Revisiting your past boozy no-no’s could turn 2021 into a year of yes.

By Osayi Endolyn
January 14, 2021
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Credit: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Dickey / Prop Styling by Kathleen Varner

Many folks will go dry this month, but if you're imbibing, consider a different objective: Reintroduce yourself to that one spirit you're sure you don't like. Maybe you were the overeager college student who treated tequila like a dietary supplement during spring break; those memories last. But it's possible your new favorite liquor might be just the one you've spent the past decade telling everyone you can't stand a whiff of.

For me, that's vodka. But when Sari Kamin, public programs director at the Museum of Food and Drink in New York, suggested that I use vodka in her signature anchovy martini recipe, I finally got it. The umami from the salty fish, coupled with the fat, bonded perfectly with vodka's clean flavor. Vodka famously lends itself to whatever you add to it, but in her cocktail, it somehow became more itself—a launching pad for the splash of juice from the anchovy container, which when combined with vermouth becomes rounder, more smooth.

Similarly, when I've had friends over who tell me they don't like gin, I hear words like "hot" or "bitter." But the gins I love can be deceptively earthy and nutty or floral with notes of jasmine. The key is to encounter gin in the way it was meant to be enjoyed, in a cocktail that enhances what it does best. For me, that's a dry gin coupled with bright hibiscus, citrus, and fresh herbs, playing forward the juniper and warming spices of the liquor itself. That's a gin cocktail that feels less like a taste bud curse and more like a blessing. And we all need a shot of good favor to start this year.

Get the recipe: Rosy Hibiscus-Gin Lowball

Vodka-Averse?

Make an anchovy martini with 5 parts vodka, 2 parts vermouth, and a large splash of either colatura or anchovy juice for an umami punch that masks vodka’s spiciness.

Tequila-Phobic?

Mix 3 parts tequila with 2 parts triple sec, the juice of half a lime, and the juice of half a blood orange for a drink that’s citrus- forward and enhances tequila’s sweetness.