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  1. #1
    Connoisseur
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    May 2003
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    Straight up vs. Mixing

    Okay, here's a question I'd like to pose to the group: at what quality level do you allow yourself (or others) to use your bourbon for mixing?

    For me, my 'mixing bourbon' is Maker's Mark, because it seems to be very mixer-friendly, but straight-up it tastes like I've licked an ashtray (JMHO). That quality/price level is about where I won't cringe if somebody asks for ginger ale.

  2. #2
    Taster
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    May 2002
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    Re: Straight up vs. Mixing

    For me it's a matter of price not "quality" levels. That is with the exception of perhaps a Manhattan, most mixers obscure the taste enough for me that I consider it a waste of money to regularly mix anything that's $19+ /750 ml. I keep plain old Evan Williams or Beam white around specifically for mixing. I'm paying around $10 & $12 respectively for these. I guess if my favorite straight bourbon was $5.00 /750 I'd mix with it too!

    Last summer, I started a thread on price as a measure of quality. I think the consensus was that higher price doesn't always mean "better" Bourbon. I have come to agree with this. Case in point, the two that I've mentioned as mixers I also enjoy neat or on the rocks.

    As far as the others as in guests: I wouldn't refuse a guest a mixed drink. If all I had was Knob Creek at $25, that's what would be dancing with the Ginger Ale. Even if he swilled it all. But the next time that particular company was coming over, you bet I'd have something else on hand. In this case I suppose I'd be cringing at the thought of what he was doing with a wonderful bourbon like KC as well!

    Regards,
    Winslow

  3. #3
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    Re: Straight up vs. Mixing

    Maybe I've been overthinking the whole concept, but to me it's a little more complicated than just a price issue. For example, Buffalo Trace is available locally and is on sale this week for $15.95/Liter. I consider this quality level right at the threshold of "cringe-point", even though it's cheaper than Maker's.

    It's almost a "pearls before swine" issue once you introduce GUESTS into the equation: it gets even more complicated if you have ONE guest who appreciates fine bourbon and ANOTHER who asks for the Diet Coke! Is it ethical to serve them from different bottles?

  4. #4
    Virtuoso
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    Re: Straight up vs. Mixing

    </font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
    Is it ethical to serve them from different bottles?

    [/QUOTE]
    Ethical? I think you mean polite.

    Absolutely. I often put out two bottles when I have guests. I put the mixing bourbon near the soft drinks and I put the sipping bourbon near the rocks glasses. I then offer each guest a drink and ask if they want a mixer (while I politely point to the mixing bourbon) or a rocks/neat drink (while I gently cradle the fine sipping whiskey). It gets the point across without insulting anyone.

    If I have too many guests to keep track of, I will just put out the mixing bourbon. I then take the guests to the bunker and suggest that the guest sample one of the bunkered bourbons if they "like their bourbon straight or on the rocks". Works like a charm. Most folks run from the bunker and head for the mixer. When they see the collection, they know they are in front of some serious business and are too afraid to touch the good stuff. Ok, actually, they just don't recognize the labels on the bunker bottles (they LOOK expensive) and head back to the mixer cuz they know that the mixing bourbon is something they can't mess up.

    In fact, one of my neighbors, who knows how serious I am about bourbon, feels guilty about mixing Old Forrester with his Coke. He doesn't recognize it and thinks it is expensive. I have to keep telling him not to worry and to drink all he wants.

  5. #5
    Administrator in exile
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    Re: Straight up vs. Mixing

    </font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
    feels guilty about mixing Old Forester with his Coke

    [/QUOTE]

    Blasphemy! We all know that Old Forester is just a better version of Woodford Reserve and should be mixed with nothing outside of a Mint julep or a Manhattan. Your friend is right to feel guilty. Be afraid! be very afraid!

  6. #6
    Enthusiast
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    May 2001
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    Re: Straight up vs. Mixing

    I would probably mix almost anything if someone specifically requested it. This would certainly be the case if I knew that they were very familiar with mixed drinks and appreciated the difference.

    For the past 8 years I have drank spirits neat at least 90% of the time, but for the previous decade I drank whisk(e)y and gingerale over 90% of the time. The quality and character of the spirit makes a great deal of difference to me. Even now, when I feel like a whisky and gingerale, I pick the whisky I really feel like having with it. This is often a top shelf Canadian (perhaps that's an oximoron ). I only rarely use bourbon, but that's because of preference rather than price or "image".

    As a practical matter, friends and guests almost always ask me for guidance when the see my cabinet. In the unlikely event someone ever asked to mix Pappy 23 with coke, I would probably carry on some small talk before pouring... "How familiar are you with Pappy 23? What other bourbons do you like in your Coke? Pappy 23 is generally enjoyed neat, perhaps you would prefer the..." Yet, if it's really what they wanted, I would pour it. But after serving it, I would probably mention that since it was on my special occasion shelf, I wouldn't be pouring it again for a while.

  7. #7
    Guru
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    Re: Straight up vs. Mixing

    I have enjoyed bourbon and ginger ale in the distant past. Another favorite was mid-shelf scotch (e.g., Johnny Walker Red) and ginger ale.

    As to serving Pappy 23 with Coke, you are a gentleman and a diplomat. Doing that would hurt me to the quick. I am not sure I could avoid just saying, "No".

    Tim

  8. #8
    Enthusiast
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    Re: Straight up vs. Mixing

    BTW, I would say no if I was pretty sure someone was just pulling my chain.

  9. #9
    Administrator in exile
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    Re: Straight up vs. Mixing

    Most of my "mixing" friends, if you can really call them "friends" don't care enough to even notice a different bottle. If you are that concerned about appearances, just put the mixed drinks in the kitchen or someplace where no one is likely to be watching. I like Chuck's idea of only leaving the "mixer" bourbon out and inviting connoiseurs to sample from the bunker. You will likely know who these people are anyway. And when you take them aside to sample the good stuff, you can get a good laugh by making fun of your less-than-perfect mixing friends.

  10. #10
    Virtuoso
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    Re: Straight up vs. Mixing

    </font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
    And when you take them aside to sample the good stuff, you can get a good laugh by making fun of your less-than-perfect mixing friends.

    [/QUOTE]
    Shoot, the joke may be on us. All the mixing friends will laugh among themselves and joke about how much money we "waste" on "whiskey".

 

 

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