How I got started cocktail making

The idea of this blog is hopefully to inspire and stimulate those with an interest in cocktails and cocktail making. However, this entry IS ALL ABOUT ME!

The book that got me started - Spirits and Liqueurs by Rosalind Cooper
The book that got me started – Spirits and Liqueurs by Rosalind Cooper

I’m not sure really how I came to be here. Writing a blog about cocktails and mixology. Certainly there is no-one in my family: close or extended who has run a bar, worked in a bar, worked in the drinks industry or had any job which may inspire a young mixologist. However, my interest started based around a collection of spirits and liqueurs. Back in my student days, with 3 bottles bought at the duty free when returning from holiday. Slightly strangely, having started to build a small collection, I stood in a bookshop one day in Plymouth and picked up a cocktail book. I found that I could make many of the libations in it, and now had an additional use for my spirits and liqueurs.

How the spirits and liqueurs collection started 

The more I started reading, off down the road, the more I knew I needed to collect. You learn that there are 6 spirits. Well obviously I needed one each of those : whisky, brandy, rum, tequila, gin and vodka. Then I bought the book that really got me started : Spirits and Liqueurs by Rosalind Cooper.

You start reading about whisky, and read about the differences between Scotch, Irish, bourbon and Canadian. OK, so now I needed one of each. The whisky collection goes from 1 to 4. Then you enter the world of Scotch and dig deeper. The book says there is blended scotch, deluxe blended and the king of the hill, single malt. So now the next stage is to ensure that all those based are covered. And you’re ahead of me here – scotch malt whisky can’t POSSIBLY be represented by just one bottle of malt, now can it?! That’d just be ridiculous… Apparently, I learned there are 4 types of scotch malt : lowland, highland, Islay and Campbeltown and that they’re all subtly different. You can see how this gets going can’t you?

The liqueur collection was always a bit more random. There is no classification and so it just started based around the major brands. I bought Cointreau, Grand Marnier, Baileys, Tia Maria, Malibu as well as the Mandarine Napoleon which I started with, bought in France while on holiday.

Like a record or book collection it never finishes. Sure some products have been discontinued : Vieille Cure a herbal French liqueur and Bronte honey and herbs in an attractive crock bottle were 2 notable examples and some in my collection don’t get replaced – simply to allow room to add new products. The collection of flavoured vodkas will be thinned out. The same needs to happen to the scotch malts, but there are plenty ‘queuing up’ to step in.

But certainly my tip if you have intentions of building up a collection is to do some reading on the net, buy or download a book or two and start the journey. The other great thing about spirits and liqueurs is that most of them last years too. Generally they don’t go ‘off’ so your liver will be pleased!



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