A Complete Guide on the Main Types of Alcohol

Ah, alcohol. Booze. Sauce. Hooch. Whatever you call it, this intoxicating substance is about as old as mankind itself. There are many different ‘start dates’ for humanity’s long-standing relationship with alcoholic spirits, but the oldest-known records of booze that we can see date all the way back to 7,000 BCE China.

People love to drink. They love to get drunk, and there are a massive number of different types of alcohol available today. If you’re ready to relax, raise a glass and read on about the types of alcoholic drinks we have available nowadays.

Gin

Gin is a classic fixture of cocktails like martinis. It also features in a Tom Collins and the ever-classic gin and tonic.

This distilled spirit gets its unique flavor from juniper berries. When it was first created in 1550, like many others on this list, it was intended as a medicine. However, its intoxicating effects made it more popular as an indulgence than a treatment.

Vodka

Most people these days associate vodka with Russia and other Eastern European countries, and not without reason. This hard liquor got its start with an Islamic alchemist but moved to Russian soil in the 1430s, where it’s remained popular ever since.

Vodka is a staple in most modern cocktails, especially with the wide variety of flavors added to it these days. The liquor itself is, by and large, flavorless, which makes it a great base ingredient for any cocktail. Nothing else would work with the sharp flavors of a Bloody Mary, for instance.

Whiskey

Whiskey is, by far, one of the most diverse types of alcohol known to man. You can find regional variations of whiskey the world over, though the most popular versions include:

  • Bourbon
  • Scotch
  • Irish whiskey
  • Japanese whiskey
  • Tennessee whiskey

However, this is far from an exhaustive list. Whiskey flavors can vary widely depending on the regional brew. Thus, they serve as the base for many unique cocktails in their respective areas.

Rum

Ah, rum. The favored drink of Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean, and a main driver in the colonial slave trade. This spirit, distilled from sugar cane juice, has something of a dark history attached to it.

However, it remains the alcohol of choice for many tropical or island-based drinks. Whether it’s dark, aged, golden, or white, all people who enjoy mojitos and daiquiris enjoy consuming rum when they get drunk.

Tequila

Tequila has its origins just south of the United States border in Mexico. It comes from a specific variant of the agave plant. The blue agave, to be precise.

Most people know of tequila as the featured ingredient of a margarita. Spring break in Cancun wouldn’t be the same without it. However, the agave plant that provides this liquor is a limited resource, one that could run out if we’re not careful about our consumption.

Brandy

Have you always loved the deep, fruity flavors of good wine, but needed more of an alcoholic burn to accompany them? Brandy is the perfect solution since it’s a liquor distilled from fruits or even wine itself.

The most well-known form of brandy is Cognac, specifically Hennessey. Most who drink brandy tend to drink it straight, but it still features in certain mixed alcoholic drinks to this day.

Beer

We spent most of our time above discussing distilled liquors. Now, it’s time that we talked about the fermented stuff. Of these, beer is one of the oldest, made by fermenting grains like wheat and barely. Most people drink beer straight, but it can appear in mixed drinks as well.

There are almost too many varieties of beer to count, with more being added by the day. However, they usually fall under the following basic categories:

  • Ales,
  • Lagers,
  • Stouts,
  • Pilsners, and
  • Porters

No matter what specially crafted, small-batch brew you order, it will likely be one of these types of beer.

Wine

Remember when we mentioned that the oldest records of alcoholic beverages date back to 7000 BCE China? Wine was the spirit created then.

Wine has been a fixture of our culture since ancient times. Its creation involves fermenting grape or other fruit juices until they become alcoholic. The many types of wine available today fall into these main categories:

  • Red wines,
  • White wines,
  • Rosé wines,
  • Sparkling wines, and
  • Fortified wines

Most of these wines get their name from their color (e.g. red, white, and rosé). However, sparkling wines get their name from their effervescent nature and fortified wines from the distilled spirits used to strengthen and stabilize them.

Cider

Cider is a unique form of liquor created by fermenting apple juice. The apple cider most people consume when the cold rolls in tends to be what’s called “soft cider”, or non-alcoholic cider.

You can only get the hard stuff by ordering it from a liquor store or attending a cider tasting during the fall. It’s worth trying at least once: This drink will warm you inside and out!

Liqueurs

Last but not least, we need to talk about liqueurs. This is one of the most varied types of alcohol, as it accounts for all forms of drink mix-ins that don’t have significant alcoholic content, but who still have enough booze to give you a little buzz on their own.

Liqueurs are popular mix-ins for most drinks with alcohol and come in all sorts of flavor profiles from creamy to sharp and tangy.

Ready to Learn More About the Types of Alcohol?

We hope that this guide gave you a better understanding of the main types of alcohol you can buy today! From distilled spirits to fermented ones, there’s no end to the number of unique alcoholic drinks you can create with these ingredients as a base.

If you found this guide helpful and would like to learn more about the types of liquor you can consume, then check out the Lifestyle section of our blog. We keep you up-to-date with more drinking guides like this one.