Drinking Advice

September 11, 2013

Simple Home Bar Liquor Substitutions

bottles.pngWhen you're making cocktails at home, one of the most disappointing things is to find a recipe you really want to make, and then finding out you don't have all the ingredients. We know your pain - in the Before Time, in the Long Long Ago, before we had a home bar big enough to punch a hole in even David Hasselhoff's liver, we often ran into the same problem. One of the most important parts of becoming a confident home bartender is knowing when to give up and make something else, or if it's possible to substitute for another ingredient.

Luckily, Michael Dietsch of A Dash of Bitters has put together a really nice liquor substitution guide for those cursed with a low-stocked bar at Serious Eats.

Below is an excerpt from his Substitution Cheat Sheet for liqueurs (with a scant few of our own additions) and he offers some great base liquor substitutions as well:

If you don't have maraschino, try:
triple sec, other cherry liqueurs, a floral liqueur such as St.-Germain, a spicy liqueur such as a ginger liqueur.

If you don't have sweet vermouth, try:
Port, sweet Madeira

If you don't have dry vermouth, try:
dry sherry, Lillet Blanc, Cocchi Americano (or another Amaro)

If you don't have triple sec, try:
maraschino, cherry liqueur, pomegranate liqueur, a floral liqueur such as St.-Germain or St. Elder, a spicy liqueur such as Ginger Liqueur

If you don't have Chartreuse, try:
Pastis, Benedictine, Galliano, Strega

We actually did something like this recently when we were making a Satan's Circus but couldn't get our hands on Cherry Heering - we swapped in Cointreau and it still made for a delightful cocktail. Be adventurous in your swapping - you might discover a new flavor you like even more!

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December 5, 2012

PAMA Poinsettias and Preparing for the Holidays

Welcome to the fourth entry in a series of Liquor Snob posts in partnership with PAMA pomegranate liqueur. If you like this one, check out our first, second and third posts.

The holidays are approaching fast, and if you plan to entertain or attend some parties, it's crucial to have a few tricks up your sleeve for food and cocktails. PAMA, with its ruby red color and cocktail-modifying versatility, is a good tool to have in your kit for making holiday-themed drinks. One quick, easy and delicious option is the PAMA Poinsettia, pictured above:

PAMA Pomegranate Poinsettia (Recipe and Image via BarNoneDrinks)

1 oz. Pama Pomegranate Liqueur
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. Orange Juice
3 oz. Champagne

Mix first three liquids in a tumbler with ice. Slowly add champagne stirring gently. Rim a flute glass with orange zest. Strain into the champagne flute.

To make your life even easier if you're planning to make more than a few, you can pre-mix the first three ingredients and store the mixture in the fridge or display it on ice for your party. Then it's just a quick three ounce pour topped with champagne when your guests start to clamor for more. The PAMA Poinsettia is a holiday classic with a new twist - so what other tricks does this versatile liqueur have up its sleeve for the holidays?

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July 26, 2012

What Your Cocktail Says About You

what_your_cocktail_says.jpgWhat you're drinking tells people a lot about how you're feeling at that particular moment. See College Humor's synthesis of what your drink means at IMGUR.

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July 25, 2012

7 Drinks to Avoid This Summer

Whether you're trying to maintain your bikini weight and still have some fun, or just looking to stay healthy this summer, we found some good drinking advice from Gizmodo's Happy Hour series.

They've outlined what they call the Seven Deadliest Drinks, and while there were a couple no-brainers on their list like Moonshine (the bootleg stuff - can you say potential lead poisoning?) and "Malternative" beverages (a breeding ground of artificial sweeteners, gross chemicals and general douchiness). But there were a few that came as a surprise even to us.

Check out the full list at Gizmodo's Seven Deadliest Drinks.

(image via Jokeroo)

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July 9, 2012

Bar Etiquette to Drink By

Let me paint a word picture for you. The other night, I was working behind the bar and I had two things occur within about 5 minutes of each other.

One - I had someone come in and order three Yeunglings in a bar that's an approximately seven hours from the Yeungling brewery, in a state in which no bar has ever carried Yeungling ever. A few minutes later, someone ordered an Old Fashioned - one of my favorite cocktails in the world but which takes a goodly amount of time to make - while there were approximately one millionty people waiting for me to pour them a beer. And let me just say - this was a Tuesday.

Not to get all The Bartender Hates You on you, but people should probably read this article.

10 rules to drink by: Good etiquette in any bar

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October 10, 2011

7 Reasons to Allow Booze in the Office

office_drinking.jpgWe've always been a fan of drinking in the workplace. We're not talking shameful hidden drinking, or sneaking a beer during lunch - we're talking having a full-blown social pop on occasion without going out to a bar. It doesn't often happen, but when it does - responsibly of course - there can be some real benefits to allowing the old social lubricant to grease its way into the workplace.

KegWorks put together a nice little list of seven reasons why you should be able booze in the office:

Here are 7 Reasons Drinking at Work is a Good Thing: Feel free to send them to your boss)

1. It's relatively low cost (as far as benefits go) but it's a perk your employees will really enjoy and appreciate. They're sure to go around boasting about how incredible their company is and that's really valuable PR.

2. It reduces stress - when you know there's a cold one waiting for you at the end of a taxing meeting, the meeting doesn't seem so impossible anymore.

3. It encourages socializing and team building - some people open up more with a beer in their hand than they ever do around the coffee pot. Creating a corporate culture where people feel relaxed is a beautiful thing.

See the rest of the list at the KegWorks blog.

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October 7, 2011

Backpacking With Booze

winebag.jpgWe've spent a goodly amount of our Liquor Snob career discussing how to bring liquor to places most people wouldn't think of. From the Beer Belly (and the Wine Rack) to the Bootlegger, we've smuggled more booze than Canada during Prohibition.

That's why we love this article at Mother Nature Network about how to bring drinks when you go backpacking. Nobody wants to lug glass bottles or coolers around when they're hitting the trail, but there are alternatives. Our favorite was buying a box of wine and just taking the wine pouch out of the box...we've done that before, but we never though of inflating the bag afterward to use as a pillow.

at MNN

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December 2, 2010

Squirrel Teaches You How to Party - Responsibly That Is

psu_party_squirrel.jpgWhen we think "learning how to drink responsibly," we always think of squirrels - because hey, have you ever seen a squirrel passed out on a frat house couch with a hitler mustache and a "dick here" arrow pointing to his mouth? No. We can unequivocally say you haven't - until Rule 34 kicks in anyway.

The folks at Penn State definitely know the connection between rodents and responsible drinking, because they made a whole flash movie about it. Watch it at the Penn State Student Affairs Website - make sure you pay special attention if your 21st birthday is coming up.

(Thanks Jen and Mike)

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November 5, 2010

The Social Media Sobriety Test

facebook_sobriety_test.jpgSocial websites can be pretty great, but they can also be a two-edged sword. For every time we've heard about long-lost friends reconnecting through Facebook, we've heard 10 horror stories about people getting on them while in their cups, and saying things they shouldn't. They call liquor a "social lubricant," but there are some times when you should leave your Facebook posts...unlubricated. OK, that came out weird, but you know what we mean.

Rick over at CocktailGoGo let us know about a great tool called the Social Media Sobriety Test, and we've got some friends that should be forced to say the alphabet backward, skipping all the vowels, and giving the sign language for each one before they're allowed on Facebook after 10 PM. This doesn't go quite that far, but it could help you avoid some embarrassing posts...

If you access your computer during the witching hours, it makes you do a simple sobriety test such as use the mouse to make a straight line, follow the finger, or type the alphabet backwards. The last one being something I couldn't do completely sober, but might be a lot more fun if I tried it drunk.

Now, you can make sure you don't post that picture of you in a tankini doing a kegstand while a 9 year old holds your legs up.

More at Social Media Sobriety Test.

[image via dula.tv]

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November 3, 2010

Liquor Snob Holiday Shopping Guide 2010

drunk_father_xmas.jpgYes, we know Halloween is just barely past our rear bumper, and Thanksgiving has yet to come. But it's never too early to start thinking about what you're going to get the nice (and naughty) people in your life this holiday season. Or, if you're like us, just start making your own Xmas wishlist and fantasizing about what you'll see under the tree this year.

Also, after the jump you'll find everything we could think of that's gift-related we covered in 2010, plus some additional ideas we've seen around the Interwebs. Don't say we never got you anything!

If we had to say we were excited about anything in particular, it's got to be books. Yes, we're nerds, but this year we found some 10 powerful portable primers packed with principles pertaining to potent potables.

Our 10 Spirits & Cocktail books of the year:

[Image via TheLastPogo]

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October 21, 2010

Wild Turkey Thanksgiving Survival Kit

wild_turkey_thanksgiving.jpgWell, we know Halloween hasn't even come and gone yet, but it's never too early to start thinking about the next holiday. Especially when that holiday involves time off from work, gorging yourself mercilessly, seeing friends and family, and hopefully, drinking some delicious whiskey.

This might seem like a crazy stretch to you, but Wild Turkey has declared itself the "Official Bourbon of Thanksgiving." Wait for it...OK, you're seeing the connection now. As we told their representative, we already wrote our magnum opus connecting the two way back in 2005 - Make Thanksgiving Wild Turkey Day. Not to be outdone, they fired back with some thoughts of their own.

So, without further ado, advice from Wild Turkey on what to bring (and what to know) in order to survive Thanksgiving (with some slight tweaks from us):

  • A bottle of Wild Turkey 101-- The night before Thanksgiving is a big night to see old friends, and there's no better way to show them you care than by responsibly sharing a bottle of good bourbon
  • Earplugs -- Unless you want to be woken at 6am on Thanksgiving morning by the general hustle and bustle, you might want some of these.

  • Antacid -- Thanksgiving is a great time to push the limits of human consumption. It's a bad time to feel like you're dealing with the Chest Burster from Alien.

  • Pocket-sized head bandage -- Tell your crazy ex that, "ever since the accident I don't recall faces well."

  • Breath mints -- In case of not-so-crazy or potential ex.

  • Cab fare -- Because you're old enough to be responsible.

  • Flowers and a necktie -- Because you still need to make it up to Mom for last year.

  • Another bottle of Wild Turkey 101 for your host--This is the difference between sitting with your cool cousins and being forced to work the turkey carving station. Plus, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, they'll have to share.

  • Can of cranberry sauce -- Welcome to supply-side economics.

  • Blacklist of conversation topics -- Do the legwork in advance to make sure you don't ask "Where's Ricky?" if the answer is "still in jail."

  • Remember two things: Drink responsibly, and it's not Thanksgiving without the Turkey.

And, since it's our site, we'll give you the high points from our original article:
  • Take a few nips before you get to the table. You'd be surprised how many places you can find in your parents' house to sneak a drink. Hell, your mom's been doing it for years.

  • Wild Turkey is a gentleman's drink. Don't forget to share with grandma. Alternately, you can share with any "available" friends your siblings may have brought home for the holiday (21 and older only, please). In a pinch, attractive cousins at least twice-removed are acceptable - they're called "kissing cousins" for a reason.

  • Bring your bottle to the table. There's no reason to interrupt your Turkey consumption while people are stuffing themselves with bird. If your family doesn't approve, put it in a gravy boat and tell everyone it's vegetarian dipping sauce...it'll be all yours.

  • Swish the bourbon in your mouth during and between bites. This is a way to try to rehydrate the dry, overcooked turkey, if necessary. It will most likely be necessary.

  • Try to pass out right after dinner. This works well with the 101 proof variety. If you play your cards right, you'll be off in tryptophan and bourbon-induced slumber behind a potted plant well before your uncles start unbuttoning their pants to make room for seconds.

We figure between the two sets of advice, you'll end up in your family's good graces...or in jail. Happy Thanksgiving - it's only a month away!

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October 13, 2010

What Makes a Good Bartender?

ted_lange.jpgThis just in - we've spent a good amount of time sitting at a bar, but it's not until fairly recently that we really thought about what makes a good bartender. Is it most important to be able to dream up and build perfect cocktails - y'know, the ones that take 2 eye droppers, a tube of liquid nitrogen and a paint mixer to make? Or is it more important to be able to connect with your customer, remember his favorite beer, and make easy conversation while you're pulling it?

It obviously depends on the atmosphere and other factors in the bar, but the truly excellent bartender should be able to do both, right? Just in time for this kind of soul searching we're involved in, Gary Regan has put together a great article about "young" folks behind the bar, to give the whippersnappers some schooling on everything from building drinks to charm and poise. Cheers, Gary!

Although the core chore of the bartender - to make people happy, welcome and cared for - will never vary, over the past decade the mixology side of the craft has changed completely...Not all drinks being served in today's cocktail lounges, though, deserve space in a chilled glass. I hate to be the one who says this, but I'm betting you've seen it coming. The cocktailian craft has been grossly mishandled of late, and it's time to rein in a few newcomers to the craft who seem to have missed the point.
Read the full article at SFGate

(image via DrinkBoston - along with some good advice about being a bartender)

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September 7, 2010

Cold Remedy Cocktails (Or: How to Make Being Sick not Suck)

theraflu-beer.jpgSomewhere along the way during an extra-long weekend, we've gotten a cold. And it's not one of your piddly little nasal dribbles with a touch of malaise either. This is a full-on, four alarm, holy o'shit Captain Trips supercold.

Or, maybe it's just our first one of the season and we have no perspective. Either way, we've rounded up the best cold remedy cocktail recipes Google could find, so you don't have to go through what we're dealing with right now.

Check 'em out after the jump.

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May 5, 2010

10 Flaming Cocktail Recipes

flamebottle.jpgOne of our friends just sent along this cool article about 10 great drinks you can light on fire, and we've had some excellent times drinking Flaming Dr. Peppers and other flamey drinks over the years. We do have one word of advice for all you would-be drink flamers: by the time it seems like a good idea to be lighting your drinks on fire, you're probably drunk enough that you shouldn't be lighting ANYTHING on fire. Please let a bartender, a sober friend, or just about anybody but your bleary ass put the actual flame to the actual alcohol. Trust us on this one - otherwise you stand a good chance of becoming a:

Flaming Asshole (from Super Cocktails)
¼ Grenadine
¼ Green Crème de Menthe
¼ Crème de Banana
¼ 151 rum

This one is as bizarre as some of the most out-there drinks. Layer in a shot glass in this order: Grenadine, Crème de Menthe, Crème de Banana, Rum. Light the rum and then suck it down with a straw.

See all 10 flaming drinks at Matador. (Thanks for the link, Sarah)

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