The next time you open a cocktail menu and are unable to predict which drink you’d like best, consider getting some advice from an orangutan. Researchers from Lund University in Sweden have found that Naong, an orangutan at a Swedish zoo, is approximately as good as a human at predicting which flavor combinations he will like.
According to the New Scientist, a human mixologist whipped up drinks containing combinations of cherry juice, rhubarb juice, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar. Naong was familiar with all of these flavors prior to the experiment. Naong apparently loves cherry juice and was able to reason that he’d like most drinks it was mixed into. Conversely, he turned up his nose at drinks containing flavors he dislikes. In the end he proved more consistent than all but two of 10 human participants when it came to predicting which drinks he would like. This skill, called “affective forecasting,” was previously thought to be unique to humans, but it appears our simian cousins can forecast just as well as us.
The team is already hard at work finding out if chimpanzees can match Naong’s masterful guesswork. With the countless ingredients in today’s cocktails and menus the size of phonebooks, we could all probably use an orangutan wingman on our next night out. Just make sure the bar has something with cherry in it.