Today, let’s learn about some of our favorite adult beverages, kind of my version of a public service announcrment.
India Pale Ales — better known as IPAs — were not brewed in India. In fact, back when this kind of beer was invented in the 1700s, brewers didn’t have a good way to brew beer in such a hot climate. Beer had to be imported instead, and that meant that London brewers needed to come up with something that wouldn’t spoil on the long trip around the horn of Africa to British India. Their solution was to make beer with lots of hops and a higher alcohol content, which helped preserve the beer on the voyage and ensure that it was in peak drinking shape upon its arrival. IPAs became popular not just in India but back home in England, too. But before you start thinking that IPAs are a quintessentially British beer, there’s more to the story. IPAs grew less popular in the UK and altogether disappeared from English pubs around the turn of the century. They owe their current popularity to brewers and drinkers in the United States, where changing laws in the 1970s led to an explosion in small brewing operations. Home brewers and small breweries love IPAs because the high hop content in these beers allows for distinctive and creative tastes — and the fact that strong, bitter hops help hide inconsistencies in the brewing process probably doesn’t hurt, either. In general, the only time I have an IPA is at the ballpark.
Which flavor is added to Grand Marnier, Curacao, and Triple Sec?
(Winespeed) These orange liqueurs appear in classic cocktails like the Margarita, Sidecar, Long Island Iced Tea, and Cosmopolitan—no respectable home bar should be without at least one. Liqueur is not the French spelling of “liquor” but a combination of a liquor (a distilled spirit such us vodka or brandy) with added sugar and flavorings. Curaçao was first made by Dutch settlers on the island of Curaçao in the 19th century. A traditionally rum-based liqueur, it ranges from 15-40% abv and is made with tropical oranges. Avoid cheap versions appearing in artificial orange, blue, and green hues—true Curaçao is clear. Grand Marnier was created in 1880 by Frenchman Louis-Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle from a mix of Cognac, distilled bitter orange essence, and sugar. At 40% abv, Grand Marnier is the incendiary ingredient in Crêpes Suzette, the quintessential French dessert made by dousing a crêpe, or buttery pancake, with it and flambéing briefly. Triple sec is a drier style of orange liqueur, whose name is thought to be a translation of the words “triple dry.” The drink was first released in 1875 and is made using a mix of sweet and bitter orange peels and sugar beet alcohol. Cointreau claims to be the world’s first triple sec producer and is 40% abv. If you have never tried any of these over ice, I suggest trying it for a refreshing change of pace.
How much tea is sipped cold? Eighty five percent of all tea consumed in the U.S. today is sipped cold, according to the U.S. Tea Association. The first “iced teas” in America were alcohol bombs concocted during the Colonial Era. But the simple, summer, “on the rocks” beverage that we enjoy today wasn’t even possible for any but the very wealthy until the mid-19th century. Advances in extraction, refrigeration, and shipping lowered the price of ice (which at the time was cut from frozen lakes in winter) sending its demand through the roof. My personal favorites are the fruit flavored iced teas.
And as an added bonus, cognac lesson:Unlike virtually all wines, most Cognacs are expected to be consistent year after year. Cellar masters achieve consistency by a complex and continual process of blending different lots of brandy, each of which may be a different age. Cognacs are classified according to the age of the youngest oak-aged brandy (or eaux-de-vie) in the blend. So, the average age of a Cognac is usually considerably older. The original age designations of Cognac are in English because Cognac has been exported for centuries, and the first importers were English. Today 96% of production is sold outside of France. Dozens of other nicknames in both English and French have joined the lexicon, making Cognacs labels notoriously difficult to decipher. (Remember Hazel?)
The official aging classifications used most often: VS – Very Special, 3 Etoiles, ***, Sélection, De Luxe minimum of 2 years VSOP – Very Superior Old Pale, Réserve, Vieux, Rare, Royal minimum of 4 years XO – Extra Old, Hors d’âge, Extra, Ancestral, Ancêtre, Or, Gold, Impérial minimum of 10 years XXO – Extra Extra Old minimum of 14 years
Other aging classifications:
Supérieur, Cuvée Supérieure, Qualité Supérieure minimum of 3 years
Vieille Réserve, Réserve, Rare, Réserve, Royale minimum of 5 years Napoléon, Très Vieille Réserve, Très Vieux, Héritage, Très Rare, Suprême minimum of 6 years
Thanks to Winespeed for their research. I only drink the stuff.