They grew on me: Sneaky good candy and booze recommendations

In recent weeks, a few things I’ve tried for the first time didn’t seem super great at first … but after a couple more tries, it’s like I can barely live without them. That doesn’t happen very often, so for it to happen three times in close succession is pretty noteworthy. Here are the sneaky good sweet things that have changed my life this fall:

Tanqueray Sevilla Orange gin

I enjoy a nice gin and tonic as much as the next guy, but I’m usually not super choosy about my gin. As long as it isn’t bottom-shelf dreck, I’m fine with whatever Tanqueray or New Amsterdam or Bombay or Beefeater you want to toss in my glass. My wife really likes the Rangpur Lime Tanqueray, so we usually have that on hand. And that’s just fine.

But man, this Sevilla Orange version hits different, as the kids say. I know gin with orange isn’t an unusual pairing, but it’s not a flavor combo I’ve really dipped into myself, and now that I have, I’m a big fan. The first time I had it was at my mother-in-law’s house and I thought it was a good gin, but nothing that knocked my socks off. My wife, however, who isn’t much of a drinker, liked it enough that she wanted to get a bottle for our own home bar, so I obliged her and bought it the next time I saw it at the grocery store (on sale, even!). Then we bought a big box of naval oranges from Costco, and we’ve been juicing them into lowball glasses with a shot (more like two) of this, tonic, and ice, and wowee brother is it satisfying! Toss an orange wedge or a ribbon of rind in there if you’re feeling fancy, or even a cocktail cherry: go wild! I would drink that all day if I was a just a little more of a degenerate. My wife has already told me to buy two bottles next time I’m at the store.

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Up until a couple of months ago, the closest Trader Joe’s to me was about a 3-hour drive away. But now that there’s one the next town over, my wife and I went to check it out last week. To be honest, it didn’t really wow me. It seemed like a bougie Aldi. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Aldi, but there’s an Aldi about a 3-minute drive from my home, so Trader Joe’s was not really justifying the extra driving time, in my opinion.

That said, when we got home, I noticed my wife had purchased a plastic container of store-brand dark chocolate peanut butter cups. I’m a pretty big fan of Reese’s cups and pieces, and of the combination of chocolate and peanut butter in general, so I was happy to try these and see how they stacked up to others I’ve had. My first impression: Eh. The chocolate coating seemed too thin, and although I appreciated how creamy the peanut butter inside was, it felt more or less like I’d just eaten a small spoonful of peanut butter, with not much chocolate flavor to speak of.

But then the next day, I had another, because it WAS pretty good peanut butter, after all. This one I sucked on for a moment, letting the chocolate and peanut butter melt and meld together in my mouth. Now that was quite a flavor sensation. The quality of the dark chocolate shone through, and complemented the not-too-sweet, smooth peanut butter in an incredible way. It was, at the risk of sounding overly ribald, a nearly orgasmic experience.

Needless to say, they’re about gone now, and we’re plotting another mid-week trip to see about some more.

Wiley Wallaby Sourrageous Drops

I’m a fan of the Wiley Wallaby Soft & Chewy Blasted Berry licorice mix, and I buy it whenever I see a bag, which, oddly enough, is usually at a local home improvement store. The other day when I was there with my wife, she spied another Wiley Wallaby product that she said made her mouth start watering as she read its name: Sourrageous Drops.

I read the bag, and thought that although sour licorice doesn’t sound like the greatest idea, we might as well try them. We bought them and ripped into the bag in the car before we even left our parking spot. My first mouthful of the tiny multi-colored nuggets was underwhelming. I bit into the soft candy coating, which came apart in flimsy chunks in my mouth, and the flavor of the candy didn’t meld well with the flavor of the little sour licorice niblets. My second mouthful was better, as I sucked on them to slowly dissolve the candy coating before getting down to the licorice bits, which reminded me of a chewy version of Sweet Tarts (which they do make now).

Still, though, I wasn’t a big fan. I figured I’d just stick to my Blasted Berry after that. But today a funny thing happened: I popped open the bag of drops after lunchtime and took a handful, then another, then another. Each time, I let the candies dissolve into sweet-sour bliss before chewing through the licorice remnants, enjoying the tartness of the different flavors melding together. These are weirdly good, and weirdly addictive.

Now I’m actively avoiding them, lest I eat the rest of the bag in one sitting and put my pancreas through hell.

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