An alcoholic beverage brewed and distilled from sorghum, and made in China. It can be up to 150 proof, and is supposed to be drank straight and at room temperature.

I just had my first experience with mao tai last night at a party. Someone had brought a bottle to a friend's birthday party. First of all, the stuff comes in a white glass bottle, about half a liter in size, and shaped like a bottle of Drano or brake fluid. This, you will find, is actually very appropriate.

The instant the seal on the cap was broken the air was filled with a sweet, pungent scent and the overpowering smell of alcohol. A few of us brave souls poured it into glasses and drank.

The first sensation was one of sweetness--like a stick of licorice is sweet. A few seconds later, however, there was an acidic, musty taste that followed. The words used to describe this flavor were words like "dog" and "feet". The beverage kept causing different flavors of spice and sweet and sour and bitter to go through your nose and mind in hallucinogenic fashion. I described the cumulative effect as "all the flavors and smells of an Oriental grocery all at once." That is the most precise description I can come up with.

Another strange side effect was that when I ate the raspberry chocolate truffle birthday cake, it took me two or three forkfuls to identify the raspberries, which is bizarre since I cannot stand raspberries and I can usually detect them from quite a distance--but the mao tai had altered my sense of smell so drastically it desensitized me. That kind of freaked me out.

Even today, 24 hours later, I get phantom tastes of the mao tai. It wasn't necessarily bad or good, it was just intense.

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