|Drinking habits are as much a slave to fashion as hemlines and tie widths. Just when you get used to sipping a beer, throwing back a shot or tippling a chic chardonnay, these products are likely to become as outdated as that useless 486-computer console sitting on your desk. While there's nothing wrong with respecting a strict barley-or grape-derivative diet, it's a good idea to keep an open mind when pouring things into your open mouth. Because if you're a slave to trends, you'll always want to try the next new thing.
It's tough to predict what'll be the next alcohol and spirits "taste du jour," but if you want to hop on a swelling wave of trendiness, Alizé offers two unique new drinks that have gained a tremendous following in recent years.
The original Alizé was introduced in 1986 as a completely new drink category -- an innovative blend of cognac and passion fruit juice striving to combine the elegance of France with the essence of the tropics. This unique combination coincided with the growing popularity of exotic fruits and the resurgence of classic drinks. Cognac was revitalized with the interest in cigars and after-dinner drinks and when tropical fruit flavors began appearing in juices, teas, sodas, yogurt, ice cream and even beers and liqueurs. Combine the two and you have the original Alizé, a blend of cognac (16 percent, 32-proof) and passion fruit juice. This mix of prestige spirit and exotic fruit flavors struck a chord with status-conscious drinkers seeking to sample something different. Fruit isn't just for breakfast any more, and cognac isn't just for hanging out in dank rooms in your smoking jacket. This new concoctions put a fresh, hip '90s spin on the timeless allure of Cognac -- sophistication with a dose of vitamins from the real fruit juice.
The original Alizé is a light pastel-orange-colored pre-mixed cocktail that should be chilled and served over ice. It can be mixed with sparkling water, and it also works as the perfect addition to a Mimosa. It's also made an appearance on many of the new eclectic martini menus. Alizé attracted a dedicated cadre of followers that vaulted the blend from sales of 20,000 cases in 1991 to nearly half a million cases annually by 1996. (That's more than 3.3 billion gallons for those of you who're counting.) And it's continued to experience a 110 percent increase in annual sales since. The original drink was very popular with women and many ethnic groups, and it's even been mentioned in songs by Queen Latifah, Keith Sweat and Dr. Dre. As popular as it was, the taste remained a bit syrupy-sweet for some palates, which prompted the new addition -- Alizé Red Passion.
The Red Passion flavor retains the same healthy dose of cognac and passion fruit juice but includes splashes of cranberry and peach juices. These additions combine to make a deep ruby-red drink that cuts down the viscous sweetness of the original. Specially blended to put passion on your lips, this "less-lollipop-sweet" concoction works well as a tropical apéritif or as a splash of something refreshingly different for your post-prandial cocktail. It's probably not what you'd order on a macho, posturing drinking binge. But it's as tasty as a cognac, and its blow-pop fruit flavor boasts proven popularity with the ladies. So if you're seeking a fun, innovative new libation, give in to the passion.
Passion Fruit was discovered by Jesuit Missionaries in the tropics of Brazil and was originally named for the passion fruit flowers reminiscent of the crucifixion of Christ (though that original celibate view of the fruit has been supplanted by more current ideas of it being an aphrodisiac).
RED PASSION MARTINI
1 oz. premium vodka
2 1/2 oz. Alizé Red Passion
Shake with ice, strain, and pour into martini glass. Garnish with slice of lime.