As a kid, black licorice was one of those weird things you didn't get very often and most kids didn't even like. But for those who did, it was the ultimate treat that, if eaten in excess, had the Mr. Wizard-like side effect of turning your number 2 turquoise. (Don't believe us? We dare you.) Little did you know as a candy-guzzling tot that licorice flavor is found is so many other foods and beverages you'd learn to enjoy (or not) as an adult. Here are some common and maybe lesser-known ways to reclaim that flavor, minus the embarrassing side effect.
Whatever the allure of black licorice was to a child, it was completely lost on me. Give me a strawberry Twizzler any day of the week!
Jagermeister This frat-house staple boasts a massively potent licorice flavor to go along with its reputation of being the center of attention at any party with heavy drinking and under-agers. Its most common manifestations are straight-up shots (usually the result of losing a bet), or the ever-popular "Jager-bomb" (Jager mixed with Red Bull, because that's not gonna hurt in the morning or anything).
Basil Everyone loves basil, right?! What's not to love? It's bold, makes great pesto, adds that underlying fabulousness to any homemade marinara sauce, and spices up a ho-hum bruschetta like nobody's business. But in its raw form, when used in bundles (and ripped by hand, not cut--to prevent oxidation) basil has an uncanny resemblance to licorice. Click the link above to see all the wondrous ways basil transforms in the kitchen.
Caraway Most commonly used in breads, crackers, and pretty much anything you can bake, caraway also has been said to have positive digestive attributes. So after you have your roasted fennel and game hen with a side of pesto and five Jager bombs, have a slice or two of homemade caraway bread to round out the night! It's also believed to be an ancient love potion . . . how exactly it was used? Why don't you experiment and get back to us?
Star Anise Hailing primarily from Asia, this symmetrical beauty of a seed pod actually has its potency in the walls that surround the seeds, and not the seeds themselves. Mostly used for braising meats, flavoring stews, and, in its native Asia, iced teas, star anise is the stronger version of its cousin, anise. Licorice-haters should steer clear of this spice, although if it's just laying around, combine it with other warm to hot spices like cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and nutmeg and poach some pears, dip them in white chocolate, and pretend you never found that traitor in your cupboard!
Ouzo Matt Barrett, the undisputed blogging know-it-all for Greece, knows his ouzo. He has probably sampled more kinds of ouzo than most native Greeks, and while you could buy it from some "legit" label, we're guessing Matt would recommend dipping a glass into some Lesvosian ouzerie still and sipping the night away. Where do we sign?