Inadvertently Tasty

Back when I was bartending for a snazzy hotel chain, the staff would occasionally be "encouraged" to sell certain wines and spirits. We usually ignored these directives, but we tenders once had to create drinks to pimp a new, fruit-flavored, cognac-based liqueur aimed at the club set (hint: Its name ends in Q). No amount of hide-the-booze could polish that turd; it ruined every drink it touched. I've always spat on these spirits, all packaging and hype focused on an imaginary demographic. I think they're, well, hideous.

"Hideous" is precisely the name of a new liqueur targeted at the party crowd. Though the company headquarters rest three bends in the river past the French Quarter in New Orleans, this magenta, vodka-based liqueur is made in Idaho and blended with Washington berries. In the realm of sloe gin or Chambord, but with a less-concentrated fruit flavor, Hideous is all sweet red raspberry and citrus, with just a little burn going down; it tastes like a cosmopolitan in a bottle. I can imagine that this was exactly the topic of a strategy meeting in the making of the beverage, which, according to the company's press materials, was developed specifically to be a "shooter."

What pisses me off most about the new liqueur is that, though Hideous is not for everyone, it's really, really good. Without trying at all, I came up with a dozen simple drink recipes for it. Equal parts Hideous and limoncello make a refreshing aperitif, tart balanced with sweet (call it an Odioso?). I made a bourbon fizz with an added shot of Hideous that was tasty enough for the Derby (a Red Kentucky?). The manhattan got a downtown treatment by mixing two parts Makers Mark to one part Hideous (a Lower East Side?). And, I have to admit, had equal parts Hideous and Absolut Ruby Red (an Ugly Ruby?) been around when I was 20—er, 21—it would have been on my permanent cocktail roster.

But Hideous isn't gunning for me, or you; it has girls going wild in its crosshairs. The name alone dares anyone to take it seriously, which is a shame. The company's most popular drink is the "H-Bomb," Hideous and Red Bull, and most of the drink recipes on its Web site ( compete for the hearts and minds of those with the propensity for the Purple Hooter. According to Hideous's MySpace page (, the new liqueur is a single, 22-year-old male. He's a Leo, and he drinks and smokes, with no entry in the "Here for..." category—but I think I can guess.

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