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The Everyday Guide to Spirits and Cocktails: Tastes and Traditions

The Everyday Guide to Spirits and Cocktails: Tastes and Traditions

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The Everyday Guide to Spirits and Cocktails: Tastes and Traditions

The Everyday Guide to Spirits and Cocktails: Tastes and Traditions

Course No.  9144
Course No.  9144
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Course Overview

About This Course

8 lectures  |  31 minutes per lecture

Scotch sipped from a tumbler on a cold evening. A shot of gin adding a pleasantly sharp bite to an after-work cocktail. The satisfying sweetness of aged rum enhancing a homemade punch. Regardless of where, when, or how you enjoy them, spirits offer a nearly limitless array of tastes, aromas, sensations, and traditions.

Yet despite their varying degrees of sophistication, spirits can be understood and enjoyed by anyone. Knowing the secrets of tequila, cognac, whiskey, cordials, and more—their history, their production, their varieties, their uses—can offer endless rewards for both you and others. It can transform you into someone who knows how to make parties exciting, unique affairs; someone who can easily pick the perfect gift to impress a cherished friend or important business client; someone who knows how to order the best drinks to match specific occasions.

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Scotch sipped from a tumbler on a cold evening. A shot of gin adding a pleasantly sharp bite to an after-work cocktail. The satisfying sweetness of aged rum enhancing a homemade punch. Regardless of where, when, or how you enjoy them, spirits offer a nearly limitless array of tastes, aromas, sensations, and traditions.

Yet despite their varying degrees of sophistication, spirits can be understood and enjoyed by anyone. Knowing the secrets of tequila, cognac, whiskey, cordials, and more—their history, their production, their varieties, their uses—can offer endless rewards for both you and others. It can transform you into someone who knows how to make parties exciting, unique affairs; someone who can easily pick the perfect gift to impress a cherished friend or important business client; someone who knows how to order the best drinks to match specific occasions.

In the six interactive lectures of The Everyday Guide to Spirits and Cocktails: Tastes and Traditions, join acclaimed expert Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, a Certified Specialist of Spirits, as she demystifies the world's most popular spirits and shows you how to

  • discover your own personal preferences,
  • make classic cocktail recipes just like a master mixologist, and
  • use little-known insider tips and techniques for tasting and shopping for spirits.

Taking you around the world from the comfort of your living room, these dynamic lectures feature fun and interactive tastings, illuminating interviews with industry experts, engaging footage that captures expert bartenders in action, virtual tours through the production process of spirits, and much more.

Discover the Secrets of Popular Spirits

Each lecture of The Everyday Guide to Spirits and Cocktails, filmed entirely on location at a nationally renowned venue, is devoted to a popular and well-known spirit. In each instance, Ms. Simonetti-Bryan provides interesting historical facts behind the spirit's origin; reveals the details of how each spirit is processed, aged, and flavored; demonstrates how to taste, judge, and compare the quality and complex notes of each spirit; and offers recipes for making the best cocktails that show off the spirit's unique characteristics.

  • Whiskey: At its core, whiskey is distilled beer aged in oak and the product of a fascinating process of malting, milling, and mashing grain. While Ireland and Scotland were the first official producers of whiskey, the United States, Canada, and even Japan also make it.
  • Tequila: Made from the root of agave plants, tequila gets its name from the Mexican town where it originated. In fact, tequila can only be called "tequila" if it comes from blue agave grown in the region of Jalisco and bordering states. Tequila from highland regions is more fruity and delicate, while tequila from lowland areas is more earthy and robust.
  • Vodka: One of the most popular spirits in both the United States and other parts of the world, vodka is a clear spirit that is extremely "mixable" for a variety of cocktails. It can be made from any fermentable agricultural product, including grain, potatoes, molasses, grapes, and even onions.

Make Amazing Cocktails—Just like a Mixologist

You'll also learn, from Ms. Simonetti-Bryan and award-winning bartenders, how to mix these and other spirits into a range of cocktails to fit any occasion. Among the cocktail recipes you'll find in these lectures are those for the best

  • Martini, the veritable "king of cocktails" that can be made with either gin or vodka and is best garnished with plenty of olives;
  • Brandy Alexander, a rich brandy cocktail that enhances the comfort of this popular spirit with its mix of dark crème de cacao, heavy cream, and nutmeg; and
  • Mojito, a refreshing blend of white rum, mint, simple syrup, lime juice, and soda water originally popularized by Cuban farmers.

Plus: Get Two Bonus Sessions with Insider's Tips

The Everyday Guide to Spirits and Cocktails comes with two bonus sessions featuring a wealth of tips—drawn from Ms. Simonetti-Bryan's expertise and experience—that you can use to dramatically change the way you think about shopping, tasting, making, and serving spirits and cocktails. Here are just three of the many tips you'll find, both in these bonus sessions and throughout the entire course.

  • Garnish your drink the right way: Garnishes are the perfect way to make any cocktail look delicious, impressive, and professional. For mint garnishes, make sure to use spearmint, as it has small leaves that don't wilt as easily as others. Also, the best oranges for garnishing are navel oranges, which have a thicker skin and less juice.
  • Pair the right spirit with the right dish: One tip for delicious spirit-food pairing is complementing a cocktail's flavor to the same flavor in the dish being served. One example: pairing a wild mushroom ravioli with scotch, as the earthy flavors of the dish create a strong connection to the peaty aromas in the scotch.
  • Make cocktails more figure-friendly: You can still enjoy spirits while trying to watch your weight by following helpful tips. These include avoiding sweet touches such as sugared rims, drinking cocktails with club soda mixers (which have few calories), and substituting some liqueurs, such as triple sec, with juice.

As a Certified Specialist of Spirits, one of the most prestigious titles in the spirits industry, Ms. Simonetti-Bryan lends an unparalleled authority to The Everyday Guide to Spirits and Cocktails. She has trained thousands in the industry, has judged in international spirits competitions, and is frequently sought after by the media for her incredible ability to make even the most complex aspects of spirits both easy to understand—and fun.

By the end of her interactive course, you'll have a comprehensive knowledge of spirits sure to make your next encounter with spirits—and all future ones—a deeper, more rewarding experience.

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8 Lectures
  • 1
    Vodka and Gin—The Cocktail Spirits
    First, Ms. Simonetti-Bryan offers you some pointed tips on how to make the most of learning with these interactive lectures. Then, begin your exploration with a closer look at vodka and gin. Both clear spirits are very mixable and usable for making classic cocktails such as Bloody Marys and Martinis (which you learn how to make here). But in order to truly appreciate the tastes and versatility of these popular spirits, you have to take a closer look at how they were discovered and how they're distilled. x
  • 2
    Whiskey—The Complex Spirit
    Here, shatter the myth of whiskey as a purely rough and rugged drink and uncover some of the incredible flavors, textures, and taste sensations to be found in single malt scotches, bourbon, fine oak scotch, and other intriguing whiskeys from around the world. Discover how the malting process works, why a whiskey's age is so important to its taste, the history of whiskey in Europe and America, and more. Also, watch a bartender make popular whiskey cocktails, including a mint julep and a Manhattan. x
  • 3
    Rum—The Versatile Spirit
    A darling to mixologists, spirits connoisseurs, and the average cocktail drinker alike, rum has one of the widest ranges of styles of any spirit. In this lecture, taste everything from rhum agricole (based on sugar cane juice) and white rum (based on molasses) to rums from Barbados and Jamaica. You'll train your nose and palate to recognize the distinct aromas and tastes of these delicious spirits, learn the terminology of rum to make shopping easier, and perfect the art of making daiquiris, Mojitos, and classic rum punch. x
  • 4
    Tequila and Mezcal—The Ancient Spirits
    Often considered to be the "bad boy" of spirits, tequila and mezcal are actually just as complex and beautifully sophisticated as whiskey, rum, and other spirits. How is tequila harvested and cooked from agave plants? Where do better tequilas come from—the lowland or highland regions of Jalisco? What are the taste differences between tequilas that are classified as joven, reposado, and añjeo? Is the myth about the "worm" in tequila bottles true? And how can you make the perfect Margarita just like a seasoned bartender? Find out all this and more here. x
  • 5
    Brandy—The Luxury Spirit
    Finish your journey through the tastes and traditions of spirits with a look at brandy, a wine-based spirit long associated with royalty and sophistication. You'll learn how French brandies such as cognac and armagnac are distilled and aged; compare this process with other brandies from Spain and South America; learn tips and tricks to getting the right kind of brandy to suit your personal palate; and get the secrets to making two classic brandy cocktails: a Brandy Alexander and a Sidecar. x
  • 6
    Liqueurs and Cordials—The Flavored Spirits
    Explore the sweet side of spirits with liqueurs, which serve as a veritable spice rack for enhancing the flavor of cocktails and meals. Ms. Simonetti-Bryan guides you through the distinct tastes and traditions of Amaretto, Drambuie, Cointreau, Angostura bitters, and more. Conclude the lecture with tips on making three iconic cocktails that feature liqueurs: Cosmopolitans, Champagne cocktails, and Black and White Russians. x
  • 7
    The Mixology Toolkit and Classic Recipes
    Jiggers. Shakers. Strainers. Muddlers. Learn why these and other bartending tools are so essential—and how to use them. Also, discover tips for using the right type of ice (such as shaved, cubed, or crushed) and the right type of glass (Martini glasses, cordial glasses, snifters) for your drink. Then, get expert recipes for seasonal cocktails, including sours, fizzes, and toddies. x
  • 8
    The Home Bar and Seasonal Recipes
    What does a fully stocked home bar look like? The kind that makes entertaining both fun and a breeze? Find out in this bonus lecture that covers the right selection of spirits, mixers, and garnishes to always have on hand. In addition, Ms. Simonetti-Bryan reveals the secrets of exceptional food and spirit pairings, techniques for making your own flavored spirits, popular seasonal recipes, and ways to make your cocktails more figure-friendly. x

Lecture Titles

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Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan
Master of Wine and Certified Specialist of Spirits Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan
Institute of Masters of Wine

Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan is among a small number of people to have received the highest credentials in the wine and spirits industry. She is one of only a few hundred people in the world to have achieved the Master of Wine (M.W.) title from The Institute of Masters of Wine in London, England-the highest and most difficult title to achieve in the industry. She also has a Professional Certificate in Spirits from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and is a Certified Specialist of Spirits from the Society of Wine Educators. Ms. Simonetti-Bryan has taught courses for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, has trained thousands of professionals in the wine and spirits industry, and has judged international spirits and wine competitions, including the Ultimate Beverage Challenge in 2010 and 2011. She has also hosted seminars with Food Network stars such as Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay, and Mario Batali. In 2008, she won the Wiesbaden Tasting Trophy from The Institute of Masters of Wine. Ms. Simonetti-Bryan is a frequent guest on television programs, including Fox Business, Fox News, and Bloomberg TV. Additionally, she has been featured in publications such as Fortune, Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and Wine & Spirits Magazine.

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Reviews

Rated 4.7 out of 5 by 20 reviewers.
Rated 5 out of 5 by Not to be Missed! This is an excellent course for anyone interested in the usual, and not so usual spirits used to make cocktails or just taken neat/ on the rocks here in the United States. The presentation is upbeat with jazz background music, and the presenter has all the skills to make the experience meaningful. Her delivery is interesting, and with her use of examples, she obviously knows her subject matter; the photography is sparkling and colourful, with great backdrops and on-site locations for interest. The process and history of the manufacturing of the products is discussed, along with the practical application of making drinks. Perhaps the best course I have purchased from the Great Courses, this one is "Great". December 9, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by Good Value Great course for a basic understanding of distillation and spirit tasting. I love having the list of spirits in each course so that I can taste along with each lecture. I'm hoping there will be another series that expands on the material in this set. November 30, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by Fantastic !!! This was my first DVD course from The Teaching Company and it was well worth the price. The instructor is wonderful. I plan on watching it again soon and only wish there was a part II or perhaps a course which continued to focus on mixing drinks. Strongly recommended! May 4, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by Savor--the fourth step! See, sniff, sip, savor--the four steps to evaluate a spirit as presented by Ms. Simonetti-Bryan. This course takes sprits out of the party-room and bar-room, and places them into a rarified category of complex creations. I have had little interest in spirits--mostly my interest is in wine, but this course opens spirits for me to an interest level similar to that of wine. I knew that spirits result from a distillation process, but I did not know the wide range of plant and grain sources--along with proportions-- from which spirits are produced. From the presentations in this course, spirits take on an almost magical quality. The course does not make me want to drink spirits, but rather sip some of the different types and taste some possible combinations of resulting cocktails. This course is to savor! March 17, 2014
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