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 (www.hideous.com) compete for the hearts and minds of those with the propensity for the Purple Hooter. According to Hideous's MySpace page (www.myspace.com/hideousidaho), 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.