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© Dog 'n' Bone Books 2014

HOW TO

DRINK

AND NOT LOOK LIKE AN

IDIOT E M I LY M I L E S


© Dog 'n' Bone Books 2014

“When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.” HENRY YOUNGMAN


Š Dog 'n' Bone Books 2014

CONTENTS C H A P T E R

1

Introduction: All in Good Taste 6 C H A P T E R

2

Wine: Your Pass Notes 17 C H A P T E R

3

Beer and a Drop of Cider, Too 41 C H A P T E R

4

Spirits 53 C H A P T E R

5

How to Build Your Home Liquor Cabinet 73 C H A P T E R

6

Cocktail Joints 87 C H A P T E R

7

Pubs and Bars: An Evolution 101 C H A P T E R

8

All-Day Drinking: A Survival Guide 113 C H A P T E R

9

Blowing the Budget (and Keeping Your Cool) 119 Index 126


WINE: YOUR PASS NOTES

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30

Cava is Spain’s take on sparkling wine, and it tends to be lightly fruity, frothy, and less acidic than Champagne. It doesn’t age well, so is a good one to put in the fridge and then enjoy. Italy’s best bubbly is Prosecco, and comes from the northeast of the country. Its production method is slightly different from that of Champagne—the second fermentation to make the bubbles appear takes place in steel tanks, not bottles. On the plus side, this makes it cheaper than Champagne; on the minus, it means that it doesn’t age once in a bottle, so don’t store yours for more than a couple of years before drinking. Look for labels that say “spumante,” as this indicates it’s got a decent level of fizz. And because it’s slightly less alcoholic than Champagne, your head, as well as your wallet, will thank you. HOW TO TASTE WINE OK, so if you’re going to taste wine properly, you should make sure you’re not under the influence—the influence, that is, of freshly brushed teeth, an overdose of Old Spice, or a pack of Marlboro Lights. You will also need some basic equipment: a glass, a corkscrew, and a white surface. Pour yourself a measure of wine (or allow the waiter to do so)—an inch should be enough. Now you need to engage all your senses: first up, you need to judge the appearance. Hold the glass against a white piece of paper or the tablecloth and decide whether the color of the wine is as you would expect. Not just is it “red” or “white,” but is there any


© Dog 'n' Bone Books 2014 When attempting to describe the flavors in wine, just say what you feel. They’re your tastebuds, after all.

HOW TO TASTE WINE

hint of brown in there? Does it look dull or unappealing? This is the first marker of a faulty wine, because if it’s at all oxidized (see below), then the color will have altered slightly. Now you’re ready to get your nose involved. Give the wine a good confident swirl around the glass to release all the aroma molecules—if your coordination is questionable, do this with the glass on the table and use a couple of fingers to rotate its base. Then go in for a short, sharp sniff. If your wine is faulty, chances are you’ve just found out—the clues are smells of mushroom, damp, or anything reminiscent of unwashed sports kit. 31


© Dog 'n' Bone Books 2014

BEER AND A DROP OF CIDER, TOO

“Squirrel beer? Whoever came up with this idea is clearly nuts!”

44

In Scotland, a young, loud-mouthed company called BrewDog—a selfstyled “punk” brewer— set itself the task of re-energizing the UK’s beer market. BrewDog’s first beer—essentially a really tasty lager sold out of the back of a van—quickly got a lot of people’s attention. Everything that came next, from the world’s strongest beer to a bottle housed in a stuffed squirrel, caused international outrage, and a lot of publicity. Underpinning the stunts, though, were a couple of excellent hand-crafted beers, and punters voted with their wallets. BrewDog is now one of Scotland’s most successful enterprises, exporting its beers across the globe, and the owners even have their own TV show in the US. Meanwhile, a plethora of equally inspired (although maybe not so ADHD) companies sprang up, bringing their craft products to the market. Although Britain’s beer has never been entirely dominated by the big boys—independent pubs have always had real ales on their pumps—the difference is that the UK’s craft movement is taking root right in the heart of what should be the mass-market’s consumer base. It’s the young lager drinkers who are demanding more. It’s good for beer and it’s good for business (brewers and pubs alike, as we shall see).


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TIME FOR A BREW So what differentiates a craft brewer from a more commercial operation? It’s not just a question of scale—although in America a craft brewer must produce less than six million barrels of beer per year—but rather a question of quality, tradition, and independence. Proper beer (ale or lager) should contain only four ingredients: malted barley, hops, water, and yeast. In Germany, all beers are governed by the 1516 Reinheitsgebot purity rules, which enforce this, but the commercial operations in other countries aren’t as restricted in what ingredients they are

TIME FOR A BREW

Canned beer Further proof of the slightly irreverent, preconception-shaking nature of craft beer is summed up by its recent move into the canned beer market. Formerly the reserve of the very cheapest lagers and the brands usually favored by hobos and tramps, cans are now the coolest way to drink your beer. Back in 2002, the Colorado-based Oskar Blues brewery decided that the new water-based coating that lined aluminum cans would prevent any kind of tinny taste from entering their beer. The cans also stop light getting to the beer, and are a rock-solid seal against any air creeping into the brew. The craft can market is now massive in the US and a growing force in the UK. Whether you’re in a hip downtown bar or an upmarket burger chain, you can be sure that craft cans will be on the menu.

45


© Dog 'n' Bone Books 2014

COCKTAIL JOINTS

Punches Perhaps the liquid equivalent of a “sharing platter,” punches are back in vogue with a vengeance. In Victorian times, punches usually began with a mulled, spiced wine, but nowadays they can be based on any cocktail made in batches. It’s a great way to order drinks for parties, as there’s no waiting for the next one to be mixed. Shrubs A genre of cocktail creeping back onto the most fashionable menus is the shrub. But be careful: the contents of your glass will vary depending on which side of the Atlantic you’re on. In the UK, shrubs are based on alcoholic fruit syrups (usually from ancient medicinal recipes), whereas in the US, they are infused vinegar confections. These were developed to provide acidity in drinks when citrus was out of season, so fruit juice and spices are combined with drinking vinegar before being mixed into your spirit. If they’re on the menu, this would be a great place to start drinking. Classics This category-crossing selection is made up of the drinks that bartenders favor. Order these with impunity, as every one of these cocktails is a credit to good taste. Usually, they will be grouped together on the menu, but if they don’t appear, just ask. Any bartender worth his salt would be delighted to mix you one of the following: Martinez: The precursor to the martini and made with genever rather than gin, which was yet to be imported into the US. The history of the martinez makes this a popular choice for many cocktail connoisseurs. 98


Š Dog 'n' Bone Books 2014 Punches are a good choice for parties, as long as your guests don’t overindulge.

CATEGORIZING COCKTAILS

Martini: Arguably the most famous of all the classics, a true martini should be made with gin and vermouth, but many would argue vodka is a perfectly acceptable substitute. Classic daiquiri: A favorite of both Ernest Hemingway and John F Kennedy, the daiquiri grew in popularity during the 1940s when rationing meant whiskey and vodka became increasingly hard to get hold of. The proximity of America to Cuba meant rum could be procured relatively easily and US drinkers quickly developed a taste for the bitter sweet cocktail. 99


© Dog 'n' Bone Books 2014 The pursuit of quality over quantity is at the heart of drinking well—and it’s easier than you think. This practical guide will explain how to differentiate between quality booze and cheap rubbish, helping you to see alcohol as more than just a tool to get you drunk. Friday night at the local bar: revellers swig beer, slam shots, and repeat until failure. Happy hour turns into burger o’clock, then everyone staggers home, job done. Most of us have been there (and had fun doing it), but there comes a time when you want to graduate from downing cheap booze in sticky venues to something a little more sophisticated. How to Drink and Not Look Like an Idiot will provide the tips, tricks, and tools to ensure you know what you’re doing, whether you’re attempting to converse with the sommelier in a high-end restaurant or trying to avoid any cocktails with unnecessary adornments at your local bar. So if you want to know how to match wine with your evening meal or learn the ten commandments to survive an all-day drinking event then read on.

Emily Miles is a freelance journalist specializing in food and drink. She has previously worked for Esquire magazine as a food and drink editor, writing articles on everything from the best tequilas to buying exceptional red wines that won’t break the bank.

Food & Drink/Gift

www.rylandpeters.com

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How to Drink and Not Look Like an Idiot