The Spirit World

I’ve always been pretty crafty around a bar, many times out of necessity because I didn’t have either enough alcohol for an event or possess all the right mixers. I’ve always thought it was important to be a good home bartender to serve and impress guests, and I’ve always tried to maintain a reasonably stocked bar. I’m always a bit chagrin when an expensive bottle of liquor start looking empty.

Always on the endeavor to learn more about the craft of cocktail mixing, I recently had the opportunity to take a class about three typical spirits; gin, whiskey, and rum. I had no idea how any of them were actually constructed and It was quite enlightening to learn about the distilling process for each. Secondly, I never gave any thought to pairings for liquors; food and liquid. The class was quite fascinating.

So my take-aways were:

  1. You can do a lot with gin. Tanqueray 10 is a delicious, light gin that has many qualities of vodka. It is known as the perfect martini gin.
  2. Whisky blending is an art. There are so many subtle flavors and ingredients that contribute to the taste os a whisky. I worked with a group that tried to recreate a flavor and it was nearly impossible.
  3. Rum is a versatile liquor, but it sneaks up on you and has a lot of sugar in it.

The craft of blending is really challenging.

Blending whisky flavors
Blending whisky flavors

We have a great resource in Austin for well manufactured bar equipment.

The Austin Shaker card
Great place for high-end bar service tools

We had to craft a cocktail with Tanqueray 10 and we muddled a pair, added some bitters and made a martini. It was quite delicious, but I can’t remember a thing about making it!

man standing
Mixing and muddling

This is a fantastic addition to a citrus inspired cocktail.

Bittermans bottle
Hopped Grapefruit was delicious

Finally, I now know what these bottles mean, regarding flavor.

picture of bottles
Flavors of Johnny

Scott Ballew, a long-time Austin resident who now lives in Texas' Rio Grande Valley. Scott works in publishing and his personal life is focused on supporting arts and charitable fundraising.