For those who drink spirits, they should know how to appreciate a spirit in its naked form, not just as something to be mixed with juices, fizzy, or with a wedge of fruit stuck in it. Not that cocktails don’t still have their place, but because drinking straight spirits helps when one is aiming for an extra level of sophistication.
Here are some tips from professional bar tenders
•Start with a classic drink that is very fruity and easy-going. It is so good for people who think whisky can be overpowering.
•Do not use heavy tumbler, use a tulip-shaped glass, because the shape focuses the smells.
•Ice will be refreshing, but if you cool it the flavours start to depreciate. A little water will open up the flavours.
•Bourbons tend to be a bit sweeter than Scotch, which is in part because of the grain that’s going into it, and the oak used in the barrels. You get a lot of those sugary, vanilla flavours coming out – maybe toffee and coconut. Try one which is premium-ish.
•Stick with all the same rules as for whisky.
Over ice? No, you won’t be able to taste the full flavours.
•Vodkas are all different and have different characters. The raw material used will determine this to a huge extent. Wheat vodkas tend to be smooth with anise and hints of pepper; potato vodkas are more buttery; rye vodkas deliver nutty, spice and sweet notes; grape vodkas are much more citrusy.
Over ice? Serve it chilled or with one big cube of ice.
•Try it in a chilled shot glass.
•Over time, try to enjoy vodka at room temperature. A chaser helps, too, such as a small shot of champagne.
There are three classifications of tequila. If you like gin or vodka, try a one which is un-aged. If you like whisky, try one which is aged for up to a year. If you pick a highland tequila they’ll be more floral; lowland ones will be more vegetal.
Use a small globe-shaped glass.
Over ice? Nothing, except maybe some lime.
•A dry gin is probably going to be a bit too sharp for a beginner, so start with something smooth and floral.
•A neat gin is basically a martini, so stir with ice and then pour off.
•A martini goes in a martini glass, of course.
•There are more gins being made using low-pressure distillation, which distils at a lower temperature so you can use flavours that wouldn’t survive the traditional process.
Start with brands that are easy-going, spiced, well-balanced, lighter styles.
•If you like it on the rocks make sure it’s good quality ice. Most bars will serve it on an ice ball or chunk of crystal clear ice.
•If tasting, use a tasting glass, otherwise use a tumbler.
•Light rums tend to be drier, with grassy notes and vanilla. Darker rums have spice, fruit, cacao and woody notes.