Never Lose Your Capacity to be Surprised by Weird, Alcohol‑Inspired Products
Licor café yogurt in Galicia
What I love about the world is that just when you think you may have nothing left to see, it will surprise you again. And what I love even more is that the surprise often comes from the unlikeliest of places.
I grew up in a nondescript Spanish city, where my serious case of grass-is-greener syndrome was sometimes grating to my family and friends who gladly embraced the Atlantic charm of our hometown. Not me: one of the most significant days of my life was when I left, 15 months before becoming a legal adult.
Thirst for discovering new flavors was the motor behind my inability to sit still. Though I am far from done, I am happy with the job I have done so far in my quest to be surprised, particularly when it comes to libations. In the last 15 years, I have tried the weirdest of alcoholic concoctions. From mezcal and guava ice cream in Mexico City to Guinness-infused candy in Dublin to chocolate cake with wine jam in Cape Town, I’ve never turned down novel ways to enjoy a drink. I thought nothing could surprise me anymore.
But I had yet another unexpected boozy experience last year in a working class, unassuming town in Galicia, Spain: licor café yogurt. Licor café, a liqueur made of coffee beans and schnapps, is the traditional Galician digestif, a strong, flavorful drink that locals have after meals. It’s usually served in a shot glass and drunk slowly to savor every sip. (Although when we were young we treated it like the local version of bad tequila, downing shots in rapid succession for a quick and cheap buzz.)
Last summer, a well-known dairy manufacturer launched a gourmet line of yogurt, including a licor café version. (Unfortunately, it doesn’t contain alcohol.)
Galicians greeted the announcement half-scandalized and half-amused. I, who at the time was an ocean away, was half-shocked, and half-shocked in a different way: on the one hand, my attitude was “is-nothing-sacred-anymore?” On the other, I knew had to try one. It was hard to believe that the biggest travel discovery of the year was waiting for me back where I started.
I finally tried it when I went to my parents’ for Christmas, and it was a surprise. It’s a comforting thought that you are never too jaded, or too close to home, to try something new. The best part? It didn’t remind me of anything else. I may have been in a place I thought I knew well, but that yogurt was like nothing I had ever tasted.