Forum Love

I spend a decent amount of my free time perusing several forums, chatting with others and posting occasional experiments and comparisons that don’t make it here. Of course, I get a lot of info and insight from other posters in these forums. And they’re often used for research when I desire info beyond a single person’s opinion. Google, including its Blog Search, is great to find an opinion or recipe or a point of info, but generally such a search yields information from one person’s point of view. Forums, on the other hand, can contains discussions between many people, and this set of opinions and info will often produce much more insight into the subject at hand. This is balanced – sometimes – by what might seem to be a lack of “expertise” of the posters. Not all experts write books or blogs though, and I’ve often been astounded by the knowledge found.

Though I do frequent a number of forums, I’ll present the spirit- and cocktail-related ones here.

Rum Lovers @ the Ministry of Rum
Started by the Minister of Rum, Ed Hamilton, this site is the preeminent site for the discussion of my favorite spirit, rum. For many years Ed posted in a rum-dedicated subforum on eGullet, but a recent change merged the Rum subforum into the Spirits & Cocktails subforum. This sparked Ed to create an entire site to the discussion of rum. Quite a few folks – experts & enthusiast alike – frequent this site now, covering all aspects of rum and types of rum. The passion for rum is quite palpable at all times.

Refined Vices
These forums lie behind the rum review blog of a gentleman who calls himself Count Silvio, and delves into the finer spirits in the whiskey and rum world, with some emphasis placed on brandy and cigars, too. Though quite new at the time of this writing this site has already attracted a number of rum enthusiasts from all over the world. Of particular interest are the opinions of others concerning the pairing of cigars with both rums and whiskeys.

Tiki Central
This is a site for all things Tiki, from the lifestyle and restaurants and music and crafts. But this place holds another special place for me, since their Food and Drinks subforum contains not only info about rum but also a wealth of details on some of the more exotic ingredients that can be found in tiki drinks and other cocktails. Discussions of orgeat, passionfruit syrup, pimento liquer and falernum abound, and many of these discuss homemade versions. These threads can get quite long as many folks here dive deep into such ingredients and all their aspects. Many discussions about liqueurs exist here, too. There are numerous posts comparing cordials such as Curacao and Triple Sec, and even details about subjects like simple syrups with details on the various types of sugar. There is a ton of expertise within this forum, and detailed explanations of the homemade experiments provide a wealth of information and insight.

eGullet’s Spirits & Cocktails
This subforum within the eGullet umbrella covers all aspects of spirits, from the liquors themselves to cocktails and all the possible ingredients. The forum is visited by a slew of true experts – mixologists, cocktailians, bartenders and enthusiasts – and the discussions can dive quite deep into any given subject revolving around spirits. This is a great site for researching vintage cocktails and ingredients, or digging into a particular spirit. One thread about absinthe has been going for over 5 years, with more than 350 posts. This is the ultimate discussion place for all spirits.

Chowhounds Spirits Forum
Though a bit slow with new threads – less than 10 day on average – I appreciate this site because it often gets into local details due its large number of regionalized forums. Looking for an odd liquor in Seattle or Texas? You’ll probably get a few locations in reply. These localized discussion groups are also a great place to find the great bars in your area, or even the gourmet found stores which might stock a particular ingredient.

Drinkboy’s Community at MSN Groups
This is a collection of forums started by Robert Hess. Compared to eGullet’s forums, this site is much slower getting posts but contains much of the same type of info. Subforums break up the information into a variety of subjects, from bar equipment to bitters to spirits and cocktails. While this site is not frequented as often as the eGullet, note that the Bitters forum has over 400 posts discussing various types of bitters. This yields a great deal of information about a specific subject.

Am I Missing Any?
Do you know of any other spirits-related discussion forums that I’m missing? If so, please let me know! Leave a comment with a link with some info. I’m always looking for more good discussion groups.