Spirituous beverages (also called schnapps) are highly concentrated distilates and basis for almost all cocktails. For mixed drinks, products in the low and middle price range are best suited. Really expensive and exclusive bottles you should drink pure.
A bottle of absinthe.
Absinthe is world-famous, most of the time green, very strong (45-85 %vol.) and there are some recipes for mixed drinks.
Vermouth, anise, fennel and further herbs are inserted into high proof alcohol and later distiled. The green colour develops naturally, that's why absinthe has the nickname "green fairy". Low quality products are colourized with green or seldom red or black food colour.
It's rumoured that absinthe has a psychedelic effect because of the chemical compound thujone from vermouth. But the concentration of thujone is regulated in most countries, its hardly noticeable.
Because its such a strong spirit, absinthe is normally drunken diluted.
A bottle of brandy.
Brandy is a spirit made of distiled vine. High quality products should be drunken pure, but there are cheaper bottles for cocktails available. We have some recipes with brandy, but its only part of an extended stock for a small cocktail bar at home.
In the European Union exist strict laws for what you can sell as brandy. At least half of the amount must be distiled vine and ageing in oak casks is mandatory. Its allowed to add maximum 3% of sugar or colouring caramel.
A bottle of cachaça
Cachaça is world-famous and used for many cocktails.
In contrast to rum, cachaça is made only of sugar cane. It has an alcohol content of about 40 % vol. For a more refined taste most companies add a couple of grammes sugar to the distilate.
Cachaça is a protected name, it has to be made in Brazil.
Caipirinha is the most famous cocktail with cachaça.
A bottle of cognac from Prince
Cognac is a spirit produced by distiling white wine. The name is a protected designation of origin, it has to be made in the region Cognac in France.
There are several mix drinks with cognac, but a good bottle should be drunken pure.
- Remy Martin
A bottle of Gordons gin, a famous gin brand
Gin is a spirit that tastes of juniper berries and has an alcohol content of about 40 % vol. It's a tasty alcohol with a wide use for cocktails.
Starchy, floury raw materials are fermented to a mash. Juniper berries and another about 120 ingredients are added before the distilation to the mash, or get steamed with the alcoholic-steam during the distilation process to extract their flavours. That's how the typical taste of gin is generated. Every producer uses different spices, that's what makes the biggest differences in taste, but the dominant flavour of juniper berries is present in all products.
A bottle of grappa
Grappa is a distilate from Italy or the Italian part of Switzerland. Its made of grape marc (residues of vine production: peels, stones, stems and squeezed out pulp of grapes). Its a strong spirit with an alcohol content of 40 to 60 % vol.
Grappa is generally consumed neatly. Its great in combination with coffee, but barely to find in other mixed drinks.
Production process of spirits
Starting with an alcohol-containing mash, heat is used to distilate it. After that mainly ethanol, some water, aromas, fusel oils and more taste determinant agents are collected in the condensation vessel.
This procedure is based on the fact that alcohol has a lower boiling point than water. Alcohol evapourates before water when heating up the mash and concentrates with 30-90 % vol in the condensation vessel. There are different techniques, some of them are repeated up to 3 times.
Most products are diluted with water after distilation. That's for having a constant and milder product.
After distilation most of the liquids are transparent. Not until ageing in wooden barrels or by adding colouring caramel the colour changes to amber/brown. New flavours are generated during the ageing process, which usually results in smoother and tastier products.
A bottle of Hanava Club and Bacardi, two famous rum brands
Rum is the most consumed spirit in Latin America and famous all around the world. It exists tonnes of drink recipes with rum, it most be present in every bar.
Industrial rum is made from sugar molasses or sugar-cane juice and chaffed sugar cane. The alcohol content is about 40 % vol. White rum is aged in steel barrels in opposite to brown rum, which is aged in oaken casks. Most manufacturer add colouring caramel for a sweeter taste and a better look. Its mostly produced in Latin America and in similar amounts drunken.
A bottle of Sierra Tequila
Tequila is made from the heart of the blue agave and has a high alcohol content of about 40 to 50 % vol. Tequila is used for many drinks, a basic spirit for every bar.
Silver tequila is transparent and gets bottled straight after the distilation.
Golden tequila is a mixture of silver and aged in oak cask tequila. For a smoother taste and a better look most companies add colouring caramel, oak extracts, glycerin, or sugar-based syrup.
There are lots of good cocktails with tequila, its highly recommended to have some in your bar. Margarita is probably the most famous drink with tequila. World-famous are also tequila-shots with salt and lemon. A really good tequila must be drunken pure.
A bottle of Cointeau, a famous triple sec brand
Triple sec is an orange spirit like curaçao, but stronger, with about 40% of alcohol. The sweet aroma of oranges is ideal to refine more dominant spirits. We have plenty of recipes with triple sec.
Dried orange peel and further spices are pickled in high proof alcohol to dissolve their aromas. Artificial flavourings are added instead in low quality products.
A bottle of Smirnoff Vodka, a famous vodka brand
Vodka is a tasteless spirit composed of ethanol and water, which is excellent for cocktails. Vodka should be part of every bar.
Only in Russia and the Ukraine a purity law exists that vodka has to be made from patatoes, cereals or sugar molasses. Depending of the production country they use typically potatoes, rye, wheat, barley or seldom corn or rice for the mash.
After distilation vodka gets philtreed to remove fusel oils and accompanying flavours. Most companies add some sugar to the final product to improve taste.
For cocktails vodka is mainly used to add alcohol to drinks. Mixed with a sour ingredient, like lemon juice, the taste of alcohol is barely noticeable. For people who want to drink but don't like the taste of alcohol, we recommend cocktails with vodka and lemon juice, which gets its final palatable taste form other ingredients like fruit juices, syrups or sodas.
By the way, because vodka is philtreed, means poisonous fusel oils are removed, it makes less hangover and less boozy breath than other spirits.
A bottle of whiskey
Whiskey (water of life) is a spirit made from cereals and contains about 40% vol. of alcohol. The taste of most whiskeys is mainly dominated by malted barley. For the fermentation yeast is added. In Europe it has to be aged at least 3 years in wooden barrels to be called whiskey.
Whiskey is widely used for mixed drinks and should be part of every bar.