I reserve a special loathing for flavored alcohol. Atrocities like pomegranate, cotton candy and melon-flavored vodkas make me want to rip my taste buds out by their roots. And don't even get me started about flavored whiskey.
Yes, the makers of Fireball cinnamon-flavored whiskey are rolling in the large profits they make off unseasoned drinkers at keg parties, but they should also be made to roll in a fire pit. May I suggest the special place in hell reserved for those who would befoul the sacred treaty between brown liquor and a sense of (or at least an aspiration to) class.
Then there are flavored rums, the sticky-sweet bottles of coconut-flavored varieties that manage to always make you feel you're sipping on a bottle of tanning oil.
I believe flavored liquors were created with the sole intention of covering up the bite of alcohol that warns drinkers not to drink too much, too quickly. Which is why it is with a touch of shame that I have to admit I have discovered a flavored rum I like.
It's called Lola Belle, and it's a cherry-flavored Caribbean rum that is infused with dark maraschino cherries. Part of the liquor's charm lies with its bottle, which looks like a vintage ad from the 1930s or '40s.
The rum itself is an attractive, deep red color (close to the hue of my cheeks as I write this admission). But the real secret of its success, at least to my mind, is that it doesn't taste artificial. In fact, a spokesperson for Lola Belle says that only natural cherries are used to flavor the rum. So it tastes pretty much how a light rum would taste if you mixed it with some not-too-sweet liquid from a maraschino cherry jar.
I've actually been drinking it straight in a simple rocks glass, but it's good over ice too. The only thing is that when it gets watered down it really starts to lose its taste. The Lola Belle website has some interesting cocktail recipes. My favorites involve simply mixing the rum with cola (this makes a cheery, cherry Cuba libre) or ginger beer.
It's also a great spirit to enjoy in summer. Something about the color and the general sense of play in the look of the bottle makes me feel as if I have more vacation time on my hands than I actually do.