While most people have a go-to drink, there’s no shame in branching out.
In fact, with the huge variety in spirits out there, you’re actually limiting yourself by sticking to one particular order!
Figuring out where to start when experimenting with a new spirit shouldn’t be daunting! Luckily, we’re here to help.
Here’s a quick crash-course in the most common spirits, and how to enjoy them without looking like a dummy. After you finish reading this, you’ll be out there ordering drinks like you’ve been doing it for years!
Let’s start with some definitions…
Before you step up to the bar and start ordering spirits, you’ll need to learn the lingo first.
Just like with wine, there’s an entire dictionary of terms that come with ordering and enjoying spirits.
Let’s start with how they’re ordered:
- Neat: the spirit is poured straight from the bottle into the glass
- Straight up: shaken or stirred with ice, but served without ice
- On the rocks: served with ice
- Mist: straight alcohol, poured over crushed ice and served
And if you find yourself in conversation with a self-professed liquor connoisseur, it’s crucial you know about proofing.
This is the old way of measuring alcohol content. While most brands nowadays use a straightforward alcohol percentage, some (mostly American ones) stick to this older measurement.
Luckily, it’s pretty easy to work out – just double the alcohol percentage and you have your proof!
How to drink vodka
Coming from the Slavic word voda (which means “water”), vodka is the world’s second most popular spirit.
Made from potatoes, rye and wheat, vodka is colourless and has a weaker flavour than other liquors. This makes for a very mixer-friendly drink – probably the reason it’s a staple of so many cocktails!
A good way to show off to your friends is to make a big deal about drinking your vodka the traditional Russian way: straight, chilled and always after a toast.
Why chilled? That’s because while vodka can be drunk at room temperature, chilling brings out the taste in more flavourful varieties.
If you’re drinking it neat however, pay particular attention to the texture. Since most varieties have a weaker taste, the focus when drinking vodka is on how smooth it is when it goes down.
How to drink whisky
With a history dating back 4000 years, there are plenty of different varieties of whisky out there.
What they all share is the base ingredient (grains – usually corn, wheat, rye, barley or sorghum) and the emphasis on flavour.
When drinking whisky, you’ll want to hold it in your mouth for a few seconds. Sitting through the burn can sting, but after a couple of seconds, it should subside. This leaves the inherent flavours to come to the forefront.
Breathe in through your nose while enjoying the whisky to enjoy an extra burst of flavour as the vapours come up your olfactory.
One thing you’ll want to avoid is swishing the glass and taking a big inhale like you would with wine. Whisky is much stronger, and can overpower your nose and olfactory, hampering your enjoyment of the flavours.
How to drink gin
Just like whisky, there are countless varieties of gin.
The one thing they have in common? The juniper flavour. While the strength of this flavour and other infusions varies, as long as juniper is the dominant one, it’s a gin.
And with so many different varieties of gin out there, there are a host of different tastes and smells. This makes gin a popular drink to have either neat or straight-up.
When ordering mixed drinks, we recommend sticking to weaker mixers (which is probably why gin and tonic is such a popular choice).
Another good alternative.is soda water, as it won’t overpower the gin.
How to drink brandy
Made from distilled wine, brandy is a popular after-dinner palate cleanser – as such, it’s no wonder that it’s the stereotypical drink of the ultra-rich.
When drinking brandy, you’ll need to read up on the different aging systems first. SInce brandy comes from wine, it’s processed in a slow and gentle manner using oak barrels.
And just like wine, there are several different vintages to keep track of:
- VS (Very Special) – aged for 2 years
- VSOP (Very Special Old Pale) – aged between 4.5 to 6 years
- XO (Extra Old) – over 6 years
The vintage directly affects how you should be drinking your brandy. As a general rule, older vintages should be savoured on their own for the best experience.
One important thing to consider when drinking brandy is how you hold the glass.
Unlike other spirits, it’s actually encouraged to warm the brand up with your hands, as this enhances the flavour and aroma.
Lift your spirits! Buy spirits online from I Like Wine
So, there you have it.
Hopefully, this crash course in the most common spirits will give you the tools you need to hold your own in a conversation about spirits and not embarrass yourself in the process!
While wine might be in our name, by no means is that the only drink we have in our catalogue.
Our online store includes all types of alcohol, making it the perfect starting point to buy spirits online.
We combine the convenience of online shopping with fast delivery, shipping straight to your door.
Whether you’re a spirits newbie stocking up for an upcoming party or a connoisseur adding to your bar cart, you’re sure to find something that tickles your fancy here!