Serious Eats: Drinks
7 Cocktail Resolutions for 2014
Resolve in 2014 to be a better you! Bear-hug your youness! Revel in the youness that is your youness. Encourage everyone to also embrace your youness. Especially the cute co-worker you keep trying to talk to in the break room.
Or. Don't do any of that. It's creepy.
Instead, relax and have a drink. Take a break and think about all the boozy stuff you ever wanted to do. Now's your year. If you don't have any boozy stuff you always wanted to do, here are a few ideas.
Take a Break From Perfection
With holiday entertaining over, there's no longer any reason to worry about finding the just-right match for Mushroom Bourguignon or roast duck or the Feast of Seven Anythings.
Let things just be.
Zen calm. Breathe. Do your lotus or whatever.
Your favorite boxed wine is okay. A handle (a 1.75-liter bottle) of budget bourbon is just fine. It's not your pocketbook you're protecting as much as it is your mind. Give your worrying brain a break, pick up whatever booze makes you happy, and let go of 'perfect pairings'.
At least until Valentine's Day.
Go to Tastings
How are you going to know what you like, if you never taste anything new? Many liquor stores and wine shops offer regular free tastings, usually in the early evening or on weekends; you can come in, taste an ounce or two of a spirit or wine, and chat a little bit with a representative from the spirit or wine brand. Did I mention "free"? Of course, the brand rep and the liquor store owner both want you to buy a bottle of the spirit you're tasting, but you're not obligated to, and so tastings are a great way to expand your palate and try some new stuff.
Check out the schedule on your local store's website, and make a note on your calendar so you won't forget to stop by.
Read a Book
Take a Class
All sorts of places offer cocktail classes now: liquor stores, bar-supply shops, housewares stores, bars, and restaurants. Generally, you can learn various aspects of home mixology. These classes are often not free, but the charge is normally manageable, about $25–30, and you get to drink up every cocktail you make and discuss.
Make New Drinks
Going to tastings at liquor stores can introduce you to new cocktail ingredients, but a new year is also a great time to hunt out unfamiliar recipes to try at home. Here on SE: Drinks we run new recipes every week, and of course, you can also tap into your ever-growing cocktail library for inspiration.
Need to start right away? Hey, I admire your gumption. Check out these ten lesser-known cocktails, and be sure to read the comments; the SE community offered up some great additions to the list.
Pick a New Focus
Sure, you have your go-to bottles, the spirits you turn to for reliability and cost-effectiveness. I know I do. But this could be the year that you really branch out. Pick a spirit you don't know enough about (for me, that's tequila), and just start buying everything you can find. Even if your budget only allows, for example, one new tequila a month, by the end of 2014, you'll have tried 12 new tequilas, and you'll know a little more about the category than you ever did before.
Introduce Someone to Good Vermouth or Amaro
Most of these resolutions are about educating yourself, but this year, resolve to share the wealth a little and teach a thing or two to someone else. Most Americans are still woefully unaware of how awesome vermouths and amari can be. You can help remedy that. Next time you're visiting a friend or loved one for dinner, take along a bottle of something you think they've never tried before.