The Ultimate Guide To Hosting A Whiskey Tasting Party (& Free Printable Tasting Note Cards)

Is there a better combination than fall and whiskey? I mean really! I’d venture to say maybe peanut butter and jelly, but even that’s a stretch. Whiskey has become quite the popular gal on the block, both on the internet and in real life. A new distillery just opened down the street from my apartment, and more and more whiskey lovers are popping up left and right.

The Ultimate Guide To Hosting A Whiskey Tasting Party (& Free Printable Tasting Note Cards)

My dear blogger friend Sara of Cake Over Steak have been dreaming of hosting a whiskey party of our own for over a year now. You may remember that I even listed this on my fall bucket list!  So when our baller friends Dave and Kelley offered to help cook and coordinate this festivity on their property, we jumped (…and leaped, bounded and then happy danced) at the opportunity. What followed was the start to a new fall welcoming tradition I hope to continue for years and years and years to come.

Today I’ll be sharing lots of tips and resources for coordinating your own whiskey festivities and Sara will be sharing two whiskey inspired recipes she’s concocted on her blog. Forewarning: Sara’s a mastermind in the kitchen (and in the bar) so you have to hop over to her blog ASAP. So here we go whiskey lovers; your ultimate guide to hosting a whiskey party. And don’t forget to download your free printable whiskey tasting note cards!

The Ultimate Guide To Hosting A Whiskey Tasting Party (& Free Printable Tasting Note Cards)
The Ultimate Guide To Hosting A Whiskey Tasting Party (& Free Printable Tasting Note Cards)

 

Take Some Time To Consider What Whiskeys To Serve

Variety is the spice of life and serving a selection of different whiskeys is one guaranteed to appease your biggest whiskey snobs. Whiskey is a multifaceted drink that has a long history. Do a little research and you’ll find that bourbons, regularly distilled whiskey, Tennessee whiskeys, rye whiskeys and even scotches all offer varying flavor profiles to make your whiskey tasting party super interesting and fun.

We went this route and found that our party goers definitely stuck their favorite type of whiskey, but that by trying a little bit of everything they learned specifically what they liked about them. In opposition, you could serve only one type of whiskey with a variety of brands and ages. This might be something we will do in the future!

 

The Ultimate Guide To Hosting A Whiskey Tasting Party (& Free Printable Tasting Note Cards)
The Ultimate Guide To Hosting A Whiskey Tasting Party (& Free Printable Tasting Note Cards)

Offer A Signature Whiskey Cocktail

Let’s face it, there are going to be guests that love themselves a good whiskey cocktail. I know I do! Offering a signature whiskey cocktail is not only a nice treat for your guests, but it appeases the lesser whiskey fanatics in the crowd too. Don’t know what whiskey cocktail to serve? Sara’s got you covered with her refreshing Sparkling Whiskey Cocktail With Honey & Mint recipe.

The Ultimate Guide To Hosting A Whiskey Tasting Party (& Free Printable Tasting Note Cards)
The Ultimate Guide To Hosting A Whiskey Tasting Party (& Free Printable Tasting Note Cards)

Exchange Ideas and Thoughts On Tasting Note Cards

As you sip, be sure to write down the smells and notes you pick up onto your tasting note cards… then swap! You’ll love reading how your friends chose to describe the tastes and aromas they sensed compared to your own. You might find that you have a super sensitive palate.

The free printable tasting note cards included in today’s post allow you to write up the type, age, aroma, taste, finish and final score of each whiskey. Sara and I sat right next to each other and I loved reading what notes she picked up in contrast with the ones I did. We might’ve disagreed on some of our scores (because I realllllly love scotches) but it was fun nonetheless!

The Ultimate Guide To Hosting A Whiskey Tasting Party (& Free Printable Tasting Note Cards)
The Ultimate Guide To Hosting A Whiskey Tasting Party (& Free Printable Tasting Note Cards)
The Ultimate Guide To Hosting A Whiskey Tasting Party (& Free Printable Tasting Note Cards)
The Ultimate Guide To Hosting A Whiskey Tasting Party (& Free Printable Tasting Note Cards)

Get Crazy With Whiskey Inspired Food

This is where I bow my head to Sara and Kelly, who masterminded the crap out of the most delicious whiskey infused recipes! Follow their lead and make a Pinterest page of whiskey inspired dishes to serve your guests. They’ll love the thought you put behind the meal. Sara’s also sharing her… wait for it… Bourbon Cookie Dough Shots on her blog. You read that right. Bourbon Cookie Dough Shots. I can’t stop thinking about them (and Dave’s smoked bourbon bbq ribs)!

Keep It Simple

Don’t serve a zillion and half whiskeys. One, that’s just expensive. And two, keeping a smaller menu of whiskeys really allows your guest to appreciate and focus on the whiskeys they’ll be drinking. We kept our party to five… and I think it was the perfect amount!

The Ultimate Guide To Hosting A Whiskey Tasting Party (& Free Printable Tasting Note Cards)

Order Is Everything

In order to keep your palate fresh, be sure to order your strongest or smokiest flavors towards the end of the tasting.

Glassware The Easy Way

Shot glass sized servings filled about half way is definitely the easiest way to go. Especially if you’re not interested in doing dishes for hours after the whiskey tasting is over! Of course, if you’re inviting true whiskey connoisseurs, I would recommend going with classic tulip glasses like these.

 

The Ultimate Guide To Hosting A Whiskey Tasting Party (& Free Printable Tasting Note Cards)
The Ultimate Guide To Hosting A Whiskey Tasting Party (& Free Printable Tasting Note Cards)
The Ultimate Guide To Hosting A Whiskey Tasting Party (& Free Printable Tasting Note Cards)

Have Your Whiskey Know-It-All On Hand (Or Use A Whiskey Guidebook)

Choose someone to serve as your tasting guide, announcing the history and origins of the whiskeys before you start to smell and taste. Having a little bit of background makes you appreciate the drink more and gives you time to fill out your whiskey tasting note cards. Don’t have a whiskey know it all? No problem. Use a whiskey guidebook and you’ll learn a thing or two!

Have Water Ready

There’s much controversy on whether a true tasting should allow participants to dilute the whiskeys with water in order to taste the profile more. I’ll let you decide how you want to operate your shindig. Regardless, having water on hand to keep your guest hydrated and happy is the way to go!

Organize The Tasting Earlier Than Your Meal

Make sure to have your heaviest drinking time towards the beginning of the party followed by a deliciously filling meal. We timed our whiskey tasting portion of the party to be about midway through the festivities, after appetizers but before our big meal. It worked out swell! All of us were able to stuff ourselves and get home safely. Of course, this is the portion where I disclaim to drink safely and always use a designated driver.

 

The Ultimate Guide To Hosting A Whiskey Tasting Party (& Free Printable Tasting Note Cards)
The Ultimate Guide To Hosting A Whiskey Tasting Party (& Free Printable Tasting Note Cards)
The Ultimate Guide To Hosting A Whiskey Tasting Party (& Free Printable Tasting Note Cards)

Have Other Drinks On Hand For Your Non-Whiskey Loving Friends

Let’s face it, not everyone loves whiskey… and that’s okay. Offer a bottle of wine or ask guests to bring their own bottle of their drink of choice if they know they’re not going to partake in the tasting.

Hosting a whiskey tasting party is a great way to gather your friends for a day of appreciation of one of the best drinks around. I loved ringing in the fall with good friends and good food. A big thanks to Sara, Kelley and Dave for coordinating the shindig in our neighborhood. This might be my new favorite fall tradition!

Are you interested in hosting a whiskey tasting party of your own this fall?

8 Lessons My Thai Cooking Class Taught Me

I think a lot of traveling comes down to just knowing yourself. Knowing what you like, what you’re “eh” about, and what gets your heart racing. And if I’m keeping in 100% real with you… I’m just going to come right out and say that my heart goes pitter patter for Thai food. I love it. I could wax philosophic about it. It’s probably one of the main reasons why I’ve wanted to travel here for so long. Laura loves Thai food forever. This relationship is a strong and passionate and I am committed to it until the end of time!

8 Lessons My Thai Cooking Class Taught Me

So, of course, what’s any Thai food lover to do when slightly handicapped and hungry? Oh, that’s right. You sign up for a Thai cooking class. And man, signing up for a day with Thai Farm Cooking School, located outside of Chiang Mai’s Old City was just what the doctor ordered (okay, maybe he would have suggested an ace bandage and ice… but you catch my drift). Best. Day. Ever. Here are eight things my time learning how to cook at the Thai Farm Cooking School taught me!

1. There’s “Thai Hot” and “Tourist Hot” (And I’m Somewhere In Between)

Aw man, this is a serious thing. “Tourist hot” is essentially a level of heat that anyone could handle. Don’t get me wrong, a little restrained flavor never hurt nobody! Typically, this is the level of heat that most street vendors and restaurants prepare for non-Thai folks, which is actually a little frustrating for spice lovers like myself and Luke. Our cooking instructor, the adorable and hilarious Benny, made sure that all recipes included an option for spice avoid-ers and spice magnets. Folks, I once considered myself the latter. But after a taste of what true “Thai hot” was, I had to knock myself down a few pegs. On a scale of 1 to solar heat, I’d say I’m a good 7.5. Know thyself, right?

8 Lessons My Thai Cooking Class Taught Me
8 Lessons My Thai Cooking Class Taught Me
8 Lessons My Thai Cooking Class Taught Me

 

2. Ingredients, People, Ingredients!

Bird’s eye chili’s, galangas, coconut cream, jack fruit, holy basil… I could go on. Thailand is filled to the brim with the most delicious, unique produce. And the fresher they are (like when your instructor asks everyone to go out of the farm to pick lemongrass straight from the stalk!), the more delicious your meal will be. No pesticides, no preservatives, none of it! Sure, when preparing these meals in their complete authenticity at home, a quick trip to the Asian market may be a necessity, but most of the natural produce listed in the recipes have similar ingredients available in most groceries stores.

 

8 Lessons My Thai Cooking Class Taught Me
8 Lessons My Thai Cooking Class Taught Me

3. Most Meals Don’t Require A Thousand Steps

1-2-3 and you eat. Gather your delicious and fresh ingredients described above, turn the heat on, simmer for just a little bit and BOOM! I’m not even kidding. Most of our meals took about 10 minutes tops to complete. Which is awesome if you consider yourself to be an occasionally lazy cook (slowly raises hand in embarrassment). Even better, most meals don’t require a thousand pots and pans either. Now if only I could justify buying a mortar and pestle into my carry on luggage!

4. Thai Markets Are The Best

Do I really need to say more? The strange, the smelly, the colorfully packaged. It’s all there. And it’s all fresh. And it’s all the best.

5. A Forgiving And Humorous Instructor Is Key

“Smile, honeys! Smile! Your food can taste your feelings!” I don’t think you could ever ask for a perkier, more energetic and fun loving instructor. Thai Farm Cooking School… props. Your teacher’s energy was absolutely infectious! I found myself laughing and smiling to myself while wok-ing away on my Pad Thai dish. This could be considered insanity in the states, but whatever guys! Cooking with a sense of humor and a plastered smile is the new thing!

 

8 Lessons My Thai Cooking Class Taught Me
8 Lessons My Thai Cooking Class Taught Me
8 Lessons My Thai Cooking Class Taught Me

6. Tiny Is Mighty

See those cute little chili’s in the above picture? Yeah. Two words… HEAT MONSTERS. After eating half (I repeat, half!) of one of these fingernail length peppers, my ears were ringing and little puffs of smoke started expelling from my ears. No joke, guys. HEAT MONSTERS. The big guys? No problem. Tame and easily sauteed in a nice little stir fry for some pizzazz. The little ones? Toss ten of these in if you’re concocting a death stew for your worst enemy. In which case, maybe you should think about joining the cast of Game Of Thrones or something (everybody’s killing each other and dying anyway). Like many of my girlfriends say, it’s always the little ones you have to look out for!

7. The Process Is The Fun Part

Note to self: Cooking shouldn’t always be utilitarian. The process of cutting the vegetables just right, simmering the coconut milk just so, measuring the sauces to the brim, washing the warm dishes… it can all be therapeutic and, dare I say it, fun? Plus who doesn’t love hearing the “pok pok pok” noise of curry being mashed up in all its deliciousness? Am I right?

8. There’s Nothing Wrong With A Good Sweat In The Kitchen (Or While Eating)

Especially in Thailand. Sure, my nose was running and I had sweat beads gathering into a pointillistic masterpiece on my forehead, but it was totally and completely worth it.

 

8 Lessons My Thai Cooking Class Taught Me

If you ever find yourself in Chiang Mai, do yourself a huge favor and sign up for a cooking class with the Thai Farm Cooking School. I loved every single second of my time and that’s not even an exaggeration. From the morning market visit with Thai locals, to the hilarity of our instructor’s jokes, to cooking the authentic meals in the completely adorable wooden hut on the farm… everything was incredible!

Oh and P.S. I’m hosting a Thai dinner when we return stateside after our adventures abroad. Who’s coming over?

Spritz Recipe (AKA The Only Wine-Based Italian Drink You’ll Be Ordering From Now On)

So there’s this place called Italy. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it before… but it’s the land of dreams. The people are stupid beautiful, the food is fresh and mouthwatering, the history is lush and rich and the wine is incredible. It’s a damn good place, people! But guys, I think I’ve unearthed one of Italy’s finest hidden (culinary) treasures. Introducing the Spritz! This wine based drink is an apertivo classic has been haunting my dreams… so I just had to recreate it.

Spritz Recipe (AKA The Only Wine-Based Italian Drink You’ll Be Ordering From Now On)

 

I’ve started calling this drink the “better Bellini,” because let’s be honest, those things have a girly reputation. This wine-based cocktail is just sweet enough to go down easy, but also packs a bit of a bite with the dash of bitter liquor added in. Trust me, Italian dudes were not shy to order one of these on a hot afternoon. Ordering yourself a Spritz is basically the name of the game over there, especially during the summer since it’s incredibly refreshing and light!

The best part about the Spritz though? It only takes three ingredients! Yep. Three! And because I’m a young twenty-something with not much moolah to spend on fancy mixed drinks, I’m sharing with you both thepenny pincher’s guide AND the true Italian guide to making this sucker. So now you have no excuse not to make yourself one!

Spritz Recipe (AKA The Only Wine-Based Italian Drink You’ll Be Ordering From Now On)
Spritz Recipe (AKA The Only Wine-Based Italian Drink You’ll Be Ordering From Now On)
Spritz Recipe (AKA The Only Wine-Based Italian Drink You’ll Be Ordering From Now On)

You ready? I’m ready. Let’s do this thang…

SPRITZ RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

2 Parts Bubbly White Wine
True Italian Recipe: Prosecco
Penny Pinchers Recipe: Spumante

1 Part Bitter Liquor
True Italian Recipe: Aperol or Campari
Penny Pinchers Recipe: any kind of red, delicious cocktail bitters

Slice of Blood Orange

METHOD

Pour your bubbly over ice, add your bitters and squeeze a slice of your blood orange before mixing it all together.

When Luke and I lived in Rome this summer, drinking one of these babies in the late afternoon became almost ritualized. “Oh it’s four o’clock? Well, we better head over to apertivo and get our Spritz on.” Don’t ask! It just became one of those things we looked forward to doing to begin the evening. Since returning stateside, I find myself missing the laid back, “la bella vita” approach to living around this time of day. Now around four o’clock, I’m scarfing down almonds in between work responsibilities and avoiding eye contact with the Girl Scout cookies in my purse. Since Luke and I resurrected the recipe for Spritzes, I can sort of feel the energy of Italian lifestyle slowly sink back into my skin (or at least I like to imagine that happening) whenever we drink them. It’s a mix of nostalgia and pure enjoyment. And I’m hoping you might feel some of that goodness too. So get mixing friends!

Spritz Recipe (AKA The Only Wine-Based Italian Drink You’ll Be Ordering From Now On)

Is there a particular food or drink you find yourself nostalgic for? Maybe from your childhood or a specific place you’ve traveled to? I’d love to hear about them!