Author and freelance travel, lifestyle and business writer Kayleigh Kulp, whose book Booze for Babes: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Drinking Spirits Right, launched in early January, said she wasn’t always such a booze aficionado.
“(She), like many babes, was guilty of blindly asking bartenders for drinks with the vaguest of criteria: ‘I don’t know. Give me something fruity and not too strong, please,’” her website says.
Kulp would often find herself lost in a bar with no appreciation for the hard stuff.
Kulp took a trip to the heart of whiskey and bourbon country three years ago to help her appreciate what the spirits offered to the refined palate. Soon she was teaching her husband and friends about more refined liquors, including whiskey, rum, tequila, gin, mescal and brandy.
“There’s so much to learn, and the industry is constantly evolving and changing, which makes it exciting,” Kulp, 27, said. “I love discovering new things about spirits I never knew, plus connecting with people over local spirits and customs when I travel.”
Taking advantage of a now female-dominated workforce (and, hence, more women at happy hours), Kulp, who lives outside the Washington, DC area, penned a book with a tongue-in-cheek, but informational approach to what is not another cocktail recipe book.
Now, her in-depth knowledge carries over into discussions on her tastes in liquor.
“I love Islay scotch for its earthiness and mossiness, cognac for its elegance and perfumy floral and baking spice notes, gin for its bitter juniper bite, bourbon for its sweetness and oakiness, and blanco tequila for its vegetal, raw agave character…each spirit is special for different reasons,” she said. “What I drink at the time depends on my mood, the weather, the ambience – any number of things.”
Drinking better is the goal of Booze for Babes.
“Women need to know enough about spirits to confidently make, ask for and receive good drinks while simultaneously blowing the lid off of the women-don’t-know-Jack Daniels-about-liquor stereotype,” Kulp said.
Booze for Babes celebrates lady bartenders, distillers and spirits experts, while also teaching tipplers how to drink better.
If there’s another myth she’d like to eliminate, it’s that women, by and large, don’t appreciate the brown, aged spirits like whiskey and brandy.
“In many cases, if you haven’t seen many women drinking or ordering them, especially neat, it’s because they haven’t had much exposure to them or because it’s just not their favorite thing to drink,” she said. “And that’s okay. But women can certainly appreciate it all, understanding their depth and nuances, and they do.”
The book is written like a how-to manual, with anecdotes from personal experience woven into it, as well as cocktail recipes throughout so readers can apply their newfound knowledge, Kulp told TheWineBuzz.
The book’s tips and tidbits include:
- Why every lady should know her liquor
- A short history of ladies’ on-again, off-again relationship with the hard stuff
- How to tell a marketing ploy on a label from the real deal
- How to train your palate and hone your taste
- How to mix business and booze
- How to build a well-equipped home bar
- How to entertain with spirits in a way that honors old-fashioned traditions and impresses guests
- How to set up tastings for various spirit categories