Fifteen Basic, Practical Things Most People Don’t Know about Drinks

1• A martini should contain gin, not vodka, and for a garnish you’ll probably find a lemon twist tastes better than an olive.

2• (Meaning yes, James Bond is wrong to ask for his martinis shaken.)

3• Fancy cocktail bars use such big ice cubes because it melts slower, thanks to a smaller surface­-to-­volume ratio. (That being said, there’s certainly evidence that this nugget of scientific wisdom, common among bartenders, is exaggerated.) 

4• Sherry, vermouth, port and madeira are all varieties of wine. When opened, you keep them in the fridge to preserve flavour. (That crusty old vermouth bottle on your bar? It’s stale. Pitch it.)

9780143111269[Cough] You’ll learn all of these things and more in my book, Drinks: A User’s Guide

5• Absinthe is once again legal in most countries. You can go buy absinthe right now. Yes, the “real” absinthe. But don’t expect it to make you hallucinate: that’s a myth.

6• Whisky is grain alcohol, aged in oak. That’s pretty much it.

7• Scotch, rye and bourbon are all just varieties of whisky.

8• People think vodka is distilled from potatoes, but the vast majority actually comes from grain, just like whisky (and gin). 

9• Do you drink vodka over other spirits because you think it has fewer calories? Wrong. It has the same amount as rum, gin, whisky and tequila.

10• Connoisseurs of sake usually prefer to drink the good ones chilled, not warm.

11• The best way to choose a wine at a restaurant? Simple. Ask the sommelier. You don’t have to pretend you know everything. No one does. 

12• When opening Champagne, don’t pop the cork. Hold the cork, turn the bottle.

13• Bottle service is for chumps.  They charge you an arm and a leg for ordinary spirits (yes, Grey Goose is ordinary) and make you prepare them yourself with boring mixers, like cola that’s rapidly warming and going flat. They don’t even give you the tools you need to make a decent cocktail. There you are, drinking vodka and orange juice like a college kid at a house party. How does anyone think this is a premium experience?

14• People say things like “tequila makes me crazy but whisky makes me tired.” Well, no: Ethanol is ethanol so different spirits do not get you drunk in different ways … 

15• … but they sure can make you hung over in different ways

Buy Drinks: A User’s Guide from Amazon Canada, Amazon USA, Indigo Chapters, Barnes and Noble, McNally Robinson, Amazon UK

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