WHAT IS A COCKTAIL?
The first definition of cocktail known to be an alcoholic beverage appeared in The Balance and Columbian Repository (Hudson, New York) on May 13, 1806; editor Harry Croswell answered the question, “What is a cocktail?”:
“Cock-tail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters—it is vulgarly called bittered sling, and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, in as much as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head. It is said, also to be of great use to a democratic candidate: because a person, having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow any thing else.”
Technically, a cocktail is a beverage with at least three flavors: it must contain alcohol, a sugar, and a bitter/citrus. When a mixed drink contains only a distilled spirit and a mixer, such as soda or fruit juice, it is a highball.
It can be ov...
“Claret is the liquor for boys; port for men; but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy”
Brandy, for too many people, has a reputation as a spirit enjoyed by a more mature crowd. Picture an older man in a plush wingback leather armchair, next to a roaring fire with a cigar between his lips—he has a glass of brandy in his hand, right? However, these days, brandy is enjoyed across the board by young creatives, cocktail enthusiasts, and even stay-at-home moms—as well as, of course, distinguished silver-haired gents with suits and cigars.
Brandy is exploding in the American market. It may not get the popular-press attention and cultural buzz that other spirits do, but the numbers don’t lie. Between 2002 and 2015, sales by volume increased overall by 27.8%, with super premium bottlings rocketing up by 226.9% and premium by a mind-boggling 340.5%, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.
GIN - From the Gutter to the Top Shelf
From the Gutter to the Top of the Shelf
William Faulkner once said, “Civilization begins with distillation.” Unfortunately, that was not the case in Great Britain.
Gin is a divisive drink. It has been for centuries. Responsible for an early booze-fueled crisis in England, the botanical-infused distilled spirit was once seen as scourge on a society. Gin’s reputation as the crack cocaine of its day was cemented with lurid press tales about gin-fuelled degradation and squalor, culminating in William Hogarth’s infamous 1751 engraving “Gin Lane.”
Three hundred years later, it’s become the elegant answer to vodka and, increasingly in the US and Britain, an artisanal concoction. The industry has been undergoing a welcome renaissance. Many of the gins being produced in small batches across the countries bear little resemblance to the stodgy London dry gin your parents drank. While we’ve ...
Rum - Diving Into The Popular Caribbean Treat
Pirates had the right idea. Sorta. Sipping rum makes one want to hang near a tropical body of water. But all that robbing and pillaging would really kill the buzz. Before the pirates got their hands on it, rum was an accidental byproduct of the sugar craze during colonial times. Sugar production created huge amounts of molasses. Soon it was discovered the sticky, sweet substance could be fermented and distilled. Then rum took off. It's long been a traditional drink in the Caribbean, but thanks to its popularity amongst sailors, navy men and pirates, it quickly spread across the world.
The first distillation of rum took place on the sugarcane plantations of the Caribbean in the 17th century. Plantation slaves first discovered that molasses, a byproduct of the sugar refining process, could be fermented into alcohol. Later, distillation of these alcoholic byproducts concentrated the alcohol and removed impurities, producing the first true rums. Tradition ...
The World of Sour Beer - Origins and the Best Ones
Move over, bitter IPAs and chocolaty stouts. There's a new kid on the craft brewing block, and it's going to knock your salivary glands into action.
Many foods and drinks are acquired tastes. Think back to the first time you tried coffee, gin, bleu cheese, single malt whisky, black licorice, etc.—what did you think? Chances are you didn't enjoy it very much. Maybe you still don't, but over time, many people come to enjoy, even crave, one or more of these challenging tastes. In the beer world, there are a number of styles that cause your face to pucker in a kind of "yuck" sort of way the first time you try them, but with some persistence, you can come to love these types of beer.
Sour beer has an intentionally acidic, tart, or sour taste. The taste of sour beer may be exotic to American palates, but the beer's flavor actually dates back to the early days of brewing, when beer came only in an unpasteurized...