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Some time ago, I was at a college party where my friend gave me some horrifying concoction of various liquors, and he asked me to try it. As I'd expected, it was absolutely foul- until he added a splash of beer. Naturally, I was skeptical...up until I tasted it. I couldn't taste ANY alcohol whatsoever, just some of the juice he'd used. And since then, I've had quite a few other mixed drinks where the taste of alcohol just disappears.

In general, what is happening (chemically, mechanically, any way) when you mix two different types of alcohol together? Are there any specific tricks to being able to make drinks like that?

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Please don't leave comments asking the reason for downvotes. Voting is anonymous for a reason. If a downvoter feels that an explanation is warranted, he or she will leave one. – Aaronut Sep 14 '13 at 12:22

According to the article Why People Hate Drinking, there is considerable variation in how people perceive the flavor of ethanol:

  • Some find it is primarily sweet (non-tasters)
  • Some find it bitter and sweet (average)
  • Some find it overwhelmingly bitter (super tasters, as defined by sensitivity to tasting a specific compound, PROP or 6-n-propylthiouracil, as bitter)

Depending how people perceive alcohol, it may be easy to mask it, especially with strongly sweet flavors, or when there are other more apparent bitter flavors.

However, this is as much to do with the specific physiology of the taster as it is to do with the contents of the glass. The same drink tasted by different people may give differing experiences.

Beware the Long Island iced tea.

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