Every time someone tells me that they hate gin, I’m immediately suspicious. Why, you ask? Because when I press for further details, I usually discover that the person only thinks they hate gin. The reality is that they have no idea what they’re talking about.
There’s a pattern with people who make these dismissive, unequivocal statements about hating a certain type of booze. Whether it’s a spirit, beer, wine, or cocktail, it usually comes down to one specific experience they had, a single unfortunate event that has colored their view ever since. This leads to one of three common mindsets, which I refer to as: Pure Confusion, Total Oblivion, and The Bad Trip.
Let me give an example of each, from real conversations I’ve had with people who thought they hated gin.
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Mindset 1: Pure Confusion
- Them: I hate gin. It tastes like pine needles.
- Me: What do you like to drink instead?
- Them: Really hoppy IPAs.
STOP. According to Craftbeer.com, pine is one of the signature flavors of an IPA, along with citrus and flowers — which are also trademarks of gin. If these are your preferences, you should adore gin. But if the drinks you’ve had in the past were poorly made, or contained subpar gin, you’ve been led astray. In cases like these, I bet I can change your mind with just one craft cocktail.
Mindset 2: Total Oblivion
- Them: I hate gin. It’s so harsh, it’s like drinking window cleaner.
- Me: Have you ever tried Hendrick’s?
- Them: What’s that?
All gins contain juniper, which is what gives cheap gin that Pine-Sol flavor. But beyond that? You can put almost ANYTHING into gin, giving you limitless possibilities. I’ve had gins that taste like orange peel, spearmint, licorice, black pepper, rose, coriander, and chamomile. Buying gin is like buying jeans: You have to try on a few before you find your brand.
Mindset 3: The Bad Trip
- Them: I hate gin.
- Me: Which ones have you tried?
- Them: I only had it once. I took seven shots and got so sick.
Do I have to explain?
Other Common Misconceptions From Misguided Haters
It’s not just gin, though. I’ve had countless conversations with people who swear that one drink or another is simply the worst. With very few exceptions, however, their reasons tend to fall into one (or more) of the three misguided categories above. Don’t let one bad experience ruin a drink forever! You might be missing out on something amazing.
Here are a few of my (least) favorite hater declarations that pop up again and again.
“Rum is too sweet for me.”
No. It’s isn’t. A lot of rum-based cocktails are. And yes, it’s true that some low-end rums have sugar added to them, but if you’re basing your opinion on bottom-shelf plastic bottles, I’m not sure what to tell you. A decent rum is often not any sweeter than a decent bourbon (which is on the sweet side due to its high corn content). There are some really great high-end sipping rums that will totally rock your world. Just as with any other style of liquor, try the good stuff before you make up your mind.
“I don’t like beer.”
Then you haven’t tried enough beer. We’re in a golden age of brewing. With so many different styles out there, it’s simply a matter of putting in the time to find what works for you. There are soft and malty cream ales, big toasty barleywines, cherry-tart sours, and a trillion other styles that go beyond the current hop craze. Head to a local brewery, sit down with the bartender, and weave your way through a flight or two to sample the vast varieties.
“Wine makes me too sleepy.”
False. Sorry, kids — one type of alcohol doesn’t get you drunk any differently than the next. It’s all about context and associations. You might correlate “wine drunk” with the food coma you fall into after drinking a bunch of Barolo at Thanksgiving dinner. Or you think of those relaxing evenings on the couch with Netflix and a bottle of Cab. I, on the other hand, am the weirdo who showed up to college parties with old-vine Zinfandel and drank straight from the bottle. It all depends.
“When I drink tequila I make BAD decisions.”
Again, your drunk style has nothing to do with the type of booze. It’s all about how you drink it. Was your first taste of tequila in the form of several shots at a big sweaty dance party? Chances are you were already on the prowl to begin with (plus: you were doing shots). Distilled agave has no unique effect on your libido, it doesn’t make you crazy, and it doesn’t lead to “bad decisions.” If these myths were true, singles bars would serve nothing but tequila.
Listen up: not all Rieslings are created equal. Sure, some are on the sweet side, but others are actually quite dry. If you explore Rieslings from different regions (and actually read the labels), you’ll find that this crisp and acidic wine is the perfect companion to spicy food.
In Summary: Give It Another Shot
Now, to be fair, there are situations in which someone’s alcoholic biases are founded in science. If you’re allergic to gluten, for instance, yes, you should avoid beer (also, I’m so sorry). Most of the time, however, your aversion to one drink or another comes from just one place: your head. So, maybe it’s time to revisit that drink you’ve been avoiding all these years. Give it a chance. It just might surprise you.