If you’ve taken a look at our Instagram, you’ll see that we love highlighting our followers. That’s because our goal here has always been to build a strong community around the thing we love, spirits, and cocktails (really, it’s in our operating agreement).
This has led us on a mission to highlight up-and-coming creators who deserve a moment in the spotlight. These creators may be bloggers, YouTubers, and podcasters, but they all have one thing in common. They are creating great booze-related content.
The Story of ‘Cocktail or Neat’
In this post, we take a look at Kentucky couple Tim and Heather, whose YouTube channel is making a splash in the Bourbon scene.
Their YouTube Channel, Cocktail or Neat, doesn’t just review Bourbons it answers a burning question many of us want to know before we shell out our hard-earned money for an unknown bottle – is the Bourbon good enough to drink neat, or is it better off in a cocktail?
We asked Tim and Heather to tell us a few words about what inspired them to start creating content around cocktails and spirits, how they got started, and what their favorite cocktails are.
Caution, this might just convince you to start your own YouTube channel. Here is their story.
How it Started
Heather and I have been living in Louisville, Kentucky, for the past decade. While neither of us are originally from Kentucky, after moving to Louisville for teaching jobs, we have fallen in love with the area. The mild winters, the spring Derby season (it’s more than just a single day in May), and the flavors of Bourbon in everything.
We were introduced to Bourbon slowly by sampling brand names in cocktails, neat, and tossed into our cooking. Of course, we had heard of the Bourbon trail but were not fully aware of the uniqueness of each distillery nor the impact of barrel-aging a spirit.
We’ve learned a lot along our Bourbon journey and love sharing our knowledge with others and, in turn, our pride for the adored spirit in our new Kentucky home.
It all started when I really got bit by the Bourbon bug two years ago at a “just for fun” Pappy raffle at a local liquor store for a fall release. We walked away with two bottles of Pappy 15, two bottles of Lot B, and one bottle of Old Rip Van Winkle (had to be beginners luck). We gave two bottles to Heather’s parents and kept three for ourselves.
That first sip made me a believer in the power of Bourbon. After that, I just had to start trying every style of Bourbon, rye, and other styles of whiskies I could get my hands on.
I am intrigued by the different flavor profiles that are found in each sip, the process that goes into aging the whiskey, and the thrill of the hunt to find rare, highly sought after bottles. I want to decide for myself if they are really as good as others claim, or find a less popular hidden gem that is just as good if not better.
As part of the Bourbon community, I stay up-to-date on special releases and reviews of every style of Bourbon you can think of. My passion for Bourbon has led me to hit up all the distilleries within 50 miles of us. I’ve toured several rickhouses, became a certified Bourbon Steward, and even thieved whiskey straight from a barrel.
Fast forward to today and now I have over 100 open bottles in my collection and do a weekly tasting over zoom with my friends (we have rated each of the 100 bottles and have kept detailed inventory for later reference).
Now every time I bring home a new bottle of Bourbon, the first thing Heather asks (after how much did that cost) is “when are we tasting that for the channel?”
Heather has questioned my new hobby at times (yes, I have been put on a monthly Bourbon budget), so I offered to let her try some of my collection as something we could do together. This led to the idea of having her try a new Bourbon each week and see if she would like it neat, or in a cocktail, and thus our YouTube channel was born, Cocktail or Neat.
Heather has always enjoyed a good cocktail and was introduced to her first great Bourbon cocktail at Churchill Downs with the classic Mint Julep (still one of her favorite summer sippers). She enjoys identifying flavor profiles in food and wine, so we both figured tasting together would be a great way to expand our palette and learn even more about Bourbon.
The main message: Try it neat but do not be afraid to mix it into a cocktail!
She certainly has developed more of a taste for Bourbon since we’ve started the weekly routine. Now every time I bring home a new bottle of Bourbon, the first thing Heather asks (after how much did that cost) is when are we tasting that for the channel?
Favorite Drinks & Cocktails
Heather’s favorite Cocktails:
- Mint Julep
- Hot Toddy
Tim’s favorite Bourbon:
- Everyday drinker: Russell’s Reserve 10 year
- Friday night: Booker’s Bourbon
- Special Occasion: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof
We think others will enjoy our weekly tasting updates and be encouraged to get out there and search for a Bourbon that’s off the beaten path. The main message: Try it neat but do not be afraid to mix it into a cocktail!
Conclusion: Cocktail or Neat
If you want to keep up with Tim and Heather, click this link to check out their YouTube channel. Don’t forget to subscribe and hit the little bell notification so you can get notified when they post a new video.
If you are a creator and have an interesting story about how you got started with spirit or cocktails, shoot us a message, we’d love to be in touch. Check out all our other blogs here. And remember to stay safe, stay home, and get hammered!