Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Don't Knock It 'til You Try It, Ms. Bourbon

Sometimes I can be a snob. It's not something I'm particularly proud of, but it's true.

One reason I like bourbon so much is because it doesn't "hurt me." It doesn't give me headaches the next day like some alcohols can. One way I make sure to avoid those headaches is to not drink "below" a certain cutoff. I'm not gonna lie - I *like* top shelf. Additionally, I'm not moved to waste my allotted calories on crap. I want the good stuff if I'm only having a little. Right?

Perhaps that last paragraph was a pretty lame excuse for my snobbery. Oh well. I'm not perfect.

Getting on with it - I originally considered Jim Beam to be below my cutoff. It's not expensive, it's readily available, it's very well known, and so I figured it must be no good. Not complex enough, and probably something that would hurt me, come morning. Not even the company's recent hire of Mila Kunis as spokeswoman convinced me - and that's saying something. I'm all about a smart, beautiful woman telling me what to do. Ha. As happens all too often these days, I found out I was so very wrong.

I'm pretty choosy about who I listen to on different topics. I tend not to be convinced of something until I am first convinced that this person knows what they're talking about. (No offense, Mila, but you *are* being paid to sell it.)

Recently I met a bourbon friend. Well, actually I had met him years ago, but recently we discovered our mutual love of bourbon and became friends. What better thing to bond over? ;) As it turns out, although this guy, Carlos, is younger than me, he figured out that bourbon was awesome well before I did. He has family in Kentucky and they know what's up, so he's been a bourbon guy for years. So. Carlos and I had the chance to try a few bourbons together on a couple occasions and he kept telling me that Jim Beam was good. I resisted this. I thought it couldn't possibly be true. Yet Carlos insisted. He knew how to appreciate different bourbons and was able to detect flavors and nuances in them that I was not. I started to listen to him.

I tried Jim Beam. Now - I didn't go in all the way and buy a bottle. I was out at a local pub and they didn't have many bourbons to choose from. I saw Jim Beam and ordered it, thinking I'd tell Carlos I'd tried it and to quit with telling me to. Turns out he was right. It's very easy to drink, sweet without being too sweet, and just enough heat to prove it's whiskey. Very nice. For the price, you really can't beat it.

So it's official. I'm a fan. Just goes to show I shouldn't knock it 'til I try it. I've had it several times since that first night. No hurting. Just a nice, basic bourbon. I suppose they know what they're doing over there at Jim Beam. ::shrug::

If you'd like to watch Mila learn the Kentucky Chew, click here. It's cute.

Cheers, people! Go try something new today. :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Eddie asked why bourbon is gaining popularity among women. Here's what I said:

I am part of a few bourbon groups on Facebook, and Eddie is the guy who admins some of them. He asked. I answered...

Clearly, not all women are the same, so I cannot speak for them all, nor would they want me to. The easy answer to why more women are trying bourbon is that as something gains popularity, more people try it - men and women. I'm sure there are many more men drinking it now, too.

Certainly, it is being marketed to women, but I’m not convinced that it makes much of a difference that the aim is women. I think what’s making the difference is that it’s got a higher profile in general. There are magazine covers with whiskey, articles all over the place, and it’s showing up more and more as a drink in mainstream TV and movies and such. Which means it’s also showing up in fun cocktails at cool bars across the land.

I began drinking whiskey for three main reasons. First, I noticed classic cocktails on the menus of my favorite bars. Deciding to be fashionable, I started ordering sidecars and old fashioneds and manhattans. I tended to enjoy the latter two because they weren’t so sweet. More on that in a bit. I had been a wine and then a vodka drinker: martinis, then cosmos, then flavored vodka/soda on the rocks. I drank those things because they were popular, I admit. I thought grown ups drank wine, but I realized it gave me headaches. I really didn’t know much about alcohol and just ordered what I’d heard of to be honest. But, to continue with my thought above - I know men were drinking a lot of vodka and martinis at the time, too.

Second, my cousin introduced me to sazeracs. Oh my goodness. This is still my favorite drink, no question. I fell in love because it tasted a-MA-zing, and because my cousin is a badass and everything he does is cool. Plus, no headache the next day. Sold. 

Then, lastly, back to the sugar thing. One of the reasons I had moved from martinis and cosmos to vodka/soda was because I was counting calories. I wouldn’t even use tonic because there were 10 calories in it, versus 0 in soda. I fell in love with the whiskey cocktails, but still - there was sugar in them. So…I did what any self respecting calorie counter would do - cut the sugar and go neat. I found that bourbon was freaking delicious all by itself. So are other whiskeys. Score!!! 

I was so impressed with the complex flavors I could taste in a bourbon that I started trying them ALL…then becoming a bourbon geek with a bourbon sensei and new best friend, my local liquor store buyer, Dominic…and now I talk about it every day and blog as well - and renamed myself Ms. Bourbon!

Sure, I think of it as a more masculine drink and call myself a badass all the time for drinking it neat - bring on the barrel proof! But the more I talk about it, the more I find women who love it as much - well close to as much - as I do. Really. Enough in this small midwestern town I live in to be planning to put together a bourbon posse made up entirely of women. :D 

Maybe women don’t feel the need to talk about it as much, so it seems like less women enjoy it? I’m not sure. I bet, though, if you dudes asked around a little, you’d find that many women you know love it. There are badass women all around you - they just may be keeping it their little secret. ;)