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Part of knowing how to being a gentleman involves knowing your way around a bar. You may not particularly care about what you're drinking, but it's always a useful fall-back conversation topic. On the other hand, if you're looking to try some of the finer things in life, you could do worse than give a single-malt whisky or a finely aged cognac a shot! Here's a quick-and-concise guide to the most popular liquors in the world.
A timeless classic, this liquor is basically made with a variation of malt and grains. There are several different types of whiskies, but the most basic ones are blended malt, single malt and blended (malt and grain). There are also several sub-types, the most famous of these is Scotch, which is a blended whisky made in Scotland.
Other than Scotland (the sentimental and de facto home of whisky), some interesting variations of whisky are made in places like the USA, Ireland, and even Japan. Variations like rye and bourbon whiskies are also very popular among enthusiasts.
Typically, whisky should be served in a whisky tumbler and enjoyed neat or on the rocks. Bourbons like Jack Daniels can be mixed with colas for those looking for an entry-level whisky cocktail.
This distilled drink is a Russian favorite, and is now produced in several countries around the globe. Vodka is traditionally made from potatoes, grains or molasses.
Although neat vodka is preferred by purists, variations like the Bloody Mary, Screwdriver, Black Russian and simple vodka tonic are also party favorites. Ultra-premium vodka is the latest fad, with brands like Grey Goose, Level, Ketel One, and several others each claiming to have the purest spirit and smoothest taste.
This distilled beverage is made from molasses or sugarcane juice by fermentation. Most of the world’s rum comes from the Caribbean and South America. There are different types of rum: light rum, dark rum and gold rum, which is somewhere in between.
While drinks like grog and bumbo are age-old variations of rum from the days in which it was the beverage of choice for sailors, popular modern cocktails like the Cuba Libre and Daiquiri are also made from it. Rum is also the liquor used when making the ultimate summer beverages, mojitos.
This Mexican drink has been around since the 16th century. It’s made from blue agave, which is a plant that produces high amounts of fructose. Although there are several international tequila brands, the best tequila is exclusively made in and around the city of Tequila in Mexico.
There are five types of tequilas: Blanco, Joven, Reposado, Añejo and Extra Añejo. While tequila shots are very popular, so are flavored margaritas, which have tequila as a base.
This distilled drink is made from grapes and it’s considered to be the king of liquors. There are different grades of cognac such as, VS (Very Special), VSOP (Very Special Old Pale) and XO (Extra Old). This delicious liquor hails from the Cognac region in southwestern France.
Cognac is best enjoyed neat, or with a few ice cubes in the summertime. The lower tiers of the beverage (like the VS or VSOP) can also be mixed with colas or used in cocktails.
Made from juniper berries, gin is either of the distilled variety or made by adding flavors to neutral spirits. There are several different variations of gin, but London dry gin is the most popular.
Gin is one of the most challenging spirits for bartenders to work with because it actually has a unique taste, unlike vodka or generic rum. And the taste varies depending on the brand. The Gin and tonic, Tom Collins and Martini are some popular gin drinks, and Hendrick's is a niche gin brand that is best enjoyed with a slice of cucumber.
-Picture courtesy Thinkstock-
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