The Everyday Guide to Spirits and Cocktails: Tastes and Traditions

Course No. 9144
Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, Master of Wine and Certified Specialist of Spirits
Institute of Masters of Wine
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Course No. 9144
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Course Overview

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
 |  Average 31 minutes each
  • 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

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Video Download Includes:
  • Download 8 video lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
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Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 8 lectures on 2 DVDs
  • 200-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

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Course Guidebook Details:
  • 200-page printed course guidebook
  • Photos
  • Glossary
  • Biographical notes

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Your professor

Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan

About Your Professor

Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, Master of Wine and Certified Specialist of Spirits
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 &...
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Reviews

The Everyday Guide to Spirits and Cocktails: Tastes and Traditions is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 38.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Too superficial I loved Jennifer's Guide to Wine, but this course was not helpful in deciding which spirit to buy, especially the whiskies. A lot of time watching her sip and taste, and not much help with distinguishing the character of specific areas or brands. On the positive side, the price was very reasonable as it was on sale.
Date published: 2018-11-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative and useful Lots of great information, presented in an easy to understand and digest format. Interesting recipes that I will certainly use.
Date published: 2018-07-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Intro to Spirits Great short course that introduces the classes of spirits then has a professional make a couple cocktails from that spirit. For each spirit, the professor: -shows one or more examples -talks about how it is made (oddly, the distilling process and device is animated and very detailed) -tastes and compares/contrasts The viewer is encouraged to participate in the tasting and is given a heads up on what to have available for the next lecture. As mentioned by others, the camera work is irritating at times with the quickly changing angles. That brand labels will be blurred in one scene, then mentioned by name in the next scene is curious. Overall, a good introduction to satisfy the mildly curious (me) or to whet the appetite for someone who decides to delve deeper.
Date published: 2018-07-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Vert interesting I like the information that is presented. Knowing a little bit of the history, the distilling process and what you are looking for in a spirit helps a lot when choosing a spirit. I enhoy the presentation.
Date published: 2018-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Product Saw this and had to have it! I’ve been enjoying it ever since!
Date published: 2018-05-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fun and informative There is lots of information on spirits in this series, and the presentation is excellent. In particular, I have much greater appreciation and understanding of Rums and Whiskeys.
Date published: 2018-03-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from educational and fun What a delightful course. I have quite a bit of knowledge about wine but know little about spirits, except for trying a cocktail or two in my younger years and those spirits distilled from grapes.. The lecturer was able to convey a great amount of knowledge in a short time. If you want to know what spirits you are drinking (or might want to drink) at your local bar, restaurant or home (wine is another subject and another great course) this course is well worth your time. I have only one very minor complaint. The course was apparently filmed by several cameras from different angles and the lecturer isn’t always facing the active camera. This is just a visual distraction and doesn’t detract from the material.
Date published: 2018-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Light, Lively and Informative I first watched these 'lectures' a little over four years age, and have refreshed myself with particular lectures topics (Scotch and Tequila are the most interesting) over the years. The two add-on lectures give you some practical tips as well. Well done! A special toast to the times the course is on sale with a coupon chaser.
Date published: 2018-02-12
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