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How do you select just the right alcoholic spirit for a party or social event? Browsing the shelves of one’s local liquor provider can be an overwhelming experience of bright labelling, angular glassware and hard-to-pronounce brand names. Luckily, finding a suitable alcohol can be a simple affair. Here a few handy pointers to keep in mind the next time you find yourself shopping for spirits.
Much like kids on a school yard, there are alcoholic spirits that mix well with others, and some that are best all on their own. Tequila, whiskey and vodka are popular bases for cocktails. You can add a variety of ‘mixers,’ or non-alcoholic liquids, to these classic standards for a very tasty drink. Whiskey comes in a variety of forms, including malt, grain, and blended. However, whatever form it takes, quality whiskey requires time to distill; when purchasing whiskey, read the label and find out how much time has been spent on the distillation process. Those that have been distilled longer taste better.
Vodka, which is a wonderful base alcohol, especially for a variety of flavoured martinis, can find itself paired with all sorts of other beverages. Much like tequila, vodka is often consumed in a ‘shot’ format—meaning purely on its own, with no mixers. The best vodka utilizes a process of filtering, and usually hails from either Russia or Poland. When purchasing vodka, make sure that it emphasizes the filtration process; unfiltered vodka is very rough on the kidneys.
Tequila is often used to add a certain “punch” or “kick” to other cocktails, including margaritas and martinis. The tequila that you want to drink comes from a centralized region in Mexico; be wary of tequilas that claim other provinces. There are several varieties of tequila: white, gold, vintage, and extra vintage. The individual varieties of tequila are all good in terms of quality; ultimately, you will have to determine your preference by sampling each one.
There are other alcoholic spirits, such as dessert-related drinks and port wine, whose quality tends to be fairly consistent. These drinks are best when drunk on their own.
Remember, the general rule of shopping applies to alcoholic spirits: you get what you pay for. This doesn’t mean you have to spend your life savings for a fun night out, but if you trim your alcoholic spirits budget too tightly, you’ll end up paying the full price in other ways.