Whiskey 101: A Primer For Beginners

Meghan Cross
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oldfashioned Whiskey 101: A Primer For BeginnersThere was a time when speakeasies were more than just dimly lit bars with a doorbell—they were actually necessary boîtes for those with parched lips during Prohibition in the United States, which lasted from 1920 to 1933.
In honor of Prohibition Day, the anniversary of America’s right to consume cocktails (over the age of 21, of course) we asked renowned cocktail expert and Founder and President of The Museum of the American Cocktail, Dale DeGroff, for his top tips for appreciating whiskey.
Why whiskey? Because it’s awesome, at least according to women who have upped their consumption of this spirit by 30 percent over the last year. And call us “Old-Fashioned,” but we here in chilly “Manhattan” look to whiskey as our cozy cocktail solution. (Had to be done).
Here, DeGroff’s top tips for enjoying whiskey with the best of them.
1. Whiskey and Citrus Are a Match Made In Cocktail Heaven. “Whiskey loves citrus fruits because they add a beautiful sweetness to the smoke and wood tastes that often accompany whiskey,” DeGroff shared. “Try a splash of lemon juice or even just the zest with a great rye like Bulleit—it’s a great place to start for those new to whiskey.”
2. Stay Away From Tropical Fruits. “While whiskey may love lemons and limes, it’s not particularly fond of tropical fruits,” DeGroff says. “Leave the pineapple and mango juices for rum cocktails.”
3. Whiskey, Whenever, Wherever. When we asked DeGroff what the best time to consume whiskey is, he shared: “As often as possible! In all seriousness, it all depends on your mood and what whiskey you’re drinking. If you have a sipping whiskey like George Dickel Barrel Select, save it for low key occasions and great conversation.  If you’re out enjoying an evening on the town, try a Manhattan with Crown Royal Black or George Dickel Rye.”
4. What To Serve Newbie Whiskey Drinkers. “If you’re new to whiskey, consider starting with American bourbons,” DeGroff says. “They’re traditionally a bit sweeter and will allow you to work your way into the spicy ryes with time.”
5. Water, Water, Water. “Don’t underestimate the power of water,” DeGroff says. “Mix a splash of water with your whiskey and throw it on the rocks—you’ll get an entirely different set of aromas and flavors than sipping it neat.”
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