I can only say, why can’t it be both?
Now I am willing to grant that, at $31 for a 750mL bottle, Orchid isn’t precisely a bargain. It’s an indulgence, and more specifically it’s a tactical one; you’re not likely to buy this simply to have particularly authentic alcoholized juice sitting around. Orchid is a specialty liqueur that serves a very specific purpose, but as such, it does its job really well.
With the holidays well upon us, and entertaining practically an inescapable mandate, there’s always a role for fun, interesting and well-done liqueurs. They show your guests you appreciate them, they show rival hosts how far they have to go, and they make your life a whole lot easier — all of which perfectly describe Orchid mango liqueur.
Plus it’s Canadian.