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How to navigate the spirit and cocktail universe

People often ask how I've learned so much about spirits and mixology. It began with a transformative visit to the bar Taste by Niche. I’d never experienced anything like it. Everything felt so different. There were ingredients I didn’t recognize, like Yamazaki Whisky, and the alchemy used to create the drinks was captivating.

About a year later, I had my first lesson, learning just enough to be dangerous. And for years, that is where I remained until I found some mentors. They answered my questions and recommended things to try and study, which gave me the confidence to start sharing with my friends. It was nerve-wracking and fun. There were and continue to be stumbling blocks, but experimenting, teaching, and sharing have been immensely rewarding and made me better.

As I dove deeper, I began to recognize a throughline between it and what chef

#AnthonyBourdain championed. He encouraged us to explore and stand in other people's shoes, ultimately learning about ourselves. He made countless people curious about food and cooking and unleashed the bold traveler within them. While his show grew to encompass more than food, it often served as the gateway. Why people eat what they eat says something about their culture, economics, and more.

"You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together"

Spirits and cocktails exist in countless cultures and rituals around the world. And it often plays a role as a conversation convener and good times via “let’s grab a drink."

My self-study and practice have gotten me to where I am, but the invaluable piece has been mentors and friends with who I can ask questions and discuss the geeky minutiae. Its also proven a great way to spend time with my friends, who are eager to play guinea pig. The satisfaction of sharing drinks and stories with them and my students ignites my thirst to learn more.

When I think about how I want to spend my days, learning more about this topic is one of them and then being able to share that with others sounds perfect. Seeing beyond the bottle or drink and learning the story and craft behind it can take you back centuries, teaching us something about a culture near or far.

As my 40th birthday approaches, it reminds me how fleeting our time on this planet is. This practice and study give me another opportunity to say to my friends and family, “Come over. I miss you. Let me make something for you.”

I want to know what you want to hear about and for you to share what you have learned. What are you tasting, and what spirits, cultures, and cocktails do you want to explore? This is an invitation to join me on the free community Discord. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this piece. What is missing? What else should we be talking about? You can join here.


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