Sunday 14 April 2024
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Three Common Cocktail Spirits

Three Common Cocktail Spirits

Who doesn’t like a good cocktail, huh?

And everyone has their favorite:  Martini, Stinger, Alexander, Margarita…the list goes on and on.

But while you probably have a favorite, too, do you know what is in your preferred libation?  Well, if not then you are in luck:  here are some things you should know about the most common spirits served École du Bar de Montréal outlets throughout North America.


Rum is distilled from a byproduct of sugar production; technically a distillate of the sugar cane plant.  In the very specific case of a particularly type of rum from Brazil—known as “Cachaca,”—distilled directly from sugar cane juice.  All alcohol is clear, and that is why most rum is also a clear liquid.  However, after you distill it, you can age it in oak casks—also similar to other types of liquor—from which the liquor will leech its color.

It is important to note, though, that “light rum” is also typically purified.  “Gold” rum is aged only slightly, maybe a few months.  “Dark” rum, of course, is aged longer; the darkest rums, though, can also be distilled from molasses and not just sugar cane.  If you are a fan of any of these types of rum, then you might have 19th century pirates to thank:  rum was a popular trading item as the British fared the seas, through the Caribbean, as part of their colonization efforts.


Often drunk straight (with no mixer or ice) whiskey is distilled from a grain mash.  Unlike rum, whiskey can be distilled from various sources, all grain of course: corn, rye, barley, wheat, etc.  That is why whiskeys can vary so greatly between distillers and bottlers.  Of course, the aging process can also add yet more variety between the different labels.  However, in order to be considered whiskey, “officially,” a distiller must have fermented the grains and then aged them in a wooden barrel.


The most “pure” or “clean” spirit served in bars today, vodka is essentially just ethanol distilled from a neutral grain, though “grain” is a bit of a loose term. After all, the most popular “grain” from which to distill vodka is potato.  Corn and wheat are also popular.  Vodka, when made properly, does not have any strong characteristics and that is what makes the spirit so popular as the base of mixed cocktails like a screwdriver (vodka and orange juice).