That First Sip

Whiskey is usually associated with masculine things, images of leather upholstered furniture in dark wood-paneled, book-lined studies, the scent of tobacco, and oak. True enough, whiskey (spelling with an “e” denotes bourbon, which is the focus of this blog post) is traditionally a mans drink, and maybe it’s a southern thing, but I love the stuff, and it is becoming more and more popular with women worldwide.

Now there is nothing uncommon about mixing bourbon with sodas like Sprite, Coke, or even ginger ale, but when I hear someone order a Jack & coke, or Crown & seven at a bar, especially one that is well stocked with a variety of whiskies, I immediately assume there’s a lack of imagination at play, and another poor soul has no clue what they are missing out on. I’m not judging, as I too, when faced with limited selection, will order a Maker’s Mark & ginger ale, or water, and it’s easy to get caught in the rut of sticking with a drink you know you like, or  ordering the same thing time after time, because that was the first mixed drink you ever tasted, and you don’t know what else to ask for. I especially notice this among women.  I also realize there are certain people, ladies in particular, who don’t like the taste of whiskey, no matter how many times they’ve tried it. That’s okay. If you do like it, but you just don’t know what to order, or how to order it, allow me to offer up some helpful tips that will get you headed in the right direction.

First and foremost, knowing your premium bourbons will help you know where to start. Granted there are plenty to choose from, most priced under $50 a bottle, with more hitting the market all the time, so it can get confusing. To keep things simple, here are a few of my favorite classic bourbons: Maker’s Mark, Maker’s 46, Gentleman Jack, Woodford Reserve, Knob Creek, Four Roses, Basil Hayden, and Buffalo Trace. All are quite lovely alone, or mixed in a cocktail, yet each maintains their distinctive characteristics, allowing for unique drink combinations, and concoctions. I highly recommend trying each one of these bourbons one at a time, not in the same sitting or tasting, alone, and with a mixer, or in a cocktail. One of my new favorite ways to enjoy Maker’s Mark, is on the rocks with a splash of Cointreau as a refreshing alternative to my usual go to ginger ale, or ginger beer. Classic bourbon cocktails like the Mint Julep, whiskey sour, or Old Fashioned are good choices that let the individual flavors of the bourbon used stand out, which in my opinion is rather important.  One of the best things about bourbon is it’s versatility, (which is fodder for another blog post) making it interesting to play around with different ingredients, perhaps to tweak a standard like bourbon and a preferred soft drink, or create a totally new drink, formulating your very own signature cocktail. Honestly, in spite of what die-hard bourbon drinkers might insist, there is no right or wrong way to enjoy bourbon. The whole point of consuming alcohol should be pleasure, and why bother drinking something you don’t find pleasing?

Ladies, single ladies in particular, another advantage, or perk to drinking bourbon, (any kind of whisky, really) is its allure. Oh yes, that’s correct. Bourbon is sexy, mysterious, and classy,  as are most of us females who drink it. I always get a kick out of the reaction I get at a bar when I order either a Maker’s & ginger, Rusty Nail, or dram of single malt Islay. Not only does it get attention, but almost always results in glances of approval which often leads to a conversation because men tend to be curious about a woman who not only enjoys drinking good whiskey, but knows something, if not  a good deal about what she’s drinking.

So, before you write off whiskey, in this case bourbon, as not your thing, take time to sample, explore, and experiment with different brands, and varieties. Find a local whiskey bar with a highly knowledgeable bar staff, ask questions, attend tasting events, learn about the actual product, and don’t be afraid to express your own opinions, likes and dislikes. I promise you will eventually find a bourbon, and way to drink it, that you will thoroughly enjoy.

As always, drink responsibly, know your limits, and always designate a driver.




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