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Hard Water: Not Your Average Whiskey Bar

Hard Water: Not Your Average Whiskey Bar

Not Your Average Whiskey Bar

A modern, bright, and welcoming whiskey bar in San Francisco, Hard Water, is bringing all of the classics of a typical whiskey bar to the area, but in a new and exciting way.

Unlike the dark dens of a traditional whiskey joint, Hard Water is a different environment, sporting a huge wall of whiskeys and an interesting and dessert food menu.

For starters, the milk braised celery hearts and the butter lettuce salad with radishes and tarragon in buttermilk dressing are hits, and the cornmeal-crusted alligator is hard to miss. The fried chicken and collard greens are one of Hard Water’s most ordered main dishes, as well as the vegetarian okra etoufee and the pork shoulder. For dessert, you can find simple classics like strawberry shortcake and banana butterscotch pies. They’re serving American southern classic comfort food, but also providing dishes that are delicate enough to accompany aged spirits.

This isn’t just a place to get a hard drink; rather, it’s a quiet place to sample a huge variety of some of the finest whiskeys, wines, and cocktails, as well as dine on excellent food.

Homemade Energy Bar Recipe

Any serious athlete knows that nutrition is a critical part of fitness – you gotta stoke the fires to keep the boiler boiling. Every day, it seems, there are new energy bars, gels, and drinks on the market to help athletes maximize workouts and improve performance. Some are better than others, but as a chef and a cyclist, I’m always wary of throwing down gobs of processed foods on the bike. So I try to adhere to the philosophy of Allen Lim and Biju Thomas, the founder and chef, respectively, of nutrition company Skratch Labs and authors of Feed Zone Portables. These guys firmly believe two things: Liquids are for hydration, and foods should be whole foods – nothing processed, no junk.

RELATED: How to Make Greek Yogurt at Home

So does this mean we have to scrap energy bars and gels completely? Well, no, but look for minimally processed products that aren’t overly sugar-laden. Or better, start making your own. Not only are they a hell of a lot more delicious than your average packaged bar, but they’re not very hard to make. I break down my workout foods into three zones: before, during, and after. Of course, there are plenty of complicated tests to figure out your metabolic rate and dial in exactly how many and what sort of calories you should be eating, but that’s too much science for me. I adhere to this basic approach.

Normally I follow a pretty low-carb regimen, but before a workout I’ll add in more carbs with a good dose of healthy fat. Lately I’ve been making savory Irish oats. I’ll crisp up some bacon to stir in as you would with a risotto, finishing with some good cheddar, a dollop of grass-fed butter, and some chia seeds. I’ll top this with a fried egg. And if I’m going really hard, I’ll add avocado. I also love the sweeter route with oatmeal – adding berries and coconut.

During the Workout

Once I’m out on the bike, I keep myself well hydrated and try to maintain a balance of sugar, carbs, fat, and protein, taking care to minimize my sugar consumption until the last 45 minutes. To ensure I don’t have too much glycemic yo-yoing, I’ll save anything with sugar (such as maple syrup, dried fruit, or dark chocolate) for the end, when I need a final boost. I like to make my own bars out of a combo of dried fruit, nuts, chia seeds, coconut flakes, ground coffee (one of the oldest and safest performance-enhancement drugs). I cut them in squares and wrap them in waxed paper, and I have a perfect meal on the go. For me, a good rule of thumb is to eat every 45 to 60 minutes for any workout over 90 minutes [see the recipe below].


There is a lot of info out there on postworkout food, and, while I’m sure there’s some adequate science behind it, I try to schedule my workouts so that they end in time for a real meal, with a good balance of vegetables, fat, and protein. I think a lot of people have a tendency to overload on protein after workouts, rather than focusing on a balanced, healthy meal. Remember, most of us are not ultra-endurance athletes with 5 percent body fat! My favorite postworkout meal? A salad of dark leafy greens, lots of vegetables, some avocado, an egg or two, and some sardines. Good veg, good fat, good protein.

  • 1 cup roasted almonds
  • 1¼ cup pitted dates
    1 tbsp unsweetened dried coconut
  • ¾ cup water (plus more if needed)
  • ¼ cup high-quality cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp espresso-grind coffee
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt

Step One
In a food processor, pulse almonds, dates, and dried coconut with water until combined but still retaining texture.

Step Two
Remove to a bowl and fold in remaining ingredients, adding water as needed.

Step Three
Spread evenly on a cookie sheet in a one-inch layer and cool in the fridge.

Step Four
Once set, cut into bite-size pieces and wrap with waxed paper.

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Best Bourbons

These bourbons represent the absolute best values the bourbon whiskey world has to offer. They're not all cheap and they're not all expensive, but they are all reliably excellent.

In a whiskey market that's become increasingly fragmented and allocated, Knob Creek's classic small batch bourbon distinguishes itself. It's our best overall bourbon not by way of life-altering tasting notes, but by stuff the stat sheet in a way no other bourbon can. It is available everywhere and thus resistant to the price gouging associated with brands like Buffalo Trace. Its 100 proof retains a fully body and mixing bonafides without lighting your mouth on fire. And this year the brand got its 9-year age guarantee back, too. If you're looking for the best value in bourbon, just get this.

Proof: 100
Average Price: $30 &ndash $40

&ldquoIf Evan Williams were to sell this whiskey to someone else, that brand would mark it up to $40, and people would be happy buying it,&rdquo whiskey personality and author Fred Minnick says. But Evan Williams is a value brand. So its whiskey, at a great proof point of 86 and an age that Minnick says is roughly five-and-a-half years old, goes for less than $20. &ldquoIt&rsquos a fantastic bourbon, especially for the money,&rdquo he says. &ldquoYou can get a lot of satisfaction out of that.&rdquo

Proof: 86
Average Price: $20

&ldquoThis is such a dynamic whiskey,&rdquo Minnick says. &ldquoAnd it&rsquos the best cocktail bourbon out there.&rdquo Four Roses is a highly regarded distillery, with a high-rye mash bill that produces an extra spiciness and a concentration on yeast that has been &ldquoeye-opening&rdquo for the bourbon world. They&rsquove also led the way in transparency. &ldquoThey&rsquoll tell you everything there is to know about their whiskey &mdash they don&rsquot hide the mash bill, the distillation proof. I presume you could ask &rsquoem how much their CEO makes and they&rsquod tell you,&rdquo Minnick says.

Proof: 80
Average Price: $12 &ndash $20

New Riff Distilling was founded in 2014. &ldquoRelative to Kentucky, they&rsquove been around for a few days. The rest of the nation is just kinda getting to know &rsquoem,&rdquo Minnick says. The mash bill here, made entirely of non-GMO grains, is 65 percent corn, 30 percent rye and 5 percent malted barley.

Proof: 100
Average Price: $40

The double-shake method is key to this cocktail’s texture. The first round is to break up the egg white the second is to chill and froth the drink.

A beer cocktail for whiskey lovers, starring Highwest Campfire, a cold lager, lemon juice, and simple syrup.

Recipes you want to make. Cooking advice that works. Restaurant recommendations you trust.

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What defects can result when yeast are stressed?

Yeast creates two major byproducts during fermentation - ethanol (alcohol) and carbon dioxide. In general, when yeast is treated well and is given good conditions to work in, it will produce good results. However, if yeast gets stressed, it can produce an excessive amount of undesirable chemical compounds and flavors, such as the following:

Fusel Alcohols - This group of chemical compounds provide nothing beneficial in terms of aroma or taste, but they will give you a hell of a hangover. Although fusel alcohols can be removed during distillation by making a good tails cut (see our article on making cuts), it's a good idea to keep their production to a minimum. To do this, ferment your mash as close as possible to the temperature recommended by the yeast manufacturer. Also, keep the temperature as steady as possible. Even slight temperature swings can cause large differences in production of "metabolic by-products" (AKA: the nasty stuff).

Sulfur - Unless you want your whiskey to taste like rotten eggs, you should try to reduce / remove as much sulfur from your wash and final product as possible. Sulfur gets naturally scrubbed out of the wash by CO2. The more vigorous the fermentation, the more sulfur gets removed. So, make a yeast starter to help your yeast get moving. Also, make sure to keep fermentation from dropping too low and see to it that your little yeasties have enough nutrients to do their thing. Copper is also great at removing sulfur. If you plan on using an all copper rig to distill your final product, you'll be good to go.

Acetaldehyde - In beer it smells like green apples. In general, it contributes to hangovers! Acetaldehyde exists in high concentrations when mash is not allowed to finish fermentation and when a wash is oxygenated and allowed to sit after fermentation is finished. Either way, Acetaldehyde has a very low boiling point and it is very unlikely that you'll ingest it. unless you drink the foreshots. which you should NOT do.

Phenols - Phenols introduce a plastic / band-aid / medicinal taste to the wash. To avoid, Avoid using overly chlorinated water (by using filtered water or bottled water for your mash). Also, be careful to sterilize your mashing and fermentation equipment and to cover your mash and use an air-lock during fermentation. Wild yeast contamination can contribute to the presence of phenolic compounds.

Overly Sweet - If your wash is overly sweet, may have ended up with a high concentration of non-fermentable sugars after mashing due to an incorrect mash temperature. You may not have let the mash sit long enough during fermentation, meaning that the yeast did have enough time to convert all of the fermentable sugars in to alcohol. This will result in a low alcohol yield, overall.

Overly Dry - If your wash has no sweetness or taste at all, your yeast might have powered through the mash and eaten all of the good stuff themselves. We've noticed that champagne yeast and distillers yeasts have a tendency to do this.

The Most Popular Mixed Drinks (with Recipes)

The holiday season is upon us once again and that means a few things – cold weather for some of us, holiday weight gain for most of us, presents we don’t really like but pretend to love and of course, holiday parties galore. If you’re throwing a holiday party this year, take a few minutes to perfect these popular mixed drinks so you can really impress your guests and make sure everyone has a great time. Learning how to make these popular mixed drinks should give you the skills you need to make something everyone will love but don’t let this list limit you. If you love mixing drinks, why not experiment and try to come up with your own signature beverage? There are tons of options out there. Play around with different combinations and see what you like. If something sounds good, try it! One final note before we begin: the average shot glass holds roughly 45ml. Very few of these drinks call for exactly one shot of liquor. Okay, are we ready? Let’s get started.

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While perhaps not the most well known drink on our list, this twist on the Manhattan is definitely popular and delicious enough to warrant inclusion. This surprisingly tasty treat will be a huge hit at your holiday party and the best part? It’s not really all that difficult to make although you may have to stock your bar with a few things you may not buy otherwise. To make a Bellini, you’ll need:

  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. peach schnapps
  • 2 oz. peach nectar
  • 3 oz. dry champagne, chilled
  • 1/2 cup crushed ice

Mix your lemon juice, peach nectar and peach schnapps in a chilled glass. Add in your crushed ice (you can add more than 1/2 cup if so desired) and finish up with your champagne. This recipe will make two cocktails you and your guests will absolutely love.

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Bloody Mary

While some think Bloody Marys are only good for the morning after a party, that simply isn’t true. This delicious cocktail will make a fine addition to your holiday party cocktail list but be sure you stock up on a few extra ingredients for this one. You might be surprised just how many people will opt for this one if you put it on your drinks meny. To make the best Bloody Mary you’ve ever tasted, you’ll need:

  • 0.5 oz. lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • red hot sauce
  • green hot sauce
  • dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 oz. vodka
  • 3 oz. tomato juice
  • celery salt
  • celery stick
  • 2 mixing glasses
  • 1 highball glass
  • ice
  • strainer

Add your ingredients together in one mixing glass. Pour back and forth between the first and second mixing glass a few times, ensuring all of the ingredients are mixed well. Salt the rim of your highball glass with your celery salt and add ice to the highball glass, making sure not to disturb your salted rim. Strain your drink into the glass and garnish with celery stalk.

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Here’s what I like about the Caipirinha. It’s a versatile drink that can be adjusted to suit just about any taste. I love the black cherry caipirnha that seems to be so popular as well as a few of the other flavor variations out there but for this article, I’m going to stick with the basic cocktail. You can play around with the flavors and offer your guests a choice of variations if you’d like but the basic drink is sure to please all on its own. To make a Caipirinha, you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 oz. vodka
  • 1 1/2 oz. limeade
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 lime
  • ice cubes
  • 2 spoons crushed ice
  • spoon

Cut your lime into a few chunks to start. Toss your lime chunks and your sugar into a cocktail glass. Mash the limes and the sugar against the bottom and sides of your glass with your spoon and add in your ice cubes. Add in your crushed ice. Pour in your vodka and then your limeade. Stir your drink until all of the contents are well mixed. Serve.

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As with the Caipirinha, there are lots of different things you can do with a Cosmopolitan to change up the taste to suit what you like. You can offer a few different variations of this one as well and I’d even recommend doing so. Cosmos as always a hit at holiday parties, especially if you get them right. Instead of offering up a whole series of recipes, I’ll walk you through the basic cocktail and you can play around with variations on your own. To make a Cosmopolitan your guests will love, you’ll need:

  • 1/2 oz. triple sec
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. cranberry juice
  • 1 oz. vodka
  • ice
  • lime wedge
  • strainer
  • shaker
  • martini glass

Start out by combining your triple sec, lime juice, cranberry juice and vodka in your shaker. Add in ice and shake until the drink is well mixed. You can take a bit of orange, lime or lemon zest and zest the rim of your glass if you like but that’s optional. Strain the drink from your shaker into your martini glass. Finish it off by garnishing the drink with a lime wedge on the rim of the glass.

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Cuba Libre

The Cuba Libre is always a popular choice when offered up at parties and it will most definitely keep your guests happy. It also isn’t a terribly difficult drink to make using only ingredients commonly found in any well stocked home bar. To make a Cuba Libre, you’ll need:

  • 2 oz of light rum
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • cola
  • ice cubes
  • lime wedge
  • highball glass

Start by putting a few ice cubes in your highball glass and squeezing the juice from half a lime in over them. Add in your rum and fill the rest off the glass with cola. Finish up by garnishing your drink with a lime wedge on the rim of the glass. If you want a stronger drink, add a few extra ice cubes so there will be less cola in the glass. While the ice will melt, this drink is far too tasty to stick around long enough to worry about the melting ice diluting the drink a whole lot.

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There are so many variations of the Daiquiri out there it was a little hard to decide which one I should put on this list. There are avocado daiquiris, apple daiquiris, banana daiquiris, strawberry daiquiris … you get the point. I decided to go with the daiquiri natural because it offers you the basics of the drink and gives you an idea of what you can change up to make the drink more suited to your or to your guests. For the Daiquiri Natural, you’ll need:

  • 1/4 to 1/2 oz. sugar syrup
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 2 oz. white rum
  • ice cubes
  • shaker
  • strainer
  • cocktail glass, chilled

Throw some ice cubes into your shaker and add your syrup, lime juice and rum. Shake well until everything is mixed well. Strain your drink into your chilled cocktail glass. Garnish as desired and serve.

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Mai Tai

This is the only cocktail on this list I’ll offer two recipes for because they’re both excellent recipes that produce delicious cocktails and they’re both easy enough that even the novice mixer can make them. I always wanted to offer up to Mai Tai recipes because they’re easily one of the most popular mixed drinks out there right now so your guests will be sure to love them. To make the first Mai Tai you’ll need:

  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz. triple sec
  • 1 1/2 oz. dark rum
  • 1 1/2 oz. white rum
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice
  • ice cubes
  • hurricane glass

Put your ice into the hurricane glass and add all of your other ingredients. You can add more or less sugar depending on sweet you want the drink to be. Stir well and garnish however you like.

For the second Mai Tai, you’ll need:

  • club soda
  • 1/2 oz. armaretto liqueur
  • 1 oz. triple sec
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 1/2 oz. grenadine
  • 2 oz. white rum
  • 2 oz. dark rum
  • ice cubes
  • highball glass

Add some ice cubes to your high ball glass and pour in the remaining ingredients. Stir everything together until well blending and garnish as you like.


There are a few ways to make a Manhattan but my favorite is also probably the easiest. It’s very fuss-free but is sure to please any fans of the drink who will be attending your party. I’m leaving the garnish out of the recipe because I feel this is a drink you can garnish however you see fit. To make the perfect Manhattan, you’ll need:

  • bitters (you’ll only need a dash)
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1/2. oz. dry vermouth
  • 2 oz. blended whiskey
  • ice

Put a little ice in a glass and add your vermouth, whiskey and bitters. Swirl the mixture with the ice until your drink is chilled. Strain the drink into a martini glass and garnish as you see fit. Some like using maraschino cherries for this cocktail while others like olives. It’s your call.

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The Margarita is an absolute classic. When it comes to popular mixed drinks, there are few that match the popularity of this one. It can be tricky to get right though without using Margarita mix and that’s perhaps why so many shy away from having it at their parties. This recipe, however, takes a lot of the difficulty out of making Margaritas by combining fairly common ingredients, forgoing the hit or miss Margarita drinks and still offering up a crowd pleasing drink any Margarita fans at your party will love. To make the perfect Margarita, you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 1/2 oz. orange liqueur
  • 2 oz. tequila
  • 2 oz. triple sec
  • 4 oz. sweet and sour drink mix (found at most liquor stores or even grocery stores)
  • salt
  • ice cubes
  • strainer
  • shaker
  • Margarita glass

Start by putting ice cubes into your cocktail shaker until the shaker is half full of ice. Add the rest of the ingredients to the ice and shake vigorously so all ingredients are mixed together well. Salt the rim of your margarita glass and strain your drink into the glass. This recipe will give you two delicious margaritas.

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I had to include the Martini on this list because it is, without question, one of the most popular mixed drinks of all time. The problem with putting the Martini on this list though is the fact that there are tons of different variations on the classic Martini and most of them produce great cocktails. I decided to go with the classic Martini because, quite honestly, it’s my favorite and because it’s surprisingly easy to make. After the recipe, I’ll go into the basic variations on the classic but I’m not going to get into Apple Martinis, Espresso Martinis, Chocolate Martinis and the like here. Instead, I’ll offer up a whole separate list for the most popular Martini variations next week. For now, though, let’s stick with the classic Martini and the basic variations. To make a classic Martini, you’ll need:

  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • 2 1/2 oz. gin
  • ice
  • green olive
  • shaker
  • strainer
  • Martini glass

Put a handful of ice into your cocktail shaker then pour in your gin and vermouth. Stir (not shake) for 30 seconds and then strain into your martini glass. Toss in the olive for garnish and you’re ready to serve. Now, let’s talk variations.

  • The Dirty Martini: Add a small splash of olive brine to the mix.
  • The Vodka Martini: Swap out the gin for vodka.
  • The Dry Martini: Use less vermouth when mixing the drink. “Dryness” refers to the amount of vermouth in the drink so basically, if you want a dryer martini, use less vermouth.
  • The Gibson Martini: Swap the olive for a cocktail onion.

The Perfect Martini is also popular but isn’t really all that different than the Classic Martini when it comes to how it’s made. For this one, you’re going to use dry and sweet vermouth together in the drink, mixing in equal parts of both. If you wanted to turn the above recipe into a Perfect Martini recipe, you’d half the amount of dry vermouth and add an equal amount of sweet vermouth.


The Mojito is definitely one of the most popular mixed drinks out there but it’s also a drink that can easily be made incorrectly. This recipe makes a terrific Mojito while still being simple enough for the novice drink mixer. You will need to either a muddler or a pestle to make the best Mojito though so if you don’t have one, consider picking one up if you intend to serve these delicious cocktails at your party. To make a great Mojito, you’ll need:

  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 0.5 oz. lime juice
  • 1.25 oz. spiced rum (I highly recommend Captain Morgan Original)
  • 2 oz. soda water
  • 12 mint leaves plus a few for garnish (fresh, if possible)
  • crushed ice
  • Muddler or pestle

Put 12 of your mint leaves at the bottom of your glass and add crushed ice, spiced rum, sugar and lime juice. Crush the mint leaves against the bottom of the glass using your muddler or pestle, mixing the ingredients together at the same time. Once the leaves are crushed and the ingredients are well mixed, add in the soda water. Finish up by garnishing with a few left over mint leaves.

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Pina Colada

The drink so delicious Garth Brooks wrote a song about it (a song that is now stuck in my head and probably will be for days)! I love Pina Coladas and they make a fantastic treat for any guest at your party, assuming they enjoy yummy things like coconut, pineapple and coconut and pineapple together. To make an authentic Pina Colada, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 1 1/2 oz. light rum
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 2 oz. cream of coconut
  • pineapple slice
  • maraschino cherry
  • blender

Start by adding your rum, cream of coconut and pineapple juice into your blender with your crushed ice. Blend your mixture together until it is smooth. Pour your drink into a glass and finish it all off with a slice of pineapple and a maraschino cherry.

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I struggled with whether or not to put the Screwdriver on this list because it’s so incredibly simple to make. I’m quite certain even those just starting out with this whole drink mixing thing know how to make a Screwdriver. After careful consideration though, I decided to include it for two reasons. 1) The Screwdriver is one of the most popular drinks out there so a lot of people are bound to want it and 2) very few people actually know how to make a really good Screwdriver. If you want to make a great Screwdriver that will really impress your guests, you’ll need:

Start by pouring your orange juice into a glass. Add the vodka and then add the apple juice last. Stir it lightly and garnish with an orange slice. What you’ve just made is one of the best Screwdrivers you’ve ever tasted. You can make it a rum Screwdriver by substituting rum for the vodka.

Singapore Sling

This is one of my favorite drinks on this list even though I only really indulge in it on special occasions. It also happens to be my most requested cocktail at parties. I always make sure to have enough ingredients on hand to make this drink all night because it’s one people come back for time and time again. To make a genuine Singapore Sling, you’ll need:

  • bitters (you’ll only need a dash of these)
  • 1/4 oz. benedictine herbal liqueur
  • 1/4 oz. orange liqueur
  • 1/3 oz. grenadine
  • 1/2 oz. cherry brandy
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. gin
  • 4 oz. pineapple juice
  • ice
  • pineapple slice
  • cherry
  • shaker
  • tall glass

Start by combining your bitters, benedictine herbal liqueur, orange liqueur, grenadine, cherry brandy, lime juice, gin and pineapple juice in a shaker filled with ice. Shake the entire mixture until your shaker is frosted. Strain your drink into your glass and finish up your cocktail by garnishing it with a slice of pineapple and a cherry.

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Whiskey Sour

This is another popular drink that is made wrong most of the time. The star of this show is the whiskey. You want to let it shine and now drown it out with the lime juice. To make a good Whiskey Sour, you’ll need:

  • 1/2 tsp. powdered sugar
  • lemon juice (half a lemon will give you all the juice you need)
  • 2 oz. whiskey
  • ice
  • 1/2 lemon slice
  • cherry
  • shaker
  • whiskey glass

Shake the whiskey, lemon juice and powdered sugar in your shaker with ice. Strain your drink into your whiskey glass and garnish it with your half lemon slice and a cherry.

White Russian

The White Russian is an absolute classic – not just one of the most popular mixed drinks ever served but also easily one of my personal favorite mixed drinks both to drink and to serve. To make a proper White Russian, you’ll need:

This one isn’t terribly complicated. Put your ice cubes in your glass, pour in your liqueur and vodka then fill the glass with your light cream. Simple and easy but so incredibly delicious. If you want a holiday theme at your holiday party, considering the Christmas Russian I served at my holiday party last year. It’s pretty simple. You’ll need:

How much you put in for each ingredient is up to you but you want the drink to be one part peppermint schnapps, one part vodka and two parts coffee liqueur. I used one shot of the schnapps and one shot of vodka with two shots of coffee liqueur all over ice. Finish up by filling your glass with milk. If you want stronger drinks, use smaller glasses. Want weaker drinks? Bigger glasses. I topped mine off with mini candy canes for garnish. Pretty simple stuff but a delicious holiday treat.

Low-Carb Living and Alcohol

Living a low-carb lifestyle is a goal for many people, especially when trying to lose weight. But rather than always being on a diet, it's nice to incorporate small changes that don't require you to feel deprived.

One change for people that drink alcohol and watch carbs is to ditch the sugar mixers. For example, there is no sugar in vodka, so drinking certain types of hard alcohol straight allows you to eliminate the carbs. However, that doesn't mean they are free from calories. That's because the liquors with no sugar get all of their calories from alcohol.

In general, most straight hard alcohol contains anywhere from 60 to 100 calories for a 1-ounce serving. While this may not seem like a lot of calories, the problem arises when you add mixers with carbohydrates to your glass.

Whiskey, for example, goes from 70 calories for 1 ounce, according to the USDA, to 148 calories when you add 6 ounces of cola to make a whiskey and Coke. Since there are no carbs in whiskey, the extra calories from the soda all come from sugar.

To keep the calories, carbs and sugar low, you can always swap out sugar and calorie-filled mixers for low-carb options. Some of the more popular sugar-free options include diet cola, sugar-free tonic water, diet seltzer, Crystal Light drink mix, a squeeze of fresh fruit such as lime, diet ginger ale, sparkling no-calorie lemonade or limeade.

3. Ice it

Professionals may think it's gauche, but Scotch over ice isn't an unusual preference for whiskey drinkers. Some people appreciate a colder Scotch-drinking experience, and, plus, ice essentially does the same job as adding water—a little diluting, a little opening up of flavor. If you're going to use ice, though, opt for one of those big cubes—it'll melt slower, keeping your drink from getting so watered down that you can't appreciate it's nuances.

The Four Stages of Your Moonshine Run

You may have heard old legends about how moonshine will “make you go blind.” Even though this is an exaggeration, it is true that moonshine that isn’t made well can make you sick. Read our run-down on how to distill whiskey and moonshine, to get an overview of safety measures you should take throughout the run. Be aware of alcohols that are being produced during the different stages of your moonshine run, so that you can avoid earning any reputation for your moonshine as being unsafe.

You may need more than one container for each stage of the run, so make sure to label each appropriately. If you have multiple containers for each stage of the run, that’s okay. Consider only a change of containers as a “cut” if you are going from one stage of the run to another.

The Foreshots

At each stage of the run, different alcohols are vaporized and make their way into the collection cup. The alcohol that makes fine, high-quality moonshine, is ethanol, which boils at a temperature of 175 degrees Fahrenheit. Other chemicals and types of alcohols, such as methanol, boil at lower temperatures and will be collected in your cup or jar after being condensed in the coil. These chemicals are poisonous. Not only will they ruin the taste of your moonshine (or whatever alcohol you’re distilling), if they make their way into your final product, they can make people very ill.

Generally, distillers make the first cut in the run when the temperature in the still’s pot reaches approximately 175-180 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the ethanol in the wash will begin to vaporize, and you can be sure that the distillate collected before that point contains most of the methanol and other poisonous compounds. After making the first cut, throw away the contents of your first container.

The contents of this first container of all the distillate collected before your run reaches this temperature are called the “foreshots.” The foreshots should ultimately be about 10% of the final amount of your distilling run. It is always best to make the cut a little later rather than earlier, to be sure that all the poisonous chemicals are tossed out.

The Heads

As the temperature continues to increase, ethanol will boil, and you will be distilling real spirits. But, while the temperature in the still’s pot is climbing through the range of about 175 degrees Fahrenheit to about 185 degrees Fahrenheit, the distillate will still contain many traces of non-ethanol chemicals that can make your final product have a bit more “bite” and flavor if they are added to it.

For a product like whiskey or Scotch, this might be ideal, because the complexity of those alcohols comes from the combination of trace chemicals. However, for a product like moonshine or vodka, which are ideally flavorless, trace chemicals alter and affect the taste of your product negatively.

The second cut you will make in your run will be around the 185 - 190 degree temperature range. The distillate collected after the foreshots and before the second cut is called the “heads” of the run. Set the heads aside for further distillation, or to combine the right amount with your final distillate to flavor the alcohol the way you like.

The heads should total about 20-30%% of the final amount of your run. It’s always best to make this cut a little later, rather than earlier, and collect some of the hearts with your heads, instead of the other way around.

The Hearts

The best part of the run is the distillate that contains the most ethanol. This is called the “hearts” section of your run. Many professionals and long-time distillers agree that this is the portion of the run from about 190 degrees Fahrenheit to about 200 or 205 degrees. Of course, it depends on the still.

Although the boiling point of ethanol is 175 degrees Fahrenheit, the mash in your still is not pure ethanol. Depending on the ingredients and other factors, you should expect that most of the pure ethanol in your run is boiling off when the still’s pot shows higher temperature than 175.

The hearts will probably total to 30% or so of the final amount of your alcohol run. It is always better to make this cut early, to keep the hearts as pure as possible. It’s better to mix some hearts into your tails, than some tails into your hearts.

The Tails

After the run reaches about 205 degrees Fahrenheit or so, there may be more steam that makes its way into your distillate. There may also be other chemicals that burn at a higher temperature than ethanol, which can give this portion of the distillate a flavor that isn’t quite what you’re after. This part of the run is called the “tails” and can total as much as 20-30% of your run. Set the tails aside to be further distilled.

At 212 degrees Fahrenheit, water boils. When the temperature in the pot of your still reaches 212 degrees, you can go ahead and turn off the heat source for your still. The temperature inside should maintain itself for a little while longer, then the temperature at the top of the column (the “onion head”) should suddenly drop, signalling the end of your run.

You can keep collecting whatever distillate comes out of the condenser coil, but it’s not worth boiling the water to get every drop of alcohol out of the alcohol wash. You’ll end up with a lot of water in your tails, which will just be distilled out again anyhow.

Allow your still to cool before disassembling, cleaning, and storing it for your next run.

Mason jars are the traditional containers for moonshine distilling

The “Feints”

The containers of heads and tails that you set aside are referred to as the “feints.” You have two options for these: you can add them into the wash with your next run, or you can distill them by themselves. If you don’t want to mix different recipes or flavors from various mashes, you might distill the feints in a smaller-size still after each alcohol run. Some people collect their feints for several runs, then do an all-feints run in a larger still this is called the “queen’s share.” Just to be safe, you still throw out the foreshots in a queen’s share run.

It may take some practice before you learn the unique characteristics of your still that will tell you when to cut your alcohol run. During each run, take notes on the temperature of the still when you make your cut, you might also note observations like the color, clarity, flavor, and texture of the distillate during the different stages of a run, which can help you repeat successful runs and figure out where you went wrong in a batch that isn’t up to your standards.

Always enjoy your alcohol distilled at home safely and responsibly. Follow the law, practice safe distilling, and learn to maximize the hearts in each run, and you’ll be able to enjoy your moonshine with a smile.

How to Make a Highball

This isn't your everyday "whiskey soda." This is art.

tall, narrow-mouthed glass that holds at least 12 ounces

  1. Fill the tall, narrow-mouthed glass with ice cubes.
  2. Pour your chosen liquor over the ice.
  3. Hold the glass at a slight angle and slowly pour the club soda into it. No need to stir. Garnish with citrus (optional).

Don&rsquot call a high ball a whiskey soda, or a vodka soda, or a tequila soda. A highball denotes precision and craftsmanship. The "spirit-soda" thing is what you&rsquod scream at a bartender who&rsquos four rows of people away from you, and who&rsquoll dash some well junk in a tallish cup over ice and drench it with the bar soda gun. A twist of lemon or a wedge of lime with that? In your dreams.

Yeah, the highball is something you can make yourself (quite easily, I&rsquoll add) in the peace, comfort, and solitude of your own home, and still call it a name that implies you made an effort, like "highball," not like "whiskey soda."

But, sure, fine, the ingredients are the same.

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The highball was dubbed as such back in the late 19th century at a Manhattan bar, and from there it was loosely applied to whiskey watered down with soda water, whiskey watered down with just plain water, and whiskey watered down with ginger ale. Other spirits crept into the equation. In 1949, Esquire called the highball the "high priest of tall drinks." Years later, the scotch and soda became the most-recognized offshoot. In 2018, we noted that the highball was enjoying a comeback among elite drinking establishments, powered by the nuanced science of bubble-making, as perfected much in part by bartenders in Japan.

On the topic of bubbles: They matter just as much as the spirit you choose. Off-brand grocery store club soda, though technically correct, just won&rsquot have the same sharp fizz of bottled club soda like Q or Fever-Tree&mdashyou know, the Nice Stuff. For a highball that&rsquos really nose-tingling crisp, stock your fridge accordingly. Another technique for preserving bubble integrity is using a narrow-mouthed glass (like, ahem, a highball glass). And before pouring the highball, take the extra steps to chill the spirit and make clean, clear ice.

In other words, spend some time with your highball, even if only you will be able to tell the difference.