Give me a nice glass of Pinot Grigio and I’ll be very happy, but give me one more glass of venomous paint-stripper vodka mixed with economy lemonade and you might send me to breaking point. It may at first glance appear to be the cheap option, but essentially you are still paying around £10 for a bottle of wince-inducing, unpleasant swigging and slurping. What’s the point in grimacing your way through life? The Liquorists suggest you simply make a few minor alterations to your drinking habits, and make way for another sensation to experience on top of your waves of tipsiness and sozzlement: pleasure.
The Liquorists are otherwise known as Jody Monteith and Tom Sneesby, who are Manchester-based bartenders specialising as drinks consultants. With a strong urge to teach others in the art of enjoyable drinking, their mantra is ‘drink less, but better’, which is more applicable to students than may be initially apparent. Encouraging people to follow this mind-set is by no means a hindrance to inebriation (au contraire, my friends) but simply the idea that moving away from the cheapest drink in the bar may actually do you a favour. “There’s no satisfaction in it whatsoever,” says Jody, who believes that one good cocktail can cost the price of two of its cheaper counterparts, but will arouse at least double the satisfaction and usually has the same alcoholic content.
One of the main teaching tools that The Liquorists utilise is their rum, vodka, gin, whisky and tequila trails, which take the pub crawl concept and elevate it up a notch to the glittery world of cocktails, bars, and premium spirits. As you hop from bar to bar, you are given a specially selected drink, which attempts to showcase the best that the spirit has to offer. As well as this, the evening includes a meal, food pairings throughout and neat samples of the spirit in question. Each of the trails cost from £35, where you’ll receive a night worth almost four times that. According to Jody, “Rum’s one of the biggest categories, because within rum there’s something for everyone. It’s a massive category, and it’s also made from sugar, which makes it very approachable.” Whisky, on the other hand, is a fairly recent addition to the trails, but the venture has surprised even the host. “I think it was a big turning point for us. We weren’t too sure if our demographic would buy into whiskey, and it was the biggest event we ever did.” Jody mentions how he and other organisers were of the opinion that the whisky trail would predominantly involve the older man, but “it wasn’t the case, it was about 60% female,” with a surprisingly youthful turnout to make up “a full spectrum of drinkers.”
However, these guys also believe the same mantra can be applied at home: “If you can make a cup of tea or beans on toast, then you can make a cocktail,” Jody assures me. He explains that all you need is ice and citrus, “Regardless of what kind of booze you’ve got – whether it be spirit, liqueur, wine or port.” He adds, “After that, it’s what you do with it. The principal of making a cocktail is exactly the same as cooking: it’s all about balance; it’s all about formula; and it’s all about understanding ratios of things.”
One example that he gave us was a simple way of making a strawberry daiquiri at home. His recipe uses two eggcups of white rum, one eggcup of fresh lime juice and one eggcup of strawberry jam, which Jody explains has “all the fruit content for the flavour that you get from a liqueur, and it has all the sweetness that you get from sugar syrup.” The genius of it is that you can then use the jam jar to shake it in.
All of these ideas embrace the concept of having the optimum drinking experience, which sounds uncannily like many a student’s ethos – does it not? As I sipped on the port Cobbler cocktail that had just been made for me, a strangely refreshing blend of port, cassis, bourbon, grapefruit juice and lemon juice, I found myself relishing each sip. Having never been a fan of port, it just showed what a bit of ice and citrus can do.
The Liquorists’ top money-saving tips
– Stock up with ice and citrus. These two ingredients comprise the bare minimum for a drink – along with your spirit of choice, these can be fashioned into something delicious with ease.
– Make use of what you have at home. No one expects you to go and buy expensive bottles of liqueurs or syrups, so improvise. Jams can make a great replacement for fruit syrup, and sugar syrup can be made simply at home by heating equal quantities of sugar and water. One barspoon is equivalent to one teaspoon measure, and rolling pins can make perfectly adequate muddlers.
– Go seasonal. This can mean anything from fruit to alcohol – port, in particular, is always on offer during the Christmas season and can be made into surprisingly tasty cocktails.
– Don’t buy the cheapest bottle of booze. Even if you just spend £3 more on the next one up, your taste buds will reap the rewards. Why not spend an extra few bob for a genuinely enjoyable drink? There are always exceptions to the rule, evident as Jody (rather reluctantly) tells us how he was “actually quite impressed” as to how good Asda Smart-price white rum is, but also recommends Aldi’s second-cheapest gin.
– Don’t go for the cheapest drink in a bar. As Jody says, there’s no satisfaction in it whatsoever. Look out for happy hours, where you can often enjoy half price cocktails with a lot more taste.
We are also teaming up with The Liquorists for a rum giveaway! To be in with a chance of winning a bottle of premium Brugal rum, just tweet @theliquorists with the answer to the following question, followed by #drinksavvy:
‘Brugal Blanco is a premium white rum from which Caribbean island?’
Both The Mancunion and The Liquorists promote responsible drinking. You must be over 18 to enter, and will be asked to provide identification. The prize is non-transferrable.
Facebook: The Liquorists