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Holiday Gifts for the Mixologist

Last year, I put together a comprehensive list of important gift items for the Mixologist. It's still a good list, but this year, I decided to take a slightly different approach. Rather than list the basic necessities and repeat myself, I decided to write more detail about items I wish I had found sooner as well describe some of the coolest stuff on my wish list. Some of these items do fill the basic needs, but most of them are my favorites. With so many similar tools out there, it can be hard to decide what to buy without first having a chance to use them. Let my experience guide you.

Shaker Tins The most important item for making cocktails besides the ingredients is the shaker. I normally recommend a Boston shaker which is a glass and tin combo, but I upgraded to an all-metal shaker a while ago.

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Drink Of The Week: Southside

About this time of year I start longing for the Gin Basil Smash, but my basil is just barely getting started. My mint, on the other hand, gets established quickly, and sometimes I even have some left over from Derby Day. What to do? Make the Southside cocktail! It's a delicious summer drink that helps you forget about your basil for a while, and it's perfect for warm weather.

The first thing you are going to notice, besides the fact that we are using fresh mint, is that this is another gin drink. By now, you should realize that a good share of classic cocktails, or at least a significant portion that come from the Prohibition era, are made with gin. That's because gin was about the easiest spirit bootleggers could make—it is a basic maceration of botanicals and it requires no barrel aging. Some cocktails were created

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Drink Of The Week: Mint Julep

This week's Drink Of The Week is the Mint Julep. With Derby Day just around the corner and a spring that started early in the midwest, it's time to get your mint in the ground. Even if it wont be ready by Sunday, there will be plenty of oppurtunity for you to use mint in cocktails this summer. In the mean time, pick up some fresh mint at the grocery store and I'll show you how to make this delicious classic.

The Mint Julep is probably the oldest cocktail there is. Today, it's a southern tradition that has been popular for centuries, and it's also the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. That's because the Julep we know is usually made with delicious Kentucky Bourbon, but it wasn't always so.

Early accounts of the Julep represent this drink as a medicinal libation, or more specifically, a vehicle for

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BarSmarts™ Mixology Course

Whether you are a seasoned professional or someone just getting interested in mixology, I highly encourage you to check out the BarSmarts™ program. Led by the famed team of partners of Beverage Alcohol Resource (BAR), LLC, Dale DeGroff, Doug Frost, Steve Olson, F. Paul Pacult, Andy Seymour and David Wondrich, BarSmarts™ was designed exclusively for Pernod Ricard USA and aims to deliver the most comprehensive spirits and mixology education available.

Summit Sips is Now Certified I just completed the BarSmarts™ WIRED certification course and I thought I'd write a few words about this program. First of all, I have always been curious about bartender certification and I have a lot of respect for everyone in the trade that can successfully navigate a busy night behind the stick. Managing customers several bodies deep, staying on top of wait staff orders and keeping track of tabs and cash

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Drink of the Week: Caipirinha

It's one thing to be able to make this drink, but it's something else to be able to pronounce it! For those of you who don't speak Portuguese, we are making a kai-peer-EEN-ya this week. And if that wasn't challenging enough, the base spirit in this drink is called cachaça, which is pronounced kah-SHA-sah. Even if you have trouble saying these words, you won't have any problem making the cocktail. It's one of the easiest drinks to make and you don't even need a shaker.

The Caipirinha is the national drink of Brazil and it is common throughout that country. In the U.S. it's growing in popularity. I really enjoy this drink because it is so easy to make, having only a base spirit, limes and sugar. Categorically, this a sour like others we have seen, but the preparation of this drink also puts it in the smash

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DOTW Followup: Whiskey Smash

This past week I wrote about the Whiskey Sour, a classic recipe that, if prepared properly, exhibits a lusciously smooth mouth-feel and a wonderful foamy head—not to mention an important balance of sweet and sour. There is another style of cocktail that is very close to the same drink, but it employs a slightly different method of preparation. The Whiskey Smash is essentially a Whiskey Sour when it comes to the primary ingredients, but because of how they are used, the result is a slightly different animal.

I think it's worth trying this drink even if you are happy with the Whiskey Sour. For one thing, it skips the egg white in favor of a different flavor profile that emphasizes the essential oils in the lemon peel. This version also includes spearmint which adds another dimension to the drink. If nothing else, making a Smash instead of a Sour

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Holiday Gift Ideas for the Mixologist

For some people it's a burden and for others it's a joy—that time of the year when everyone is expected to exchange gifts. Whether or not you enjoy the holiday season there is one thing most of us agree upon: how frustrating it can be to try to come up with good gift ideas. Sure, there's amazing and expensive technology out there with plenty of fun gadgets that will be obsolete by this time next year, but how about a more traditional approach? Why not give a gift that will inspire or will teach, or will assist? I'm talking about useful gifts for the mixologist in your family.

A Shopping List I've written before about using good tools and technique with an emphasis on making the most of what you already own. That's fine for the rest of the year, but this is the perfect time to consider items

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