spirits basics for serving and drinking spirits appropriately

Spirits Etiquette: 4 Basics For Serving And Drinking Spirits

who this class is for

Waiters, bartenders, hospitality staff, guests, house-party hosts

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About this micro-class

Spirits etiquette is the set of rules for appropriately and responsibly serving and drinking spirits.

1. How to choose the best spirits

What you should know about spirits

Spirits are drinks with a high alcoholic content. They vary by ingredients, aroma, alcoholic content, production processes, and aging.

Types of spirits and how to choose the best

Categories: There are various types of spirits. The 6 most popular categories are whiskey, vodka, rum, gin, tequila, and brandy.

Quality: The quality of spirits largely depends on the brand and aging. High-end brands use high-quality ingredients and sophisticated production processes. In general, longer aging corresponds to higher quality and price.

Alternatives to spirits

As a responsible host, if you are hosting a party with spirits, ensure there are non-alcoholic options available for designated drivers and non-drinkers.

2. How to serve spirits

How to store spirits

how to store spirits

Outside the fridge: Store spirits in a cool place, away from direct light and sources of heat.

Fridge and freezer: Avoid storing high-quality spirits in the fridge or freezer, as cold temperatures prevent the aroma. However, some spirits like vodka are best served cold; place them in the fridge or freezer a few hours before serving.

Spoilage: Due to their alcoholic content, spirits rarely turn bad.

How to prepare spirits before serving

how to prepare spirits before serving

You can serve spirits neat, with ice or on the rocks, or mixed in cocktails.

When serving spirits with ice, add 1 to 3 ice cubes. Avoid adding too much ice as it dilutes the beverage.

When serving cocktails, balance the flavors and avoid over-pouring spirits. Use a jigger or measuring device to pour accurate amounts.

How to serve and present spirits

how to serve spirits

Appropriate occasions: Spirits are most appropriate for after-dinner drinks or drinking parties. When mixed in cocktails, spirits can be appropriate as pre-dinner drinks too. It is uncommon to drink spirits during a meal.

Glassware: Use appropriate glassware for different types of spirits, such as whiskey glasses for whiskey and martini glasses for martinis. Ensure glassware is clean and free of spots or smudges when serving spirits.

Temperature: Serve spirits at the appropriate temperature. For example, whiskey is often served at room temperature or slightly chilled, while vodka is typically served ice cold.

Decoration: Present spirits neat or on the rocks without any garnishes. Present cocktails with the appropriate garnishes such as citrus twists or olives.

Ensure responsible drinking

responsible drinking rules

Legal age: Understand the legal drinking age in your area and ensure guests are of legal drinking age before serving alcohol.

Responsible drinking: Avoid promoting excessive drinking or irresponsible behavior in any way. Respect people’s choices about whether to drink or not. Never pressure anyone into drinking.

Water and snacks: Suggest drinking water alongside alcoholic beverages to help guests stay hydrated. Recommend food pairings or snacks to accompany spirits, which can enhance the drinking experience.

Intoxication: Always serve spirits responsibly and encourage responsible drinking among guests. Recognize the signs of intoxication and know when to refuse service or alert a supervisor.

Spirits dietary restrictions

spirits dietary restrictions

Some religions forbid or restrict the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Furthermore, some guests may be intolerant to alcohol or avoid alcoholic drinks by choice.

Make sure to include non-alcoholic options for your guests.

3. How to drink spirits

Food and beverage pairings: what goes well with spirits

food pairings with spirits

The ideal pairings depend on the type of spirit and its aroma.

In general, spirits can go well with cheese and charcuterie, as well as with dessert and fruit.

In cocktails, common pairings are with other spirits, non-alcoholic beverages such as syrups, and soft drinks such as juices, soda, and tonic water.

The appropriate manners to drink spirits

etiquette rules for drinking spirits

Moderation: Drink responsibly and in moderation. Know your tolerance and never overindulge. If you are drinking, arrange for a designated driver or use public transportation. If you have had enough to drink or feel uncomfortable in a situation, it is perfectly acceptable to say no to more alcohol.

Pacing: When ordering a cocktail at a bar, be polite and patient with the bartender. When tasting spirits, take small sips and savor the flavors. Avoid guzzling.

Hydration: Drink water in between alcoholic beverages to stay hydrated and lessen the effects of alcohol. Eating food while drinking can help absorb alcohol and reduce its effects.

4. Etiquette mistakes when serving or drinking spirits

Avoid these faux pas:

  • Not checking the legal age.
  • Pressuring someone into drinking.
  • Serving spirits in the wrong glasses.
  • Drinking without moderation.
  • Guzzling spirits.

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