Ordering a drink while on a date can be stressful. On one of our first dates, Ryan asked me what I wanted and I replied with my usual “vodka soda”, completely unprepared for his second question: “what kind of vodka do you like?” I glanced quickly at the shelf in front of me. “Kettle?” was my hesitant response. Who knows what kind of vodka they like, they are all the same right? I quickly learned this was not the case after we proceeded to have an impromptu vodka tasting.
The more I learn about the ingredients and techniques for making cocktails, the more my palate grows and the more I enjoy them. There are a few pieces of advice I would give when trying to get out of your comfort zone.
Graduate from the Well: If you don’t specify your liquor, you will get the cheapest. While sometimes this may actually be your intention, spending even a tiny bit more on quality liquor is well worth the splurge. Not only will your hangover be reduced with higher quality ingredients, but your drinks will be taken to a whole new level.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings: You would not order Yellowtail Sashimi from an Italian restaurant and you would not order Chicken Parmesan while out for sushi. Similar theories apply at the bar. I once ordered a Bees Knees (gin, honey and lemon) while at a whiskey dive bar. Instead of a shaken, balanced cocktail, I ended up with a glass of gin, a layer of honey at the bottom and a wedge of lemon. What is the bar known for and what are they best at?
Ask Questions: Today’s craft cocktail menus can be intimidating. Ingredients like pamplemousse rose or crème de cassis can be foreign and confusing. Don’t hesitate to ask what they are. If an unfamiliar ingredient tastes like grapefruit or black currant, your drink can turn out wildly different than you imagined. A good bartender will take the time to describe the ingredients and flavors.
Get to Know the Classics: Many of today’s artisan cocktails are a twist or variation of the classics. Learning what these are, and which of them you like will improve the likelihood of you selecting a drink you will enjoy. This foundation will help guide you towards more adventurous flavors and experiences! You can brush up on some of the classics here.