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Category ArchiveThe Cocktail Diaries

Purple Agave’s & Negroni Damsel’s: A COCKTAIL ODYSSEY

Cocktailian Joe here: I would like to proudly introduce everybody to Two wonderful ladies that will be taking you through a cocktail odyssey through Athenian Bars, as well as giving you helpful guides to become a craft bartender while living on a budget! Oh, and to add some mystery, the two ladies keep their identities secret!

Hey, Purple Agave here! A 20-year old girl who apparently loves the color purple and since the cocktail world inexcusably lack of purple things decided to change the color of one of the most appreciated plants. Being a computer science student can fill many hours in the day, but doing fun things is always necessary. And is there a better way to have fun than experimenting with flavors? Since you are reading this I’ll take for granted that the answer is ΝΟ. Even though I grew up in a house without many spirits laying around, I was always fascinated by the variety of bottles at the liquor stores and wanted to try them all. So I grew up and decided that that’s what I wanted to do. Try as many as I can and try to combine all the different flavors. However, I got to love some flavors more than others. My absolute favorite spirit is  *drum rolls*……Gin! And now you are wondering what is wrong with her. To make things clear let me say that if Gin is my darling husband, Tequila is the irresistible hot guy with whom I am cheating on him. But on this journey of flavor discovering I am not alone. I go through my odyssey with my best friend, The Negroni Damsel. She also suggested that we should describe each other to close our paragraphs and I agreed since I couldn’t think of anything better. So if I had to describe her using five words I would say she is: Energetic, Inspired, Intuitive, Witty and Loud! 

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Hi, people of the booze world. I am the second half of the Cocktail Odyssey and the person behind the camera, the Negroni Damsel. I am 20 years old as well and I love expressing myself through my hobbies especially writing. The name comes from two things; the damsel part comes from the fact that I am a little dramatic and very expressive person; the Negroni part comes from my obsession with negronis. That being said I am a huge fan of gin and anything botanical based, mostly vermouth. That’s why the Negroni is my go to drink. I like to think of it as a nice warm hug. There isn’t any specific time that I got into the spirits world since I always remember myself being impressed by the people that could taste so many different things in one drink. If I could narrow it down to two moments that really made me fall in love with this somewhat weird hobby I would say watching the movie “Cocktail” at the age of 15 and the same year seeing a flair bartender practicing on the beach. Finally, since it was my idea the whole five-word description thing, here it goes. Purple agave is: Assembled, Quiet, Logical (a bit too much), Observing and Patient.
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The goal we are trying to achieve with our Instagram account (@acocktailodyssey) and our future blog posts is to push ourselves into creating cocktails that taste good but don’t drain a student’s budget! Oh, and also give you a taste of the great and advancing Athenian bar scene just in case you’ve ever wondered if our small country has high-end bars. We do and they all are top notch…follow us and you’ll see for yourselves. We hope you will accompany us in this adventurous journey… and as we say in Greek: “Yamas”!
Cocktail-spirits

Deciphering Cocktail Spirits In Six Easy Steps

This post is extra special as we are featuring many friends on this post! The three collaborators I am working with:

Sandra Lim, The Juniper Chick – Gin

  • Instagram name – @TheRealJuniperchick

  • Twitter – @juniperchick 

Alexandra Al, Lalan Giggles – Vodka

And the Rum Raiders: Robert (Sage), Steele, and Vugee  – (Can you guess the spirit?)

  • Instagram Names: @rumraiders @abysssage, @steele_harden, and @soybury

  • Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @RumRaiders

  • Email: therumraiders@gmail.com

Spirits

You’ve probably heard the word “spirit” before, but just don’t know them by that name. Gin, Vodka, R[h]um, Whisk[e]y, Tequila/Mezcal, & Brandy/Cognac. These are the spirits that keep the cocktail world (and our heads!) spinning.

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Gin

Gin, also called Genever, is made from Juniper berries primarily (Fun Fact: Genever is the Dutch word for juniper!). This spirit is made by flavoring a neutral grain spirit with juniper and other botanicals/herbs!

Note: Gin and Vodka are usually always clear because they ARE NOT  aged in casks, unlike our other spirits! Vodka I’m sorry if you like Vodka. I’m just biased. I feel that people who prefer drinking vodka straight are pretty basic.

I’m going to hand it off to Sandra Lim, A.K.A. The Juniper Chick!

Juniper Chick

My real name is Sandra Lim but most people in the social media circles know me better as Juniperchick. I’m a Gin enthusiast and enjoy a wide variety of cocktails. My love for gin started when was enthralled by the iconic blue Bombay Sapphire bottle design and the very clever marketing campaigns.

Interesting Facts

Did you know the highest gin consumption per capita comes from the Philippines?The British Navy tested the strength of the gin by lighting the gunpowder still, this was how the Navy Strength Gin at 57% ABV got its name.

Historical Background

Gin has been around for over 300 years and first used for medicinal purposes, in the Low Countries which is now the Netherlands, part of Northern France and Luxembourg. Genever or Jenever is the juniper flavored liquor from Netherlands and Belgium, where gin is evolved from.

When William of Orange descended the English Throne, he brought what was known as genever with him from Holland, mainly to crush the French economy. He raised the import taxes of wine and brand from France and encouraged the distilling of grain spirits to boost the English economy.

The gin craze came about in the early 18th century when numerous distilleries sprung up in London, due to the high taxes on imported spirits. In 1736, the government brought in the Gin Act, also known as the Fifty Pound Act, to curb the popularity of gin, which was getting out of hand.

William Hogarth produced the famous Gin Lane etching in 1751, depicting the debauchery caused by gin. was predominantly funded by the beer industry to disrepute the Gin industry. It was also the same year, that the Gin Act 1751 was passed, to reduce the consumption of spirit.

The term London Dry Gin, came about as many of the early gin distilleries were in London and it was clear, unsweetened spirit flavored with juniper, coriander seeds, angelica roots and orris root being the four core ingredients. London Dry Gin doesn’t have to come from London, it’s the production method which means no flavoring or coloring can be added after the distillation process.

Most gins use the same 4 botanicals (juniper. coriander seed, angelica root. orris) and the quantities used dramatically change the flavor. The differentiation starts getting down to the quality of the water and type of base alcohol, or ‘liquor’ to differentiate quality. When done well, such as Oxley, it can be an amazing expression of gin. Another example is Martin Miller using highly mineralised Icelandic glacial meltwater to add a complex flavor tones.

In March 2009, Sipsmith was the first copper pot distillery for more than 200 years and this was the beginnings of the new Gin era. Today there are hundreds of gin brands from larger producers to the small batch craft producers. The main types of gin are London Dry, Old Tom Gin which is a sweeter version of the London Dry Gin, Plymouth Gin – the only protected geographical indication gin made in Plymouth. More recently, the styles of gin have evolved including barrel aged gins which give the gin a different flavor profile, depending on the type of barrels used.

Notable Cocktail and Recipe

Gin Cocktail Recipes
G&T of course. A standard serve would be 1 part gin to 3 parts tonic. The quality of tonic has an effect on the G&T, as well as the garnish to enhance the botanicals.
Negroni – one can’t go wrong with a Negroni, made up of equal parts of Gin, Campari, and Sweet Vermouth. It’s such a versatile cocktail, and you can swap the ingredients with other spirits. You can also play around with the proportions of Campari and Sweet Vermouth by adding Aperol, or other bitter flavored spirits like Amaro or Byrrh.
Martinez – one my favorite cocktails, a precursor to the Martini. Another versatile cocktail, depending on the type gin used. Originally made with Genever, you can also use Old Tom and of course London Dry. I like the following recipe:
50 ml London Dry Gin
50 ml Antica Formula Carpano
5ml Grand Marnier
A couple dashes of orange bitters

Vodka

Alexandra Al

A Sydney based, caffeine obsessed food blogger. I believe Happiness is infectious and that we have the power to uplift those around us. I love brunch, cake, coffee, and cocktails!

Frequenting the Sydney cafe and night scene bringing you amazing creations from some of our top baristas and mixologists!

Historical Background

Today I’m going to be talking about vodka. You’re all probably wondering where it came from. It originated in Russia in the 9th Century, and it was first used for medicine known as ‘the water of life’. Russia then began exports to Sweden in 1505, and more than a century later Poland followed suit.

Russian soldiers used to drink vodka, because I mean who wouldn’t right? This helped spread its popularity around countries such as England, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, Austria, the Neverlands and many more during the 17th-19th centuries.

Did you know vodka was originally discolored like scotch or whiskey. Now I don’t know about you, but if I saw brown colored vodka I’d think there was something wrong with it!

It wasn’t until the late 19th century that new technology arose to bring us clear distilled vodka we know and love today.

The brand Smirnoff was then introduced in Paris in 1935. A brand that is known for its quality and affordability, and one which I personally love and use as a base to my cocktails!

Shortly after it was bought out by a US company for distribution worldwide. Western countries such as Australia and Canada caught on to the vodka craze and it was recognized on an international scale.

Traditionally vodka was made from fermented cereal, grains or potatoes. Personally, I prefer the flavors of brands such as Belvedere or absolute, who use sugar, herbs, and fruits to flavor their vodka bases.

There is a real art to the craft of vodka, from the small differences in ingredients used to the distillation processes. There are so many varieties of flavors available to us today. My personal favorites are Smirnoff’s green apple vodka, Soho Lychee vodka and Smirnoff Nordic Berries, and Grey Goose.

Vodka is one of my favorite spirits which I regularly drink, and my go-to vodka cocktail would have to be a Cosmopolitan. You can’t go wrong with cranberry and vodka!

Her Favourite Cocktail + Recipe

  • Here’s a recipe for you all to try out!
    Cosmopolitan:
    – 1/2 oz juice of a lime squeezed
    – 1/2 oz Cointreau
    – 1 oz cranberry juice
    – 1 1/2oz Vodka
    Combine ingredients in a shaker.
    Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass.
    Garnish with an orange twist 👌

R[h]um

There are 3 types: French Rhum, and Spanish/English Rum. I feel that the French always have to add a fancy letter. Something to do with surrendering? Ahem. Exclusivity, I mean. R[h]um is a spirit made from sugarcane & molasses. Easily my favorite spirit – think tropical and tiki drinks. Now, you’re thinking of your own little, lovely island in the Caribbean. Mhmm.

There are 3 types: French Rhum, and Spanish/English Rum. I feel that the French always have to add a fancy letter. Something to do with surrendering? Ahem. Exclusivity, I mean. R[h]um is a spirit made from sugarcane & molasses. Easily my favorite spirit – think tropical and tiki drinks. Now, you’re thinking of your own little, lovely island in the Caribbean. Mhmm.

Rum Raiders

We started Rum Raiders at the end of last year (2017) around the beginning of November. Steele was into pirates so logically for him trying out different rums was next. He ended up buying 13 bottles of rum and invited Robert and [Vugee] over. The three of us did a full blown tasting of all 13 Rums in one sitting. It was during the tasting that we talked about the scarcity of rum knowledge in the US. For most people here, rum is either Bacardi or Captain Morgan. Rum is considered a mixing liquor. It invokes an “ew” from most people and is not something to be sipped and enjoyed straight. There also wasn’t a lot of reviews available online either and the videos that were available were done by the distilleries themselves or by professional speaking a language we couldn’t understand while drinking. We were looking for tasting and reviews done by normal people like us. Real and unbiased reviews that anyone can easily relate with. We fell in love with rum during that tasting. Unlike cognacs and bourbons and others liquors, there are no major regulations for rum. Cognac has to be from the Cognac region of France and bourbon from Bourbon County in Kentucky. Same with Scotch from Scotland. Rum is different. The only regulation for rum is that it has to be made from sugar cane, either molasses or raw sugar. There are no other restrictions for rum. Because of this rum is made all over the world. This means that there are rums that taste exactly like cognacs, bourbons, rye whiskies, Canadian whiskies, even rums that are similar to sweet dessert-like liqueurs. We want to share with people the story of rum and show there are more to rum than Bacardi and Captain Morgan. Rum has a full blown culture and history that we are excited to explore and share with our followers and subscribers. That’s where the idea of Rum Raiders came from.

Historical Background

The history of rum is pretty much unknown. Sugar cane originally came from South and South-East Asia where there are written records of alcohol made from the sugar and molasses of sugar cane. It is widely accepted now though, that rum distillation as we know it came from the Caribbean with most sources pointing to Barbados. Depending on the colonization, rum (English) is also known as Ron (Spanish) and Rhum (French). Essentially every country has their own version of rum. India’s most popular rum is Old Monk while Australia’s rum is Bundaberg. Every country also has their own restrictions on rum, though it is generally accepted that all rum needs to be aged at least one year. The distillation process is usually done in copper or steel stills. More premium rums are then additionally aged in barrels. Now, most distilleries are opting to for bourbon barrels to add extra depth and complexity. There are a few main styles of rum: white/black, gold, flavored or spiced, and dark (aged). White and black rums are usually meant for mixing, although a Portland distillery made a delicious and easy to sip white rum (4 Spirits). Gold rums are the beginnings of an aged rum, normally less than 8 years. A great one that comes to mind is Ron Abuelo. Flavored and spiced rums are usually white or gold rums with added flavoring. Plantation Pineapple is an excellent example. Now here is where we get into the best rums, the aged rums. The majority of them are blends; Ron Zacapa 23 is a blend of 6-23-year-old Rums while the El Dorado 12 is blends of rums aged at least 12 years. Rum really takes on the personas of the country of origin. Some of our favorites are from France and from Barbados. With such a wide variety of stylings and flavor palates, there is a rum that is suited for every drinker out there.

Rum-Raiding Cocktails + Recipe

  • Daiquiri – In a shaker 1 part rum, half part simple syrup and half part lime juice. Shake and serve

  • A Swizzle – Similar to a daiquiri but instead of a shaker put into a highball with ice and then fill with fresh pineapple juice. Stir and enjoy. 

  • Double rum on rocks: Rocks glass with a few cubes of ice and a double of any aged rums. Robert (whiskey/scotch drinker) 

  •  Captain Steele: in a highball filled with ice squeeze a couple wedges of lime, tear up a few mint leaves, add rum using a pirate pour (whatever looks good in the glass), and then fill with club soda. Stir and enjoy. Steele hates sweets.

  •  Rum and Ginger: In a highball filled with ice pour a shot or two of rum. Stir and add a lime wedge for garnish (1-4 ratio on the rum and ginger) – Vugee (cognacs/rye whiskey)

Whisk[e]y

We are whisk[e]y people. Chances are, you know one type. Straight whiskey, Bourbon, Tennessee Sour, Rye, Irish Whiskey, Scotch Whisky, (notice the difference between Whiskey and Whisky?) Blended, Single-malt, and Blended Malt Scotch, and Japanese malt whiskey. Whisk[e]y is distilled from corn, rye, barley, or wheat (a fermented mash of grain, which is beer). The whisk[e]y is then aged in casks, as I was saying above. That’s what give these spirits their brown color.

Interesting Facts

There are two types of ways to spell Whisk(e)y: In Ireland and the U.S., it is spelled as whiskey, whereas in Scotland, Canada, and Japan, it is spelled as whisky without an “E”.

The word Whiskey comes from the Gaelic term “uisce beatha”, which translates into “water of life.” Apparently, whiskey was thought of as divine, just as it is now. (Haha).

Historical Background

This is a big one. Since it is so large, I will be covering Scotch and Irish whiskey only. Expect a large post covering all types of whiskies soon!

 

Whiskey, from Ireland, may have begun in the twelfth century A.D., but was around since the fifteenth.  There are historical sources that carry the implication that a powerful liquid that was being “boiled” in Ireland must refer to distillation.

Irish Whiskey had great success, followed by an unfortunate crash. Thankfully, Irish Whiskey today has made a strong comeback. Starting with hundreds of whiskey distilleries before the first World War and after the ends of the first and second world wars, an Irish Civil War, the Great Depression, and Prohibition of the United States (1921-1933) they had been reduced to the four distilleries that exist today. These are the four distilleries left: Jameson-Midleton in County Cork/Republic of Ireland, Old Bushmills in County Antrim/Northern Ireland, Kilbeggan Distillery in County Westmeath/Republic of Ireland, and Cooley Distillery in County Louth/Republic of Ireland.

Two decades ago, there were only two distilleries, which means that Irish Whiskey is coming back into demand. The growth is exponential and the world should expect much more Irish whiskey. Now would be the time to jump on the Irish bandwagon.

The whiskey is a natural when it comes to mixability and this is what justifies its large growth. Irish Whiskey is being recognized by the world and it maintains the reputation that some of the best whiskey comes from the Emerald Isle.

Irish Whiskey is less strict about their industry’s standards whereas Scotch is specific about which type of grain is allowed and which kind of still is chosen. The Irish allow malted and unmalted barley, as well as any other type of grain (the Irish mostly use wheat and corn, but have used oats and rye in the past). As for stills, they allow both pot and continuous stills. Sometimes the malt is peated, but most times it is not. The Irish allow any type of barrel, but as with most whiskey producers, used bourbon barrels are the standard and most common. The Irish are now using used sherry, port, Madeira, and wine barrels. Irish and Scotch whiskeys must be matured for a minimum of three years in barrels.There are four fundamental kinds of Irish whiskey:

Single-malt whiskey: made from 100 percent malted barley in a pot still in a single distillery. Bushmills leads the way in this category, but Midleton and Cooley also make some.Grain whiskey: continuous stills make this light whiskey of wheat or corn.

Pure Pot-Still whiskey: made from malted and unmalted barley in a pot still. Redbreast is the classic.

Blended Whiskey: A marriage of single-malt and/or single pot-still and grain whiskeys. Jameson and John Powers are examples of single pot-still and grain whiskey blends, while Bushmills’ blends are single malt and grain whiskey. Paddy and Tullamore Dew are blends of single pot-still, single-malt and grain whiskeys.

Whisky, from Scotland, is viewed as the gold standard of whisky making today. When you ask for whisky at a bar, the bartender will tell you about their selection of Scotch bottlings more often than not. Scotch is believed to be around by the thirteenth century, but evidence comes in the form of a Scottish tax record from 1494 A.D.: “To Friar John Cor, by the order of the King, to make aqua vitae, eight bolls of malt.” Eight bolls are equal to over 1,100 pounds of malted barley.If any other grains are used, it must be called “grain whisky.” If the malt whisky comes from a single distillery (as opposed to blends from several distilleries), it’s called a “single-malt whisky”.As I’ve said above, Scotch is stricter with its industry standards. The Scottish are very particular about which type of grain can be used.  It can be distilled from corn or wheat, or from malted barley.  When the grain is barley and has semi-sprouted, it’s referred to as malted barley. A “malt whisky” can be made only from malted barley. Single-malt whisky is called so when a malted barley beer has been double/triple distilled in a pot still at a single distillery.

95% of Scotch whiskies sold to the U.S. market and world markets are Blended Scotch whiskies and not single-malt whiskies. Blended Scotch whiskies have many single malt whiskies blended into them. They do this to add many different types of personalities and a complex mix of a few of the best distilleries in Scotland. One thing to remember about Blended Scotch is that there is more grain whisky than single-malt whisky.

To Remember: Blended Scotch whisky consists of a large amount of grain whisky and at least one single-malt whisky.As you can see, grain whisky is the largest part in blended Scotch whisky, and therefore, an important factor. These grain whiskies are distilled to similar proofs such as vodka. Their flavors and aromas pale in comparison to single-malt whiskies. Unlike Vodka, grain whiskies go without several distillations and filtration and keep its grain flavor.Blended Scotch saw its rise one hundred and fifty years ago. People couldn’t handle the amount of flavor in single-malt whiskies. Distillers began adding in large amounts of grain whisky into single-malts and Blended Scotch turned heads. Blended Scotch made Scotch into a national industry.Some more information on grain whisky: it is grain whisky when it is not made from malted barley, and you use grains such as corn or wheat. Continuous stills are generally used and the neutral grain spirit is distilled to around 190 proof – WHOA.

Roasting is a very important part in Scotch production. Scotland only had one form of fuel for most of its history and this was “Peat”. Coal was not accessible due to high prices and there were not many forests as they had been cleared when the Romans invaded Britain. When Peat – compressed vegetation, close to coal – is damp and cut from the ground, it is allowed to dry. When it is burned, it becomes strongly smoky. Malted barley is traditionally roasted over these smoky fires, powered by peat, which results in a whisky that smells smoky! Incredible. Not all barley is peat-smoked in Scotch whisky.

More specifics (Thank you, Scots): Barrels. As with Irish whiskey, used bourbon barrels are frequent choices, but sherry barrels are also desired, as dried fruit characteristics can be leached out into Scotch. Unfortunately, sherry barrels are expensive (compared to a century ago when they were not) whereas bourbon barrels are relatively cheap.

All scotch whiskies must be aged for a minimum of three years in wood barrels. Scotch producers will buy new barrels and “loan” them to sherry makers. Ten or twenty years later, the sherry barrels are finally sent to Scotch producers. That is crazy.

The categories of Scotch whisky are:

Single Malt-Whisky: a whisky made of malted barley, double distilled in pot stills (only one malt distillery, Auchentoshan in the Scottish Lowlands, triple distills) at one distillery, distilled no higher than 70 percent abv, and aged in oak barrels for a legal minimum of three years. At present there are about 100 malt distilleries operating around Scotland.

Blended Scotch Whisky: a whisky made of malt whisky (double distilled in pot stills) and grain whisky (probably distilled in continuous stills to a very high proof) and aged in oak barrels for a legal minimum of three years.

Blended Malt Whisky (formerly known as Vatted Malt Whisky): a blend composed only of at least two single-malt whiskies, instead of products of only one (single) distillery, and aged in oak barrels for a legal minimum of three years.

Grain Whisky: a whisky distilled from any grain (typically either wheat or corn), usually in continuous stills, and aged in oak barrels for a legal minimum of three years. There are around eight Grain distilleries in Scotland.

Notable Cocktails and Recipe

  • Manhattan
    • 2 ounces of Bourbon / 1 ounce of Sweet Vermouth / 3 dashes of Angostura
  • Rob Roy
    • 2 ounces of  Scotch / 1 ounce of  / 3 dashes of Peychauds
  • Rusty Nail
    • 2 ounces of Scotch / 1 ounce of Drambuie

Tequila/Mezcal

Beautiful, beautiful agave spirits. You’ve heard of the Margarita, right? Tequila perfected in a glass. There is also the other end of the spectrum: you know when your stomach is like, “Wait, who invited these guys. These Mexican (Tequila) gangbangers are messing everything up in here!” Finally, the bouncer has to throw them and all of the other spirits out. All over the ground.

The difference between Mezcal and Tequila is simple. Tequila can only be made in five states in Mexico. Not only the location of the agave fields, but also, the species of agave used, and the process of how the harvested agaves are cooked separates Mezcal and Tequila. The hearts of agave plants – pinas – are fully matured when they are between 6 – 12 years old. They are roasted in ovens and then milled, fermented, and finally, column or pot distilled at least twice.

Interesting Facts

The Spanish word for Daisy is “Margarita”.

Historical Background

Tequila is actually a Spanish invention, but it is still a Mexican spirit through and through. Elixir dates go back over a thousand years. Before the Spaniards came with their knowledge of distillation in the early sixteenth century, the Aztecs already had a drink, similar to wine, called “pulque”, which was a fermented syrup made from the heart of agaves plants. It was called “Vino de Mezcal” by the Spaniards.

Impressively, the agave plant was used for much more by the Mexican people: food and drink, shoes, soap, building supplies, rope, and even medicine. Pulque was not consumed for pleasure, but rather for religious rites.

Tequila had a slow rise to fame with it’s neighbor to the north. Only a handful of U.S. border states consumed Tequila whereas the rest of the U.S. ignored it. Until Prohibition. With the alcohol ban nation-wide, any alcohol was good alcohol. Tequila became a little notorious and became a subject in the media.The Margarita did not put Tequila on the World map, but it sure did help.

People became acquainted with the Mexican spirit and began to play with said spirit. The most popular cocktail in the U.S. is the Margarita and if anybody hears the word, “Margarita”, there’s a good chance that they’ll know what it is. Maybe the Margarita did put Tequila on the world map?

Three quarters of export sales come from the U.S.  The rest of the world has given Tequila a harder time. Around 1970, Tequila began breaking into the European markets through “Rock n’ roll” and counterculture. Look at me now, Mom!

Notable Cocktails + Recipe

  • Margarita
    • 1 1/2 Tequila
    • 1 oz. Cointreau
    • 1/2 oz. Lime
    • 1/2 oz. Agave
    • Shake all ingredients and strain into a salt-rimmed coupe glass

Brandy/Cognac

Brandy is simply distilled wine, and aged in barrel casks. Brandy can also be many other things: it is made by heating up wine in a pot still to produce vaporous alcohol, and slapping on a tag saying “Distillation process complete”. From here on out, Brandy can get complicated (For example, grappa, eau de vie, marc, etc.). Cognac is distilled brandy within the Cognac region of western coastal France. Very fancy. But damn good. Then we have the clear spirited Pisco Brandy from Peru (Pisco Sours anybody?). Made from raspberries, pears or cherries, Eau De Vie (Or water of life), another clear distillate, calls Central and Western Europe home. Shall I go on?

Interesting Facts

  • As most Brandy lovers know, Brandy comes from the Dutch word, “brandiwijn”, which means ‘Burnt Wine’.

Historical Background – Cognac & Armagnac

Will I be going into Armagnac, Cognac, Marc, Grappa, Pisco, Calvados, and Eau De Vie? Well, yes, eventually, but not in this post. A few of the above definitely have overlap, so let’s begin with a brief history of Cognac, & Armagnac.

Despite being the first to distill, centuries before Cognac, by the way, Armagnac’s sales pale in comparison to Cognac these days. Armagnac originated in Basque country, which is a region in France. The Basque people living in France and Spain isolate themselves from the rest of the world and have often acted hostile to outsiders for hundreds and hundreds of years.

While Armagnac was from a rural part of France, Cognac was located in a part of France that was under British rule, and during the British rule, they fell in love with Brandy. Being a British Empire, which stretched across the globe, they ensured that everybody else under their rule loved Cognac as well.

By the end of the sixteenth century, Cognac started to distill and within half of a century, it became well known and praised for its amazing marketing. In response to the imitations of Cognac (Such as Conyac), the Cognaçais cracked down by protecting their name and beginning to create a global image that screamed exclusivity and excellence so as to stay in the market game for the long term, as opposed to being a short-term boom and bust company.

In the 1860’s, the North American bug phylloxera louse spread across Europe’s vineyards, feasting on grape vines until, in 1880, there was nothing left. North America, being the cause of the destruction of the vineyards of Europe, was also the savior: American stock vines were brought to existing European vineyards.

The Cognac region of France eventually recovered from the devasting blow, but the blow took away the world dominance they have secured and established: Gin and Whiskey had taken hold of the world’s palate.

Notable Cocktail + Recipe

  • The Sidecar
    • 1 3/4 oz. of Brandy (Hennessy VSOP)
    • 3/4 oz. of Fresh Lemon Juice
    • 3/4 oz. of Cointreau
    • Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake, double strain into an ice-cold, sugared rim, coupe glass

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So, you remember that night when the all the spirits, except for Tequila and Mezcal, went to that one club – I think it’s called Club Sto-Mach – and then Tequila and Mezcal showed up anyways. Then everybody got booted out? Well, SOMETHING CRAZY WENT DOWN.

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More Curious Cocktailian

If you want to understand Liqueurs better, check out these posts:

Fernet Branca

Yellow Chartreuse

And here’s the cocktail basics that every bartender needs to know:

An Easy Guide To Bar Tools

The Ultimate Guide To Making The Perfect Manhattan

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The Bloody Mary (On a Budget)

Welcome to the first post of my new Bartender On A Budget blogging series!

• • •

It is such a treat to check out the new fancy bar that opened up in downtown, especially when you’re served a specialty cocktail that was shaken, and served in a perfectly chilled martini glass. The bartender usually performs his craft with a finesse that you hope to achieve one day.

He or she also uses high-end spirits and liqueurs, and fresh ingredients, with fancy tools, albeit for an arm and a leg. But what about the rest of us that want to mix cocktails at home? Or want to give our refined taste buds a break without breaking the bank?

Well, friends, let’s set our budget for some cheap ingredients, MacGyver some stuff at home together for our cocktail equipment, and pour it into some random drink vessel, like a cup, or even a bowl; we are going to have fun. Each of us has a Bartender-on-a-budget deep down inside.

Do you want to mix drinks, but you just can’t afford all of the ingredients and just cannot break the bank? Well, I have some life hacks, or rather, drinking hacks for you.

• • •

The Bloody Mary on a Budget

Alright, so you just do not have the cash to make yourself an enjoyable cocktail this weekend. Well, hey, no fear – I have you covered.

This week, we’re going to make a fun concoction: The Bloody Mary.

Will it be traditional? No, I am sorry. Each time this is made, it will be completely different as you and I will be using whatever is on hand.

We’re going to roll a “Makeshift Bloody Mary,” and it’s going to be terrific. Why? Because you’re going to feel like a badass MacGyver, treating yourself or a friend/significant other and they are going to hold you with admiration in their eyes.

Ingredients

Vodka

First, go to a liquor store and look for those mini-bottles of Vodka laying around. They are usually 50 ML or nearly 3/4 ounces. (Almost a shot!). Typically, you’re going to want to have two, so then we have 1 1/2 ounces for our bloody mary. But if not, whatever, just cut the ingredients list in half! If you have a little vodka laying around, fill it up in your shot glass and throw it in!

Each drink needs about 30ml – just a shot’s worth.

Tomato Juice

The next ingredient we’re going to need is tomato juice. About 3 ounces will do. Or three individual shots.

My buddy Mohan V says:  I’ve found that fresh juice works best, because when I make it, I usually roast the tomatoes over a high open flame, until the skin chars.
Once you blend them together, the whole juice gets this really nice smoky character.Opinion is divided on whether or not to strain the tomato juice (some enjoy the thick consistency), so try it out for yourself both ways. Let us know which way you prefer!

Salt and Pepper

The Spice of life. Here, we can throw in salt and pepper. And if you want to get creative, which I think you are, feel free to experiment with a dash or two of Paprika, or any other spice that you like!

Flavourings

Typically, we’ll want 2 dashes of tabasco sauce and 4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce.

“But what if I don’t have that, Joe?” Well, hell, let’s throw in some spicy sauce in there instead for some flavoring. How about curry sauce? Or a dash of hot sauce? Guys, let’s get really creative with this drink.

Fruit Juices

Hopefully, you have a Lemon. Just a singular lemon. Cut it into 4 wedges, and squeeze in two of the wedges juices into your drink.

Make It!

This drink is good because you do not need any cocktail equipment whatsoever. You do need two cups and ice. Put in your ingredients and some ice into one cup. Now slide it into your other cup. And then slide that back into your other cup. Good! You’re rolling a cocktail! What Fun!

You’ll want to do this 7 or 8 times back and forth. Now pour your drink into a tall-ish glass!

If you want to get a little more ambitious, look around your kitchen for a few tapered glasses. You’ll need them to fit snugly over each other, like this.

Add the ice, put all your ingredients into one glass, stick the other one top of it, and give it a few shakes.  Try it slowly at first, then try to build some momentum. Make sure to keep them secure, you don’t want a mess!

Once, you’re done,  you’re ready to pour!

Presentation

Lastly, we’ll need a garnish. Something to make it feel that much healthier.

No stick of Celery? Maybe if you have a fresh-ish Lemon in the fridge, let’s cut a lemon wheel and stick it on the rim of the drink. Or perhaps, you want to make an island: Put that lemon wheel in the middle of your drink.

Mohan V: You could also gently crush and add some fresh basil when rolling or shaking your drink – it’s known to go very well with tomato, and will add some nice herby character to it. You can use the larger, prettier leaves for garnishing as well.

If you do not have either, think of a green vegetable that you could slide into the drink.

Now, our drinking vessel!

Glassware

Now, our drinking vessel. My advice would be to pick any glass you feel comfortable drinking out of, and put it in the freezer before making your drink.

Don’t underestimate a frozen glass – it keeps the drink cool longer, gives a pleasant sensation when sipping, and it looks pretty amazing as well.

Once you’re sure all the ingredients are mixed, bring your strainer back out and pour.

Garnish with whatever you wish – a lime wheel, a stick of celery, a sprig of basil, whatever – and your Bloody Mary is ready.

This article remains incomplete without your involvement – try making one at home, and you’ll realize how easy and delicious home bartending can be! And be the soul of every good party, when people realize you can make some mad drinks!

• • •

Special thanks to Mohan for featuring this post on his website, Drunk For A Penny! Go give their page a peruse!

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More Curious Cocktailian

If you want to understand Liqueurs better, check out these posts:

Fernet Branca

Yellow Chartreuse

And here’s the cocktail basics that every bartender needs to know:

An Easy Guide To Bar Tools

The Ultimate Guide To Making The Perfect Manhattan

• • •

 

Winepour

A Bartender’s Guide to Wine (Guest Post)

This week, we are going to deviate a little from spirits, liqueurs and tantalizing cocktails and journey to the realm of wine. Wine has always scared me because I just did not know anything about it – until now. And it is all thanks to my friends from Drunk From A Penny. You have to check out their blog here. It will not disappoint. Before I let them take it away, I’m going to include their Website and social handles below!

• • •

Website: https://drunkforapenny.wordpress.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drunk_for_a_penny/

Now, the boys are going to take it away!

• • •

First of all, big thanks to the Cocktailian for getting in touch. Definitely, check out the rest of his articles, they’re bound to help on your bartending journey.

Today I’ll be talking about the different kinds of wine, and the different categories they can fall under. What you see on the label is a combination of all of these categories.
The concept of wine is pretty massive, so it takes a fair bit of organizing to make it easier to understand. The good news is, most of what we discuss here, if not everything, will already be familiar to you.
There are a few ways in which we can split up the different wines, a lot of which overlap each other. Broadly speaking, they can be divided…

  • By Colour
  • By Grape
  • By Region
  • By Sweetness
  • By Vintage*
  • By the bubbles present (if any)
  • By Alcohol Content
  • Others


Now, when I said “overlap”, that means that these categories are not independent of each other. So a wine can be named based on a lot of these factors, not just one.
Now let’s break it down.

By Colour  

It’s a white wine. This is the most obvious one. Wines can be Red, White, and Pink (Rosé).

By Grape

This particular wine was made from the Chenin Blanc grape. Different grapes have their own characteristic flavors, so this is important to mention on the label.

By Region

This wine is from Nashik, in India. There are a lot of wine producing countries, like France, Germany, Italy, Australia, and New Zealand.
South America and South Africa are also coming up as quality producers of certain grapes.
(See the overlap here between grapes and regions? A lot of places produce Chenin Blanc wines – but Sula’s would have certain differences in quality and taste to another country’s.)

By Sweetness

Wines can range from absolutely bone-dry (almost zero sugar), to about 45% sugar, depending on how and where they are made.
The four basic categories are Dry, Off-Dry ( a bit of sugar, but not much), Off-Sweet (leaning towards sweet, but not quite there yet), and Sweet.
There’s no numerical standard for what is sweet and what is not, but it’s generally based on the proportion of “residual” sugar left in the wine.
Sula is a great example of this because they produce two Chenin Blanc wines – one, shown above, which is mostly dry. But they also have a Late Harvest Chenin Blanc, which is very, very sweet.

It’s marketed as a “dessert wine” – it’s that sweet.

By Vintage

Vintage here has two meanings.
It generally refers to the year of production. But a vineyard can also “declare a vintage“, which is basically them saying “this year’s harvest is of brilliant quality, so expect a brilliant wine”.
The label on the wine that year will generally have the prefix “vintage” before the year, like XYZ Producer, This Grape, Vintage 2012.

Wines can be divided into Vintage and Non-Vintage, but nobody ever openly comes out and says “non-vintage”. If it isn’t specifically mentioned on the bottle, it’s assumed that it’s a regular, non-vintage wine.
Fun fact: The word “vintage” is actually derived from the word vin – which means “wine” in French.

By the Bubbles

Again, this is fairly obvious. Wines without bubbles, or “effervescence”  are called “still” wines. If it’s got a pleasant number of bubbles, it’s called a “sparkling” wine. (the way soda is called “sparkling water”).
The two wines are easy to tell apart – the latter have thicker bottles, and differently shaped corks – mushroom shaped ones for sparkling wines, and long, cylindrical ones for still wines.

By Alcohol Content

What I actually meant to explain here is a cumulative term called Body. It not only includes the alcohol strength, but also the concentration of flavors, and the viscosity (how thin or thick it feels on your palate). Based on this, wines can be Light-Bodied, Medium-Bodied, or Full-Bodied.
You might hear people saying that a certain wine is “aggressive and robust”, or “pleasant and refreshing”. What they are trying to convey is how heavy-bodied or light-bodied the wine is.

Others

These are significant, but not seen very often, especially in India. Things like Fortified wines would come under this category. These wines have their alcohol strength externally increased from 10-12% up to 22% or more.

Notable examples would be Port, Madeira, and Sherry (unfortunately, very few are even available here).
Aromatised wines are another example. These are wines that are infused with a lot of flavors like cloves, cinnamon, anise, and even orange peel and roasted seeds.

Vermouth is the best-known example. These are often served at the start of meals as aperitifs, or used in cocktails.

(I had a picture of all the styles of M&R’s vermouth, side by side)
All of these are Vermouth, produced in different styles and flavors.

I believe it’s important to mention the so-called “unconventional” wines, as well.
A wine can be made from any fruit – it’s not limited to just grapes. You can have cherry wine, pineapple wine, apple wine, plum wine… I’ve even tasted a ginger wine that someone made at their home. I’m hearing about a carrot wine being made by a small producer in Nashik.

And in every sense of the word, all these beverages can still be called wines.
You just have to specify what it’s made of, in the name. Nobody ever says “grape wine”, because that goes without saying. So if you’re making it with anything apart from grapes, you have to mention it clearly on the label.

Non-alcoholic wines are also becoming pretty popular right now. A lot of them have sparkling variants as well, which are a great party alternative if you’re inviting people who don’t like to drink. They’re always there whenever I throw a party, and they’re all delicious.

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More Curious Cocktailian

If you want to understand Liqueurs better, check out these posts:

Fernet Branca

Yellow Chartreuse

And here’s the cocktail basics that every bartender needs to know:

An Easy Guide To Bar Tools

The Ultimate Guide To Making The Perfect Manhattan

• • •

The-ultimate-guide-to-making-the-perfect-manhattan

The Ultimate Guide To Making The Perfect Manhattan

The Manhattan cocktail is the epitome of classy and is a solid go-to drink for any lady or gentleman. Want to know how to make the perfect Manhattan? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

• • •

Requirements

Bourbon – Sweet Vermouth – Angostura Bitters – Mixing Glass – Stirring Rod (Barspoon) – Julep Strainer ( or any strainer) – Shot Glass/Jigger – Fresh Ice

How-To

Combine the Whiskey (Bourbon/Rye/Tennessee), Vermouth, and Angostura bitters into the bottom of a mixing glass | Fill with two-thirds full of ice | Stir for 25-30 seconds | Place Julep strainer inside and strain into cocktail glass

And that’s it!

Do not panic. I will walk you through this entire process, with photos, and by the end of it all, you will be able to make a classic cocktail for yourself, for your friends, and maybe even impress a lady or a gentleman.

If you want to skip down to the actual preparation of the drink, feel free to do so. If you literally have no idea what you have gotten yourself into or just want to know why you’re buying all of these things, read this. If not, read on, friend.

First, I’m going to take into account the Bartender-On-A-Budget. You, my imbibing friend, are going to need some equipment.

ESSENTIALS

I have chosen this cocktail specifically so you can begin to grow your cocktail equipment (as well as your home bar) AND to get your tongue wet with the good old Classics. We are only going to need four things:

1) Mixing Glass

Mixing glass

You may have seen this before…

For the Bartender-On-A-Budget, you can probably steal a pint glass from your local bar after you finish a Guinness or two. Or maybe don’t do that. You can get a cheap one at the dollar store – try to ask for one that is between 16 and 20 oz (OZ. stands for ounces. If you still don’t know what that is, one ounce is equivalent to one shot glass).

Japanese-yarai-mixing-glass

Japanese Yarai mixing glass

2) Shot Glass/Jigger

Jiggers

Every single person in the Amerikas has a shot glass lying around the house. So, case closed. Unless you want a Jigger – to measure for success and precision + look like a pro while you mix drinks in front of your friends.

Jiggers are measuring tools and can be found at any cocktail specialty shop and even some wine shops. They aren’t all that expensive, maybe a 5 dollar price tag. Grab one if you are serious about the craft of the cocktail. You’ll want a basic jigger for now with two ends. One end should say 1 oz. and the other 2 oz.(Ounces!) Like so:

3) Barspoon/Stirring Rod

Barspoon

When we put all of our ingredients into the mixing glass, then fill with ice, we are going to have to actually mix these sum-na-beechs togetha’. And please don’t stick in any old spoon. I cannot bear witness to any such atrocities again. Unless… You’re on a budget.

But seriously, it won’t cost you more than 10 bucks and you’ll have that spoon for the rest of your career. I still have mine!

Barspoon-personal-stirred-cocktail

Never let go of yours!

4) Julep Strainer

Julep-Strainer

Okay, so we have stirred the ingredients with the ice to chill down the drink and to melt some of that ice into the cocktail to make it less intoxicating. Perfect. Now, we need to get it into a glass for you to drink.

But you can’t just dump the whole thing into a new glass. This is where the julep strainer comes in. The strainer can be found at quality cocktail shops as well for a low price, but you can also sometimes find them kicking around in cooking stores.

If you feel that you can spare a little extra – and even then, it won’t be that much – you are going to want to go to Cocktail Kingdom

They are an online shop based out of New York and they deliver worldwide. They are the best at what they do and a little investing at this site and your career – whether at a bar, cocktail bar, or as a home bartender – will thank you. Using cocktail equipment lets your audience know that you mean business.

Now that we have all the ingredients, we get to do the fun part… alcohol, as known as the spirits!

For this post, I’m going to be using my Yarai Mixing glass and the Hawthorn Strainer. If you don’t know much about the equipment, check this post out.

Ingredients

We only have three ingredients: Bourbon / Sweet Vermouth / Angostura Bitters

Bourbon

1) Bourbon

I will be using Woodford Reserve Bourbon because I love the taste it leaves in my mouth. You do not have to buy the 26er. But if you do, you can practice making more manhattans.

Side Note: The Manhattan can be made with Bourbon, Rye, and it has been made and will continue to be made with other whiskeys, which is fine. I have opted to use Woodford Reserve.

2) Sweet Vermouth 

What is sweet vermouth? Basically, it is a fortified wine. But right now, all you need to know is that the S.V. is the sweetener in this cocktail. It also pairs very well with whiskey. As you can see, I am using Carpano Antica Vermouth, because it is a quality ingredient and rocks the socks off the ladies (Sorry for that joke, plz stay). For the Bartender-On-A-Budget, you can buy cheap Red Vermouths at any liquor store (mostly).

DO NOT buy white vermouth – a.k.a. dry vermouth. What you want is sweet vermouth, which is RED vermouth. Try the Cinzano Rosso bottlings.

Sweet-Vermouth

3) Angostura Bitters

Alright, 3 simple dashes of this bad-to-the-bones bottling and you’re going to tie up the two aforementioned ingredients and add a complexity that would go on to shake the foundations of das bier hall forever.

Old Angus can be found in cocktail ingredient stores as well or ordered online! OOOOKAY. So, we have everything now (Don’t forget the ice, though. Buy an ice tray, freeze ice in the freezer, you have ice. Congrats!). Now we can begin the preparation process.

Angostura-bitters

COCKTAIL PREP

Step 1 – With your jigger/measuring device, pour in 2 oz. of bourbon and drop it into the bottom of your mixing glass. (Or two 1 oz. of bourbon if your jigger does not have a 2 oz. option)

Keep it close to where you’re mixing

Alright, sweet. We have two ounces of bourbon in our mixing glass. High-five.

Step 2 – Take your SWEET vermouth and pour 1 oz. into your jigger, then drop into your mixing glass. Almost done.

Step 3 – Open your angostura bitters and give three good dashes. If you did four, that’s okay. We’re still golden.

Step 4 – Take your lovely Barspoon and hold it like so:

Now, push the barspoon into the bottom of the glass. You will want to keep the back of the barspoon against the side of the glass.

You are going to spin the Barspoon clockwise, with the back of the bar spoon against the side of the glass the entire time. To accomplish this, push out, then pull back in. Push out and around, and pull back in to complete the circle. Two motions.

Do this for 25-30 seconds. Count.

Step 5 – Okay, you have officially mixed the classic cocktail, Manhattan. +100 EXP. points.

Grab your julep strainer and strain your cocktail. I’m using a Yarai mixing glass, which requires a Hawthorn Strainer.

Hawthorn-Strainer

It should just sit in there nicely, but make sure to hold it.

The-perfect-cocktail

Now, Strainnnnnn it into your drinking vessel. The two “correct” glasses, or most commonly used, are the martini glass or the rocks glass. But use whatever drinking vessel you have preferably glass.

Manhattan Cocktail

CONGRATULATIONS. WOW, WE… no, YOU DID IT. Now, enjoy that sum-na-beech.

Congratulations

It’s time to celebrate!

Garnish

Btw, if you want to add an orange twist to your Manhattan…

Peeling-orange

If you hold your thumb down on the peel, you can cut that piece off nicely

Orange-peel-garnish

Then you’ll want to cut it with a paring knife to make it look sleek

Slicing-orange-peels

Beautiful-orange-garnish

And wrap it around your barspoon

Orange-twist-for-cocktails

And then *drum roll*

Manhattan-cocktail-garnish

ALSO, PYROTECHNICS! Slice off a piece of orange peel > hold between thumb and forefinger(fingers) > hold facing your cocktail with a lighter in front of it > SQUEEZE

Aromatizing-cocktail-orange-flame

Orange-zest

You’ve just aromatized your Manhattan, and gotten all the numbers at the bar. Success.

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If you’re into everything cocktail, sign up for the Curious Cocktailian Email List and we’ll send you the new posts right when they come out. That’s the only thing we use the list for – Don’t worry about getting tons of spam or other nonsense!

• • •

More Curious Cocktailian

If you want to understand Liqueurs better, check out these posts:

Fernet Branca

Yellow Chartreuse

And here’s the cocktail basics that every bartender needs to know:

An Easy Guide To Bar Tools

The Ultimate Guide To Making The Perfect Manhattan

• • •

An Easy Guide to Bar Tools: What And How To Use

Alright, I won’t lie, there are a bunch of tools involved in cocktail making – luckily, we’ll only be needing six to make basic drinks.

“Only six!?” You say. Well, don’t worry about that either. I swear, each item has a purpose and once you know what they do and how to use them, it’s actually pretty easy. So, just take a deep breathe and don’t sweat it. We’ll get there.

For both yours and my sake, I am going to include some affiliate links – if you want to buy some cocktail equipment via Amazon and have it delivered to you on-the-fly, I’ll have the links below. If you want to do your own online shopping and want quality, check out www.cocktailkingdom.com. They are literally the best.

• • •

These are the essential cocktail tools that you’ll need to begin your cocktail journey:

Mixing Glass

Mixing Glasses Cocktail

What:

The mixing glass can be just any regular pint glass (between 16 – 20 oz. or if it fits with your Boston shaker). You can either stir drinks in just the mixing glass, or it could mighty morph – power ranger-style – with the Boston shaker to become a two-part shaker. Ooooh.

How:

Pour ingredients into the bottom of your mixing glass, and then fill two-thirds of the way up with ice. You can either put in your Barspoon at this point or mighty-morph it with the Boston shaker.

Yarai-Mixing-Glass-Cocktail-Japanese

Boston Shaker

Boston-shaker-bartender-tools-cocktail-mixing-drinks

What:

Used mostly during shaking, the Boston-tin shaker is tin (shocker, right?). Add ice and it gets cold very fast. Perfect for chilling your cocktail.

How:

Once your mixing glass is full of ice, drop it onto the Boston shaker and a seal should form. Tap the mixing glass into the Boston-shaker to make sure that seal is tight. You don’t want your drink getting on your audience.

Strainers:

Hawthorn-strainer-cocktail-equipment-bartender-tools

A) Julep Strainer

Julep-strainer-cocktail-bartender

What:

The Julep Strainer is very simple. It keeps ice and other things you were stirring, out of your completed cocktail.

How:

This one is pretty easy: drop the julep strainer into your mixing glass (pint glass) convex side up.

Strainer-mixing-glass

Wrap your fingers around the mixing glass and hold the julep strainer where the handle meets the strainer with your forefinger, which should be on the lip of your mixing glass.

Pour your stirred cocktail into a glass vessel of your choosing.

B) Hawthorn Strainer

What:

These strainers are great. We use these when we shake drinks, and we make shaken drinks all the time. The Hawthorn strainer keeps out clumpy ingredients and their flavors go into your cocktail. It also keeps out large chunks of ice.

If you want to keep out those tiny ice shards that sparkle on the top of your drink (am I bias?), then use a Tea-strainer – which will be talked about in another post.

How:

Fit it into the larger half of the Boston-tin shaker – or your Yarai mixing glass.

Once again, you’ll want to wrap your hand around the Boston-tin shaker, with your forefinger holding it in place.

Begin to pour into a glass vessel of your choosing.

Also, you can push it up against the lip of the tin shaker and “Close the gate” or you can open it up again. Some Hawthorn strainers will make two streams come out if you close the gate. It’s a spectacle to behold.

Jiggers

What:

I may have mentioned this before, and I will mention it again. Jiggs measure out how much fluid ounces are going into your drink. Any cocktail recipe will most likely have “2 oz. of this, 1 oz. of that.” OZ. = Ounces. Jiggers are synonymous with bartending because the bartender is able to attain precision, consistency in her/his drinks, and look very professional. Don’t worry about the American free-pour yet.

How:

Simply take it into your non-dominant hand and pour alcohol from the bottle into the jigger. Dump the contents of the jigger into your mixing glass or Boston shaker.

Remember: slow-goings is key. Speed will come naturally. Also, it is usually good to keep the jigger near where you’re going to pour it.

Barspoon 

 

What:

What are we doing with the Barspoon, you may ask? Simple – ever heard “Shaken, not stirred.” Well, this is the stirred part. There are two basic and essential parts to cocktail-making. Stirring drinks and shaking drinks. The difference is this:

Stir when all of the ingredients are clear.

Shake when you can’t see through your drink, or if you’re using fruit juices, syrups, etc.

How:

Hold the Barspoon between your ring finger and your middle finger. Put it into your mixing glass with the back of the spoon against the side of the glass.

Two motions will commence: think “Swish and flick”. You’ll begin to turn it clockwise – push to the other side, then pull to your original position. Continue to do this. For 25-30 seconds. Make sure you count in your head. Or aloud, if you prefer.

 –

These six tools are the only tools that you’ll really need to start off on your bartending journey.

Congratulations! You’ve made it through the post!

If you’re feeling adventurous and want some more content… you’ll have to wait.

Also, if you’re looking to buy some of the above equipment, I’ve posted affiliate links below – and you totally do not have to buy them from amazon, there are other alternatives, like Cocktail Kingdom.

Mixing Yarai Glass:

Boston Tin Shaker:


Julep Strainer:


 Hawthorn Strainer:


Jiggers:


Barspoon:

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If you’re into everything cocktail, sign up for the Curious Cocktailian Email List and we’ll send you the new posts right when they come out. That’s the only thing we use the list for – Don’t worry about getting tons of spam or other nonsense!

• • •

More Curious Cocktailian

If you want to understand Liqueurs better, check out these posts:

Fernet Branca

Yellow Chartreuse

And here’s the cocktail basics that every bartender needs to know:

The Ultimate Guide To Making The Perfect Manhattan

• • •

 

Top-5 Cocktail Movies!

There have been times when my interest and enthusiasm has waned during my formative years of mixing drinks. When I started, sometimes I was discouraged by the learning curve. And other times, I was getting complacent and bored. I wasn’t growing as a bartender.

But every time I found myself losing my way, there were cocktail movies that brought me back to my center. So, I decided to share them.
Plus, some of these are just fun and make yeah wanna mix things up and shake em’ really hard. Watch these five movies and feel the motivation come back.

• • •

#1: Hey Bartender

Just the best movie. It focuses on a local Joe who owns a bar and on an up-and-coming rockstar bartender but has every notable person in the cocktail world featured in this great movie. You will be drooling through the entire thing, so have a refreshment on-hand. Also, you get to see what it’s like to go down to the world’s greatest cocktail event, Tale of the Cocktail, in New Orleans!

#2: Cocktail

Tom Cruise will not let you down. Psh, when has he ever? These boys have their American free-pour game down pact. Tom Cruise’s mentor walks you through the best hangover cure: The Red-Eye. First, we get to party it up in New York, then we jet off to the Caribbean for tiki-drinks! I won’t spoil anything else, I promise.

First, we get to party it up in New York, then we jet off to the Caribbean for tiki-drinks! I won’t spoil anything else, I promise.

#3: Casablanca

The entirety of this movie takes place in a bar. Rick’s bar. The French 75 makes an appearance when Yvonne and her hangers-on orders them, as well as many other thirst-quenchers. If you’re into WW2 history, “Casablanca” takes place during that time period. This movie is one of my favorite movies of all time period. If only Rick’s bar truly existed in Morroco, I’d be there all the time.

French 75 Recipe

London dry gin 1 oz. | Fresh-squeezed lemon juice 1 oz. | Chilled Champagne 2 oz. |  Simple Syrup 1/2 oz.

Shake everything except for the champagne. Strain into Champagne glass. Pour in Champagne on top. Garnish with a lemon peel, if you wish

#4: The Big Lebowski

If you’ve watched the Big Lebowski, then you’ve heard of the White Russian. Our buddy, Gary the Bartender, will take good care of you. It’s also the perfect bro movie.

#5: Casino Royale

What with the “Shaken, not Stirred” non-sense, gorgeous (and my personal favorite bond girl) Vesper Lynd, almost-always-dying-007, and his classic Vesper Martini – which was made on the spot, friends – you can’t really go wrong with this solid Bond action adventure.

I’ve made a few Vesper Martinis and they are delicious. Soon, I will be releasing my Vlog, so stay tuned for that! 

Notable Mentions:

  • Swingers
  • Any Bond flick
  • BarFly

At the end of the day, there aren’t many cocktail movies for bartenders, mixologists, craft bartenders, service people, and the like. But this group of movies is sure to satisfy whatever it is you’re needing satisfied. Grab a six-pack, a bottle of fine wine, or shake a cocktail up and enjoy.

It is the same with reading/writing as it is with drinking/crafting cocktails: As long as you’re reading or writing, you’re in the clear. As long as you are imbibing or creating cocktails, you’re progressing.

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More Curious Cocktailian

If you want to understand Liqueurs better, check out these posts:

Fernet Branca

Yellow Chartreuse

And here’s the cocktail basics that every bartender needs to know:

An Easy Guide To Bar Tools

The Ultimate Guide To Making The Perfect Manhattan

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