GSN Alert: September 28th – National Drink Beer Day

Like most things, we look to the ancient Egyptians for answers. Historians point to beer as a ceremonial drink over 5,000 years ago because papyrus scrolls have been discovered documenting early beer recipes. But the Mesopotamians may have actually been the first to develop beer over 10,000 years ago, before recorded history.

Beer made its way to Europe and gained popularity during the Middle Ages. (Why drink polluted, possibly contaminated water, when you can drink a safer alternative, beer?) Eventually, German monks became master brewers, coming up with some of the fermentation techniques that brought the world closer to the beer we know and love today.

Did you know in European cities like Prague — ordering beer in a restaurant is cheaper than ordering water?

Europeans who arrived in the New World actually complained when they were out of beer and had to brew more. (Apparently, the love of beer was so strong, that upon arrival, brewing beer was one of the first things on the Pilgrims’ to-do list!)

Today, there are light beers with great flavor and less calories as well as dark beers like Guinness, served up warm in authentic English, Scottish and Irish pubs alike. There are ales and lagers which are distinguished by the type of yeast used in the fermentation process.

Is craft beer on your radar? Millennials especially are showing much more refined palates and a broad knowledge of all kinds of beer. You’ll find a wide spectrum of craft brews, foreign and domestic, to fit every taste.

If you’re really looking for something different, try hard cider. It has a great “kick” to it! Plus, Foodie Alert: Don’t miss the perfect opportunity to pair a great beer with a delicious dish. And if you’re the adventurous sort, DIY with a home brew kit.

So on National Drink Beer Day, drink responsibly and in moderation, but enjoy. Just this once, pass up the white wine or your evening Cabernet. Get a frothy, ice-cold glass of beer with a good “head” on it and remember that beer is no longer just your parents’ brew!

Courtesy National Today

GSN Alert: 2021 Spirited Awards® Winners

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation (TOTCF) is honored to announce the 2021 Spirited Awards® winners for the Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award, Pioneer Award, Timeless U.S. Award, Timeless International Award, and the five Writing and Media awards. Founded in 2007 to celebrate excellence in the drinks industry, the Spirited Awards have become one of the most globally revered accolades, recognizing beverage professionals, brands, media, journalists, and establishments across all areas of the cocktail industry. This year, the 15th annual Spirited Awards ceremony was broadcast LIVE from Jewel of the South in New Orleans on Thursday, September 23 at 4pm CST. The ceremony is available for global viewing on the Tales of the Cocktail® 2021 digital platform. As the Spirited Awards official media partner, Forbes will continue to share additional coverage on key themes and industry trends for 2021 on Forbes.com.

 

2021 Spirited Awards®  Winners:  

2021 Writing and Media Spirited Awards® Winners:

GSN Review: Ficklin Vineyards Old Vine Tinta Port

Is there truly such thing as a perfect wine? Sunset Magazine’s International Wine Competition judges think so… Ficklin Vineyards, America’s oldest Port winery established in 1946, has scored a remarkable 100 points, Double-Gold, Best of Class, in this year’s Sunset International Wine Competition for Ficklin Vineyards Old Vine Tinta Port, produced by Peter Ficklin.

The prestigious competition has the distinction of annually recognizing the best wines produced internationally. This year’s contest had over 2,900 entries.

Gold medals were awarded to wines rated 90-plus points and those wines were eligible to move on to the “Best Of” category. From that collection, Double Gold awards were given to wines that scored 95 points or higher. From among those wines, the sweepstakes winner of “Best Of” category is determined. For any scores over 95 points, there must be a unanimous consensus among the judges.

So what would 100 points mean? According to Oliver Styles, Author and Editor for Decanter and Wine-Searcher, “100 points – the holy grail of wine scores. Although wine-making has never been better, getting the top score is no mean feat.”

Established in 1946, Ficklin Vineyards is a dedicated and traditional Port winery instrumental in founding the Madera AVA.

GSN’s Remarks: This truly is a remarkable and delicious port. What makes it even more extraordinary is that it comes from old vine Portuguese varietals. A smooth, raisin-like character hits upon the entry, and then immediately opens up into a world of masterful oak aging. The body is fulsome, with a near viscous mouthfeel that is often lacking in ports. But, it’s the overall flavor that keeps you coming back for more. The complexity is exquisite, with a perfect portrayal of low and high notes, and a wide and friendly mid-range. Not too sweet, slightly dry and compact, this delicious port is a gift that keeps on giving. A 100 point wine? Well deserved! GSN Rating: A+++

For more information go to: Ficklin

GSN Spirited News: September 21st 2021 Edition

William Grant & Sons’ Hudson Whiskey has launched Four Part Harmony, the distillery’s oldest release so far. The 7-year-old whiskey is made from 60% corn, 15% rye, 15% wheat, and 10% malted barley, and is bottled at 46% abv. The new whiskey is a limited edition offering and retails for $70 a bottle.

Hangar 1, part of the Proximo Spirits portfolio, has partnered with Crimson Wine Group to introduce Smoke Point, a limited edition vodka made from smoke-tinged grapes from California wildfires. Retailing at $50 a 750-ml., Smoke Point will be distributed nationally. The spirit was distilled from Napa Valley Malbec and Merlot grapes affected by the smoke and heat from the devastating 2020 Glass Fire that swept through Napa and Sonoma last year. All proceeds will be donated to the California Fire Foundation to raise awareness of the growing California fire season.

Diageo has released the latest batch of Blade and Bow 22-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon whiskey, with this iteration celebrating the 86th anniversary of the Stitzel-Weller distillery. The 46% abv Bourbon will be available in limited quantities in 19 markets across the U.S. as well as at the brand’s Garden and Gun Club in Louisville, Kentucky. The newly opened club will feature a unique tasting experience tied to the 22-year-old whiskey.

Infinium SpiritsCorralejo Tequila has added a new Extra Añejo expression as the latest addition to the brand’s core portfolio. The 40% abv Tequila is distilled from 100% blue agave and matures for 36 months in charred American oak barrels before bottling. The new release is set to hit shelves in select retailers by the end of September and will carry an $80 suggested retail price. This is the third Extra Añejo Tequila in Corralejo’s portfolio, alongside the $130 Corralejo 1821 release and a $250 limited edition Extra Añejo that matured in Templeton rye barrels.

Bardstown, Kentucky-based Kentucky Owl is partnering with Bardstown Bourbon Company on a new release. Called The Wiseman Bourbon, it’s a straight Bourbon blended from Kentucky Owl 4-year-old wheat and high-rye Bourbons along with other 5- and 8-year-old liquid. The Wiseman is the first release for Kentucky Owl under new master blender John Rhea, who was inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame in 2016 and joined the distillery in June of this year. At 45.4% abv, The Wiseman will be available soon at select retailers across Kentucky Owl’s national footprint, priced at $60 a 750-ml.

Baileys is reintroducing its Apple Pie flavor this fall, partnering with four bakeries across the country to create apple pie-inspired desserts infused with the flavor of Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur. They include The Pie Hole in Los Angeles, Four & Twenty Blackbirds in Brooklyn, Georgetown Cupcake in Washington, D.C., and Justice of the Pies in Chicago. Baileys Apple Pie is rolling out nationally, retailing at $25 a 750-ml.

Codigo 1530 Tequila is debuting a George Strait Special Edition Rosa-Reposado expression, retailing at $75-$80. The newcomer is made by aging Codigo’s Tequila Rosa in uncharred French oak wine barrels for three months, then finishing it in Spanish Sherry casks.The bottles feature a custom print with country music star and partner George Strait’s silhouette, guitar, and signature. Codigo 1530 is present in all 50 states.

Miami, Florida-based Tropical Distillers is launching a new addition to its J.F. Haden’s line of liqueurs. The second spirit the brand brings to market is J.F. Haden’s Citrus Liqueur, made with oranges, limes, and lemons grown in Florida at the company’s Miami distillery, without preservatives, artificial colors, or flavors. It’s at 20% abv and joins Mango Liqueur in the J.F. Haden’s lineup, with RNDC providing distribution in Florida and Georgia to start, with expansion to other states including New York and Nevada to follow.

Kentucky Peerless Distilling has announced Double Oak Bourbon, the latest release from the Louisville-based craft distiller. Like the name suggests, the whiskey is matured in two separate barrels, transferring from its initial barrel to a new charred oak barrel midway through its aging. Initially, Peerless’ Double Oak Bourbon was bottled periodically as a single barrel whiskey available at the distillery, but the producer is now expanding the offering to select retailers in Kentucky, California, Illinois, Florida, and New York.

Information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Brews News: September 21st 2021 Edition

Anheuser-Busch has launched Nütrl, a new vodka based RTD, in 11 states across the U.S. The 4.5% abv seltzers are made from vodka, sparkling water, and fruit juice. Nütrl has no added sugar and each 12-ounce serving comes in at 100 calories. Initially, the brand will launch with three flavors—Raspberry, Watermelon, and Pineapple—packaged in a 6-can variety pack alongside individual flavor 4-packs for Raspberry and Pineapple. While the initial launch is focusing on 11 markets, AB is planning to increase distribution throughout the rest of the year.

Information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Alert: September 20th – National Rum Punch Day

A_Midnight_Modern_ConversationBack in my college days, I thought that punch equalled a 1.5l bottle of Silver Bacardi mixed together with a few cans of tropical flavored Hawaiian Punch.  After a few different occasions where this was the beverage of choice, I had enough to last me a lifetime and moved on to other less cloying things like IPA.  In fact, I hadn’t had any punch for a few decades until I read David Wondrich’s phenomenal book Imbibe! back in 2007.  I decided to make a batch of Philadelphia Fish House Punch for my first effort, and there’s been no turning back for me.  Granted, there is a bit of extra work involved than just emptying bottles into a large bowl (oleo-saccharum, anyone?), but it pays off in spades.  Not only is a real punch incredibly tasty, but you realize why punches are gaining popularity again.  These days, many of the best bars offer punch bowls on the menu, and some are even served with antique cups.

Here’s the recipe for PFHP (luckily, it doesn’t actually call for any fish).

Philadelphia Fish House Punch
(Servings: 18 – 20)
1 cup sugar
4 lemons, peeled and peels reserved
4 cups black tea (or water)
1 cup lemon juice
4 cups rum, Jamaican
2 cups cognac
1/2 cup peach brandy
Garnish: lemon wheels and freshly grated nutmeg

In a large bowl, add sugar and lemon peels, and rub together to release the citrus oils into the sugar. (This is called oleo-saccharum).
Allow oleo-saccharum to infuse for at least 30 minutes.
Dissolve sugar with warm water or tea.
Add rum, cognac, lemon juice and peach brandy and stir to mix.
Add a block of ice to chill, and continue to add smaller pieces of ice for desired dilution.
Garnish with lemon wheels and freshly grated nutmeg.
Ladle into individual glasses.

Another quite popular punch is Planter’s Punch, the recipe for which was first published as a poem in the New York Times on August 8, 1908.

Planter’s Punch
This recipe I give to thee,
Dear brother in the heat.
Take two of sour (lime let it be)
To one and a half of sweet,
Of Old Jamaica pour three strong,
And add four parts of weak.
Then mix and drink. I do no wrong —
I know whereof I speak.

Pretty easy to figure out what the measurements are, if you’re handy with a jigger.

Cheers!

GSN Review: Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin Sardinian Citrus

Palm Bay International recently announced the arrival of Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin Sardinian Citrus, the newest addition to its growing artisanal spirits portfolio. This latest creation from the Shed Distillery in Ireland, was originally intended to be a limited edition release but has been so well received by consumers that it has now been added to the distillery’s main offerings. Its key ingredient, Citrus monstruosa, is one of the rarest citrus fruits in the entire world and pairs with the existing citric notes of fresh lemons, limes, and grapefruit in Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin.

GSN’s Remarks: A lovely nose with a fruity and dry citrus character. The entry is bright and crisp, with a welcome brace of juniper. The character of the tea comes through and is enhanced by the Sardinian Citrus, making it a complex and curious gin. It’s easy to see why this latest iteration became popular. Eminently mixable and flavorful beyind the typical evergreen-like notes, this makes for some great cocktails, whether vintage or post-modern. A real winner. GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin

GSN Spirited News: September 14th 2021 Edition

Kentucky’s Covered Bridge Whiskey Company has expanded its offerings, adding a new rye whiskey to its Ruddell’s Mill label. The 47.2% abv whiskey is distilled from a high-rye mash bill that also includes malted barley. The brand is named for the founder of a gristmill that operated in Bourbon country during the early years of Kentucky whiskey production. Ruddell’s Mill rye is now available in select markets across the U.S. through Worldwide Libations for around $50 a 750-ml.

E.& J. Gallo has launched a new 19-year-old expression in the Germain-Robin family of brandies. The 41.4% abv single barrel brandy is distilled from Pinot Noir grapes from the Anderson Valley in Mendocino county and matured in Limousin oak barrels. Germain-Robin Pinot Noir Single Barrel is now available at the company’s California Brandy House in Napa for $250. It will soon be available in other select locations across the U.S.

Rothes, Scotland’s the Glen Grant Distillery is celebrating the 60th anniversary of distiller Dennis Malcolm with a new 60-year-old single malt whisky. The Dennis Malcolm 60th Anniversary Edition is bottled at 52.8% abv and is drawn from a single ex-Oloroso Sherry cask filled in October, 1960. Only 360 Glencairn decanters are available in select global retailers with each bottle selling for €25,000 (roughly $30,000).

Peoria, Illinois-based JK Williams Distilling is adding two new products to its lineup. Distilled six times, Blueprint Vodka (40% abv) is the first clear spirit from the company, featuring the Peoria skyline and a local bridge on the bottle. The distillery is also launching its new Bridge Series with American Wheat Whiskey, made from 95% wheat and bottled at 47% abv. It will retail for $50 a bottle at select Illinois retailers as the third release from JK Williams since it launched its initial offerings in the fall of 2020. Named for a storied bootlegger, JK Williams’ previously released Gold Zephyr Straight Bourbon Whiskey and Stormy River High Rye Whiskey.

Actress Eva Longoria has introduced a new luxury Tequila brand, Casa del SolThe new franchise includes 100% Blue Weber agave Blanco ($60 a 750-ml.), Reposado ($70) and Añejo ($100) expressions, the latter two of which are aged in Martell Cognac barrels. Alejandra Pelayo, Casa Del Sol’s head of production, is a protege and goddaughter of the late Patrón master distiller Francisco Alcaraz. Casa del Sol is launching now in California, Colorado, and Florida ahead of a national rollout slated for early next year.

Lux Row Distillers is releasing a new Bourbon in partnership with conservation organization Ducks Unlimited. The new release is called Daviess County Double Barrel Bourbon and is a variation on Lux Row’s existing Daviess County Bourbon. Created by Lux Row master distiller and Ducks Unlimited member John Rempe, it’s finished in Missouri white oak barrels with toasted heads and bottled at 48% abv. The label features an inset of the Ducks Unlimited duck head logo. The Double Barrel Bourbon is available in mid-September, with limited supplies retailing for a suggested $50 a 750-ml. 

YaVe Tequila has extended its range with a Reposado expression. Aged eight months in American oak barrels, the brand’s new Reposado is bottled at 40% abv and retails at $60 a 750-ml. It joins the existing Blanco Tequila in the YaVe range, which is distributed across eight markets (and ships to 33 states nationwide).

Compass Box has introduced a new blended malt Scotch whisky called Orchard House. Compass Box says the majority of the recipe is made from stocks of spirit purchased from distilleries known for their fruit-forward flavor. These spirits were then aged in a variety of casks including first fill ex-Bourbon barrels, Oloroso Sherry-seasoned butts, and French oak custom barrels. Retailing at $50 a 750-ml. and bottled at 46% abv, Compass Box Orchard House will be part of the brand’s core collection and will debut widely in October.

Beam Suntory has released 100 bottles of the Yamazaki 55 Japanese whisky in select global markets. The 46% abv offering is a blend of whiskies distilled in 1960 and 1964, with the older whisky maturing in Mizunara oak and the younger whisky in white oak, before bottling in 2020. The whisky is available in the U.S., U.K., mainland China, and Taiwan, among other nations, for a suggested price of $60,000 a bottle. For each bottle released, Beam Suntory will donate $5,000 to the White Oak Initiative, a group focused on sustaining America’s white oak forests.

Information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Brews News: September 14th 2021 Edition

The Boston Beer Company is launching Bevy Long Drink, inspired by the national cocktail of Finland. Invented for guests at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, a traditional Long Drink consists of gin, grapefruit soda, and tonic. Boston Beer’s canned version will launch with two flavors: Sparkling Citrus Refresher and Sparkling Berry Refresher, both at 5.8% abv and made with a malt base containing juniper berries instead of spirits. Bevy Long Drink will launch in November in 6- and 12-packs of 12-ounce cans as well as single 24-ounce cans.

Information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Alert: September 15th – National Crème de Menthe Day

Qtimthumb.phpuick!  How many classic crème de menthe based cocktails can you name? Go!

That’s what I thought.  Highlight the area to the right to see if you got them all -> Grasshopper, Stinger

Crème de menthe is one of those liqueurs that once you try, you will never forget.  For obvious reasons it is used in a fair amount of obscure Irish cocktails, but personally I avoid those.

Crème de menthe is not a cream based liqueur, but rather a category of spirits known as crèmes, which are more syrupy and sugar laden than standard liquors.  It is made from Corsican mint or peppermint and is either colorless (white) or vibrantly green.  Most products today use food coloring to achieve the effect.  The flavors are exactly the same however.

If you want to try making your own at home, here’s a recipe courtesy of Marcia Simmons, co-author of DIY Cocktails which I have previously reviewed here.

DIY Creme de Menthe
1 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves (divided)
1 1/2 cups vodka
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water

  • Measure out 1 cup of mint leaves and tear them in quarters Place mint leaves in a sealable glass jar and pour vodka on top. Shake and let steep for 12 hours.
  • After steeping is complete, strain mint leaves from infused vodka. Return infused vodka to the jar.
  • Bring the water and sugar to a boil, and let simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool, then add syrup to mint-infused vodka.
  • Take the additional 1/2 cup of mint leaves, tear them, and add them to the jar. Shake and let steep for 10 hours.
  • Strain twice to remove all mint leaves, keep in resealable bottle. Keeps for two months.

GSN Review: Pastis Henri Bardouin

There are the pastis brands that everyone knows, and then there is Pastis Henri Bardouin. Another vision of what pastis should be; Pastis Henri Bardouin takes us on a journey into the heart of history from around the world. More than 65 ingredients are used in crafting this liquor, including anise mixed with angelica, sagebrush, and star anise; cinnamon mixed with cardamom, cornflower and tonka bean; cloves mixed with grains of paradise, peppers and balm; liquorice mixed with nutmeg, rosemary, sage, thyme and many others that are all a closely guarded secret.

Distillerie de Lure, founded in 1898 at Forcalquier, in Provence, has had a succession of owners for nearly 80 years, amongst whom was Henri Bardouin, a man with a passionate interest in plants and herbs. In 1974 Alain Robert and his team took the helm of the company now known as Distilleries et Domaines de Provence.

GSN’s Remarks: Pastis is the less bitter and more herbal cousin to absinthe. Generally used as an aperitif to stimulate the appetite before a meal, it can also be used during the meal and even as a digestif. This particular pastis serves all three purposes beautifully. We like the soft herbality and warm sweetness of the liqueur. Considering that there are over five dozen ingredients, the end result is clean and refreshing. We enjoy a 5-1 ratio of pastis with cool water. GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Crillon Importers Ltd

#PastisHenriBardouin

GSN Review: Absente

Launched in 1998, Absente was the first legal absinthe liqueur containing thujone. Absinthe, nicknamed the “green fairy” and banned in 1915, was authorized for production again in 1988. But it was only in 2011 that the level of thujone (a molecule present in the plant which, in strong dose, was incorrectly identified as the chemical that drove people mad) is now fixed at a maximum of 35 mg/kg. Absente only contains 10 mg/kg of thujone.

Absinthe is made by macerating various herbs and plants (grand wormwood, petite wormwood, green anise, fennel, amongst others) in a mixture of alcohol and water, followed by distillation. Absente is brought down to 110 proof before bottling.

As for how to enjoy Absente? The famous tasting ritual is still practiced according to the tradition, by pouring chilled water into the absinthe, through a perforated spoon supporting a single cube of sugar. Please do not light anything on fire. This is dangerous and ruins the overall flavor of the drink.

GSN’s Remarks: A well made and tasty absinthe. The flavor is authentic and has a slightly bitter edge, but overall is very much sweet anise, fennel and licorice.  Perfect in a frappe, this also works wonders in a Sazerac. GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Crillon Importers Limited

#Absente

GSN Review: The Botanist Islay Dry Gin

Founded in 2011, The Botanist Islay Dry Gin is distilled and hand-crafted at Bruichladdich Distillery on Islay, a remote island off the west coast of Scotland. It is the first and only Islay Dry Gin – a rare expression of the heart and soul of this wild Scottish isle. Hailing from one of the only B Corp certified distilleries in the world, The Botanist believes in using business as a force for good, putting people and planet in line with profit.

The liquid is distilled with a unique combination of 22 wild Islay botanicals which are hand-foraged locally and sustainably on the island by The Botanist’s professional forager, James Donaldson. The Islay botanicals are slow simmer distilled with Islay spring water in a unique Lomond Still, affectionately nicknamed Ugly Betty, by Head Distiller Adam Hannett. The result is a gin that speaks of the locality and seasonality of Islay.

GSN’s Remarks: A well balanced, round and crisp gin crafted with nearly two dozen interesting ingredients. We like the flavor profile which has a softer juniper character, but also a swish of citrus overlaying the more herbal characteristics. A rare gin that needs nothing else. However, we do recommend it in Martinis, citrus forward cocktails, and even the humble G&T. GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: The Botanist

#thebotanist

 

GSN Brews News: September 7th 2021 Edition

Corvallis, Oregon-based 2 Towns Ciderhouse is launching an array of ciders in 19-ounce cans. The first to market in the new format is Strawberade, a 6.5% abv pink lemonade cider made with California Meyer lemons along with strawberries and apples from the Pacific Northwest. Strawberade is joined in 19-ounce cans by OutCider, 2 Towns’ unfiltered release made with Jonagold apples and at 5% abv. The new packaging options will be available throughout the cidery’s west coast distribution area that also includes Minnesota.

Austin, Texas-based Canteen Spirits has launched a new line of gin-based canned cocktails. Canteen’s Gin Spritzes come in three flavors—Blossom Gin Spritz with hibiscus and lime, Citrus Gin Spritz with lemon and cucumber, and Ruby Gin Spritz with grapefruit and rosemary—all at 5% abv and available in variety 6-packs of 12-ounce cans and as individual cans.

Vermont-based Lawson’s Finest Liquids has released Kiwi Double IPA in its 9-state distribution footprint. The 8.1% abv ale is brewed with Nelson Sauvin and Pacific Jade hops and was previously a taproom exclusive offering. The beer is part of Lawson’s specialty release series and will be available in September and October. Lawson’s beers are sold in Vermont, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

Baltimore, Maryland-based DuClaw Brewing Company is releasing Lemonade Stand by Me, a hopped sour made with raspberries and Meyer lemon puree. The label features a lemonade stand design and a QR code that can be scanned to access a music playlist to accompany the beverage. It’s at 7.1% abv and is available now in 12-ounce cans and on draft at select locations across DuClaw’s 22-state distribution area. 

Information courtesy of Shanken News Daily