What will you be having? Ferrvor has set out to prepare you for the upcoming holiday shindigs with an exclusive interview from Jeffrey Meisel, Founder of Merchants of Beverage. As some of us may recall from watching the iconic British spy, James Bond, his preferred drink “a Martini, shaken not stirred” and though your average bartender may not be a psychologist you can tell a lot about a man by what he drinks.
With the end of the year in full swing, one’s social calendar awaits holiday parties galore. Anything and everything, from fine wines to delicious cocktails, Jeffrey Meisel knows exactly what you need and how to concoct the perfect drink to go along with your holiday season festivities. Credited for launching Gilt taste and dedicating a decade of his career to Domaine Select Wine Estates, Jeffrey Meisel’s suggestions speak volumes.
Ferrvor: What are the necessary tools to make exceptional drinking a part of one’s lifestyle?
Jeff Meisel: A positive, open-minded attitude. That’s the first important step. From there it’s easy. The basics come first. Prepare your home with some essentials so that when the mood strikes, or you find yourself hosting, you are prepared to pour.
Some of the basics include:
Bitters, essential spirits and liqueurs:
Bitters – these are like seasoning for cocktails, the same way you keep a great fleur de sel in your kitchen to sprinkle on a dish, so should you keep bitters in your bar.
Essential Spirits – These are your versatile, work-horse spirits: bourbon, tequila (reposado), gin, rhum agricole. These spirits can all be sipped on the rocks, or used to whip up countless cocktails, so you’ll be prepared for a multitude of occasions. We have a variety of spirit collections and outstanding bottles available at Merchants of Beverage, but I love this pack especially as it gets the job done in one fell swoop from bitters to essential spirits:
Intermediate Bar Basics – Upgrading the Home Bar Pack:
Make sure you have ice prepared. The rubber ice molds for medium to large cubes are ideal. Once they are frozen transfer them to a Ziplock bag and seal it shut so that no aromas from your freezer seep into the cubes, yuck.
Liqueurs – like bitters, they are an integral part of cocktails, adding a certain finesse and flavor to base spirits. These three French classics will elevate your home bar beautifully.
Amaro is the classic digestive in Italy, and the Italians know how to drink better at home. Having these two amari on hand will immediately bring sophistication to your home bar:
Speaking of Italians, the Negroni is a classic cocktail that couldn’t be easier to make (equal parts gin, vermouth, and Campari), so it’s ideal to the Negroni Kit on hand for a quick fix:
Another way to start your spirits collection is with this package from the 86 Co. These four bottles – gin, vodka, rum and Tequila – are top quality spirits that can act as the foundation to any home bar:
Your wine collection must be relative to the space you have, but there are a few bottles you should always have at the ready – basic whites and reds, and don’t forget the Champagne! These should be artisan-driven, high quality bottles, but don’t need to be wildly overpriced. One of our most popular collections has you covered with Champagne, whiskey and a classic pinot noir.
We call it the “Crowd Pleaser.”
And this is a single bottle of Rosé Champagne that is perfect to have waiting for the occasion that calls for it: Gaston Chiquet Rosé
Do not keep the Champagne in the refrigerator. The vibrations do more harm than you realize. It’s ideal to chill down your Champagne with ice and water when you need it, which shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes.
This is another incredible collection to hand on hand – we call it the “Anniversary Collection” because each bottle is so special, and perfect for celebrating an occasion: 1 Champagne, 1 Brunello and 1 classic Napa Cab:
Ferrvor: Different celebrations call for different wine and spirits, what are your philosophies for choosing a wine/spirit to match the occasion?
Jeff Meisel: The most important thing to consider is with whom you are celebrating. Then the other factors come in such as the setting: time of day, week, year. What’s the season? Is it before dinner or after dinner? For example, before dinner, a cocktail can be perfect – like this Aperitif:
But after dinner, a digestive or a nightcap is ideal – you can find inspiration here.
Lastly, something that never fails, is always delicious, and always perfect: Champagne. No ifs, ands or buts.
Ferrvor: What can you tell about a person by what they drink?
Jeff Meisel: I am not a psychologist, let’s just get that out there. But as a former bartender and wine director, you tend to learn about people by what they drink and you can start making some generalizations. That can be dangerous. You can learn about someone’s spirit and style – classic, vintage, adventurous, modern, funky – but you don’t want to exclude the possibility that you can convince them to branch out. At the end of the day, you learn about someone’s tastes, and from there it’s up to you to find the right ways to help expand their palate.