Intelligence is sexy—not like quantum physics or thermonuclear engineering (maybe save that topic for the second date), but the cool kind of smarts like how whiskey is made or the origins of the Moscow Mule. Nerd your way into your next liquor-loving date’s heart with these boozy trivia facts that most people don’t know.
The Moscow Mule Was Basically an Accident
The Moscow Mule is so easy-drinking that one might think it was some brilliant mixologist’s crowning achievement―but that’s hardly the case. The cocktail was merely a solution to a problem: Bar owner Jack Morgan had too much ginger beer on his hands and vodka distributor John Martin was struggling with a surplus of Smirnoff. Morgan threw the two together into a copper mug he had kicking around to make the drink stand out, and stand out it did.
All Tequila Is Mezcal, But Not All Mezcal Is Tequila
Similar to how you learned that all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares in third grade, all tequila is mezcal, but not all mezcal is tequila. People love to lump the two spirits together, but while both are distilled from agave plants, tequila must be made in Jalisco, Mexico from Blue Weber agave, whereas mezcal can be made anywhere in Mexico from a wide range of agave varietals.
A $22 Scotch Just Won Best Whisky
If your date tries to impress you with a top-shelf brand of scotch or belittles your affordable order, shut him or her down instantly with this bit of news: A $22 bottle of scotch just won gold at the Spirits Business Scotch Whisky Masters competition. That’s right, the more-than-affordable Glen Marnoch Speyside Single Malt was deemed best whisky of 2017, proving once and for all that the price tag on the bottle is in no way indicative of the quality inside it.
Ernest Hemingway Loved Bloody Marys
Papa was almost as famous for his drinking as he was for his writing. The great American author may be synonymous with rum and Daiquiris―even inspiring his own, eponymous Daiquiri variation―but Hemingway also very much enjoyed himself some Bloody Marys. In typical Hemingway fashion, Hemingway made his Bloodies by the pitcherful with a liter of vodka, tomato juice, an entire bottle of Worcestershire sauce, the juice of two limes, celery salt, black pepper and cayenne. Feel free to whip out this tidbit over your next brunch date.
The First Old Fashioned Recipe Didn’t Call For Whiskey
This factoid might be too real for the date who almost compulsively orders Old Fashioneds, but be bold, and let him or her know that the first recipe for their beloved cocktail didn’t actually call for whiskey. The earliest known recipe, which can be found in The Balance and Columbian Repository dating back to 1806, calls for sugar, water, bitters and “a stimulating liquor.” A slightly later recipe composed by the great Jerry Thomas actually calls for “one jigger of Holland gin.” You may shatter an Old Fashioned-lover’s world with this fact―or they may become enamored with your wealth of whiskey knowledge.
The National Cocktail of Mexico Isn’t the Margarita
Should your date start things off with an icy, ice-breaking Margarita, you may want to cutely point out that the Margarita is actually not the most commonly enjoyed tequila cocktail in Mexico. Rather, the Paloma is the source of satisfaction for most tequila cravings south of the border. Nothing like a little knowledge and the promise of expanding their tequila-loving horizons to earn you that second date.
There’s a Difference Between “Whiskey” and “Whisky”
No, it’s not just a matter of preference whether or not you include the “E” in whiskey; it actually holds significance. “Whiskey” generally refers to American- and- Irish-made whiskey (with a few American exceptions), whereas “whisky” refers to the spirit made in countries like Scotland, Japan, Canada and so on. Scotch whisky, for example, never contains an “E,” as scotch is always produced in Scotland.
All Alcohol is Gluten Free
If your date boasts about being gluten free, you may just want to get out of there. But if you want to see this thing through, at least do so while schooling them at their own game. If your gluten-free date insists he or she has to order a Vodka Soda to abide by their diet, respectfully explain that all spirits are gluten-free. During distillation, alcohol is separated from everything else in the mash―that’s kind of the point. The vapor travels through the still and condenses into liquid alcohol without any trace of sugar or gluten.
Beer Bottles Are Brown For a Reason
If you have a nice, low-maintenance date, he or she might just order a bottle of beer. Upon hearing this order, you might ask your date, “Have you ever wondered why most beer bottles are brown?” And he or she will probably respond “not really,” but don’t let that deter you from continuing. Beer bottles are mostly brown because the brown tint allows fewer UV rays to pass through the glass. UV rays can cause “skunking” in beer, a chemical process that makes beer taste bad. You might also suggest that he or she order a can instead, as a can allows the fewest amount of UV rays―and oxygen, which also causes skunking―to come in contact with the beer. Your partner will be happy you have such a profound interest in making sure his or her beer is as fresh as can be.
For a long time, absinthe carried with it a bad reputation. In France, the simultaneous rise in absinthe’s popularity and decline in wine production in the mid-1800s led to a lot of anti-absinthe propaganda among those loyal to the wine industry. Rumors of absinthe being a hallucinogen and driving drinkers to madness took over the conversation when vineyard worker Jean Lanfray was put on trial for murdering his wife and children. The basis of his defense? He had been drinking absinthe and was driven mad enough to kill. Thanks to this reputation, absinthe was banned in the United States until 2007 when the drinking public finally acknowledged that the spirit didn’t cause anyone to hallucinate or go mad, and was definitely necessary in the making of an authentic Sazerac.
Gin & Tonics Were the Secret Weapon of the 19th Century British Empire
Winston Churchill famously praised the Gin & Tonic as having “saved more Englishmen’s lives, and minds than all the doctors in the Empire.” During Britain’s 19th century occupation of India, malaria spread rampantly among soldiers and was often responsible for wiping out entire battalions. Eventually, a solution was discovered; quinine powder found in the bark of the cinchona tree both treated and prevented malaria, but the powder was extremely bitter and hard to stomach on its own. To make it easier to digest, the British mixed the powder with soda and sugar, creating “tonic,” and threw some gin in there for good measure. Thus the birth of the Gin & Tonic, the secret weapon of the British Indian forces.