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  • Writer's picturehawaiichocolate

The Drunken Botanist

This has been a busy few weeks. I decided I wanted to do some part-time work as a liquor sampler, which are 3 hour gigs typically in a liquor store but also in grocery stores, events or private parties . Here in Texas, only wine and Beer are sold in liquor stores, everything else are in specialty and discount liquor stores.

I passed the Texas state certifications for serving alcohol and this week, I passed certifications for Gin, Rum and Vodka required by the company I’m contracted to do work for. These tests are basic knowledge tests on how the various liquors are distilled, the grains and spices they are made from , how they are aged or graded, some historical background on the drinks and popular cocktails made with the various spirits. It’s actually quite interesting. I’ve always enjoyed history and as an adult we see it through different eyes, especially since most of it involves economic greed and human oppression. How man ever became “ civilized” is pure mystery to me. In many ways we are not.

In any case I have enough certifications to go sell a product in a liquor store and actually be able to help someone understand or choose a spirit. The unfortunate part is so far, the gigs being offered are too far away, like a 2 hour one- way drive. Hopefully something will come up holiday time that’s in Kerrville or Fredericksburg, a much closer drive. In the meantime I will keep reading and taking various knowledge tests for other alcohols like whiskeys that I don’t drink and know little about. Perhaps if necessary I can go work in a winery doing tastings if the independent gigs are few and far between until I move closer to Austin where there are more opportunities.

A few years ago another chocolate friend, Maya from Chocolate Maya in Santa Barbara gave me a book on all the botanicals , herbs , grains and spices used in making alcohol and it’s a delightful and interesting book. (now buried in a moving box somewhere). It’s called the Drunken Botanist, by author Amy Stewart. Not being a huge drinker but an avid lover of botanicals this book took me back to my first attempts at making liquor in Hawaii when someone left about 10 lbs of kumquats on my doorstep. I always love the challenge of what to do with excess fruit or veggies that one acquires this way. Whether its canning, making jam or an after dinner spirit. It’s how I also started making vanilla extract. Now that I know more about Vodka you can be assured that the Vanilla is extracting in the very finest of Vodka , Rum or other spirit and yes it does make a difference.

Anyone else have a side hustle grown out of a hobby?

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