There are any number of ways to enjoy spirits – neat, with a dash of mixer, with juice, with syrups, in a cocktail, even in flames for the brave among us. Whichever way you intend on enjoying them, one thing is for sure, there are a couple of ways to make the most of spirits and to truly find what you like and move past just being a ‘vodka drinker’.
By Alexx Stuart www.luxurytastings.com
1. Drink in a good bar.
There are a few ways you can tell if it’s a good bar – and by good bar I mean a few things. It’s where the willingness from the bartenders to show you a fantastic time, the selection of drinks and the execution of drinks all come together to create a delicious night out. You can have the best drinks list in the world, but if the bartenders are egomaniacal show ponies who either don’t talk to you or talk down to you, you won’t have much of a good time. My picks in Sydney at the moment are The Bar at the End of the Wharf, The Fish Shop which has replaced the old Lotus site, The Baxter, The Victoria Room still going strong and lastly BarH if you want sublime mod Asian food while you drink! Those should keep you busy, and tell them all I sent you!
2. Be guided by your bartender.
Vodka doesn’t take like much and in many respects that’s probably why it’s so popular. It takes time and perseverance (poor us!) to develop an appreciation for the subtle flavours in spirits more complex than vodka, so we often stop there. Don’t. Put yourself in capable hands and go on a taste exploration.
3. Start with cocktails to get into new spirits and flavours.
If you go from drinking sweet lychee martinis straight to neat aged tequila, you will be bewildered, terrified and shell shocked. Turn around and go bar. Your bartender will guide you around styles of drinks, ways you like to drink your drink (ie short tall or in a martini glass) and then discuss fruits, citrus flavours, herbs and other various drink characters to get them to a point of being able to suggest the perfect thing from their list.
4. Go to tastings.
Being in the company of an expert while discovering new flavours helps you understand the process that the raw materials undergo to then become what it is you’re tasting. This will definitely get you a step closer to appreciation & I highly recommend!
5. Keep a drinks journal.
A little geeky, yes but in an awesome way don’t you think? By keeping a journal and reflecting on what you’ve tasted and what you loved and didn’t, you build a taste memory really quickly and you shall find it easier and easier to choose from drinks lists as you go on.
And finally, 3 drinks for you to try if you’re still reading this thinking “no one will ever convince me to drink something other than vodka. ever”:
“The Parlez-vous français” cocktail at the Victoria Room. Amazing, delicate, fresh and by a fabulously talented bartender, Jess Arnott.
“The Celestial” at the Fish shop, Potts Point. Rather excited that a drink I created back in 2005, winning the Plymouth Gin competition, is still around, despite the Lotus Bar being knocked down. You’ll love the new space – it’s like stepping into a Barbados Rum shack. The drink is fresh, zesty and a little oriental. Enjoy!
“The Gin Chi” at BarH, Surry Hills. An awesome pre dinner drink full of fresh Asian inspired flavours and will definitely convince you that gin is for good times, not depression as the myth suggests.
Enjoy exploring & please let me know about your favourite non vodka drinks around town – I’d love to check them out!