As the days get shorter and colder, we trade our Hawaiian shirts for sweaters and our light spirits for dark. Spiced rum is a wonderful way to warm up your cocktails during the autumn and winter. But what is spiced rum? In short, it’s (usually) an aged rum that’s been flavoured.
Modern versions of rum have been around since the 17th century, with accounts of “secret blend rums” in Jamaica flavoured with fruit, herbs and spices being served in Port Royal taverns. When spirits age in oak barrels, the wood commonly imparts rich flavours of vanilla and caramel, but beyond this you’ll find spice notes of allspice, nutmeg and clove, among others. Depending how the barrels are treated, you may also find toasted nut and stone fruit notes atop the woody oak blanket. “Spicing” with these components seems a natural evolution to further enhance the flavours that rum already presents us with.
Fizzy and spicy, it’s the best base for summer’s most refreshing patio cocktails
With the longer days and hotter weather just around the corner, let’s get a helping hand from nature. We’ll be creating something with some heat, a little bit sweet and bright as the summer: a ginger bug!
A ginger bug isn’t really a bug at all, but a naturally fermented ginger mixture with some sugar, water and a little time and care. For generations, naturally fermented soft drinks have been used as health tonics and as refreshments for everyone from laymen to royalty. Traditional ginger beer and ale used to be produced with the help of a ginger bug, and contained natural medicinal properties to ease cold symptoms and nausea (I’m sure we’ve all heard someone swear by sipping ginger ale for an upset stomach.)
Now that we’re all spending so much more time at home, this is a good opportunity to brush up on our home-bartending skills. That means learning at least a few recipes to serve to the people in your bubble and, eventually, all the many friends you’re making on Zoom.
The most important drink you should know how to make is the one you like best. That’s also the best advice for stocking your liquor cabinet, though for your sake I hope it’s something simple, like a highball, rather than, say, a Ramos Gin Fizz, which requires egg whites, orange blossom water and a seltzer bottle, among other things.
After that, it’s best to start with classics. They are, after all, classics for a reason—they taste good, and they work—but they are also a good place to start experimenting if you want to get creative. Here are five drinks every home bartender should have in their repertoire.
Even before we found ourselves hunkering down at home trying to flatten the curve of a global pandemic, home bartending was already a growing trend. Once COVID-19 hit, though, we were all living in a world of cocktail kits and mixology livestreams and tutorials on how to arrange your bar cart.
Add a personalized twist to your favourite cocktails with this aromatized, fortified wine
Let’s talk about the often-misunderstood aperitif vermouth. What is it? Where does it come from?
Vermouth is fortified wine with herbs, roots, spices and sometimes sugar added. There are a handful of different styles to choose from: the most common offerings are sweet red, traditionally from Italy; and dry white wormwood-infused from France. The word vermouth is the French pronunciation for “wermut,” which is German for wormwood, the mystical herb that gives absinthe its reputation and provides the distinctive dry, bitter note found in vermouth.
10 things not to do at home—or anywhere, according to CocktailSafe’s Camper English
The Roof is on Fire! That was the name of a dangerous-drinks seminar that San Francisco writer Camper English (of alcademics.com fame) and Bittermens co-founder Avery Glasser gave in 2016 at Tales of the Cocktail. Their warnings on potentially dangerous bartending ingredients, equipment and techniques were so eye-opening, English later nabbed a grant to develop cocktailsafe.org, a geekily helpful website packed with deeply researched information and resources.
“Bartenders on Facebook were chatting a lot about potentially dangerous drinks … and I thought it would be useful to put all this information, and a lot more, in one place as a reference to bartenders everywhere,” he says.
Here are his top 10 red flags for home mixologists—and pros, too.