Friday, 23 December 2011

New Cocktails Video Course Teaches How to Taste Spirits and Demystifies Mixology

Spirits and mixology are popular again, thanks in part to movies, TV, and magazines that show cocktail culture in a sexy, sophisticated light. Now that we've got the look down, what about the drinking experience? Are people fully enjoying spirits? Just as knowledge enhances your wine appreciation, the same is true for spirits, according to Certified Specialist of Spirits Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, an acclaimed expert and host of The Everyday Guide to Spirits and Cocktails: Tastes and Traditions, a new video guide to cocktails.

Ms. Simonetti-Bryan comments: "Understanding how to detect aromas and flavors within the different types of vodka, gin, and rum ensures you can maximize the experience. Despite their varying degrees of sophistication, spirits can be understood and enjoyed by everyone, and this new guide demonstrates in a fun and engaging way how to get the most out of tasting a wide range of spirits."

Learning to taste spirits correctly is not an exact science, but mixology courses offer a number of techniques to help you understand what you are drinking. To create delicious cocktails, it's important to understand how to identify flavors and aromas in the base spirits. According to Ms. Simonetti-Bryan, the best way is to employ the “Four Ss” technique of tasting neat spirits: See, Sniff, Sip, and Savor.

First, see the spirit. Take a look at the color to get an idea what it will taste like. A darker color, as in cognac or rum, indicates the spirit has been aged in oak barrels, which results in flavors such as spice, vanilla, caramel, or toffee.

Next, sniff the spirit. Don’t breathe in too deeply, as the alcohol content may be overpowering. Keep your mouth open to reduce alcohol burn, which can mask flavors, and inhale through the mouth and the nose.

Then, sip the spirit. The intensity of the alcohol can be a shock – most spirits will have an ABV (alcohol by volume) of around 40%. Take only a small amount, and allow your palate to adjust by waiting 30 -60 seconds before taking the next sip.

Finally, savor the spirit. To really appreciate the taste and flavor, savor the spirit in three stages.

• In the "attack" you will identify one set of components – usually the most volatile ones.
• In the "mid palate" (after a few seconds), you will identify a different set of flavors.
• In the "finish," the flavors linger on your palate for 10-20 seconds or longer. This "length" demonstrates the quality of the spirit; the longer the flavors last on your palate, the greater the likelihood you are enjoying a superior drink.

"There is a lot more to tasting spirits than downing a shot movie-style," says Simonetti-Bryan. "Knowing how to taste a spirit properly provides a solid foundation in distinguishing and appreciating different varieties, and helps to enrich the whole drinking experience. Anyone wanting to create and mix cocktails should ensure they understand the importance of tasting correctly, in order to recognize why certain flavor combinations work so well."

The Everyday Guide to Spirits and Cocktails: Tastes and Traditions is one of the leading interactive cocktail courses available. It includes eight lectures covering classic spirits, cordials and liqueurs, recipes, and a mixology toolkit. For further information on how to purchase a DVD or a digital video download of the course, visit

For further information on The Everyday Guide to Spirits and Cocktails: Tastes and Traditions or The Great Courses, please contact Kirsty Shaw or Gina Tunley at Punch Communications: +44 (0) 1858 411 600 or

• The Everyday Guide to Spirits and Cocktails: Tastes and Traditions is available from for $27.95 (digital video download) and $29.95 (DVD). Shipping and handling costs apply.
• Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan is a definitive authority on spirits in the United States and among a small number of people to have received the highest credentials in the spirits and wine industry. She has a Professional Certificate in Spirits from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and is a Certified Specialist of Spirits from the Society of Wine Educators. Ms. Simonetti-Bryan is also one of only a few hundred people in the world to hold the Master of Wine title (M.W.) from The Institute of Masters of Wine in London, England—the highest and most difficult title to achieve in the industry.

Winner of the Wiesbaden Tasting Trophy from the Institute of Masters of Wine, Ms. Simonetti-Bryan has trained thousands of professionals in the spirits and wine industry, has judged international spirits and wine competitions, and has hosted seminars with Food Network stars including Rachael Ray and Bobby Flay. She is a frequent guest on television programs, including Fox Business and Bloomberg TV, and has been featured in Fortune, Wine & Spirits Magazine, and Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
• The Great Courses is a highly popular series of university-level lectures crafted and delivered by top professors and experts. Designed to meet the demand for lifelong learning and to change the way people think about the world, The Great Courses currently offers more than 350 courses in a range of video and audio formats including DVD, CD, and digital downloads.

Courses span over 5,000 hours of content across ten subject categories: science and mathematics, history, fine arts and music, religion and theology, philosophy and intellectual history, literature and English language, business and economics, better living, professional, and high school. Since 1990, over 10 million courses have been sold around the world.

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