A Lesson on Liquor Brands for New Bartenders

While creating this online bartending school, I was bartending at a lounge in the adorable town of Pine Mountain Club, California.  The owner of Basecamp Cafe and Info Lounge reached out to me and thought it would be a great idea to do a 1 day recreational bartending workshop.  Because the cafe only had a wine and beer license, they had recently acquired an amazing set of liquor substitutes by Premium Blend.  It was win-win for everyone involved!  We promoted the new products to the attendee’s, I got to teach bartending to a fun crowd and film the whole thing for you to enjoy!

I’ve cut the video’s into short lessons so you can get an idea of what is involved in learning to become a bartender. Keep in mind that this series of videos were filmed at location while I was teaching a crash-crash course on how to bartend for recreational proposes.  This is completely different from the online bartending course that I created for those who actually want a deeper understanding on how to become a bartender.

In this short video, I discuss the importance of knowing your liquor brands and how learning the shapes of the bottles can help immensely!

If you’d like to take our official course then click the Enroll Now button below to learn more!

A Lesson on Event Bartending for New Bartenders

Setup for your Bartending Event

A place for everything, and everything in its place! Bartenders live and die by this rule. If you set up your work space the same way, every time, your life will be so much easier.

When you are busy you won’t have to look or read labels. If you stretch your left hand out, your fingers hit the necks of the bottles and you know the pattern vodka…gin… rum… while your right hand is icing the glass in a smooth, organized ballet of motion.

In the same way, you can organize your fruit juices/mixes, garnishes, and bulk premixes (e.g. Bloody Mary) to optimize efficiency. A couple of minutes spent at the beginning can save you hundreds of minutes over the course of your shift.

 

 

 

A Lesson on Bartending Tools for New Bartenders


It is said that “a poor workman blames their tools”, but it can be a simple matter of not understanding how to use them properly. There are some very specific tools, unique to bartending, and you need to know their function to use them properly.  We go over way more tools and how to use them in our online bartending school!

If you’re making a mojito, you need to be able to bruise the mint leaves to release their flavor. Just dropping them in the drink will accomplish nothing!

If whatever you’re mixing has solid pieces that you don’t want to wind up in the drink, there’s a tool for that, and you have to know how to use it.

If you’re going to be fast, efficient, and looked upon as highly competent, you need to know how to pick your pour spouts and pour accurately. The best bartenders don’t measure—they know!

Want to start a fun and rewarding career a great Bartender? Do you want to accomplish that without paying hundreds or thou$and$? Our online bartending school is the way to go!

A Lesson on Bar Setup for New Bartenders

When you are bartending an event you typically wear fairly formal attire.  This would include black slacks, black non-slip shoes, a black or white shirt, with a black or white tie, and a black vest or a black jacket depending on the expected temperature of your working environment.

Sometimes your client will ask you to try to fit into the theme of their event.  Ordinarily your own personal (non-working) wardrobe should provide what you need.  Don’t go crazy and try to win the costume contest.  Dress to fit in, not to stand out.

Arrive early and get the things that need to be on ice, on ice!  Nobody appreciates warm Chablis or a room-temperature beer.  If you didn’t prepare your garnishes ahead of time and bring them with you, make sure you have enough time to get them ready before your show starts.

Whether you’re at a table, a pass-through window, or portable bar, set things up the best you can, given the circumstances.  Build a small display of what you have available, so you won’t have to recite beer or wine brands all shift.  The more you prepare, the easier your shift!

Want to learn more about Bartending?  Want to start a fun and rewarding career as a bartender?  Do you want to accomplish all that without paying hundred$ or thou$and$ for a bartending school course? Contact us for more info

 

 

What Is The Legal Bartending Age In Each State?

Majority of Bartenders & Servers

   STATE                        Bartending Age                                   Wait staff

Alphabetic         “on premises” establishment

  • Alabama                                   21                                                           19 (adult supervision required)
  • Alaska                                       21                                                           21
    83 towns prohibit the sale/possession of alcohol in Alaska and in Fairbanks it is illegal to give any alcoholic beverage to a moose.  It is also illegal to be drunk and remain in a bar.
  • Arizona                                     19                                                           19
  • Arkansas                                  21                                                           19
    Parental consent is required for those working with alcohol under the age of 21.
  • California                                 21                                                           18
    Servers in California can be convicted of selling alcohol to a minor if the purchaser uses a false or altered ID to buy the alcohol.  Minors may not work in any establishment primarily selling alcohol.
  • Colorado                                   18                                                           19
    Bartending requires a person of legal age behind the bar with you when pouring alcohol.  Due to the awkwardness imposed by the law, many establishments won’t hire those under 21.
  • Connecticut                              18                                                           18
    It is an offense to sell alcohol on Sunday.
  • District of Columbia               21                                                           18
    Underage drinking is a civil offense, carrying no lifetime criminal record
  • Delaware                                   21                                                           18
    It is a criminal offense for a person under 21 years of age to enter or remain on the premises of a tavern, taproom, or liquor store unless segregated from those over 21 years of age.  Any age may enter an alcohol-serving restaurant until 9 p.m., whereupon they can be refused entry without a parent or legal guardian.
  • Florida                                        18                                                           18
  • Georgia                                       18                                                           18
  • Hawaii                                        18                                                           18
  • Idaho                                          19                                                           19
  • Illinois                                        18                                                           18
    … unless increased to age 19, 20, or 21 by local ordinance.  Check first.
  • Indiana                                       21 (18 with restrictions) **               19
    There are many restrictions.  See: http://www.in.gov/atc/isep/2391.htm
  • Iowa                                            18                                                           18
    It is illegal to run a tab in Iowa.
  • Kansas                                        21                                                           18
    Kansas still has not ratified the 21st Amendment, which ended nationwide prohibition in 1933.  It has the strictest alcohol regulation in the U.S.
  • Kentucky                                    21 (20 with restrictions) **              19
  • Louisiana                                   18                                                           18
    Louisiana law prohibits bars and restaurants from displaying any alcohol beverage brand name that can be seen from outside the establishment. Children aged 18 may drink alcohol if the beverage is ordered on their behalf by their parents, but age 21 if on their own.
  • Maine                                          18                                                           17 (adult supervision required)
  • Maryland                                    18                                                           18
    Maryland decriminalized possession and consumption of alcohol by those under the age of 21.  Parents are specifically prohibited from serving alcohol to their minor children.
  • Massachusetts                           18                                                           18
  • Michigan                                     18                                                           18
    It’s illegal in Michigan for a person under the age of 21 to give a gift of alcohol beverage to anyone, even to a person of legal age.  A 20-year-old non-drinking patron cannot “send over a drink” to another patron.
  • Minnesota                                   18                                                           18
  • Mississippi                                  21                                                           18
  • Missouri                                       21                                                           18 (adult supervision required)
  • Montana                                      18                                                           18
    Labor and Industry statute 39-2-306, MCA, states bartenders and waiters or waitresses must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Nebraska                                      19                                                           19
    Nebraska state law prohibits bars from selling beer unless they are simultaneously brewing a kettle of soup.
  • Nevada                                          21                                                           21
  • New Hampshire                          18                                                           18
  • New Jersey                                   18                                                           18
  • New Mexico                                 21                                                           19
    All bar employees must be 21.  Servers may be 19 in restaurants with state-issued permit.

 

 

 

  • New York                                      18                                                           18
  • North Carolina                             21 (spirits) 18 (Beer/Wine)              18
  • North Dakota                               21                                                           19 (adult supervision required)
    North Dakota prohibits serving beer and pretzels simultaneously in any bar or restaurant.
  • Ohio                                               21                                                           19
    Avoid aquariums, or keep their lids locked, as it is illegal in Ohio to get a fish drunk.
  • Oklahoma                                     21                                                           18
    Beer with more than 4% alcohol must be served at room temperature.
  • Oregon                                          21                                                           18
    If you are 18, 19, or 20 years old, you can get a minor service permit and then you may serve, pour, and draw alcoholic beverages only in areas of the business not prohibited to minors where alcohol service is secondary to food service.  You may not mix drinks nor work as a bartender or cocktail server.
  • Pennsylvania                               18                                                           18
  • Rhode Island                               18                                                           18
  • South Carolina                            21                                                           18
  • South Dakota                              18                                                           18
  • Tennessee                                    18                                                           18
  • Texas                                            18                                                           18
    Texas state law prohibits taking more than three sips of beer at a time while standing.
  • Utah                                               21                                                           21
    No patron may have more than two drinks of 2 ½ ounces (total) of liquor in front of them at one time, or more than one liter of beer.  A two liter beer pitcher must be shared by at least two patrons.  Drinks must be poured out of sight of non-drinking patrons to minimize temptation.
  • Vermont                                        18                                                           18
  • Virginia                                         21                                                           18
  • Washington                                  21                                                           18 (adult supervision required)
    Anyone serving alcohol in Washington must take an approved MAST alcohol course and be in possession of either a class 12 permit or a class 13 permit to serve alcohol in licensed premises.
  • West Virginia                               21                                                           18 (adult supervision required)
    In West Virginia, bars can advertise alcohol beverage prices, but not brand names.
  • Wisconsin                                     18 (State license required)                18
    In Wisconsin, an adult under the age of 21 who is married to one age 21 or older can legally drink with his or her spouse.
  • Wyoming                                       21                                                           18
    It is illegal for women to stand within five feet of a bar while drinking.

** Note: There must be a legal-age manager or supervisor present when the underage person is tending bar and/or that the underage bartender must undergo beverage server training beyond that otherwise mandated in the state.

Glass Rimmer & Rimming for Bartenders

Presentation is half the battle

Dirty

If you serve something like this, you’re not getting a tip. No matter how good it tastes, it’s just filthy looking, unattractive and no one’s going to want to have anything to do with it.  Of course that’s not true strictly speaking.  This would be suitable for a zombie theme party, and looks appropriately awful. 

Sewer water

  • 1 oz. chocolate vodka
  • 1 oz. whipped cream vodka
  • 6 oz. ginger ale
  • A few drops of Godiva (for “murk”)
  • Some Oreo cookie crumbs
  • A brown or black straw

by Bartender Dave C. from Hamilton

You may or may not be comfortable being thought of as an artist, but the business of bartending is approximately 50% knowledge and 50% creativity.   Granted it’s not the same as an oil painter setting up a canvas and painstakingly recreating a meadow; it may be more akin to a painter working the tourist trade on the sidewalk, cranking out a landscape every 15 minutes, but it is art nevertheless.

Rimming

Bartenders are familiar with Garnish & Garbage.  For newbies, Garnish is something you add to a drink to enhance the flavor; Garbage is something you add to a drink for a visual effect.  In the former category you find cherries, olives, citrus of all types, and herbs.  The latter category includes paper umbrellas, swizzle sticks, and ornamental fruit.

There is one element that crosses both categories: rimming.  Adding something to the rim of the glass can make a drink look delicious but have no real effect on the flavor, but with smart selections it can really enhance the flavor of the cocktail.

Some bartenders choose to prep there glassware in advance.  You can do this for your home if you’re having a party.  Pre-rimmed glasses not only save you time, but make a great looking display for your guests to admire.

Making it stick

You can use all sorts of things to get something to adhere to a rim.  These could include:

  • Simple syrup
  • Gomme syrup
  • maple syrup
  • lime, orange or lemon juice
  • caramel or chocolate sauce
  • Marshmallow Crème
  • and in rare cases, water

Water is generally not used because it dries too quickly. On rare occasions water can be used when using very finely powdered substances, such as powered sugar and finely ground spice items.  In most cases you’ll want something that is very sticky and that wont dry too quickly.  Citrus juices from oragnges, lemons – and most used – limes are the best to use when rimming.

Styles

3quarter rim

Some people prefer to do the whole rim, while others do half rims or three quarter rims.  Partial rimming is great because then the client has the choice of drinking the cocktail with or without the enhanced flavors.

What do you Rim With?

If you’re ready to move beyond plain salt and sugar, you can use anything that complements the flavor of the liquor in the drink.  It is only limited by your imagination and your personal tastes.

There are colorful sugars, which work just fine but there also flavored salts and sugars which can give your drink an extra kick.

Advanced materials you may want to consider:

  • Wasabi sugar or wasabi salt for hot and spicy drinks
  • Jell-O powder and Kool-Aid powder are interesting variations for novelty drinks
  • Salt & Pepper, celery salt or celery pepper for the Bloody Mary and Bloody Cæsar
  • Ginger sugar
  • Vanilla sugar
  • Cinnamon sugar
  • Gingerbread spice and similar for enhancing eggnog and seasonal drinks
  • Powdered chocolate, chocolate sprinkles, and ground coconut for sweet or tropical drinks
  • and when Santa is in town, crushed candy cane secured with Marshmallow Crème is the seasonal choice.

Feel free to synthesize your own creations to please yourself and impress your guests.

The Tools

Glass Rimmers

3tier

The most basic rimmer has two tiers, however, these rimmers come in up to five-tier models, for the more adventurous.  The first tier usually  has a sponge pad which you place the lime juice in, and the second tier usually contains Kosher salt.

Rimming tray

long-narrow

Some prefer just a simple long narrow tray.  Using the tray is best when doing the Partial rim technique.

Use a plate

juice

At home you don’t even need to get that fancy – just use a plate!  Some glasses can be large so just use the appropriate size.

Fancy Toys

For the extravagant among us, there are actual devices, such as The Barmaid Rimmer.  With a click of a button as you rotate the glass, you can easily rim your cocktail even after you have already placed the contents inside!  If you’re forgetful this could be for you.

Techniques

For those that use Glass Rimmers with a lime juice sponge, they’re generally in a hurry at a busy bar.  Finesse is generally out of the question.  Basically it involves pressing straight down on the sponge with the inverted glass, then pressing the glass straight down in the rimmer substance.  Doing it this way can let the substance fall into the drink, therefore, changing the flavor.

Alternate technique

Changing your technique slightly can avoid the issue of accidentally changing the flavor of a cocktail.  It may take more time, but it will give the customer a better experience when they sip their drink.

You can use a piece of fruit – lime – and wet only the outside of the glass, that way the salt or sugar sticks only to the outside and won’t fall into that drink.

The reverse can be done as well – wetting only the inside of the glass.  This is done when a cocktails calls for a caramelized rim.  To do this, you rim the inside of the glass with sugar then use a Bacardi 151 float and set is ablaze.

Making Your Own Rimmers

If you want to make custom rimmers with herbs such as rosemary, you are out of luck for an automated process.  You’re going to have to bunch it up and chop it into tiny, tiny pieces, all by hand.  In a ratio of 1:5 with salt, this makes a very good rimmer…but it must be minuscule pieces to adhere.

If you want to use something like mint, it is best to lay out a large number of sprigs on a dinner plate and microwave it for about 30 seconds.  Repeat if necessary, running no more than 30 seconds at a time, until the leaves crumble easily.  Mix 1:4 with sugar for a very tasty rimmer.  This is perfect for Mint Juleps.

For a really impressive surprise, obtain any freeze-dried fruit such as strawberries, peaches, blueberries, or apples, and put them through your spice grinder or coffee mill.  Blend that 1:2 with sugar, or use it straight for really intense flavor.

In much the same way you can make cinnamon sugar, ginger sugar, Cayenne sugar, Cayenne salt, or nutmeg sugar.  Use your imagination.

Common Rimmed Cocktails

  • The Margarita unless specified, takes salt.
  • The Lemon Drop  always has a sugared rim.
  • The Bloody Mary takes a slated rim.
  • Although primarily found in Canada where 350,000,000 are served every year, the Bloody Cæsar can have a variety of rims, from salt, celery pepper and salt, or regular salt & pepper.
  • The Peppermint Alexander takes…well crushed peppermint flavored candy cane!
  • Spiced Eggnog can also have a variety of rims, including cinnamon and nutmeg sugar

Ultimately It’s Up to You…

If the idea of crushing 10 plain potato chips into your shaker with ice, 2 ounces of tomato juice, 2 ounces of vodka, a dash of Cayenne and a dash of Worcestershire sauce sounds like it would go great, double-strained, in a glass with a rim made from vinegar and salt, then do it.  Who said there’s any rule against having a drink that tastes like a BBQ version of salt and vinegar potato chips with ketchup?  It’s all up to you.

Want to learn more about glass rimming and bartending?

Top 10 Rums for New Bartenders

Greetings, Rummies! Yes, I know people use that word in the pejorative sense, but in truth rum possesses a lineage and history similar to that of whiskey.  Today on our online bartending school, we’ve decided to focus on the top 10 rums!  First, a little history.  Early records show that whiskey began in the early 15th century in Ireland, and then changed its name to whisky when it moved to Scotland. For reference, if a country has an “e” in its name it is called whiskey (U.S., Ireland), otherwise it’s called whisky (Canada, Scotland, Japan).

The name “rum” evolved in the mid-1600s and there is a great deal of argument as to its entomology, but a popular theory is that it is the last syllable of the Latin word saccharum, which means “sugar”.  It was probably first distilled in ancient India or China. The people of Malay (which includes the modern nations of Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, and southern Thailand) produced rum from fermented cane juice thousands of years ago. Since fermenting sugar is easier than fermenting grain, rum likely predates whiskey by a significant length of time.

The IWSC (International Wine & Spirits Competition) will happily tell you what the ten “best” rums are, as will many other judging organizations and competitions. As with whiskeys and whiskies, it is extremely subjective depending on what you personally like.

In 2014 the IWSC said the top 10 rums were:

  • Rhum Agricole Vieux Niesson
  • Angostura Gran Anejo (7 year old)
  • Angostura Single Barrel Dark (yes, these are the “bitters” people)
  • Royal Oak Trinidad Rum
  • Rum Company Old Guadeloupe Calvados Finish Rum (should have gotten the Longest-Name award)
  • El Dorado (12 Year Old),
  • Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros,
  • Inner Circle Rum Green Dot,
  • and two entries from Appleton Estate, their Reserve Rum, and their 21 Year Old.

Do I need a Bartending License?

Unlicensed Bartending and Misinformation

Is there any other way?

Actually, no, there isn’t any other way. Bartending licenses do not exist per se. Oh, the various academies and bartending “schools” will attempt to convince you such a thing exists, but it is a simple fiction designed to convince you to part with up to $1,000 of your hard-earned cash to train with them.

This is not to say that all such schools ought to be avoided. Some of them are actually good, charge a lot less, and teach you useful bits of information. Moreover being a graduate of such a school may give you a psychological edge and the confidence to overcome those first night jitters.

Just be warned that such a certificate will look great on your wall, but bar owners really don’t care if you have one. If the school gives you a little wallet card, that’s a good place to keep it – in your wallet. Showing it might actually decrease your chances of obtaining a job.

You can show it, and in a deprecating way, say: “…and I even took a mixing course so that I can reliably make all the most common, basic drinks without having to thumb through a rolodex or open a book.” Then they know that you did some real preparation but don’t think you magically became a bartender because you went to a “school”. Many will test you to see if you really can mix and tend.

In the beginning…

In all likelihood you’ll start as a back bar assistant bar tender. You’ll be keeping the beer fridge filled, replacing dead soldiers (disposing of empty liquor bottles and replacing them with fresh ones for the bartender), topping up the ice, juices, and making drinks for servers in the restaurant area (if there is one).

Some bar owners insist that you use shot glass or jigger to dispense alcohol, but if you’re allowed to free-pour then you should know the technique. People feel like they’re getting full value when you free-pour so your tips are better. They’re getting the same amount of liquor, but they feel better about it.

Certified

Now there are some certifications you can (or in some cases must) obtain. The have names like Smart Serve, ProServe, or an alphabet soup of letters like TIPS, MAST, TAPA, ASAP, SIR, RSA, or any number of others. Usually it is determined by the bar-owner, but in some jurisdictions, such as Oregon it is set by local ordinance, whereas in Washington (state) a class 12 permit or a class 13 permit is required to serve alcohol in licensed premises, and in Wisconsin a state license is required.

Some states require an alcohol server/food handler’s certification. In the case of the latter, only one person needs to be certified as a food handler (usually the manager) but it is becoming a popular “preferred skill” so getting that could be an aid to getting a job.

There is no universal age to bartend either, but 24 states require 21 years of age; 24 states require 18 years of age; 4 states require 19 years or age; and 2 states require 20 years old. No, there are no new states, just variable status is some states with multiple age requirements.

Conclusion

Need more information? We’d be more than happy to help. We’ll teach you just what you need to succeed without costing you an arm and a leg! Get ready for a new career…come visit us now, while you’re thinking about it, and let us get you started in this fascinating field.

Liqueurs That Bartenders Should Know

The Cure for Liqueur

It simply is not possible to list all the liqueurs available in this space.  Liqueurs are different from liquors.  Liquors are generally derived from grains, canes and potatoes, and are unsweetened.  Liqueurs are derived from fruits, spices, herbs and sweetened with sugars.

Some people call them cordials, but that word has been usurped from its original meaning of “sweet, fruit-flavored, non-alcoholic drink concentrate”, so I don’t use it and avoid arguments.  It is much like how the word chauvinism was changed from “aggressive, zealous patriotism” to an equivalent of “misogyny”.

In any case, of the dozens upon dozens of liqueurs available, there are a few that are really important to keep at your bar.

  • Absinth is a very strong Anise flavor, used in quantities of three or four drops in a Mile High Manhattan. It is easy to overpower a drink with it, so if you’re worried, use Sambuca or Galliano
  • Tia Maria a strongly flavored coffee liqueur which is very sweet and syrupy.
  • Amaretto is almond flavored. It is often paired with coffee liqueurs such as Tia Maria or rum in the Café Caribbean.
  • Curacao is essential for many colorful drinks, especially Blue for Romulan Ale, which is one part Bacardi 151, one part Everclear® Alcohol, and one part Blue Curacao, rendering 143 proof.
  • Irish Cream (many varieties) is great on its own, but useful for Ghostbusters on Hallowe’en with its eerie green color and ghost shapes. (One part Peach Schnapps, one part Melon liqueur, and 3-5 drops of Irish cream liqueur.  Opaque Brown bottle, tall thin neck.
  • Galliano, herbal, but with two kinds on anise, in a distinctive tall, narrow, conical bottle with a vivid yellow color.
  • Triple Sec/Cointreau (clear tall bottle/short, squat, square, brown bottle) when you need an orange flavor.
  • Averna an Italian bitter liqueur of herbs, rinds and roots with caramel added. Required for Belle of the Ball and the Happily Ever After Cocktail
  • Benedictine herbs and roots in Cognac for the traditional Milk & Honey or B&B with its big waxy seal so it’s easy to spot this green (sometimes brown) bottle that looks more suited to Chianti.
  • Chartreuse made from 130 herb, plants, and flowers from the Swiss Alps comes in green (110 proof) and yellow (86 proof) varieties. Used in innumerable drinks.  Clear bottle with metallic green or yellow label.
  • Frangelico, often served straight, is hazelnut based with chocolate and vanilla notes. Essential for the R.F.O. Cocktail, and the Friar Tuck.  Brown bottle designed to resemble a friar in his habit, including the rope tied around the waist.
  • Hpnotiq, pronounced “hypnotic” is vodka, cognac and a proprietary secret blend of tropical fruit juices. It is pale blue-opaque liquid in a champagne-look bottle, that adds light fruity flavors to cocktails.
  • Crème De Menthe (white or green), De Cacao, de Cassis and De Banana
  • Goldschläger (cinnamon schnapps) with real gold flakes inside. Clear Bottle, no label, painted lettering, squat with tall, thin neck.
  • Peach Schnapps for the Fuzzy Navel, and every other kind flavored Schnapps.
  • Jagermeister with its herbal, spice and citrus aroma, is very popular for shooters.
  • And of course, essentials such as: Kahlua, Sloe Gin, Southern Comfort, Pernod, Metaxa, Grand Marnier, Drambuie, Cointreau, Cherry Brandy, Fireball, Ouzo, Yukon Jack, and Sour Puss Apple.

Conclusion

If you get a chance, with a clean palate, taste a dram (⅛ of a teaspoon) or two of the various liqueurs so that you’re familiar with their flavors.  Have some time between tastes or they’ll become a meaningless jumble.  If you’ve never tasted them how will you ever know how to blend them?

Mead – What Bartenders Should Know

Mead: the drink of gods!

While it’s true the popularity of mead has waxed and waned over the centuries, it appears to be on the increase again as people look for more unusual things to drink. At the beginning of this century, there were perhaps 20 commercial-scale meaderies in North America; by 2015 their number had risen to 250. People may be hearkening back to the early days since mead is suggested as a prime candidate for the very first alcoholic beverage.

If a tree was damaged, exposing a bees nest, rainwater and wild yeast, which was ubiquitous, could start the fermentation process. Although no one knows for certain, our early ancestors probably harvested the liquid for its intoxicating properties. Over the centuries it certainly gained a reputation for aiding sexual prowess, resulting in the birth of a male child (supposedly) which was “desirable” in the early days, as well as acting as an aphrodisiac, or medicine, or any number of other mystical properties.

Ambrosia, or Nectar of the Gods, as the ancient Greeks liked to call it, was said to bestow health and longevity as well as the powers of wit and poetry. This might have been as simple as a crowd of drunks watching another drunk be foolish and being entertained by it. On the other hand, it might have loosened the tongue of someone who was ordinarily reticent about being lyrical or poetical, allowing them to take center stage briefly with relaxed inhibitions.

The Welch created a spiced-mead named Metheglin (from their word “medcyglin”, from which we derive the word medicine). Pollio Romulus attributed his 100 years of life to regular consumption of the beverage, in a time when life expectancy was typically well under four decades. This claim was made in a communique to Julius Caesar.
Mead, however, has been around a lot longer than that. In the Norse history, there is a long tradition of mead drinking. Because grapevines couldn’t survive in the northern climate, the Nordic people remained ignorant of grapes until the north-south trade routes were established. As mentioned earlier, mead was thought to have magic powers and so after a wedding, the groom was fed mead until he couldn’t stand and then tossed in bed with his new wife because that was the most likely way to create a “warrior” (son).

Although honey has over 180 discrete components, so far nothing magical has been discovered. Although it is interesting to note that honey is the only naturally occurring substance that doesn’t spoil. Ancient combs have been taken out of centuries-old tombs, in completely edible condition.

Every batch of mead is unique

While all meads contain Honey, except for the most basic, traditional sort, they also contain additives, adjuncts, or gruit. You cannot control the additives, no matter how carefully you measure them. If you put in 1 pound 4 ¾ ounces of raspberries this year, there’s no guarantee that next year’s raspberries or even another batch from this year picked elsewhere, will impart the same flavor. They might have received less sunlight; they might have a higher sugar content; the flavone and flavonoid balance might be completely different.

And all that is completely aside from the fact that every single honey is unique. Light, delicate honeys, such as those derived from orange blossoms, will possess subtle flavors. Dark and rich honeys, such as buckwheat or even clover, will have much stronger, more dominant flavors. So it becomes obvious that even the base material can strongly affect the outcome.

Here’s a shortlist of some types of mead, but there are many more.

• Traditional Mead sometimes called Antipodal: A fermented honey beverage made from approximately two and one-half pounds of honey diluted with one gallon of water.
• Melomel or Mulsum: made with fruit juices
• Braggot: made with malt or other grains
• Miodomel: made with Hops
• Hydromel: Weak, or watered mead
• Myritis: made with Bilberries
• Acerglyn: made with maple syrup
• Pyment: made specifically with grape juice
• Morat or Alicant Wine: mulberry juice
• Cyser: made specifically with apple juice or cider
• Metheglin: made with herbs & or spices
• Sack Metheglin: made with herbs & or spices, but significantly sweetened
• Hippocras or Hyppocras is Pyment (mead with grape juice) made with herbs and/or spices
• Rhodomel: Rose petals
• Sack (or Sac) Mead: Sweetened with extra honey (20-25%)

Making Mead

Want to brew some mead at home? It’s fun, and legal most everywhere. If you read our article on how to make beer at home, then you know most of the steps for making mead as well. You can even use the same equipment: the 6 gallon carboy, the air lock, the no-rinse sanitizing liquid, the auto-siphon and its hoses, the 5 gallon mixing buckets, and some 12 ounce beer bottles. Glass carboys are $25, so get several and make different varieties, and some beer, too!

Mead can end up with 14 to 16% alcohol, so bigger bottles are not advised. Unless of course you’re making mead for Holiday gifts; this turns out to be surprisingly inexpensive, and highly memorable. Investment in the gear to make it would cost about $70.00. Even if store-bought honey was $5.00 a pound it should cost you $60.00, or $130 all-in, for the first batch of 5 gallons. That would make an awful lot of Christmas present bottles. After the initial purchase you just need to buy the honey and the yeast. And of course buying from a local apiary should save you a significant amount of money.

You can make “still” (uncarbonated) meads in a month, carbonated in four months (or years, depending on how dedicated you are); they can be as dry as the driest wine; they can be as bitter as ale or lager; they can be semi-dry, or downright sweet; they can be spicy or fruity; they can be subtle or brash. There are plenty of recipes available online. Go find one. It’s time to have some fun! If you’re scared, go buy several different types to see what kind you would like to make. Have fun!