Posted on April 22, 2016
Cocktails are delicious, but an adult palate should be accepting - nay, welcoming - of straight spirits. When thinking of drinking spirits straight, without a mixer, many people immediately think of doing shots, gagging down the drink, and being miserable the next day. However, drinking straight spirits does not have to be like that and, when done correctly, is nothing like that. Drinking spirits without chasers or mixers is an incredibly pleasurable and satisfying experience that allows you to explore the robust flavors of different spirits. You too can be classy and sip on a straight spirit - you just have to learn how to do it right, and doing so is very easy.
Like most spirits, gin comes in a variety of flavors that range from sharp to smooth. For a beginning straight spirit drinker, start with a smooth gin like Hendrick’s. Dry gin makes for a great straight spirit, as well, but will likely be too sharp for a newbie. If you are a fan of gin martinis, you may already be primed to enjoy gin straight, since a martini is very close to a neat gin. However, many straight gin drinkers enjoy a couple of ice cubes in their glass, and there is nothing wrong with that.
There are three types of tequila: blanco, reposado, and añejo. If you like gin, blanco, the unaged tequila, may be for you. Whisky drinkers will likely want the reposado, the tequila that is aged for only one year. The strongest tequila flavor will be found in the añejo, which is aged for up to three years. Keep in mind that the origin of the tequila also dictates flavor, like with wine. Tequila from the highlands will be floral in flavor, while tequila from the lowlands is more vegetal.
When drinking tequila straight, opt for a small globe-shaped glass, and leave out the ice. If you really want to cut the intensity of the flavor, garnish with a lime and squeeze some into the glass. For the highest quality, pick a tequila that is made with 100 percent agave.
People mistakenly think that all vodka is the same and that it lacks flavor (other than just burning, if that can be called a flavor), but that is only to the untrained palate. In reality, vodkas are very different and have different flavor profiles, which are determined largely by the ingredients put into it. Wheat vodka is smooth with anise and pepper flavors. Vodka made from potatoes has a more buttery texture, while rye vodkas have nutty and sweet notes. Vodka can also be made from grapes, and the result is citrusy.
When drinking vodka straight, do so from a chilled glass, or with one or two large cubes of ice. It is also best to keep vodka refrigerated so that it is always cold.