Got a strange line-up for you. A beer, a cider, and -- gasp! -- a flavored vodka.
I got a sample of a beer I hadn't had in quite a while, one I remember quite fondly: Bateman's XXXB. Poured it into my Bateman's pint (frosted glass, got it years ago and keep it deep in the cupboard: not an everyday glass!). Looked good, smelled malty good, with a grassy/earthy push of hops. And as I tasted that first sip, it shocked me with how much it tasted just like I remember it. Bateman's is distinctive. Don't know if it's the Maris Otter malt, or the hops, or (most likely) their yeast, but it's unique. It tastes...hmmm. A bit of that grassy/earthy hit, some meatiness, some grain, some caramel. Mostly, though, it tastes like Bateman's. Get some and find out what I mean.
The cider comes from Sam Smith, an organic cider ("Produced from organically grown apples." Duh...). Not a world-shaker, but again, not overly sweet either. Apple flavor, some light tartness, but it's hardly what you'd call complex. It does note that it contains cane sugar as well as apple juice...which may be why it's so simple. Better than the common run of cider, but not in Farnum Hill territory, not even J.K.'s Scrumpy.
And yes, a flavored vodka: Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka. Angela Traver at Buffalo Trace talked about it so excitedly that I let her send me a bottle (this is the woman that talked me into buying a bottle of Old Charter 101, so she's no flake!). I put it off. A couple months. But tonight it was warm, and green smells of wet earth and new grass floated in the door from out back, and I thought, what the hell, why not? Old-fashioned glass, handful of ice, two fingers of Firefly, topped it up with Brita-water. It tasted like sweet tea with vodka in it, of which I drank quite a bit when I was a much younger man. No nasty after-tastes, no strange chemical tastes. I'm thinking it's going to be an easy thing to drink on hot summer nights, especially with even more ice and cold water...but that's about it. Which is probably all it wants to be. God help me.