Category Archives: Drinking Culture

Tips to start a Whisky Collection

There is nothing more impressive than a good whisky collection. There is just something inspiring about it. A good collection is going to grow organically over time, but there is no reason why you can’t put some thought and planning into it.

Still Life by aldenchadwick, on Flickr
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What tips should you follow to start a whisky collection and what mistakes should you avoid?

First and foremost, you should buy what you like and not what other people like. It is your collection, so it should be a reflection of your tastes and personality. It is very hard to find bad whisky, so don’t worry about what other people are going to say.

Once you have a few core bottles of tastes you like, you can then start to play around and experiment and move into funkier territory. Whether it’s blended or single, whether it’s different years, there are a multitude of choices out there.

If you have the chance to try new things, you should always take the opportunity. Expanding your taste is a great way to expand your collection.

Having a number of different bottles open at once isn’t a problem. It’s not like wine, but if there is a little bit in the bottle, there is the chance of oxidization. So don’t save the last bit in your favorite bottle.

Graham’s Whisky collection by jennicatpink, on Flickr
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You should always be on the lookout for sales. Subscribing to mailing lists is a great way to make sure you don’t miss out on great deals. Also be on the lookout for auctions where people are selling stuff cheaply. You can find great value there.

A whisky collection isn’t to be looked at – it’s not a museum exhibit, it’s there to be drunk. This means that you will constantly have to restock. You can have your core two or three bottles that are always present and you can complement these with another one or two that you rotate.

Saving an exceptional bottle for a special occasion like a birthday, wedding or the like is fine, but that is one bottle. With the other bottles in your collection, you should have a regular time for drinking otherwise you will find that they are just sitting there. Forget about what you have in your whisky collection, nothing screams amateur more than a collection of bottles that are covered in dust.

If it wasn’t obvious enough, you shouldn’t keep your whisky in a place where it can be exposed to direct sunlight. Put it in a place where it can be kept at a nice room temperature.

There is no better way to have your flask constantly filled than a well-stocked whisky collection. The flask is a great way to become acquainted with new types of whisky.

Flasks New Year’s Resolutions for 2015

The start of a new year is the time for reflection and introspection. If you have a flask and appreciate good quality alcohol, here are some New Year’s Resolutions you could consider for 2015.

Claive Vidiz whisky collection by Biker Jun, on Flickr
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Don’t Be Intimidated by the Opinions of Others
When it comes to whisky, there are hundreds and hundreds of different types. People have very different tastes and preferences. Don’t be afraid to like something that isn’t a household name and don’t be afraid to like something that is. Whisky can create whisky snobs who feel as though their opinion is gospel. Whisky snobs love nothing more than to tell you their opinions, especially when you didn’t ask. If they like single malts, that’s all you should drink. If they like blended malts, that’s all you should drink. Forget about their experiences and copying theirs– focus on creating your own.

The only way you can know what you like and what you don’t like is by tasting a lot. The more you drink that you don’t like, the better grasp you have of what you do like.

Having said that, there is nothing wrong with listening to what others have to say before making a decision. If a number of people all independently tell you that a certain type of whisky is good or bad, there could be something in that.

Finding an Occasion
Don’t be the person who buys whisky and then never touches it. If you are saving a bottle for a special occasion, don’t wait and wait and wait for some occasion that never happens. Instead turn a nice occasion into a very special and memorable one by opening it. It is the spontaneity of it that makes it special. You finish the special bottle and then go out and get a new one. That is far better than gathering dust.

The tasting by humbert15, on Flickr
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Go on a Whisky Tour
If you have never been on a whisky tour, this is the year you should go to one. Visiting a whisky distillery (and/or any other kind of distillery) just isn’t a great thing to do, but the knowledge of the process gives you an increased appreciation and understanding of whisky. It’s incredible how many people who drink whisky have no familiarity of the process.

Start a Tasting Club
If you and your friends like whisky and/or other alcohols, there is no reason why you can’t set up a tasting club. Be in touch with the distributors and set up a tasting. You could also find yourself the beneficiary of some good prices. If membership to the tasting club comes with your own personalized flask, we know people who could help you.

Why the Flask is your ultimate New Year’s Eve Accessory

No sooner are the Christmas presents and the tree put away, then the focus turns to New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve is a great way to unwind and celebrate. It’s a time to reflect and look back on the accomplishments of the past 12 months.

The thing about New Year’s Eve more than any other kind of event is that how it pans out can often bear little resemblance to how you thought it would.

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New Year’s Eve is also well known for parties that are overhyped and flatter than champagne that has been opened four hours ago. As this is happening, you hear of a party that is looming as the party of the year. The presence of social media and WhatsApp facilitates party hopping like never before.

It is because of this that the New Year’s Eve flask comes in so useful. First of all, it’s nice to have something to drink while you are in transit and secondly, you have no idea what the alcohol situation is going to be at the party you’re going to. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed-man is king and if you go to a party where the drinks are ridiculous overpriced and/or of a horrendous quality, your flask is going to be incredibly handy.

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Tens of thousands think it’s fun to stand outside in the subzero temperatures to watch a ball drop, a ball that they can barely see. This is an experience, but it’s significantly less fun than people would have you think. First of all, to stand outside in the cold and be so cramped that you can’t even swing your elbows isn’t that much fun. Secondly, if you need the bathroom, you risk losing your place and lastly, the ball isn’t that visible.

If you are freezing, the flask is going to help a great deal, but then you have to deal with going to the bathroom.

Sydney New Year’s Eve by HerryLawford, on Flickr
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This isn’t the only outdoor experience on New Year’s Eve. All over the world there are New Year’s Eve fireworks. In the southern hemisphere, where it is summer the cold isn’t as much of an issue, but you still have to deal with standing around.

New Year’s Eve is associated with big parties, but it doesn’t have to be. You may prefer a quiet night of reminiscing and introspection, where with the accompaniment of your flask you look back on the last 12 months. As New Year’s Eve turns into New Year’s Day you have your New Year’s Day flask ready and by your side.

Drinking the Christmas Spirits

The moment the last bit of Thanksgiving turkey is eaten and last drop of apple cider has been drunk, attention immediately turns to Christmas. You may have seen the colors red and green previously, but now there is no escaping them.

At this time of year, the weeks roll by very quickly and before you know it the whole family will be assembled again for Christmas.

When it is below zero outside and you are covered head to toe in layers of clothing, the contents of a flask have medicinal value!

Eggnog ingredients by rvacapinta, on Flickr
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Christmas is heavily associated with eggnog. The beverage that consists of milk, sugar, eggs and spices has a connection with Christmas that goes back 250 years.

In the 21st century, there are many variants to the recipe – elements as varied as vanilla, bourbon, soy, brandy or rum can all feature. The soy is for those who are lactose intolerant and isn’t the only milk substitute that can be used.

While there are those who are happy to buy their own ready-made eggnog, there are other options. For instance, one could purchase a derivative-mixture, or one can make it from scratch – the effort will be worth it.

For those who like their caffeine, it’s possible to get into the festive spirit with an Eggnog Latte. On top of this, there are other lattes that feature seasonal elements as toffee, peppermint and white chocolate.
Eggnog isn’t the only beverage associated with Christmas, there also is hot buttered rum and mulled wine. Hot buttered rum is a drink that has a rich history in the USA and is very popular at this time of year.

mulled wine by chatirygirl, on Flickr
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Mulled wine is especially in Europe. Red wine will be complemented with ingredients such as cloves, aniseed, sugar and cinnamon to develop a drink with a rich textured flavor. As is the case with traditions going back thousands of years, each region of Europe makes this a different way.

The Dutch use oranges, Hungarians add Amaretto and Moldovans flavor it with black pepper.

Not surprisingly Canadians add maple syrup to their mulled wine.

Drinks play a big part in contributing to the feel of this time of year and providing for a sense of nostalgia. When people come home to a house filled with the smell of eggnog or mulled wine, it takes them back to the Christmases of years gone by.

We have a wide range of flasks relating to Christmas. We can get into more detail of our Christmas flasks next week.

The Kindness of Cocktails

Thursday November 13 is World Kindness Day. While one doesn’t need a specific day for us to be kind to each other, it’s good to have a day where we can pamper each other and be pampered.

If coming home after a day at work and being greeted by a cocktail isn’t your usual practice then World Kindness Day is a great way to get the ball rolling.

Martini Spash by geishaboy500, on Flickr
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Martini
For a while, the Martini was the in-drink and it’s very Mad Menesque to commence your evening by drinking one. Containing gin and vermouth it was made famous by James Bond and his catchcry of shaken, not stirred.

Bloody Mary
If you prefer things a bit spicier, than the Bloody Mary may be the drink for you. The basic ingredients are vodka and tomato juice followed by seasoning such as Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, pepper, lemon juice and horseradish. Often there will be a celery stalk sticking out of the glass.

Green but... by solarisgirl, on Flickr
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Kamikaze
If your night is only beginning you may like to kick things off with a Kamikaze. With vodka, triple sec and lime juice it is just the drink to get the ball rolling.

Gin & tonic by cyclonebill, on Flickr
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Gin and Tonic
For someone who hasn’t had the best of days and is in need of somewhat of a pick-me-up, there is no better way to do this than a Gin and tonic. You can drown your sorrows and deal with the pain via this classic drink. Following a couple of these, everything is going to feel better.

Tequila Sunrise
For those of you in the southern hemisphere, November 13 is in the spring and it will still be sunny outside when you get home. If you want to take advantage of the remaining daylight hours, the Tequila Sunrise may be just the drink to do it with. Containing tequila, orange juice and grenadine, it is a drink that feels very summery.

When it comes to cocktails, there is going to be some preparation involved. When one goes out to a bar, one doesn’t appreciate how much mess is involved in cocktail preparation.

You need to cut things up, squeeze them, pour and shake and blend. It is important to clean up after yourself so the person isn’t greeted by the mess of cocktail making. Clean up after yourself so those surprised by the cocktails can be greeted by a spotless kitchen.

If there are leftovers, you can pour them into the nearest flask.

Around the World in 80 Drinks: UN Day

United Nations Day, celebrated October 24th, marks the anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Charter back in 1945. The UN brings together over 190 countries and nations from around the world, and we all know what else brings together a diverse group – alcohol!

Let’s take a look at some UN members’ greatest contributions to the international libation community.

Ireland – Guinness
Despite the black stuff being brewed in 60 countries and available in over 100, it will always be synonymous with Ireland. Arthur Guinness began brewing the beer that bears his name back in 1759 and the drink immediately took off. Well what else was there to do back then? The logo is the Trinity College harp and many Guinness drinkers would appreciate musical accompaniment to their singing following drinking of a few pints.

Ouzo Pelagos by Fareham Wine, on Flickr
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Greece – Ouzo
Greece is known for its cuisine just as well as its known for its beautiful islands. Ouzo, the favored anise-flavored aperitif of the nation is best served with a Greek Salad as an appetizer, with Moussaka as a main dish, or with some Baklava for dessert. There’s no wrong way to enjoy ouzo, so long as you throw in an “Opa!”

Tequila by fakelvis, on Flickr
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Mexico – Tequila

Distilled from the Blue Agave plant, no drink is more associated with a region than tequila is with Mexico. Named for the Mexican city where it was first distilled, tequila comes in a variety of ages, flavors, and styles for whatever your preferred method of consumption. Take a shot or raise a salt-rimmed Margarita and Salud! Mexico and their indispensable contribution to many, many hangovers.

sake / ??? by Kanko*, on Flickr
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Japan – Sake

Rice is a staple of Japanese cuisine, so it makes perfect sense that the fermented rice drink sake originated in Japan. And much like rice, there’s about a hundred different ways to brew and serve sake. Warm sake, chilled sake, sake bombs – whatever way you like it, drink up the deliciousness on UN Day!

sliv by romana klee, on Flickr
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Eastern Europe – Slivovitz
Popular and primarily produced in the Slavic regions, this plum distilled spirit has made its way to an international audience. Also known as “plum brandy,” Slivovitz is a legendary libation with its own customs for consumption in every city and region it’s enjoyed. Get to know yours and salute the Slavs for this historic drink!

Russia – Vodka
In Russian, vodka means water and they drink it as such. While other countries in Eastern Europe may want to claim some of the credit for themselves, it is Russia that is the king and contributor of this cocktail classic.

Pisco Sour I by ginsnob, on Flickr
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Disputed – Pisco
Chile and Peru both lay claim to the drink that is a yellowish brandy. There is only one way to settle this – Pisco shots between the Presidents of Chile and Peru. Last person standing is the winner and claims the pisco to their country. There is no truth to the rumor that Joe Piscopo changed his name following a night on the Pisco.

Whose national drink will you be celebrating UN Day with?

Girls Just Want To Have (Fun) Flasks

When it comes to the relationship between women and alcohol there are a lot of misnomers and misperceptions. Most common among them is the idea that women only like girly drinks such as Mojitos, Cosmopolitans and Pina Coladas which are drunk out of flutes and martini glasses.

Kelly’s Bachelorette Party by Shan213, on Flickr
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But it’s the 21st Century, the age of the empowered woman. It’s time to dispel some of these myths and misnomers and take a look at some occasions where women enjoy rocking a flask filled with a harder beverage usually reserved for boys’ clubs.

Coffee Catchups

Who says catching up with your girlfriend over coffee can’t come with a kick? Carry a couple of ounces of whiskey in a mini flask to add into fresh, hot brewed coffee with a dash of brown sugar and cream for a classic Irish Coffee.

Paint Night

Social painting classes and events are exploding in popularity and what better way to get your creativity flowing with friends than over some absinthe?

Nicky hens party_17 by nAok0, on Flickr
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Bachelorette Party

Bachelorette parties are notoriously raucous get-togethers and rightly so! See your girlfriend’s single life off with an epic soiree, beginning with swigs of your favorite scotch on the way TO the party (assuming, of course, you’ve done it up right and rented a limo or driver for the occasion). Boozy Bonus: Hand out personalized wedding party flasks for the occasion, a memento of an unforgettable night you might not be able to remember the next day.

Karaoke Night

It’s hard to imagine karaoke without alcohol, the way it’s hard to imagine tonic without gin. Get your fix of both before you belt out 80s hits in front of total strangers. Boozy Bonus: Reserve some gin for the cab ride home when your girlfriend inevitably shows you and threatens to release cell phone footage of you off-key-ly bellowing “It’s Raining Men.”

Girls Night Out

Sure, drinking classy cocktails at fancy clubs and lounges is a staple of Girls’ Night Out, but there’s no reason the party can’t start before hitting the town. Feeling down after a breakup? Blow off some steam with a snarky flask filled your favorite alcoholic pick-me-up before dancing the night away. Just don’t drunk dial your ex.

Happy Birthday to Harry Connick Jr

Today is the 47th birthday of Harry Connick Jr.  A child prodigy, Harry can do it all whether it be sing, act or be a reality TV judge.

He burst onto the scene as a young boy, and by the time he was a teenager, he was a well-known performer in New Orleans.

Working on the soundtrack for When Harry Met Sally is what brought him national and international stardom. His rendition of It Had to Be You was a classic and saw him win his first Grammy Award.

He graduated to acting and has appeared in movies such as Little Man Tate, Independence Day, New in Town and Dolphin Tale as well as TV shows such as Will & Grace, Law & Order and American Idol where he joined the judging panel.

When it comes to New Orleans, he is an institution. He performed a concert to raise funds following the devastating Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Speaking of Hurricanes, it is a drink that it associated with New Orleans. It is a sweet drink that contains rum and some sort of fruit, be it in the form of syrup or fresh juice. The story behind it is that well-known bar owner Pat O’Brien needed to improvise a drink in the 1940s given the lack of scotch and an abundance of rum. It was served in a Hurricane glass, hence a New Orleans legend was born.

Hurricanes from the Heights by justgrimes, on Flickr
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Ingredients

  • 2 ounces light rum
  • 2 ounces dark rum (if you don’t have light, just use four ounces dark)
  • 2 ounces passion fruit juice
  • 1 ounce orange juice
  • Juice of half a freshly squeezed lime or lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon grenadine
  • Garnish: orange slice and cherry

Mix all the ingredients and pour into a Hurricane glass.

Another drink also associated with New Orleans is the Sazerac.

It is a drink that is a couple of hundred years old and is known as America’s oldest well-known cocktail. It is a mix of the traditional whiskey or cognac cocktail. Antoine Amadie Peychaud is credited with the invention of the cocktail and in 2008 it was proclaimed as the office cocktail of New Orleans.

Recipe:

  • 2 ounces rye whiskey
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Absinthe
  • 1 sugar cube

Mix the two bitters with the sugar cube. Add the whiskey to the mixture and add all this to the an old-fashioned glass containing the Absinthe.

Happy Birthday Harry! We hope you enjoy it with some Hurricanes and Sazeracs.

The Flask and the NFL – A Guide to Watching Sport with a Flask

With the days getting shorter and the leaves starting to change color that can only mean one thing – fall is coming. Fall means football and the 2014 NFL Season starts this week.

Tailgating forms a big part of the football experience and you will find plenty of flasks here.

Tailgating by slgckgc, on Flickr
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When it comes to drinking inside the stadium you need to be careful as NFL Stadiums strictly control the consumption of alcohol. If you read the policies of any NFL Team (eg New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers) you will see that you aren’t allowed to bring alcohol into the stadiums.

In the luxury suites, they are a bit more relaxed regarding the consumption of alcohol, so not only are these the best seats in the house, but you can also enjoy yourself a little bit more.

If you are watching the game from home, then you are free to do what you want and can drink from your football flask with no-one bothering you. Many like watching the game with a flask for the convenience that is affords.

This applies to watching any and every sport on television be it tennis, soccer, golf, baseball, cricket, basketball, Australian football, rugby or hockey.

Many like to go down to the pub, club or bar to watch the game with their friends. If you are going to take a hip flask with you, you should first find out the rules of the establishment.

Alcohol symbolizes victory due to so many sports teams and athletes celebrating with it. When it comes to the playoffs, they set up plastic sheeting in baseball clubhouses and players don goggles due to all the alcohol that the players spray over each other.

The top three finishers in a Formula One race are each handed a bottle of champagne and proceed to spray each other and the crowd with it. This is in contrast to the winner of the Indianapolis 500 who is given milk to drink.

In a sign of the times, teams are competing against each other as to whom can rack up the highest celebratory bill. When the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, their celebrations saw them generate a six-figure one.

In homage to the Super Bowl winning Seattle Seahawks, here is a cocktail devoted to the city of Seattle

Emerald City

8 oz coconut rum

4 oz melon liqueur

4 oz Blue Curacao liqueur

1 splash sweet and sour mix

1 splash soda

Combine the ingredients in a glass filled with ice

Top 5 Bars to Visit at the New Orleans Jazz Festival

New Orleans will soon be the center of attention for travelers and music lovers nationwide. One of the greatest annual national events, The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, is firing up down in NOLA the last weekend of April and will swing through the first weekend of May. Celebrating the New Orleans Jazz Fest is a perfect excuse to let the good times roll and head down south to take part in the festivities.

Aside from being a famous haven for great music, New Orleans is also well known for it’s bold night life and party atmosphere. If you find yourself on the way down to Jazz Fest this year, make sure you take some time to discover the city’s finer tavern culture in these five of our favorite bars.

1. Bar Tonique, Rampart Street
Let the tourists pay too much for their crowded fun over on Bourbon Street. This French Quarter hangout makes everyone feel like a local with classic drinks crafted from New Orleans’ legendary past. Authentic Sazeracs, Old Fashioneds and Corpse Revivers hold up this casual bar’s legendary reputation for historic hand-crafted concoctions.

2. Pat O’Brien’s, St. Peter Street
Why resist a place that’s been serving up drinks since Prohibition? This NOLA institution mixes a Bloody Mary that gives its signature Hurricane a run for the bayou. Patrons enjoy the easy flow of friendly crowds inside and out along with rocking music from the bar’s twin baby grand pianos.

3. Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge, Oak Street
There are dives, and then there’s this joint. Cheap drinks, a gravel floor and year-round Christmas decorations await the brave patron who’s willing to enter this neighborhood hole in the wall. Southern hospitality off the beaten track has a permanent home at this laid-back lounge.

4. Carousel Bar, Royal Street
It takes 15 minutes for the bar to complete one revolution, and that adds up to a historic number of turns. This classic lounge in the Hotel Monteleone has been spinning patrons’ heads for more than 60 years. Nestled deep in the heart of the Quarter, it’s home to the original Vieux Carre cocktail.

5. Blue Nile, Frenchman Street
The sounds and soul of the New Orleans Jazz Festival live year round at this premier venue for live entertainment. Local musicians gather for improvisational inspiration that ranges from rhythm and blues to brassy funk. The club is more than a bar; it’s an experience unique to the Big Easy.

If you still have energy left to party through the night and find that you’re itching for more music, check out Live For Live Music’s guide to Jazz Fest After Partying here.