Don’t let cenosillicaphobia get you!

I know 2014 has already begun, with what I’m sure is a plethora of well-meaning, earnestly-conceived resolutions.  Lose weight, quit smoking, eat more green things (thanks to Colorado, you can smoke ’em if ya got ’em).  What I heard was, “I’m pretty sure I’m swearing off of fun for awhile and it probably won’t last”.  So, when you’re ready to come back to the fold, I’m here for you. And the one thing I can help you with in 2014 is keeping you from cenosillicaphobia: the fear of an empty glass. 

There are lots of new things you can try this year.  If you’re here, you probably know something about craft liquor already. (if this is your first post, Welcome! Start here with your education). New distilleries are springing up all over the country, as more people follow their passion.  Make sure you keep coming back here to learn about them! One to keep an  eye on is Few Spirits, who recently won WhiskyAdvocate’s Craft Whiskey of the Year. I had the pleasure of meeting Paul Hletko, founder and master distiller of Few Spirits, at WhiskyFest in 2013.  Great guy, making fantastic spirits. A barrel-aged gin is coming out from them – I can guarantee it’ll make a gin lover out of you!

Image courtesy of arturo83/

Image courtesy of arturo83/

The next trend is craft cocktails.  Initially, it just sounds like regular old drinks made with craft liquor.  Trust me, you cannot go wrong with that.  Make your favorite Bloody Mary with a craft vodka or even moonshine, I dare you to give it a try.  But there’s all sorts of other things going on.  How about mixologists that make a batch of a particular cocktail, say a Manhattan, but then put it in a small barrel to age for a few weeks? Sounds pretty tasty, right? Try the search gods of Google for suggestions in your part of the country: craft cocktails + your city yields a pretty hefty list of articles and suggestions for most urban areas.  Sorry, but the further from civilization you are, the harder it will be.  I’d suggest stocking your  own bar and trying your hand at mixology!

Jeremy LeBlanc described a craft cocktail as one “that has been constructed with time and thoughtfulness, intended to imprint an unforgettable taste”.  Check out the full interview with Jeremy here. Or if you’re in San Diego, stop by Altitude Sky Lounge, where Jeremy is the head mixologist.

Let’s be bitter for a minute.  Why didn’t I win PowerBall?  Oh wait, not that kind of bitter. Bitters.  The small bottle that you might see your mixologist give a shake or two into the cocktail you ordered, but you weren’t really sure what it was.  Alcohol was often used as the solution (stop it) in medicines.  Herbs and other natural ingredients were mixed with alcohol and were used to cure everything from bad breath to hysteria.  Sorry, cure is probably a bit inaccurate – they likely didn’t cure anything, but a little dose of alcohol probably made everyone happier.  Anyway, check out this book, Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today – interesting read, complete with 75 recipes,  about how things like bitters, liqueurs and tonics are making an appearance on the cocktail scene. 

And yay for legislation changes that allow liquor tastings!  For years now, you could go to a winery and taste the mashed up grapes of your choice, then buy a bottle to take on home.  You can even do that with craft beer and BYOG – Bring Your Own Growlers.  Now you really can bring a growler from a different brewery to be filled at whatever brewery you’ve found yourself in, at least here in CA.  But I digress.  Distillers can now offer tastings to go with the tour of the joint! You still can’t buy a bottle to take home, because I guess we just can’t have nice things.  But, at least you can try the hooch, and learn the story behind it, which is almost as fun as drinking it. Make sure to check out the distilleries in your town, they may have already started offering tastings!  And please – taste responsibly! It’s a tasting, not a frat party.

See?  Not only can I save you from the fear of an empty glass, I can even help you get it filled with tasty craft liquor!  How awesome is that?  So tell me – what have you tried so far? How’d you like it? Feel free to drop a comment, share your experience.  It’s not fair that I get to do all the talking around here.  Cheers!

About Jeanne Runkle

Jeanne Runkle currently lives in San Diego, and is a certified bartender and craft liquor expert. Her specialty is the brown stuff, whether it's bourbon, rye or good old American whiskey. She can sometimes be found stalking the aisles of a liquor store near you, answering your random whiskey questions.

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