While many of us (myself included!) enjoy a glass of red or a bog-standard beer after a busy working week, some positively bizarre combinations have hit the market to shake up your weekend tipple.
Luckily, I’ve tried them so you don’t have to – sampling everything from colour-changing tequilas to vegetable (yes, vegetable) infused wines.
Step aside espresso martinis and simple G+Ts, here are our top picks for the most weird and wonderful drinks currently on offer.
Worried about getting your five a day in? Fear not – you can now drink your veggies with asparagus-infused vodka, sake made with mushrooms, and even a broccoli flavour wine.
While vodka comes in an array of flavours from vanilla to raspberry, Portobello Road Distillery have concocted an alternative for those with a more savoury pallet – using asparagus.
While not a vodka fan personally, anything that doesn’t taste like pure acid is a win for me, and I found this surprisingly enjoyable. The alcohol is made by steeping English asparagus in the brand’s British Potato Vodka – and the result is equally simple.
Slightly herby and very smooth, I couldn’t decipher the undertones of asparagus, and instead found it comparable to a higher-end shot – not bad at all.
Onto the broccoli wine…introducing Tendernay. Three parts tenderstem, one part Chardonnay and decidedly green-ish in colour, it’s not exactly designed to be a crowd-pleaser.
But broccoli fans like myself can rejoice because, unlike the asparagus vodka, the flavour of the veg is very much present. Sharp and tangy, it was much like a cheap-and-cheerful bottle of white, with a rather distinctive earthy aftertaste.
While it’s far from the worst drink I’ve ever tried and fun for a novelty gift, I’ll be sticking with my usual glass of house Sauvignon Blanc.
For sake-lovers, The Wasabi Company’s Umeshu liqueur utilises one rather bizarre vegetable: mushrooms.
The Kyoto Umeshu is savoury and spicy – two things I rarely opt for in a drink – and is infused not only with the fungi, but also stewed tomato and bread. The result? Surprisingly tasty, with the cooked lemon, lime and plum overpowering the vegetables for a zestier finish.
If that wasn’t enough mushroom action for you, their Shio Ume sake is another savoury staple of the brand and, while it’s a little more salty, is recommended to serve alongside sweet dishes like ice cream or fruit.
As far as blue drinks go, I’ve rarely strayed outside of my comfort zone (sickly WKD alcopops as a teenager), but sampling some of the strangest coloured alcohols on the market proved to be a surprisingly tasty experience.
Tequila is most people’s shot of choice, but have you ever tried one that changes hue? Butterfly Cannon Blue comes in the form of a shocking violet liquid, which seemingly magically transforms into a soft pink when mixed with soda or tonic.
While I’d usually knock it back in one, this tequila has a far more complex – and enjoyable – taste than the bog-standard supermarket brand. Infused with clementine, pear, strawberry, watermelon, honeydew melon, fig and banana, it’s an entirely sweeter experience – as well as an aesthetically pleasing one.
If you’re steering clear of spirits, don’t fret – there’s a wine option too for those of us craving a bright beverage.
Luc Belaire is known for its delicious range of sparkling wines – ones I was already a fan of – but they have also introduced a quirkier option in the form of their Belaire Bleu.
It is said to be inspired by the French Riviera – and one look at the bottle proves why, with the sapphire colour reminiscent of a crystal-clear ocean. The wine itself is as tasty as its counterparts, with a light berry tang and a summer fizz.
While I tried it solo, according to the company it can also be used as a base for cocktails. Blueberry mojito, anyone?
FOR THE BRITS
For us Brits, there are a few food staples that most of us insist on – baked beans, fish and chips, marmalade sandwiches, all washed down with copious amounts of tea.
But while many (thankfully!) don’t make their way into our alcoholic beverages, there are a few rather bizarre exceptions…
Torn between what to order at the restaurant – a crisp spirit or a soothing mug of tea? Now you can have both in one with Noveltea’s Earl Grey Tea with Gin. The quirky drink combines cold-brewed Earl Grey with British gin, distilled using juniper berries, coriander and a range of other botanicals.
I was hesitant to drink both in one mouthful and decided to dilute it with some soda water. Unlike my builder’s brew, the flavour wasn’t particularly sweet, but I found it to be light, slightly citrusy, and pretty tasty.
I don’t know if I’ll be petitioning my local to start stocking it but, as the name implies, it was certainly a novelty to try it! If you’re feeling adventurous, you can bag a bottle in a delicious boozy afternoon tea hamper packed full of other goodies including macarons, clotted cream fudge and chocolates.
After sampling the Earl Grey gin, I was keen to discover what other tea-infused drinks were on the market.
Enter: Swygge’s Life of Chai – a pre-made cocktail consisting of gin, chai tea, Swygge coriander and almond cordial, cold pressed fresh lemon, Swygge grenadine, Angostura Bitters and soda.
I knew I was setting myself up for failure with this one, as I typically avoid chai lattes at all costs (why are they always so bitty?!), and sadly this didn’t win me over. It was definitely an interesting taste, but a little warm and spicy for my pallet, and I found myself committing the ultimate alcohol sin: leaving my glass half-full.
Thankfully, Swygge were on hand with another tea-infused option: the Gilded Grace cocktail. This one was made of Swygge peanut butter infused vodka, cacao liqueur, milk oolong tea and chocolate bitters – and it was 10/10.
If, like me, you love anything peanut butter and chocolate-heavy, and are happy to drink your dessert, this is well worth a try. Rich and creamy, it was similar to a flavoured Bailey’s. I served it over ice and could have gladly had another serving.
But alas, I had more weird and wonderful drinks to try, including some of the Slingsby Gin range. While they have all the classics from a London dry gin to rhubarb, and blackberry, two more unique options caught my eye – gooseberry and marmalade.
While fruit-infused options are hardly new to the spirit world, I had yet to come across a gooseberry option. It was a lot sharper and more tangy than the usual offerings – well worth a try if you fancy mixing it up.
But, in homage to the nation’s favourite bear, Paddington, the Slingsby Marmalade Gin was the true must-try.
I tried this with both soda and tonic water to really get an idea of the flavour, and either way it proved very tasty. A thicker, sweeter option than blood orange gin, this was reminiscent of childhood marmalade sandwiches – but given a serious adult upgrade!
I can only imagine Paddington is itching to get his paws on this…
If you don’t partake in alcoholic beverages yourself, fear not – we’ve got a few contenders for strangest alcohol-free offerings too.
While fruity concoctions are hardly new to the drinks market, a staple rum-replacement is something I’ve found difficult to get my hands on.
Introducing CROSSIP’s Blazing Pineapple non-alcoholic spirit which tastes incredibly similar to the real thing. Sweet and tart from the fruit, I initially thought it tasted like juice – until the heat kicked in, providing that alcohol-esque experience.
Their secret? It’s infused with scotch bonnet chillis to add a fiery kick. It tasted like the real thing without giving me the hangover from hell that rum does – win win!
If you fancy trying out some cocktails, Swish has a range of ready-to-drink cans and bottles which can be either alcoholic or alcohol-free. Though they had a few tried and tested classics, I opted for the quirkiest flavour (of course) – the Key Lime Pie Mojito Fizz.
The drink itself was perfectly tasty but the truly strange part? The alcohol and alcohol-free options tasted almost identical thanks to the tart flavour of the limes masquerading as spirit-like.
If the other drinks weren’t quite whacky enough for you, there are a few final options well worth a shout out.
I’m a stickler for use-by dates, so getting my head around the idea of drinking a wine made using grapes that date back to the 13th century took a minute when I was introduced to Plaimont Producteurs.
The brand has rediscovered “forgotten” ancient grape varieties in South-West France – so of course testing them out in wine was a must.
I decided to sample their Saint Mont Les Cepages Preserves white wine and my guess is evolution had no need to change these grapes – the wine was crisp, fruity and made me feel far classier than when ordering my usual (“house!”).
If you prefer your wine to be a little less historical, Blue Aurora have created a selection of wines using misshapen, soft or wrongly sized blueberries – most notably, the Ice Wine.
Made using frozen blueberries which are pressed and fermented, this uber-sweet option is a nice alternative to traditional grape wine and, while a little syrupy alone, pairs great with a glass of fizz.
Another brand finding new ways to use up old fruit is the Discarded Spirit Co, who have launched a Grape Skin Vodka using – you guessed it – old grape skins.
While I’m used to grapes in my wine, they didn’t make much impact flavour-wise with this spirit but it was nice to know I’d picked a sustainable option for my drink – and the ethos behind the company is pretty cool, with them using everything from banana peels to strawberry tops. Waste not want not, right?
After going through quite the flavour exploration, I was pleased to end things on a high with a final drink – a chilli pepper-infused whiskey.
I don’t claim to be a whiskey connoisseur, but I was intrigued by the slightly terrifying bottle of Scorch’s Bloody Orange and Chilli Whiskey Liqueur – which looked intimidatingly fiery.
Armed with a glass of cold water, I gave it a try and found it to be both extremely hot (shock…) and incredibly strong. I was not sold on it neat, but tried it again with some lemonade and found it to be pretty enjoyable.
If you don’t like spice, I’d recommend sticking with a bog-standard whiskey, but if you’re feeling up to the challenge, the liqueur was smooth and slightly sweet, with the heat from the chillis packing an extra punch.
VERDICT: While the foray into the weird and wonderful world of unique alcohols has certainly been an eye-opener, I’m looking forward to getting back to basics: a glass of red and a plain gin without a single vegetable in sight!