indexSheffield, Massachusetts-based Berkshire Mountain Distillers is introducing Greylock Gin & Tonic, a new ready-to-drink gin and tonic cocktail. The 13.3%-abv small-batch RTD is made with a base of Berkshire Mountain’s Greylock gin, which features a blend of seven botanicals, and a house tonic, produced using cinchona bark and various spices. Rolling out on August 1 across New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Georgia and Massachusetts, Greylock Gin & Tonic is available in four-packs of 200-ml. bottles, priced at $15. Additional markets are slated to be added in the coming months.

indexSet to debut in the U.S. this summer, Roca Patrón marks Patrón’s first range created entirely using the traditional, labor-intensive “tahona process.” The new release includes Roca Patrón Silver (90 proof), Roca Patrón Reposado (84 proof) and Roca Patrón Añejo (88 proof) labels, retailing at between $69.99-$89.99 a 750-ml. bottle.

launch2-140325202755-phpapp01-thumbnail-2Veev 2.0, is launching as a 70-proof neutral spirit infused with açaí berries from Brazil, and is intended to compete with the vodka segment. The original Veev açai liqueur launched at 60-proof five years ago. Veev 2.0 is packaged in a redesigned bottle featuring a new logo meant to relay the brand’s organic, all-natural messaging. It’s being supported by a campaign asking consumers to “Cheat On Vodka,” debuting this week with digital videos and display ads, outdoor advertising and other activities. The reformulated Veev will maintain its original retail price of $29.99.

indexPernod Ricard’s Irish Distillers unit has debuted the 2014 edition of its Midleton Very Rare whiskey. This year’s edition—the first from master blender Brian Nation, who recently took over for longtime Midleton master distiller Barry Crockett—is blended from single pot still and grain whiskies, which have been matured in specially-selected, ex-Bourbon casks that have been lightly charred on the inside for a complex taste profile. The whiskies in the blend have been aged for up to 22 years. Midleton Very Rare 2014 will hit U.S. store shelves in August, retailing around $125.

indexBrazil’s Yaguara Cachaça has made its debut in the U.S. market in select on- and off-premise locations in New York. A blended white organic cachaça distilled in traditional alembic copper stills, Yaguara is produced in small batches by renowned Brazilian master blender Erwin Weimann using a century-old family recipe from brothers Thyrso and Thiago Camargo, who co-founded the company with fellow entrepreneur Hamilton Lowe. Yaguara, at 41.5%-abv, will available in select U.S. markets at a suggest retail price of $44.90 a 750-ml.

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily


Daiquiri by Dave Stolte

Daiquiri by Dave Stolte

Ah, the Daiquiri!  One of the simplest, yet most delicious cocktails for summer imbibing.  Daiquiri is a Taino word for a beach and oddly enough, an iron mine near Santiago, Cuba.  (I think of beaches, not mines when I’m drinking one).  The drink itself on the other hand was created roughly around the turn of the century (20th, not 21st) at a bar named Venus in Santiago.  As with most cocktails, no one knows for sure who came up with the drink, but it most likely was an American named Jennings Cox.  It quickly made the move from Cuba to the U.S. and became a standard drink within a decade, first in Washington DC and then New York.

Surprisingly, it was not a shaken cocktail at first, but rather a long drink prepared similarly to a julep.  A tall glass was filled with cracked ice, sugar was added along with a hefty dose of lime juice.  White rum topped it off, and then it was all stirred until the glass became frosted.

Other drinks which are similar to the Daiquiri are the Navy Grog, the Bacardi Cocktail, The Floridita, and the Papa Doble, named after Ernest Hemingway who created his own frozen drink several decades ahead of the blender daiquiri craze of the 1970’s.

Here’s are a few versions for you to try today:

2 ounces light rum
3/4 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
Garnish: Slice of lime.
Gently shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Bacardi Cocktail
1 1/2 ounces light rum (must use Bacardi)
3/4 ounce lime juice
2 dashes grenadine
Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

1 1/2 ounces light rum
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1/8 ounce white crème de cacao
1/8 ounce grenadine
Garnish: Lime twist
Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Papa Doble
3 ounces Bacardi or Havana Club light rum
Juice of 2 limes
Juice of 1/2 grapefruit
6 drops of maraschino liqueur (Luxardo is my favorite)

Fill a blender one-quarter full of ice, preferably shaved or cracked. Add the rum, lime juice, grapefruit juice and maraschino. Blend on high until the mixture turns cloudy and light-colored. ( See Hemingway’s book, Islands in the Stream, page 281.) Serve immediately in large, conical goblets.

TOTC-2014-BloggingTales of the Cocktail is always an adventure, but even getting there this year was an unexpected adventure.

Based on previous visits to New Orleans, I decided that this time I would arrive a day early and leave the day after the TOTC festival took place. So, on a Tuesday morning I got a flight from Syracuse, NY to Washington DC to catch my connecting flight to NOLA. All went well, in spite of having only a few minutes to get from one gate to another to board the second plane. They were actually boarding as I arrived at the gate. In my seat, I was looking forward to having a cocktail in anticipation of a fairly long flight. We taxied away from the terminal, and then proceeded to drive around the entire airport for the next 20 minutes. The pilot then said that they had been told to change the original direction of take-off, and we were in line. Ten minutes later, he said there was a severe storm front coming in and no planes could take off or land. A half an hour later he said that the entire airport was shut down due to lightning. So, we sat on the plane for another hour. After then storm, the pilot then announced that due to Federal regulations, he and the crew were unable to fly us to New Orleans as they would go over their allotted amount of air time for the day. So, we headed back to the terminal to await another flight.

In the meantime, I texted my wife what had been happening, and as soon as she heard about the cancelled flight, she booked me a sleeper car on Amtrak from DC to NOLA. It was to leave from Union Station at 6:30pm. So, I avoided all the lines of frustrated flyers trying to book other flights, and took a cab to the train station. Of course, it was rush hour in DC by this point and it took a while to get there. All the while, I still hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast or had anything to drink other than a glass of water on the plane. So, after making sure my train ticket was good to go, I sat down at a restaurant in the middle of the station and ordered a dinner of a charcuterie platter (huge!) and a few local beers.

Finally sated, I made my way to the platform only to hear that my train was delayed due to equipment problems. And it continued to be delayed every fifteen minutes for the next few hours. Finally at 9:15pm, I boarded my sleeper car and relaxed. After another beer and a few shots from a bottle of Bushmill’s I bought at the station, I called it a night and slept until 7:00am the next day.

Well, slept isn’t really quite the word. If you’ve never tried to sleep on a train, it’s quite different. Speeding up, slowing down, loud clanking noises from the tracks, conductors making announcements of upcoming stations, etc… woke me up several times during the night. But, it was better than having to sleep in coach or in an airport terminal!

Anyway, the rest of the journey was pleasant, and I got to talk with a few folks at breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining car. One woman is from New Orleans and knew all about Tales of the Cocktail. She told me all kinds of insider information on life in the Crescent City and why she loves it. Another gentlemen had just quit his job to move to New Orleans from Washington DC and be near his son and grandchildren. Turns out that his son is a clarinetist who plays a weekly Saturday night gig at The Spotted Cat on Frenchman St.  Check them out at http://panoramajazzband.com/

I finally arrived at 10:15pm, took a cab to my hotel and even before I unpacked, walked up to the local Compac store and bought myself an Abita Restoration Ale. Believe me, I need restoring after traveling for nearly 36 hours! I was finally in my second home. Lovely and welcoming New Orleans… #totc

1c63299e-1500-48ca-9d69-b81f3ccb1ae4In the Spring of 2015 Tales of the Cocktail® will take its show on the road once again, this time to Mexico City for a three-day festival with seminars, networking events and more.

NEW ORLEANS—July 6, 2014  After successful stops in Vancouver and Buenos Aires, the world’s premier cocktail festival is on the move again, this time to Mexico City for the 5th Annual Tales of the Cocktail® on Tour. This three-day festival will feature a series of professional seminars hosted by some of the world my respected mixologists, as well as nightly social events that will allow everyone to dive deep into the emerging cocktail scene in Mexico City.

“On a recent trip to Oaxaca, I just knew that Tales of the Cocktail® had to make a future stop in Mexico,” said Ann Tuennerman, Co-Founder of Tales of the Cocktail®. “I was blown away by the passion and diversity of bartending and distilling in Mexico. When you visit you’ll see that Tequila and Mezcal are just the tip of the iceberg.”

For many international spirits professionals and enthusiasts, making it to New Orleans can be difficult so Tales of the Cocktail® on Tour was developed in 2011 to give a taste of what the industry’s premier cocktail event is all about. It was also to shed light on the emerging cocktail cultures of city’s that don’t otherwise get the attention they deserve. The goal is to give bartenders and other spirits professionals in Tales of the Cocktail® on Tour cities the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s brightest minds in mixology as a way to grow the local cocktail culture.

“Unlike many cities like New York City, London, Paris, Sydney, Tokyo that are well established, Mexico is a rising scene,” said Phillppe Frake Zaigue, General Manager and Head Bartender at Artemisia in Mexico City. “For us this is an opportunity to increase a global culture and make a change in the way that Mexicans perceives cocktails as a culture.”

“Mexico City’s cocktail bars have, for a while now, been simmering in terms of talent, excitement and creativity,” said Charlotte Voisey, Portfolio Ambassador for William Grant & Sons, Inc. “Each time I visit I am more and more impressed with the scene there. I am delighted to hear that Tales on Tour has chosen Mexico City as next year’s destination. It’s time to turn up the heat and see what that town can really do.”

For the latest updates on dates, events and tickets to Tales of the Cocktail® on Tour in Mexico City, visit— TalesoftheCocktail.com

bc6e1fe69224234afeb890a3cb2cdefaPanama will be forever famous for the engineering feat completed exactly 100 years ago.  The canal which connected the Atlantic and Pacific oceans allowing ships to bypass the lengthy and treacherous Cape Horn route which had been in existence for hundreds of years.  But, Panama is also home to one of the world’s finest rums.

Selvarey (which means “king of the jungle”) is made in the Herrera province which happens to be one of the largest producers of sugar cane in Central America.  The rums are distilled in copper column stills, which is quite unusual, but lends a lot of character and flavor to the final product.  They are then aged in American Oak ex-bourbon casks.  The white rum is a blend of three and five-year old expressions, while the cacao is a five-year old which is infused with locally grown chocolate.

Selvarey Rum (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Tangy, almost fruity notes greet your olfactory senses with a rich, and welcoming depth.  Quite evocative.
Taste: Warm, round and tropical notes, with a hint of coconut.  Very friendly and laid back.  A lot of personality comes through.  This is a rum you want to make life-long friends with.
Finish: Medium long, with lingering notes of barley sugar and fresh cane juice.
Overall: A high quality rum that just gets better with each sip.  Impressive!
GSN Rating: A+

Selvarey Cacao (70 proof)
Visual: Light brown.
Nose: Cocoa powder.
Taste: This is what all other chocolate rums hope to be, but fall short.  Just the right balance of rum flavor and natural and unsweetened cocoa.  Not overly sweet, but more refined and elegant.  A masterful blend of distillation and infusion.
Finish: Long lingering notes of cocoa and sweet rum.
Overall: Many flavored rums tend to extremes.  This one in no way can be improved upon.  A true artisanal rum that everyone should try at least once in their life.
GSN Rating: A++

For more information go to: Selvarey

15245-540x335In case you don’t know who Michael Godard is, all you need to do is look at the artwork on the bottles of vodka and gin.  Yes, he’s the artist whose fanciful artwork of olives, limes and assorted cocktail paraphernalia have graced the covers of books, compact discs and low-brow pop art items around the globe.  What makes his art more interesting is his personal back story.

In 2006, his 16 yr. old daughter Paige passed away after a battle with brain cancer. As Godard says, “All the money in the world can not bring her back, but the funds I help raise for a cure will help save another child.”  As a result Godard now works very closely with St Jude’s, Make a Wish, Nevada Cancer Institute and The Sharon Osbourne Colon Cancer Foundation.

The vodka is made from Dutch wheat that undergoes five distillations.  I assume that the gin uses the same base, but other than juniper I’m not sure what the other botanicals are.  Oh, each bottle is numbered in a limited edition, which makes for a potential collectible.

Michael Godard Vodka (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Sweet and with an unusual berry character.
Taste: A bit chalky with a moderate amount of minerality.  Somewhat sweet, but there is more body and heat here than I was expecting.  A bit of bitterness creeps in towards the end.  But, that’s not a bad thing.
Finish:  Dry, with a lot of mouthfeel.
Overall: Perfectly serviceable vodka with more character than many others on the market.
GSN Rating: B

Michael Godard Gin (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: A lot of high, bright herbal notes with a prevalent juniper character.
Taste: Quite light and sweet, but with a good sense of juniper.  It seems a bit unbalanced and harshly botanical.  There is more than a bit of fire and again, a lot of minerality.  Here, it seems at odds with the overall effect of the infusions.  Rather than a tight unity of flavors, they seem to be disparate and at odds with one another.
Finish: A lot of lingering sweetness, along with a chalky edge.
Overall: I’m not sure what to make of this gin.  It seems like a decent first attempt, but never really rises to the occasion.
GSN Rating: B-

For more information go to: Michael Godard Spirits

hero-foams-usBols has been making spirits and liqueurs since 1575, making it one of the oldest extant distilleries in the world.  Their line of liqueurs encompasses over 30 different flavors.  They recently debuted three flavored foams in the US.

The molecular mixology craze has died down somewhat, but the addition of these foams certainly makes it easy for bartenders to create some interesting cocktails.  What I like in particular is that everything is self-contained, and does not require purchase of cartridges or specialized equipment.  All you need to do is attach the enclosed pump to the bottle, press a few times, and voila!

Bols Amaretto Foam (48 proof)
Overall: A fairly tasty amaretto, but more sweet than I prefer.  The color of the foam is a light tan.
GSN Rating: B-

Bols Blue Curacao Foam (42 proof)
Overall: A mild curacao flavor with just a hint of orange candy.  The foam is a pretty Robin’s egg blue.
GSN Rating: B-

Bols Cassis Foam (34 proof)
Overall:  Berry flavored and quite sweet.  It makes for an interesting purple foam.
GSN Rating: B+

My only real hesitation about these foams is that the screw-tops on the bottles are very small, so you have to use the 200ml bottles.  Of course once you run out of product, you can fill it with something new and see what happens.  ;)

For more information go to: Bols Foam

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