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History, Facts, Info & Galleries for each below

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Enjoy "our favorites" videos!

Our Favorites - Scotch

Across all the regions - Highland, Lowland, Island, Islay and Speyside. Each one is highly rated with 92+ point scores and between $50 to $100 per bottle.  Liquid caramel - enjoy!

Our Favorites - Bourbon

There are hundreds of Bourbons on the market so start with these! Each one has 92+ point scores and range from $30 to $100 per bottle.  Bourbon with ice & everything is nice!

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Scotch Whisky

Liquid Caramel, So Good

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The History of Scotch

According to the Scotch Whisky Association, Scotch whisky evolved from a Scottish "aqua vitae" (water of life) spiced tea drink. In fact, the origins of Scotch whisky closely parallel the origins and history of Irish whiskey (see that section below) but it is a fact that Scotch whisky came after Irish whiskey.  The Irish actually started it all.  

The first written mention of Scotch whisky is in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, 1495, which were records of royal income and expenditure. The quote records "eight bolls of malt given to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aqua vitae" over the previous year. This would be enough for 1,500 bottles, which suggests that distillation was well-established by the late 15th century.

Whisky production was first taxed in 1644, causing a rise in illicit whisky distilling in the country. Between the 1760s and the 1830s a substantial unlicensed trade originated from the Highlands, forming a significant part of region's export economy. In 1782, more than 1,000 illegal stills were seized in the Highlands: these can only have been a fraction of those in operation. The Lowland distillers, who had no opportunity to avoid taxation, complained that un-taxed Highland whisky made up more than half the market. The heavy taxation during the Napoleonic Wars gave the illicit trade a big advantage, but their product was also considered better quality, commanding a higher price in the Lowlands. This was due to the method of taxation: malt was subject to tax (at a rate that climbed substantially between the 1790s and 1822). The licensed distillers therefore used more raw grain in an effort to reduce their tax bill.

Two events helped to increase Scotch whisky's popularity in the 1800's:

  • first, the introduction in 1831 of the column still; because the whisky produced with this process was generally less expensive to produce and also less intense and smoother, because a column still can perform the equivalent of multiple distillation steps in a continuous process

  • second, the phylloxera bug destroyed wine and cognac production in France in 1880, and consumers were looking at other alcoholic beverages to fill the void

Scotch Definition

A “scotch” whisky must be distilled in Scotland, made with 51% malted barley & aged for at least 3 years in oak casks. In fact, as of November 23, 2009 the Scotch Whisky Regulations (SWR) were updated to define and regulate the production, labelling, packaging as well as the advertising of Scotch whisky. This new regulation replaces previous versions that focused solely on production. International trade agreements have the effect of making most of the provisions of the SWR apply in various other countries as well. 

The SWR formally defines "Scotch whisky" as whisky that is:

  • Produced at a distillery in Scotland from water and malted barley (to which only whole grains of other cereals may be added) all of which have been:

    • Processed at that distillery into a mash

    • Converted at that distillery to a fermentable substrate only by endogenous enzyme systems

    • Fermented at that distillery only by adding yeast

    • Distilled at an alcoholic strength by volume of less than 94.8% (190 US proof)

  • Wholly matured in an excise warehouse in Scotland in oak casks of a capacity not exceeding 700 liters (185 US gal) for at least three years

  • Retaining the colour, aroma, and taste of the raw materials used in, and the method of, its production and maturation

  • Containing no added substances, other than water and plain caramel coloring

  • Comprising a minimum alcoholic strength by volume of 40% (80 US proof)

Scotch Types

There are two basic types of Scotch whisky, from which all blends are made:

  • Single malt Scotch whisky - a Scotch whisky produced from only water and malted barley at a single distillery by batch distillation in pot stills.

  • Single grain Scotch whisky - a Scotch whisky distilled at a single distillery but, in addition to water and malted barley, may involve whole grains of other malted or unmalted cereals.

    • "Single grain" does not mean that only a single type of grain was used to produce the whisky—rather, the adjective "single" refers only to the use of a single distillery (and making a "single grain" requires using a mixture of grains, as barley is a type of grain and some malted barley must be used in all Scotch whisky).

  • Excluded from the definition of "single grain Scotch whisky" is any spirit that qualifies as a single malt Scotch whisky or as a blended Scotch whisky. The latter exclusion is to ensure that a blended Scotch whisky produced from single malt(s) and single grain(s) distilled at the same distillery does not also qualify as single grain Scotch whisky.

Scotch Blends

Three types of blends are defined for Scotch whisky:

  • Blended malt Scotch whisky means a blend of two or more single malt Scotch whiskies from different distilleries.

  • Blended grain Scotch whisky means a blend of two or more single grain Scotch whiskies from different distilleries.

  • Blended Scotch whisky means a blend of one or more single malt Scotch whiskies with one or more single grain Scotch whiskies.

Why is all this important? Quality!

The five Scotch whisky definitions are structured in such a way that the categories are mutually exclusive. The 2009 regulations changed the formal definition of blended Scotch whisky to achieve this result, but in a way that reflected traditional and current practice. Because before the 2009 SWR, any combination of Scotch whiskies qualified as a blended Scotch whisky, including for example a blend of single malt Scotch whiskies.

So, Regulation 5 of the SWR 2009 stipulates that the only whisky that may be manufactured in Scotland is Scotch whisky. The definition of manufacture is "keeping for the purpose of maturation; and keeping, or using, for the purpose of blending, except for domestic blending for domestic consumption".

In sum, this provision prevents the existence of two "grades" of whisky originating from Scotland, one “Scotch whisky” and the other, just a "whisky – product of Scotland".

According to the Scotch Whisky Association, allowing non-Scotch whisky production in Scotland would make it difficult for consumers to understand what they are really buying and this also helps protect Scotch whisky as a distinctive product, much like the regulations in USA define and protect Bourbon whisky.

Scotch Regions

Scotland was traditionally divided into four regions: The Highlands, The Lowlands, The Isle of Islay, and Campbeltown. Due to the large number of distilleries found there, the Speyside region is now also recognized by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) as a distinct region. The whisky-producing islands other than Islay are not recognised as a distinct region by the SWA, which groups them into the Highlands region.

The 5 regions include:

  • The Lowlands: southernmost region of Scotland.​

  • Speyside: gets its name from the River Spey, which cuts through this region and provides water to many of the distilleries. It has the largest number of distilleries.

  • The Highlands: by far the largest region in Scotland both in area and in whisky production.

    • The Islands is an unrecognized sub-region includes all of the whisky-producing islands (but excludes Islay).

  • Campbeltown: once home to over 30 distilleries, currently has only three distilleries operating

  • Islay: has eight producing distilleries

12 Year Scotch? - some trivia

Most Scotch, by volume, is aged at a 12 year minimum – ever wonder why?  It was due to marketing!  During US Prohibition, vast amounts of Scotch inventory built up over 12 years.  When Prohibition ended, it became an advertising ploy to market and sell “12 year” Scotch.  After this, “12 year” became the most popular aging & flavor expectation going forward through today.

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Gallery - Whisky (overall)

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Bourbon Whisky

Bourbon & Ice, Everything's Nice

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The History of Bourbon

Do you think Bourbon whisky must be made in Bourbon County, Kentucky? The answer is no. However, “Old Bourbon County” does seem to be the historical origin of the beverage. Now, there are many different accounts of the exact origin and inventor of "Bourbon" whisky which is too much to get into here. That said, below is the generally accepted history.

In 1785, "Old Bourbon County" (which was almost the size of a state at the time), was created and named in honor of the French royal family, Bourbonne. Geographically, Old Bourbon County enjoyed having a key trade port on the Ohio River. In the 1800’s, their style of whisky made it south via the Ohio and Mississippi River to New Orleans.  At the time, this version of whisky was new to most people, who enjoyed the unique flavor. It then became a popular export to Europe, where even the Kings in France and England enjoyed it.

So whether you lived in New Orleans or in Europe, because all the whisky barrels had “Bourbon” stenciled onto them (due to the port of origin being Old Bourbon County), and the fact it had such a unique flavor from the 51% corn mixtures, the name “Bourbon” whiskey stuck - for the American whisky made at the time. Now that's some trivia you can really stump your friends! In fact, most people today incorrectly believe that Bourbon must be made in Kentucky and that's just not the case.  Read on... 

Bourbon - USA Law

Because of the history and unique recipe of Bourbon whisky versus other whiskies around the world, a resolution adopted by the US Congress in 1964 declared bourbon to be a "distinctive product of the United States" and asked "the appropriate agencies of the United States Government... "to take appropriate action to prohibit importation into the United States of whiskey designated as 'Bourbon Whiskey'." So in sum, USA Federal regulation defines "bourbon whiskey" to only include "bourbon" if it is produced in the United States (anywhere, not just Kentucky) and meets the formal Bourbon recipe and production requirements.

Bourbon Definition

The formal USA Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits 27CFR-5 state that bourbon made for U.S. consumption must be:

  • Produced in the United States

  • Made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn

  • Aged in new (aka "virgin"), charred oak containers

  • Distilled to no more than 160 US proof (80% alcohol by volume)

  • Entered into the barrel for aging at no more than 125 proof

  • Bottled (like other whiskeys) at 80 proof or more

  • Bourbon has no minimum specified duration for its aging period. Products aged for as little as three months are sold as bourbon.

Bourbon Types

There are basically two "types" of Bourbon:

  • Straight Bourbon

    • been aged for a minimum of two years,

    • does not have added coloring, flavoring, or other spirits added

  • Blended Bourbon:

    • may contain added coloring, flavoring, and other spirits (such as un-aged neutral grain spirits);

    • but at least 51% of the product must still be straight bourbon.

Bourbon's legal definition varies somewhat from country to country, but many international trade agreements require the name bourbon to be reserved only for whisky products made in the United States per the USA Federal regulation.

What is interesting that that the U.S. regulations for labeling and advertising bourbon apply only to products made for consumption within the United States; they do not apply to distilled spirits made for export.

So, in countries other than the United States and Canada, products labeled bourbon may not adhere to the same standards. For example, in the European Union, products labeled as bourbon are not required to conform to all of the regulations that apply within the United States (though they still require it must be made in the USA). The net effect is all of this can be very confusing for Bourbon purists who live in Europe because they amy not be actually buying true "Bourbon" under the USA definition. It is for this very reason and example why Scotland created new regulations around the definition of Scotch whisky - to protect the history, clarify the definition and not confuse consumers.

Now wait, what about all those other American whiskies?

Good question.  To make it really simple, here's the basics:

  • Bourbon Whisky - see above, already covered

  • Tennessee Whisky - similar to and often confused with Bourbon, but Tennessee whiskey is made with a similar process but a different water filtration process and simply made in Tennessee.

  • "Insert state name" Bourbon - a Bourbon whisky that is made and aged in a particular state, often done simply for marketing purposes - such as Kentucky Bourbon, Texas Bourbon, Wisconsin Bourbon, etc.

  • American Whisky - is a whiskey that does not conform to the requirements of a Bourbon and can be made in any state.

  • Rye Whisky - made from mash containing at least 51% rye grain.

  • Canadian Whisky - must be mashed, distilled, and aged in Canada. If sold in Canada it must be aged at least three years in a wooden barrel of less than 700 liter (185 US gallons) capacity. Unlike Bourbon, the barrels do not have to be new or charred. Most Canadian Whiskey is a Rye Whiskey and most are blends of more than one Canadian Whiskey.

That help? There are a ton of good whisky books and websites out there as well.  Check out - enjoy!

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Irish Whiskey

The Whiskey That Started It All

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Irish Whiskey

The History of Irish Whiskey

Did you know that Irish “whiskey” is actually what started all whisky’s? It’s true! In fact, the word “whiskey” derives from the Irish Gaelic word “uisce beatha” meaning “water of life”. Irish monks learned the process of distillation in the Mediterranean around 1000 AD, where the process was developed for creating perfumes. When they brought the process back to Ireland, it was first used to distill drinks. This “water of life” (also known as “aqua vitae”) was actually more like a tea, infused with herbs and spices, and was a very important source of clean drinking water – because river and lake water at the time was so dirty from farming, manure and raw sewage/pollution from the growing towns and cities.

"Mass" production started happening in the 1400's. Scotch whisky followed soon thereafter with their own techniques. Afterwards, many areas around the world used similar processes which led to various forms of whisky and other spirits. But, fun fact, the Irish were first, and also, only the Irish spell whiskey with an “e”. Almost everywhere else in the world, it is spelled “whisky” - check the labels.

Under a license grant from King James in 1605, Sir Thomas Phillips, in Bushmills County Ireland, eventually formed the first high volume Irish whiskey distillery under the brand “Old Bushmills”, which is still popular today (in fact, Bushmill's is the oldest surviving grant of license in the world to distill). Irish whiskey was in fact the most popular spirit in the world from the 1600-to-late-1800’s, with more than 30 distilleries in Ireland in 1890.  However, due to the world wars, poor weather and economic conditions, only 3 distilleries existed in the late 1990’s.  Today, Irish whiskey is making a comeback, with 16 distilleries in operation as of 2017 and 14 more in planning.

Irish Whiskey Definition

Like Scotch, Irish whiskey is a protected beverage under European Geographical Indication (GI) under Regulation (EC) No 110/2008. As of January 29 2016, production, labelling and marketing of Irish whiskey must be verified by the Irish revenue authorities as conforming with the Department of Agriculture's 2014 technical file for Irish whiskey.

Key requirements include specifications that:

  • Irish whiskey must be distilled on the island of Ireland

  • From a mash of malted cereals with or without whole grains of other cereals and which has been:

    • saccharfied by diastase of malt contained therein, with or without other natural enzymes;

    • fermented by the action of yeast;

    • distilled at an alcoholic strength of less than 94.8% alcohol by volume in such a way that the distillate has an aroma and taste derived from the materials used;

    • subject to the maturation of the final distillate for at least three years in wooden casks, such as oak but not required to be oak, not exceeding 700 liters (185 US gal) capacity

  • The distillate, to which only water and plain caramel colouring may be added (E150a), retains its colour, aroma and taste derived from the production process referred to above

  • Irish whiskey is to have a minimum alcoholic by volume content of 40%

  • Individual technical specifications for the three varieties of Irish whiskey, "single pot still", single malt", "single grain" and "blended" whiskey (a mix of these two or more of these varieties) are also outlined in the technical file.

    • The use of the term "single" in the aforementioned varieties being permissible only if the whiskey is totally distilled on the site of a single distillery.

  • Maturation only takes place on the island of Ireland

Irish Whiskey Types

Irish whiskey comes in several forms, with the name of the style depending on the type of grain used and the distillation process.

Traditionally, Irish whiskey was produced in pot stills. Irish whiskeys made in a pot still fall into two categories.

  • Single malt Irish whiskeymade entirely from malted barley distilled in a pot still within a single distillery are referred to as single malt whiskeys. These may be double or triple distilled.

  • Single pot still Irish whiskey: made from a mixture of malted and unmalted barley completely distilled in a pot still within a single distillery. This differs from single malt whiskey through the inclusion of raw, unmalted grain in the mash. This style has also historically been referred to as "pure pot still" whiskey and "Irish pot still whiskey", with older bottlings and memorabilia often bearing these names. Single pot whiskeys were the most common style of Irish whiskey until the emergence of blends in the 20th century.

Irish whiskey that is produced from continuous distillation in a column-still or Coffey-still includes:

  • Grain Irish whiskeymay be produced from a variety of grains. Lighter and more neutral in taste, this spirit is rarely found on its own, though some examples exist. The vast majority of grain whiskey is used to make blended whiskey, a product made by mixing column still product with richer and more intense pot still product.

Blended Irish whiskeyA mixture of the above styles of whisky to produce a final whisky. Regardless of whether the blended whiskey is made from combining grain whiskey with either single malt whiskey or with single pot still whiskey or both, it is labelled with the same terminology.

Blended Irish whiskeys are now the most common style of Irish whiskeys you've come to know and love!

Gallery - Irish Whisky

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Japanese Whisky

Like Scotch...excellent & versatile

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Japanese Whisky

Introduction to Japanese Whisky

When many people think of whisky, they first think of Kentucky, Tennessee, Scotland, Ireland. However if you've not tried it Japanese whisky is fantastic and has made a big splash across the world in the last 20 years. In fact due to their meticulous study of Scotch as well as experimentation over the last century, Japanese distilleries have become some of the best in the world as proven by their many awards over recent years.

Broadly speaking the style of Japanese whisky is more like that of Scotch whisky than any other major style of whisky. There are several companies producing whisky in Japan, but the two best-known and most widely available are Suntory and Nikka. Both distilleries produce blended whiskies, single malt whiskies and blended malt whiskies. Their main blended whiskies are Suntory kakubin and Black Nikka Clear. Also, they offer a wide variety of special bottles and limited editions.

The History of Japanese Whisky

Japanese whisky is produced strictly in Japan. Whisky production in Japan emerged around 1870. However, the first commercial production began in 1924 upon the opening of the country's first distillery, Yamazaki.

Two of the most influential figures in the history of Japanese whisky are Shinjiro Torii and Masataka Taketsuru.

Torii was a pharmaceutical wholesaler and the founder of Kotobukiya (later to become Suntory). He started importing western liquor and he later created a brand called "Akadama Port Wine", based on a Portuguese wine which made him a successful merchant. However, he was not satisfied with this success and so he embarked on a new venture which was to become his life's work: making Japanese whisky for Japanese people. Despite the strong opposition from the company's executives, Torii decided to build the first Japanese whisky distillery in Yamazaki, a suburb of Kyoto, an area so famous for its excellent water that the legendary tea master Sen no Rikyū built his tearoom there.

Torii hired Masataka Taketsuru as a distillery executive. Taketsuru had studied the art of distilling in Scotland, and brought this knowledge back to Japan in the early 1920s. Whilst working for Kotobukiya he played a key part in helping Torii establish the Yamazaki Distillery. In 1934 he left Kotobukiya to form his own company—Dainipponkaju—which would later change its name to Nikka. In this new venture he established the Yoichi distillery in Hokkaidō.

The first westerners to taste Japanese whisky were soldiers of the American Expeditionary Force Siberia who took shore leave in Hakodate in September 1918.

Japanese Whisky Definition

Well this is simple - there is no formal definition or legal requirements around what defines a Japanese whisky - which is very different from Scotch or Bourbon, which have regulations and even laws and trade agreements about labeling. That said, everyone agrees that Japanese whisky is very similar and heavily influenced by Scotch, as the original distiller, Masataka Taketsuru, studied Scotch as noted above, and further, the malt for Japanese whiskies are often brought in from Scotland. 

Recognition of Japanese Whisky as the “new Scotch”

For some time it was believed by many that whisky made in the Scottish style, but not produced in Scotland, could not possibly measure up to the standards of the traditional Scotch whisky distilleries.

Before 2000, the market for Japanese whiskies was almost entirely domestic, though this changed in 2001.

  • 2001 - Nikka's 10-year Yoichi single malt won "Best of the Best" at Whisky Magazine's awards.

  • 2003 – in the blind tasting organized by Whisky Magazine in 2003, the results of which are published in WM #30, the winners of the category "Japanese Whiskies" were: 1 Hibiki 21 YO 43% (blend) 2 Nikka Yoichi 10 YO SC 59.9% 3 Yamazaki Bourbon Cask 1991 60% 4 Karuizawa 17 YO 40% (pure malt)

  • 2003 - In the main ranking (covering all categories of whisky) Hibiki 21 YO made it to rank 9 and Nikka Yoichi 10 to rank 14.

  • Overall -  the 18-year-old Yamazaki was introduced to the US. Japanese whiskies have been winning top honors in international competitions, notably Suntory.  At the 2003 International Spirits Challenge, Suntory Yamazaki won a gold medal, and Suntory whiskies continued to win gold medals every year through 2013, with all three malt whiskies winning a trophy (the top prize) in either 2012 (Yamazaki 18 years old and Hakushu 25 years old) or 2013 (Hibiki 21 years old), and Suntory itself winning distiller of the year in 2010, 2012, and 2013.

The resultant acclaim nudged Japan's distilleries to market overseas. Further, in recent years, a number of blind tastings, have been organized by Whisky Magazine, which have included Japanese single malts in the lineup, along with malts from distilleries considered to be among the best in Scotland. On more than one occasion, the results have had Japanese single malts (particularly those of Nikka's Yoichi and Suntory's Yamazaki) scoring higher than their Scottish counterparts.

Japanese Whisky Distilleries & Islands

There are around eight active whisky distilleries in Japan. These include:

  • Yamazaki: owned by Suntory, between Osaka/Kyoto on the main island of Honshū

  • Hakushu: also owned by Suntory, in Yamanashi Prefecture on the main island of Honshū

  • Yoichi: owned by Nikka, on the northern island of Hokkaidō.

  • Miyagikyo (formerly Sendai): also owned by Nikka, in the north of the main island, near the city of Sendai Fuji

  • Gotemba: owned by Kirin, at the foot of Mount Fuji in Shizuoka

  • Chichibu: near Chichibu in Saitama Prefecture. This is the new Chichibu distillery, founded by Ichiro Akuto, grandson of the distiller at Hanyu. It opened in 2008.

  • Shinshu: owned by Hombo, in Nagano Prefecture on the main island of Honshū

  • White Oak: owned by Eigashima Shuzou, in Hyogo on the main island of Honshū

Japanese Whisky Production & Differences compared to Scotch Whisky

The production of Japanese whisky began as a conscious effort to recreate the style of Scotch whisky.

Pioneers like Taketsuru carefully studied the process of making Scotch whisky, and went to great lengths in an attempt to recreate that process in Japan. The location of Yoichi in Hokkaidō was chosen particularly for its terrain and climate, which were in many ways reminiscent of Scotland (although financial constraints resulted in the first distillery actually being built in the more convenient location of Yamazaki on the main island).

One facet of the style of Japanese whisky comes from the way in which blended whisky is produced, and the differing nature of the industry in Japan.

Despite the recent rise of interest in single malt whiskies, the vast proportion of whisky sold in the world is still blended. The requirements of blended whiskies are one of the main driving forces behind the diversity of malts produced by Scotland's distilleries.

In Scotland in particular, typically each distillery will focus on a particular style, and blenders will choose from a wide array of elements and malts offered by all the different distilleries to make their product. So in Scotland, while sometimes a particular brand of blended whisky may be owned by a company that also owns one or more distilleries, it is also quite common for trading to take place between the various companies. The components of a blend may involve malt whisky from a number of distilleries, and each of these could conceivably be owned by a different company.

In Japan a different model is generally adopted. Typically the industry is vertically integrated, meaning whisky companies own both the distilleries and the brands of blended whiskies. These companies are often reluctant to trade with their competitors. So a blended whisky in Japan will generally only contain malt whisky from the distilleries owned by that same company (sometimes supplemented with malts imported from Scottish distilleries).

Therefore in Japan, it’s quite common for a single Japanese distillery to produce a wide range of styles, from the smokey and peaty style of Islay, through the heavily sherried, to the lighter and more delicate floral notes of Speyside. The diversity and innovation to be found in Japanese distilleries may be one of the contributing factors to their recent high profile and acclaim in the global arena.

If you have not tried a Japanese whisky, then do so soon, you just might another favorite for your bar!



Basically, It's Our Water ... Aqua Vitae

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The History of Beer

Beer is one of the oldest and most widely consumed alcoholic drinks in the world, being the third most popular drink overall after water and tea. Did you know brewing has taken place since around the 6th millennium BC. Holy crap, really? What's more, archaeological evidence suggests that emerging civilizations including ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia brewed beer. Some of humanity's earliest known writings refer to the production and distribution of beer in ancient Iraq and Egypt where beer was instrumental in the formation of civilizations. 

In fact, during the building of the Great Pyramids of Giza, each worker got a daily ration of four to five liters of beer, which served as both nutrition and refreshment that was crucial to the pyramids' construction. Well that's frigging cool!

So just think about it, while you were playing "flippy cup" in college and using beer funnels, they may have been doing the same thing about 9000 years ago!  

Beer Production Process

Brewing is the production of beer by steeping a starch source (commonly cereal grains, the most popular of which is barley) in water and fermenting the resulting sweet liquid with yeast. Steps in the brewing process include malting, milling, mashing, lautering, boiling, fermenting, conditioning, filtering, and packaging. In addition, there are three main fermentation methods, warm, cool and spontaneous. Fermentation may take place in an open or closed fermenting vessel; a secondary fermentation may also occur in the cask or bottle. Finally, there are several additional brewing methods, such as barrel aging, double dropping, and Yorkshire Square. During the brewing process, fermentation of the starch sugars produces ethanol and carbonation that you know and love.

Beer Ingredients

The basic ingredients of beer are water and a fermentable starch source such as malted barley. Most beer is fermented with a brewer's yeast and flavored with hops. Less widely used starch sources include millet, sorghum and cassava. Secondary sources (adjuncts), such as maize (corn), rice, or sugar, may also be used, sometimes to reduce cost, or to add a feature, such as adding wheat to aid in retaining the foamy head of the beer.  The proportion of each starch source in a beer recipe is collectively called the "grain bill". Most modern beer is brewed with hops which add bitterness and other flavors and act as a natural preservative and stabilizing agent. Other flavoring agents such as gruit herbs, or fruits, may be included or used instead of hops. The strength of modern beer is usually around 4% to 6%. 

Beer Definition

Various legal definitions of beer exist and differ across countries. Historically, the most famous of these was the Reinheitsgebot, which applied to parts of the Holy Roman Empire and Germany, which required beer to be made from only water, hops, and barley; which is still the predominant mixture of ingredients, even today, by commercial brewers.

Beer Types

There are basically two types of beer; Lagers and Ales.

  • Lagers are broken down into the following classifications:

    • American Lager - has little in the way of hop and malt character, it is straw to gold in color, very clean and crisp, and a highly carbonated lager; it's made from hops as well as barley and is referred to as "american" due to Miller, Budweiser, Pabst and Molson's high volume production and popularity across the USA

    • Pilsner - a type of pale lager, takes its name from Plzeň, a city in Bohemia, now in the Czech Republic, where it was first produced in 1842. Modern pilsner has a very light, clear color from pale to golden yellow and a distinct hop aroma and flavor with an alcohol strength typically around 4.5%-5% (by volume)

    • Dunkel - refers to several types of dark German lager, which typically range in color from amber to dark reddish brown and are characterized by their smooth malty flavor

    • Bock - a strong lager of German origin with several substyles, including maibock, a paler, more hopped version; doppelbock  a stronger and maltier version; and eisbock, a much stronger version made by partially freezing the beer and removing the ice that forms. Originally a dark beer, a modern bock can range from light copper to brown in color; the style is very popular, with many examples brewed internationally

  • Ales are broken down into these classifications:

    • Pale Ale - an ale made with predominantly pale malt, the highest proportion of pale malts results in a lighter color. The term "pale ale" first appeared around 1703 for beers made from malts dried with coke, which resulted in a lighter color than other beers popular at that time. Different brewing practices and hop levels have resulted in a range of taste and strength within the pale ale family. Many versions exist (look closely at the labels) which include:

      • Amber​

      • American

      • Biere de Garde

      • Blonde

      • Burton

      • English

      • India

      • Scotch

      • Strong

    • Barley Wine - is a strong pale ale with an alcohol strength of 8 to 12% by volume. Use of the word wine is due to its alcoholic strength similar to a wine; but since it is made from grain rather than fruit, it is a beer. There are two primary styles of barley wine:

      • American - which tends to be more hoppy and bitter with colors ranging from amber to light brown

      • English - which tends to be less bitter and may have little hop flavor, with more variety in color ranging from red-gold to opaque black

    • Stout & Porter - the history and development of stout and porter are intertwined. The name "stout" as used for a dark beer is believed to have come about because strong porters were marketed under such names as "Extra Porter", "Double Porter", and "Stout Porter". The term "Stout Porter" would later be shortened to just "Stout"

      • Stout - a dark beer made using roasted malt or roasted barley, hops, water and yeast. Stouts were traditionally the generic term for the strongest or stoutest porters, typically 7% or 8% alcohol by volume

      • Porter - a dark style of beer developed in London from well-hopped beers made from brown malt. The name was first recorded in the 18th century, and is thought to come from its popularity with street and river porters

    • Lambic - a type of beer brewed in the Pajottenland region of Belgium southwest of Brussels and in Brussels itself at the Cantillon Brewery. Lambic beers include gueuze and kriek lambic. Lambic differs from most other beers in that it is fermented through exposure to wild yeasts and bacteria native to the Zenne valley, as opposed to exposure to carefully cultivated strains of brewer's yeast. This process gives the beer its distinctive flavor: a dry, vinous, and cidery, usually with a sour aftertaste.

From here, there are hundreds of sub-varieties of both ales and lagers, such as American Wheat, Dry Stout, Oatmeal Stout, and Christmas Ale are just some examples.

Check out this webpage for a really good breakdown of beer types at - go enjoy!

Gallery - Beer

Drink: Gallery
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You Can Always Find Time for a Cocktail

Below you will see references and lists of various cocktails, but no recipes on purpose. There are many sites that specialize in cocktail recipes, in fact, our favorite is Difford's Guide for Discerning Drinkers

Drink: Portfolio

Cocktails - History & Overview

The History of the Cocktail

Where the term “cocktail” originated is not known for certain.  There are a few theories based on historical facts. In the 1500-1600’s, the word cocktail in England referred to “a horse that was not a thoroughbred” which was then extended to a vulgar term meaning a “man of little breeding (lower class) who tries to pass as a gentleman (upper class)”. 

The Oxford English Dictionary states that the word cocktail “as a beverage” originated in the United States, as cited in The Farmers Cabinet, April 28, 1803.  Then later, in 1806, in The Balance and Columbia Repository, editor Harry Croswell defined the cocktail as “a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind and including sugar, water, bitters and other flavorings”. Thus the generally accepted idea of the the cocktail terminology, was that since these references mentioned it was a “mixture of spirits and water”, it meant it was not a “pure drink of straight alcohol”, and thus ties back to the English term of a horse or man who was not a “purebred”. In sum, these two citations in 1803 and 1806 are why most historians agree that the term "cocktail" (meaning an alcoholic beverage) is of USA origin.  Now that’s some interesting trivia!

Fast forward from 1803, and in 1862, a bartenders guide called How to Mix Drinks by Jerry Thomas, included “cocktail recipes” and the key ingredient mentioned across all his recipes was that of bitters, which is used in the Manhattan, Old Fashioned, and Sazerac cocktails.  In fact the history behind the cocktail names of Manhattan and Old Fashioned are also interesting (see below for those details).

The popularity of cocktails grew quickly during Prohibition in the United States from 1919–1933 due to the fact that the quality of illegal liquor was poor (because there was a shift away from whiskey and to gin, which is much easier to produce).  These drinks were consumed in illegal bar establishments known as speakeasies where honey, fruit juices, and other flavorings such as bitters were added for flavor and to mask the smell and taste of the inferior liquors.

Cocktails became less popular in the late 1960s and through the 1970s, until resurging in the 1980s with vodka often substituting the original gin in drinks such as the martini.  The explosion of different vodkas and flavored vodkas in the 1980s to the 2000s is a reason for this. Traditional cocktails that were popular in the 1940’s through the 1960’s began to make a comeback in the 2000s, and by 2005 there was a renaissance of cocktail culture, in a style typically referred to as “mixology”, that draws on traditional cocktails for inspiration but utilizes unique ingredients and often complex flavors.

One thing is for sure, we love the definition of the cocktail from the grandfather himself, Jerry Thomas, who stated in his 1862 book, that "thoroughly amalgamating all the compounds, so that the taste of neither the bitter, the sweet, the spirit, nor the element, shall be perceptible one over the other is the grand secret ... only to be acquired by practice." We drink to that!

Cocktail Types

  • Highball – a distilled spirit with mixer such as tonic, club soda, or juice.  Most cocktails are highball cocktails.

  • Duo – a distilled spirit coupled with a liquer

    • B and B:  Cognac and Bénédictine

    • Black Nail:  Irish whisky and Irish Mist

    • Black Russian:  Vodka and Kahlúa (coffee liqueur)

    • Brave Bull:  Tequila and Kahlúa

    • Death in the Afternoon:  Absinthe and a small amount of Champagne

    • Dirty Mother:  Brandy and Kahlúa

    • Dubonnet Cocktail:  Gin and red Dubonnet

    • French Connection:  Amaretto and Cognac

    • Godfather:  Amaretto and scotch

    • Godmother:  Amaretto and vodka

    • Green Hornet: Brandy and green crème de menthe

    • Royal Widow:  Crown Royal (Canadian whisky) and amaretto

    • Rusty Nail:  Scotch and Drambuie

    • Stinger:  Brandy and white crème de menthe

    • Vodka Stinger:  vodka and white crème de menthe

    • Widow's Cork:  Jameson Whiskey and Amaretto

  • Trio – is a duo that has a mixer included as well

    • ABC Cocktail:  Amaretto, Baileys Irish Cream, and Cognac

    • Alexander:  equal parts gin, crème de cacao, and half and half, mixed in a cocktail shaker with ice, and poured into a cocktail glass and sometimes topped with grated nutmeg or cinnamon. The Alexander is the ancestor of the Brandy Alexander.

    • Bloody Aztec:  tequila, cream, crème de cacao, and red food coloring

    • Brandy Alexander:  Brandy, dark crème de cacao, and cream or half-and-half

    • Chocolate Martini:  vodka, chocolate liqueur, and cream or half-and-half

    • Colorado Bulldog:  Vodka, Kahlúa, cream, and a splash of Coca-Cola, optionally garnished with hazelnuts

    • Dirty White Mother:  Brandy, Kahlúa, and cream

    • Duck Fart:  Kahlúa, Baileys Irish Cream, and Crown Royal

    • Godchild or Goddaughter:  Amaretto, vodka and cream or half-and-half

    • Irish Flag:  green crème de menthe, Baileys Irish cream, and whiskey, layered in a shot glass

    • Mudslide:  vodka, Kahlúa, Irish cream, and cream

    • Panama:  Cognac, white crème de cacao, and cream; garnish with nutmeg if desired. The drink was popular during the early 20th century.[citation needed] It is sometimes confused with the Brandy Alexander, which is made with dark instead of white crème de cacao.

    • White Russian:  vodka, Kahlúa, and cream (IBA Official Cocktail)

  • There are also different classifications of cocktailswhich are noted below

Cocktail Classifications – Listing

  • Bishop - combination of rum and wine mixed with simple syrup.  There are many variations based on the type of wine and proportions and can easily be made into a punch for parties

  • Cobbler – is an old form of mixed drink that consists of a base spirit (originally some form of wine), sugar and fresh fruit. It dates from at least the 1830s, and made use of two items very new to people of that time – ice, and straws. It's a traditional long drink that is characterized by a glass ​3⁄4 filled with crushed or shaved ice that is formed into a centered cone, topped by slices of fruit

  • Collins – originating in the 1830's these are combinations of gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add 1 cup ice, cover and shake until chilled. There many types of variations but the most common is known as the Tom Collins

  • Crusta – characterized by a sugar rim on the glass, spirit (brandy being the most common), maraschino liqueur, aromatic bitters, lemon juice, curaçao, with an entire lemon rind as garnish

  • Daisy – traditional long drink consisting of a base spirit, lemon juice, sugar, and grenadine. The most common daisy cocktail is the Brandy Daisy. Other commonly known daisies are the Whiskey Daisy, Bourbon Daisy, Gin Daisy, Rum Daisy, Lemon Daisy (the non-alcoholic variant), Portuguese Daisy (port and brandy), Vodka Daisy, and Champagne Daisy.

  • Fix – made by combining the spirit of your choice with fresh citrus juice and a light-colored cordial to add a bit of sweetness - literally hundreds of variations exist based on this generic recipe

  • Fizz – a mixed drink variation on the older sours family of cocktail that were very popular during the 1900-1950's. The defining features are an acidic juice (such as lemon or lime) and carbonated water, many forms exist but the Gin Fizz is the original 

  • Flip – first used in 1695 to describe a mixture of beer, rum, and sugar, heated with a red-hot iron. The iron caused the drink to froth, and this frothing (or "flipping") engendered the name. Over time, eggs were added and the proportion of sugar increased, the beer was eliminated, and the drink ceased to be served hot. The essential in flips of all sorts is to produce the smoothness by repeated pouring back and forward between two vessels and beating up the eggs well in the first instance and the sweetening and spices according to taste. With time, the distinction between egg nog (a spirit, egg, cream, sugar, and spice) and a flip (a spirit, egg, sugar, spice, but no cream) was gradually codified in America's bar guides - many variations exist using brandy, rum or gin as the main alcohol ingredient

  • Julep – base spirit, sugar, and mint over ice. The most common is the Mint Julep. Other variations include Gin Julep, Whiskey Julep, Pineapple Julep, and Georgia Mint Julep.

  • Negus - a hot drink of port, sugar, lemon, and spices, often drank in the winter time, many variations are made here as well

  • Punch - one of the oldest formats for drinking mixed liquor. Traditionally punch is served at parties and in small cups so that guests have to return to the bowl for more, the thought being that every time you returned, you might meet someone new. Punch can be made with alomst any type of alcohol such as rum, vodka, or gin and mixed with things like fruit juices such as lemonade or other flavors to create a refreshing drink that's spiked with alcohol

  • Rickey – a highball drink made from gin or bourbon, half of a lime squeezed and dropped in the glass, and carbonated water. Little or no sugar is added to the rickey. Originally created with bourbon in Washington, D.C. at Shoomaker's, the Gin Rickey (named after Colonel Joe Rickey) became a worldwide sensation when bourbon was replaced and mixed with gin instead

  • Sangria - a Spanish wine punch that includes a mix of wine, brandy and chopped fruit such as oranges, apples, lemons for a refreshing drink. There are many variations on the theme to correspond with the flavors of the season such as a winter sangria

  • Shrub - started as a household practicality. Back before refrigeration, fresh fruit would spoil quickly, but you could extend its life by piling it into a big crock with some sugar. The juice that came off the fruit was redolent with the bright flavor of the fruits in the crock, and after a few weeks it would ferment into vinegar. Now in modern times, you just add vinegar to your sweetened fruit rather than actually letting it ferment. You can make it with any fruit you want, add any herbs or spices you want, and mix it with whatever type of spirit or sparkling drink you want. It’s basically a choose-your-own-adventure, no-rules type of recipe, perfect for scofflaws and anarchists. So you see, the concept of a “shrub” is the flavor base of many other delicious cocktails such as the sour, or punch

  • Sling – traditional long drink prepared by stirring ingredients over ice in the glass and filling up with juice or club soda

  • Smash - a smash is a julep, but a julep is not always a smash. The basic elements are consistent: a spirit base, ice, sometimes a splash of water, mint (or other herb), sugar, and the ever-present seasonal fruit. At its heart, the smash is a wonderfully forgiving and flexible drink, made for hot days, for using what’s on hand and for smashing it all together over ice for pure sipping bliss.

  • Sour - a traditional family of drinks that belong to one of the old families of original cocktails from the 1800's. Sours are mixed drinks containing a base liquor, lemon or lime juice, and a sweetener (triple sec, simple syrup, grenadine, or pineapple juice are common). Common examples include - Kamikaze, Daiquiri, Sidecar, Margarita

  • Toddy - is the classic chest-warming libation made with a base of brandy, whiskey or rum, a warm mug of toddy always seems to banish the winter blues or help battle a cold even in summer time

So now you know the basics around cocktails.  From here, most cocktails are simply variations on these types and classifications. Also, sSee below for the classic cocktails you need to know - as well as the top cocktails for Winter and Summer. And whether it's summer or hot, or winter and cold, you can always make time for a cocktail! 

By the way, here are some cocktail websites we love!

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Cocktails - Classics You Need to Know

There are literally hundreds if not thousands of cocktails, especially when mixologists keep inventing new variations on the classics.  That said, below is the list of "classic cocktails" you need to know, and even better, that you need to know how to make.

So why are you not seeing the recipes for each below? For two reasons:

1) this site is about efficiency, to educate you quickly and provide key advice in a short, easy read

2) there are many sites that specialize in cocktail recipes, in fact, our favorite is Difford's Guide for Discerning Drinkers

Classic Cocktails - Top 40 (alphabetical order)

  • Blood & Sand

  • Bloody Mary

  • Boulevardier

  • Brooklyn

  • Champagne Cocktail

  • Clover Club

  • Cosmopolitan

  • Daiquiri

  • Dark & Stormy

  • French 75

  • Gibson

  • Gimlet

  • Gin & Tonic

  • Gin Fizz

  • Irish Coffee

  • Jack Rose

  • Last Word

  • Mai Tai

  • Manhattan

  • Margarita

  • Martinez

  • Martini

  • Mimosa

  • Mint Julep

  • Mojito

  • Moscow Mule

  • Mudslide

  • Negroni

  • Old Fashioned

  • Paloma

  • Pisco Sour

  • Planter's Punch

  • Rob Roy

  • Sazerac

  • Scofflaw

  • Sidecar

  • Tom Collins

  • Vesper

  • Vieux Carré

  • Whiskey Sour

If there is a cocktail on this list you've not heard of or tried, order one up!

And remember, like we say, you can always make time for a cocktail!

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Cocktails - Winter

Falling snow, brisk air, scents of pine, a warm fire.  There's just something very nice about autumn and winter.  And it's even nicer with a winter cocktail.  Below is our list of the Top 60 winter cocktails.  Some you know and others you won't and others are simple derivatives of the classic version with a flair for the winter season.

So why are you not seeing the recipes for each below? For two reasons:

1) this site is about efficiency, to educate you quickly and provide key advice in a short, easy read

2) there are many sites that specialize in cocktail recipes, in fact, our favorite is Difford's Guide for Discerning Drinkers

Winter Cocktails - Top 60 (alphabetical order)

  • Almande Horchata

  • Angry Jolly Juice

  • Apple Cranberry Moscow Mule

  • Apple Rosemary Rickey

  • Applejack Sazerac

  • Aquavit Manhattan

  • Black Sage

  • Boulevardier

  • Butterscotch Martini

  • Café Ala Mexicana

  • Candy Cane Kahlua Hot Chocolate

  • Chili Chocolate Sombrero

  • Cocoa Buie II

  • Cranberry and Cinnamon Whiskey Sour

  • Cranberry Vanilla Mimosa

  • Dark As Night

  • Eximo Noir

  • Fireball Hot Toddies

  • Fireside

  • Gingerbread Eggnog White Russian

  • Gingersnap

  • Good Tidings

  • Holiday Cherry Cheer

  • Holiday Spiced Mulled Wine

  • Honey Buttered Rum

  • Honey Winter Bourbon Cocktail with Honey Sage Syrup

  • Hot Chai Spice

  • Jam Le Sam

  • Maple Toddy

  • Martinez Martini

  • Merry Thyme

  • Moscato Mule

  • Mulled Wine Sangria

  • Mumm Apres Rouge

  • New York Whisky Sour

  • Pom Holiday Sparkler

  • Pomegranate Mimosa

  • Pomegranate Moscow Mule

  • Pumpkin Pie Bourbon and Pear

  • Quittin’ Thyme

  • Rum Daiquiri

  • Rum Old Fashioned

  • Salted Caramel Eggnog

  • Snow Bunny

  • Spellbound Smash

  • Spice Me Up Bourbon

  • The Baked Apple 46

  • The Nutty Neige

  • The Pear

  • The Resolution

  • Thyme Gin & Tonic

  • Toby’s Toddy

  • Truffle D’Hiver

  • Very Merry Bourbon Alexander

  • Very Merry Mulled Wine

  • Werthers Hot Toddies

  • Winter Elixir

  • Winter Margarita

  • Winter Spiced Old Fashioned

  • Winter’s Ginger

If there is a cocktail on this list you've not heard of or tried, order one up!

And remember, like we say, you can always make time for a cocktail!

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Cocktails - Summer

Sun and sand, afternoon cookouts, warm evening strolls, hitting the links.  Summer is always so fun and it's even better with a refreshing cocktail. Below is our list of the Top 75 summer cocktails. Some you know and others you won't and others are simple derivatives of the classic version with a flair for the summer season. A few of these may not sound good to you, but we're sure your wife or girlfriend will thank you!

So why are you not seeing the recipes for each below? For two reasons:

1) this site is about efficiency, to educate you quickly and provide key advice in a short, easy read

2) there are many sites that specialize in cocktail recipes, in fact, our favorite is Difford's Guide for Discerning Drinkers

Summer Cocktails - Top 75 (alphabetical order)

  • 3 Way Mojito

  • Blackberry Mint Julep

  • Blackberry Mojito

  • Blue Crush Margarita

  • Blueberry Lemonade Sangria

  • Blueberry Mint Juleps

  • Boozy Julius

  • Boozy Sour Watermelon Slushy

  • Champagne Mojito

  • Cherry Sour

  • Coconut Gin & Tonic

  • Coconut Mango Margarita

  • Coconut Mojito

  • Cuba Libre

  • Cucumber Cooler Cocktail

  • Cucumber Gin Lemonade

  • Fizzy Lifting Drink

  • Fresh Mint Margarita

  • Frozen Dark & Stormy

  • Frozen Navels

  • Frozen Pineapple Margarita

  • Frozen Sangria Margarita

  • Fruity Wine Slushy

  • Gin & Tonic

  • Hurricane

  • Jarritos Margaritas

  • Kerasi

  • Kiwi Mai Tai

  • Kiwi Margarita

  • Lava Flow

  • Lava Flow Cocktail

  • Layered Lemonade Drops

  • Lemonade Mimosa

  • Mango & Plum Sweet Tea Cocktail

  • Mango Cocktail

  • Mango Jalapeno Margarita

  • Mango Peach Sangria

  • Margarita

  • Melon Ball Cocktail

  • Mermaid Lemonade

  • Mimosa Margaritas

  • Mojito

  • Mojito Slushy

  • Old Battle Axe Cocktail

  • Orange Ginger Margarita

  • Orange Splash

  • Peach Cobbler Martini

  • Pepper Thai Cocktail

  • Peruvian Pisco Sour

  • Pina Colada

  • Pina Colada Sangria

  • Pink Senorita

  • Pink Starburst Cosmos

  • Prosecco Slushy

  • Raspberry Lemonade Cocktail

  • Rhubarb Sour

  • Rooftop Lemonade

  • Rum Sunset

  • Sangria

  • Sparkling Ginger Mint Julep

  • Sparkling Pomegranate Punch

  • Strawberry Basil Lemonade Cocktail

  • Strawberry Daiquiri

  • Strawberry Frose

  • Strawberry Mint Julep

  • Strawberry Mojito

  • Strawberry Punch

  • Sweet Tea Sangria

  • Tequila Sunrise Mimosa

  • Tomato Mojito

  • Watermelon Lime Margarita

  • Watermelon Sangria

  • White Peach Cooler

  • White Peach Sangria

  • Zen Sangria

If there is a cocktail on this list you've not heard of or tried, order one up!

And remember, like we say, you can always make time for a cocktail!

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Cocktails - Tools of the Trade

Now that you know all about cocktails, part of the enjoyment is having the right tools of the trade to bartend like a pro! Keep in mind there’s no right or wrong set of tools, and that every bartender has their own preference, but the below list is the key checklist for your bar - make sure you're ready to go and be a pro!

  • Bar Spoon - there are several types of bar spoon ends, from the standard weighted “teardrop” to one with a muddling disc and a trident for spearing things. For most stirred drinks, you can get away with just having the first one. The bar spoon with a muddling disc, however, is perfect for crushing white sugar cubes, say, for an old fashioned or sazerac. Once you have the technique down, stirring a drink is quite satisfying.

  • Bitters – although just an ingredient, your bat must always have Angostura, Peychaud’s, or Fee Brothers on hand, and better, in various flavors, because bitters are the key foundation of various cocktails and are thus used in countless cocktails. The great thing about bitters is they last indefinitely if stored in a dry and temperate place. These three will keep you covered and last a very long time.

  • Egg Separator – if you’re making sours, such as pisco sour, you can either crack the egg, and toss the yolk back and forth between the two half shells to separate the white, or you can use a standard egg separator. Simply place it on top of your larger cocktail tin and allow gravity to do its job.

  • Ice Mold- square or round, cool looking ice is just awesome in a drink! Pick the ones you prefer for drinks served on the rocks. Long drinks served in a Collins glass, such as bucks and rickeys, can use a stack of small cubes or one tall stick of ice for added flair. While cocktails such as a Manhattan or even a straight Scotch can use one large round ice cube to chill while not melting down too fast.

  • Jigger - the most important tool in the bar, a graduated jigger (make sure you get one with the measurements written out) is the easiest way to measure out more complex ingredients. Pour up to the first line for a half-ounce measurement, with the top of the jigger representing two-and-a-half ounces. Seasoned bartenders are able to pour without a measure, but many still elect to, as accuracy is important in making cocktails. The smallest imbalance can throw the whole drink off.

  • Juicer – when it comes to juicing citrus fruits, some may recommend a hinged hand press, while these do squeeze juice quickly, they can be messy and are really designed for larger batches. If you are only making one or two drinks at home, as we typically are, we prefer a tried and true glass, steel, or porcelain juicer, which extract the most juice from each piece of fruit, and the spout allows for quantities to be measured much easier than a hinged hand press.

  • Metal Straws – no real reason, they are just cool and you’ll look like a pro!

  • Mixing Glass - for stirred and strained drinks such as Manhattans, Old Fashioneds, Negronis and many others; you’ll want a stirring glass for building and easy mixing with our splashing. Any tall glass with a wide opening will work, so long as you can plop your strainer on top, but we recommend you be more stylistic and get on official mixing glass

  • Muddler – you gotta have a muddler! Mojito-town, here we come! As you’d expect, it hardly matters what big stick you use to smash some mint, sugar or fruits but you need one for sure.

  • Peeler - adding a slice of citrus peel for garnish or additional flavor, a knife can certainly be used, but this peeler will make easier work of it

  • Rocks Glass – you can serve cocktails in anything you really want, but for a classic cocktail bar set-up, you must have a set of standard rocks glasses which include a double rocks glass, a coupe glass, a sour glass, and a Collins glass.

  • Shaker - there any many varieties of shakers out there,  beginners may be more comfortable using a standard shaker with a jigger cap, for measuring, and built in strainer. That said we recommend the tried and true Boston Shaker which is required for any drink that needs to be shaken, and the glass half can be used as a mixing glass as well. About as simple and classic as it gets.  However, consider yourself even more advanced? A set of stainless steel cocktail tins, allows for a higher volume of two drinks and also facilitates building of more complex cocktails: place the shorter tin in front for all your liquids, and toss the solids (ice, fruits, mint leaves) in the larger one. Clamp shut, shake and pour – yeah baby!

  • Simple Syrup - there is no reason to buy simple syrup, as it is stupidly easy to make at home it is just sugar and water!

  • Soda - tonic and club soda are essential ingredients but can be annoying to keep on hand, because they go flat so quickly once opened. We recommend you buy the small 8 ounce bottles, which are perfect for making 1 or 2 cocktails and almost act as a measuring stick since half bottle is 4 ounces, the perfect amount for many cocktails!

  • Strainer - After drinks are shaken with ice in the Boston Shaker, they need to be strained into their final vessel

    • HAWTHORNE STRAINER - the classic choice which is a flat strainer disc connected to a coiled spring—to keep the ice and fruits from going into your glass.

    • JULEP STRAINER - type of strainer that should be used in conjunction with a mixing glass is called a Julep strainer, which is essentially a big metal spoon with holes in it

    • ​FINE MESH STRAINER – for certain drinks, a technique known as “double straining” is desired, in which the drink passes through two strainers (typically a Hawthorne and then a fine-mesh) before pouring into the drinking vessel. Shaken drinks often call for a double strain, to make sure no pulp fragments or tiny shards of ice make their way into the final drink

Now that your bar is outfitted you can bartend like a pro!  I'd like a Bourbon Manhattan with an extra cherry please.

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Cocktails - Glassware, Serve It Up Right!

And of course, the final touch is the presentation, just like food. Most cocktail recipes suggest a style of glassware that is typically used for that drink which can actually help keep the right temperature or enhance the smell as you drink it. Below is a list of the basic style of glasses you need to have with some helpful details for each. When shopping for glasses, you will find a variety of designs within each style, so you can look for interesting features that match your bar's style.  Then you will be a true bartending pro!

  • Martini Glass - the familiar conical shape of the cocktail glass makes most of us think of a Martini, and so it should. It is the most popular drink that is served in this style of glass and because of that, many people will call this a 'martini' glass.

    • Cocktails between 3 and 6 ounces. Most often served 'up' without ice.

    • Though it is now common to have stemless cocktail glasses the stem serves a purpose: it allows the drinker to hold the glass without warming the drink via body heat. This is essential to keeping these non-iced drinks colder for a longer period.

    • Stick to cocktail glasses that are no more than 6 ounces. Even if your drink is only 3 or 4 ounces, the extra room gives you a little splash protection when carrying it around at a cocktail party!

  • Highball & Collins Glass - these two glasses hold around the same volume, between 8 and 16 ounces. The highball tends to be stouter and usually tops off at 10 ounces. The highball (or hi-ball) glass is a style that every bar should have. The collins tends to be taller and more narrow, more of a chimney shape. The collins glass is not necessary, though convenient. The two can be used interchangeably.

    • These tall glasses are typically used for 'tall' mixed drinks (or 'highballs') and filled with an abundance of ice.

    • Quite often, the drinks are built directly in the glass by pouring the ingredients over top of the ice and stirring.

    • Drinks That Use a Highball Glass - Bloody Mary, Zombie, Other tall drinks

    • Drinks That Use a Collins Glass - Tom Collins, Harvey Wallbanger, Long Island Iced Tea and Soda mocktails like the Shirley Temple and Roy Rogers

  • Rocks Glass aka Old Fashioned Glass - a short tumbler that is also often called a "lowball" or a "rocks glass".

    • Hold between 6 and 8 ounces. They are also available as a double old-fashioned (left of the photo), holding up to 10 or 12 ounces. The smaller old-fashioned glasses can be used for serving a straight or neat pour of liquor, typically a dark spirit like whiskey.

    • The doubled old-fashioned glass is ideal for serving either a mixed drink or straight pour of liquor with a single large ice cube or ice ball.

    • These glasses are typically used for short mixed drinks that are served with ice (aka 'on the rocks') though not always. Popular lowballs like the Manhattan, White Russian, Rusty Nail and, of course, the Old-Fashioned.

  • Shot Glass - can come in many styles, shapes and sizes and are fun to collect. Any shot glass can be used to hold straight shots and mixed shooters and it is always good to have quite a few around just in case some break. The average shot is 1 1/2 ounces while a 'short shot' or 'pony shot' is just 1 ounce.

    • The typical shot glass is made of thicker glass, particularly on the base. This reinforcement is designed to prevent it from shattering when the drinker slams the glass onto the bar after downing the drink.

  • Cocktail Glass aka Margarita Glass – the margarita glass is used primarily for serving margaritas, though those cocktails can also be served in a cocktail glass.

    • The double-bowl shape of the margarita glass is a fun and distinctive shape that works particularly well for frozen margaritas. The wide rim makes it easy to add a salt or sugar rim.

    • Margarita glasses can come in a variety of sizes and can range anywhere from 6 to 20 ounces.

      • The smaller glasses are nice for drinks with no ice.

      • The medium glasses are good for frozen drinks.

      • The large bowls are good for large frozen drinks served or those with a lot of ice. Some margarita bowls can get to ridiculous sizes, topping off at 60 ounces. These would only be good as a novelty to share with a table-full of friends (each with your own straw, of course).

  • Champagne Glass – if you enjoy a Champagne cocktail every once in a while, then a set of Champagne glasses would be a nice investment. They come in a variety of shapes. It is often best to purchase a set of 4 or 8 glasses, depending on the size of your average Champagne-worthy celebrations.

    • Champagne Flute – this tall, thin glass has a tapered rim that is designed to keep the Champagne's bubbles in the glass longer. Flutes typically hold between 7 and 11 ounces and are perfect for the simple addition of a single berry garnish. The fizz fountain of the traditional Champagne Cocktail is spectacular in a flute.

    • Champagne Tulip - this elegantly styled glass has the longer stem and bowl of the flute, the difference is that the rim flares out instead of in. This design will not trap bubbles, but it is a nice option for mixing Champagne and other sparkling wines.

    • Champagne Saucer – this is a more traditional glass design used to serve sparkling wines. It is a flatter, rounder bowl and holds just around 6-8 ounces. Saucers are nice for serving straight Champagne to many guests (filling well below the rim to avoid spills) because they will drink it rather quick. Use it to add an elegant twist to drinks that you would serve in a cocktail glass. A perfect choice when you want to float a larger slice of fruit on top of the drink.

  • Wine Glass - could be the topic of a separate article. There are so many shapes available and many styles have been developed to showcase a particular style of wine. Two basic wine glasses you should know:

    • White Wine Glass - the taller, more open glasses

    • Red Wine Glass - the rounder, smaller bowl (on the right).

  • Beer Glass - just like wine, beer has its own long list of glassware that can be used, these are just three of the key examples. They can be used interchangeably and are good for mixing beer drinks.

    • Pint Glass - Pints typically hold 16 ounces. Best when pulled straight from the freezer. This is also a mixing glass and can be used as a piece in a Boston shaker set.

    • Pilsner Glass - Pilsners typically hold between 10 and 14 ounces. The unique fluted shape (which can be more or less exaggerated) is used most often for light beers and the wider rim still allows for a good head.

    • Beer Mug - Mugs are nice because you can hold your beer without warming it with your hands and they are also best when frosted. The volume of a beer mug will vary greatly. Many will hold between 10 and 14 ounces.

  • Specialty Tall Cocktail Glass – you will see a few tall specialty glasses that you will run into in cocktail recipes. Each has a specific style of drink that they are used for. While they are not called for as often as the previous glasses, they are useful to have around, particularly if you are fond of any of these cocktails.

    • Irish Coffee Glass – this footed glass is used for hot drinks and, traditionally, for an Irish Coffee. It is a nicer way to present warm drinks than the average mug and made with heat-resistant glass. Typically hold between 8 and 10 ounces.

    • Hurricane Glass - the distinct pear-shaped curve of this glass is reminiscent of vintage hurricane lamps, which gave it its name. It is used for the aptly named Hurricane Cocktail and often for Pina Coladas and other frozen drinks and typically hold between 10 and 12 ounces.

    • Brandy Snifter - as the name implies, this glass is used for brandy, particularly sipping it straight. Though it is a very large glass, only a standard pour of around 2 ounces goes inside. The idea behind the snifter is to allow the drinker to enjoy all of the aspects of brandy: watch it swirl inside, notice its legs and color, take in the aromas trapped in the bowl and slowly take a sip. It is also used for a few simple brandy drinks, most notably the aromatic B&B. If you enjoy fine brandy, or any dark spirit for that matter, this will be an essential glass for you.

  • Specialty Short Cocktail Glass – although not used often, but it is good to be aware of these three short specialty glasses.

    • Sour Glass – used for Whiskey Sours and other simple sour drinks, this little glass is made to enjoy small drinks as it holds just between 3 and 6 ounces.

    • Cordial Glass - tiny glasses are a traditional way to sip cordials (or liqueurs) straight and are not very common today. They are dainty, holding just 2-3 ounces.

    • Genever Tulip Glass – also used to sip cordials, but more specifically used to drink Genever in true Dutch fashion which is place the glass on the bar and fill all the way to the rim with ice-cold genever, then lean over and (without hands) take a long (often loud) sip off the top.

Alright guys you are now fully educated in the art of the cocktail and now you know how to use the right glass too!

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