Rum is made by distilling molasses or sugar, creating an easy drinking sweet spirit that is produced from the Caribbean to the Philippines. All rums are initially a white spirit but become dark rums if they are aged in wooden barrels.
Vodka is the world’s most common liquor, and can be distilled from lots of different products although rye or wheat grains, and potato, are the most widely used bases.
Whiskey (with an ‘e’ in Ireland and globally including Japan; ‘whisky’ without an ‘e’ in Scotland only, where it’s also called ‘scotch’) is distilled from fermented grains, with the clear liquid then barrel aged to give it flavour and colour. In the US, whiskey also goes under various localised names including bourbon and rye.
Gin is produced in a similar manner to vodka, although the main difference is the inclusion of the juniper berry which gives the distinct taste. A cornucopia of other botanicals can be added to gin to give unique flavour profiles.
Tequila is distilled from the agave plant. It can only be called tequila if produced in the Mexican state of Jalisco, or a couple of smaller districts. Anything produced outside of these regions is called Mezcal.
Brandy is usually distilled from grapes, but other fruits can be used. The name comes from the Dutch word ‘brandewijn’ which literally means burnt wine.
Vermouth is technically a fortified wine with a neutral alcohol (such as clear grape brandy) added along with herbs and other botanicals. It gets its name from the German word for wormwood – ‘wermut’ – which was one of its historical ingredients. Examples of well-known vermouths are Cinzano, Martini & Rosso and Noilly Prat.
Juices, mixers, bitters and a host of other ingredients also add to the flavour sensations we enjoy in cocktails. Keep an eye out for our daily posts and stories from The Hague’s Finest!