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Ale - An alcoholic beverage that is brewed from malts and hops. It is generally stronger than beer and varies in color from light to dark amber. Because of the hops, ale is normally more bitter in taste than beer.
Amaretto - A liqueur with the flavor of almonds (although it is often made from the kernels of apricot pits). The original amaretto liqueur came from Italy.
Anisette - A very sweet clear liqueur made with anise seeds. The taste is that of licorice.
Beer - A low-alcohol beverage brewed from malted barley and cereals (such as corn or rye) mixed with yeast (for fermentation) and flavored with hops. Since about 90% of beer is water, the water used in very important to the taste of the beer.
Benedictine - A sweet liqueur named after the Benedictine monks of Normandy who first created it in the 16th century. This liqueur is based on cognac and flavored with various aromatics, fruit peels, and herbs.
Bloody Mary - Invented by Pete Petiot at Harry's Bar in Paris, 1921. This drink contains vodka, lemon juice, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, pepper and V 8, tomato juice, or cocktail juice.
Bourbon - Named after Bourbon county, Kentucky. Straight bourbon is distilled from a mash of at least 51% corn; blended bourbon contains at least 51% straight bourbon; sour mash is made by adding some of the old mash to ferment each new batch.
Brandy - A liquor distilled from wine or other fermented fruit juice. Brandies are aged in wood, which contributes to the flavor. The finest brandies are called "cognacs."
Brut - This is a term that refers to the driest champagnes. Brut champagnes are even drier than formulations labeled "extra dry."
Burgundy - One of the most famous wine growing regions in France (and therefore in the world). Burgundy wines tend to be more robust and full bodied than bordeaux wines.
Cabernet-Sauvignon - A superior red-wine grape cultivated in France and California. This small, thin-skinned black grapes are used to produce the fine clarets of France and Cabernets of California.
Cappuccino - An Italian coffee made by topping espresso with the creamy foam from steamed milk. Often dusted with cinnamon or sweetened cocoa powder.
Chablis - An elegant dry wine grown in the Chablis district of northern Burgundy (France). Chablis is clear and pale in color. It is made from the Chardonnay grape and is extremely dry and has a "flinty" taste similar to champagne.
Chamomile - An aromatic flower that is dried and used to flavor chamomile tea. This tea is purported to be a soothing drink. Also spelled "camomile."
Champagne - A popular bubbling wine from the Champagne region of France. Bubbling wine is called "spumante" in Italy, "Seki" in Germany, and "vin mousseux" in other regions of France. Americans unashamedly call their bubbling wines "champagne."
Chardonnay - The wine from the Chardonnay grape, which is grown chiefly in France and California. This is one of the grapes used in making fine French champagnes and white burgundies.
Chartreuse - An aromatic liqueur that was originally made by the monks of La Grande Chartruese monastery in France. The yellow variety, colored with saffron, is lighter and sweeter than the green type, which is higher in alcohol content.
Chenin Blanc - A grape of French origin that produces excellent white wines. It has proven itself highly productive in California.
Chianti - A sturdy dry red Italian wine that is was packaged in a strawcovered bottle (now more commonly in a Bordeaux-type bottle). The word "Riserva" on the label indicates a superior Chianti that it has been aged in oak for at least 3 years.
Coffee - A coffee bean beverage. Believed to have originated in Ethiopia, but Brazil and Columbia are the two largest producers today. American roast ("regular roast") beans are medium-roasted, resulting in the moderate brew favored by Americans.
Cold Duck - A pink sparking wine--originally from Germany--that is a combination of sparkling Burgundy, champagne, and sugar. This very sweet wine is often made from less expensive grapes.
Colombard - A productive French grape that produces a dry and full-bodied good quality white wine. Also grown in California.
Cow's Milk - Most U.S. milk is pasteurized, meaning that potentially harmful microorganisms have been destroyed. Although cow's milk is the most popular, animals such as camels, goats, llamas, reindeer, sheep, and water buffalo also provide milk.
Creme de Menthe - This mint-flavored liqueur is available clear ("white") and green. The green variety gives the Grasshopper cocktail its distinctive color.
Curacoa - This is an orange-flavored liqueur made from the dried peel of bitter oranges grown on the Caribbean island of Curacao.
Daiquiri - A cocktail prepared with rum, lime, and sugar. Daiquiris are also made with fruit. Frozen daiquiris are made by adding crushed ice and fruit chunks and pureeing them in a blender.
Drambuie - This Scotch-based liqueur is sweetened with honey and flavored with a variety of herbs.
Eggnog - A traditional Christmas beverage, eggnog is a smooth, cold drink containing beaten raw eggs, sugar, milk or cream, and flavoring. Brandy, rum, or whiskey is often added.
Gewurztraminer - An excellent white-wine grape that is grown in Germany and California. It is pink and yields a spicy, heavily perfumed, soft wine. "Gewurz" means "spice" in German.
Gibson - This drink is identical to the Martini, which is made with gin and vermouth, except that it is garnished with a white cocktail onion. This drink was named after the illustrator Charles Gibson, the creator of the famous "Gibson Girl."
Gimlet - A cocktail composed of sugar syrup, lime juice, vodka (or gin) and sometimes soda water.
Gin - An unaged liquor using of distillates from barley, corn, or rye, and juniper berries. London dry gin is colorless. Hollands gin is a Dutch gin that tastes very different from other gins because of its large proportion of barley malt.
Ginseng - The Chinese name for this sweet licorice-flavored root means "human-shaped root." Often used in teas, ginseng has been credited over the centuries for being everything from a restorative to an aphrodisiac.
Glögg - A Swedish spiced-wine punch containing boiled fruit and brandy (or aquavit). Glögg is served hot.
Goat's Milk - Goat's milk can often be found canned in supermarkets. Fresh goat's milk is sometimes available in health food stores. This milk is often made into goat cheese, which is better known as "chèvre."
Golden Cadillac - A creamy, gold-colored cocktail made from Galliano, white Creme de Cacao, and heavy cream.
Grasshopper - A sweet after-dinner cocktail made with cream, Creme de Menthe, and white Creme de Cacao.
Grenadine - A brilliant scarlet non-alcoholic syrup made from the juice of pomegranates. Used to color and flavor drinks and desserts. Called grenadine because was originally available only from the island of Grenada in the Caribbean.
Harvey Wallbanger - A sweet cocktail made with vodka, orange juice, and Galliano (an anise-flavored liqueur).
Highball - A cocktail composed of whiskey and soda water or plain water. It is most often served over ice in a tall glass.
Human Milk - Human breast milk is about 20 calories per ounce. It is about 40% carbohydrate, 50% fat, and 10% protein. Human milk contains certain protein immune substances that are lacking in cow's milk and infant formulas.
Irish Coffee - A strong blend of coffee, Irish whiskey, and a little sugar. Normally served in a mug with whipped cream on top.
Kahlua - A sweet coffee liqueur imported from Mexico.
Kirsh - A clear form of brandy that is distilled from cherry juice and pits. "Kirsh" means "cherry" in German. Kirsh is used in fondues and Cherries Jubilee.
Kummel - A sweet, clear liqueur that has been flavored with caraway seed, cumin, and fennel.
Lemonade - A popular beverage made of lemon juice, sugar, and water.
Long Island Tea - An alcoholic beverage consisting of gin, vodka, cola and lemon. Tequila is sometimes also used.
Madiera Wine - A fortified wine named after the Portuguese island of Madiera. Its color ranges from pale blond to tawny; its flavor from very dry to very sweet.
Mai Tai - An alcoholic beverage made from light and dark rums, orgeat syrup, curacao, and orange and lime juices. In Tahitian, "Mai Tai" means "out of this world."
Manhattan - An alcoholic beverage made with bourbon or blended whiskey mixed with sweet vermouth and garnished with a maraschino cherry.
Margarita - An alcoholic beverage containing tequila, triple sec, and lime juice. A frozen margarita is blended with ice cubes.
Marsala - This is Italy's most famous fortified wine. It features a rich, smoky flavor that ranges from sweet to dry. Sweet Marsala is used as a dessert wine. Dry Marsala is often used as an apértif (a light, alcoholic drink appetizer).
Martini - An alcoholic beverage made with gin and vermouth, then garnished with a green olive or a lemon twist. A "dry" martini contains less vermouth. A "vodka martini" uses vodka instead of gin.
Milkshake - An American beverage consisting blended milk, ice cream, and flavorings.
Mint Julep - A cocktail composed of fresh mint, bourbon, and crushed ice. Traditionally served in an iced pewter or silver mug at the running of the Kentucky Derby.
Mocha - A strong, slightly bitter coffee that originally referred only to a very fine coffee grown in Arabia and shipped from Yemen's port of Mocha. Mocha also refers, nowadays, to a hot coffee-and-chocolate beverage.
Muscatel - A strong sweet wine made from the muscat grape. It is a rich, sweet dessert wine. Muscatel can be amber, golden, red, white. It is sometimes sparkling.
Pina Colada - A tropically flavored alcoholic beverage made with coconut cream, pineapple juice, and rum. The coconut-pineapple flavor has also become popular in desserts and candies.
Port - A fortified Portuguese wine with an alcoholic strength of more than 16.5%. Brandy is added to the wine part way through the fermentation process. Port is most often served as an after-meal drink.
Rhine - This term refers to fine German white wines that are smooth, not too dry, relatively low in alcohol, have a delicate fragrance, and are often slightly effervescent.
Riesling - This is the classic white-wine grape of Germany that is believed to be native to the Rhine Valley. It is responsible for the finest German wines and has been successfully transplanted to California, Chile, Austria, and Italy.
Root Beer - Created in the mid-1800s by pharmacist Charles Hires. The original root beer was very low in alcohol, and was made by fermenting a blend of sugar and yeast with various roots, herbs, and barks such as sarsaparilla and sassafras.
Rosé - A red wine made with the skins and stems removed almost immediately. This gives it its light pink (rose) color. It is light-bodied, slightly sweet, and served cold. In the U.S., the term "blush wine" is replacing the term "rosé."
Rum - A slightly sweet liquor distilled from fermented sugar-cane juice or molasses. Most of the world's rum is produced in the Caribbean.
Rumrunner - A cocktail made with white rum, orange juice, lime juice, sugar syrup, and orange bitters. Often served on ice and garnished with a twist of orange.
Rye Whiskey - American law requires that this liquor be made from a minimum of 51% rye. Straight ryes are from a single distiller; blended ryes are a combination of several straight ryes.
Sake - Japanese rice wine. Used as an alcoholic beverage and in oriental cookery. The alcohol content is typically between 12 and 15 percent by volume.
Sarsaparilla - This flavor was originally derived from the dried roots of tropical smilax vines. Today, products featuring sarsaparilla use artificial flavors.
Sauterne - A sweet wine from the Sauternes region of France. It is made from Sauvignon Blanc or Semillon grapes that have been infected with a special mold that causes them to shrivel and leave a sugary fruit with highly concentrated flavors.
Sauvignon Blanc - An excellent white-wine grape that rivals Chardonnay and the Reisling. This grape imparts a grassy, herbaceous flavor to the wines produced from them.
Scotch - This distinctive liquor, made only in Scotland, uses barley for flavoring instead of corn (which is used in American whiskeys). The sprouted malted barley is dried over peat fires to impart a characteristic smoky flavor to the scotch.
Screwdriver - An alcoholic beverage made with orange juice and vodka. It is said to have been named by American oil-rig workers in the Middle East who opened and stirred cans of this beverage with their screwdrivers.
Seltzer - A flavorless, naturally effervescent water that takes its name from the town of Nieder Selters in Germany. Soda water is man-made by injecting carbon dioxide into water.
Sherry - This famous Spanish fortified wine is also made in the U.S. Sherries range in color, flavor, and sweetness. They are drunk as an apértif (appetizer) or after dinner. Cry sherries are usually served cold; sweet sherries unchilled.
Singapore Sling - A cocktail of gin, cherry brandy, and lemon juice. This mixture is shaken in ice, strained into a tall glass, and topped off with soda water. Said to have originated in Singapore's Raffles Hotel.
Sloe Gin - A liqueur made by steeping gin with crushed sloes. "Sloes" are wild European plums with an extremely tart flesh.
Soft Drink - Any drink that is non-alcoholic. Although carbonation is not required, most people think of soft drinks as being effervescent.
Tea - Tea was used 4,000 years ago in China to flavor water that had been boiled (to make it safe). Americans invented tea bags and iced tea. All tea is a single species--the climate, soil, and processing creates the individual characteristics.
Tequila - Originally from Tequila, Mexico, tequila is a colorless or pale straw-colored liquor made by fermenting and distilling the sap of the agave plant.
Tia Maria - A dark-brown, rum-based liqueur from Jamaica that features a strong coffee flavor.
Tokay - A famous wine from Tokay, a town in Hungary. Louis XIV said Tokay was "the wine of kings and the king of wines." 28 villages in Hungary have the right to call the vine they produce "tokay."
Tonic - Carbonated water that is sometimes flavored with fruit extracts, sugar, and a small amount of quinine, a bitter alkaloid. Tonic water is popular as a mixer. It is also called "quinine water."
Triple Sec - A strong, clear liqueur with an orange flavor similar to Curacao. It is used in making Margaritas.
Vermouth - A white wine that has been steeped with an infusion of herbs, plants, roots, leaves, peels, seed, and flowers. It has a aroma and taste designed to be served as an apértif (appetizer).
Vichy - A sparkling mineral water from Vichy, France.
Vodka - A clear, colorless, almost odorless unaged liquor made from potatoes, and sometimes from corn, rye, or wheat.
Whiskey - A liquor produced from the fermented mash of grains such as barley, corn, and rye. Popular varieties of whiskey (spelled "whisky" in Canada and Scotland) include bourbon, Canadian whisky, Irish whiskey, rye, and scotch.
Whiskey Sour - An alcoholic beverage made from whiskey, lemon juice, and a small amount of sugar. Sours can also be made with bourbon, gin, or rum, but the whiskey sour is the most popular.
White Russian - An alcoholic beverage made by combining vodka, Kahlua (or other coffee liqueur), and cream. A Black Russian is similar, but contains no cream.
Wine - An alcoholic beverage produced through the fermentation of grape juice. Other fruit and vegetable juices, such as dandelion and elderberry are also occasionally used in winemaking, an art the goes back at least 12,000 years.
Zinfandel - A dry red wine with a fruity flavor that some compare to the flavor of raspberries.
Zombie - A very potent alcoholic beverage consisting of two types of rum, two types of liqueur, and two or three fruit juices. Normally garnished with slices of pineapple and orange and a Maraschino cherry.