IMG_8062-800I’ve no idea who came up with this drink, but I can tell you this: Cádiz is a province near Jerez, Spain.  This where sherry comes from.  Interestingly, both the words sherry and Jerez come from the name of the Persian ruler Rustam Shirazi who wanted a style of wine similar to Persian wine made with the Shiraz grape.  Sherry, Jerez, Cadiz, Shiraz….  Oh, and sherry was also called sack many years ago.  Perhaps because the bottles were protected by small burlap bags.  Anyway…

This is a particularly one-dimensional drink in spite of the interesting ingredients.  This is also a tiny cocktail if made with the amounts given in the recipe. You could easily double it and still be ok to drive home.

I used an Amontillado sherry.  The drier the better to offset the brandy and triple sec.  Overall, the drink is ok, but I don’t ever need to have one again in this lifetime.

0.25oz blackberry-flavored brandy
0.25oz dry sherry
0.5oz triple sec
0.5oz half-and-half

Shake with ice and strain into ice-filled old-fashioned glass.

Maison-Leblon-Selecao-Verde-2011-1Way back in 2009, GSN reviewed the original Leblon cachaca (We even used a different rating system back then!)  Now six years later, the spirit has truly caught on in the United States and there are many brands to choose from.  So, we were excited to learn that Leblon was introducing a special limited edition crafted from sugar cane harvested just last year.  The cane is hand cut and then pressed within three hours.  After fermentation, the juice is distilled in an alambique still and then aged in ex-cognac barrels for up to six months.  Finally, it is bottled unfiltered at still-strength (no water added).

Leblon Seleção Verde Cachaça 2014 Harvest (90 proof)
Visual: Crystal clear.
Nose: Deep funky sugar cane with a buttery, bison grass character.  Some lychee and asian fruit adds a brighter tone.  Finally there is a fresh peppery high note.
Taste: Clean, clear and bright with a lot of biting, spicy high notes.  The grassy quality is quite fresh, but not in your face as it seems to have been toned down by the sweetness of the cognac cask.  At the end there is a curious salinity.
Finish: Long and dry with a peppery finish.
Overall: Very nice and smooth with a depth and body that is greater than the Leblon flagship style.  This cachaca holds up well in a caipirinha cocktail quite well, but also makes for a fine sipper.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Leblon Cachaca

6a00e553b3da20883401b8d0e62077970cThe story of Vov goes back to 1845 when it was first created by Gian Battista Pezziol of Padua who was not a distiller, but rather a pastry chef who was known for his egg white nougat. He felt that discarding the yolks of eggs was wasteful, so he began experimenting with making a popular high protein “energy drink” called zabaglione. Pezziol’s beverage caught on quickly and was recognized and awarded by the Archduke of Austria just eleven years later. During WWII, Vov was even rationed to Italian troops as a source of nutrition and alcohol.  During the arid years of the 1960’s and 70’s, beverages like Vov fell into decline as an “old man’s drink”.

Today, Vov is making a comeback as a beverage served in ski resorts and as a component in modern cocktails.  And in case you were wondering where the name comes from, vovi is the Venetian word for eggs.

VOV (35.6 proof)
Visual: Vanilla custard.
Nose: Vanilla custard.  (no, it’s not a typo).
Taste: Sugary, slightly eggy and with a touch of alcohol.  It has a rum-like flavor and character instead of wine.  Very, very sweet.
Finish: Intense sugar bomb that goes on for ages.
Overall: A definite dessert liqueur.  Much sweeter than Advocaat or Eierlikör, I’d definitely recommend this served on ice to dilute it a bit.  The flavor is good, but I feel like I’ve just eaten a bowl of breakfast cereal à la Calvin & Hobbes.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: 375 Park

APEROLA distant relative of Campari, Aperol Aperitivo was created in 1919 in Padua, Italy.  No doubt due to two world wars in Europe, its success was slow in coming, taking a quarter of a century to finally gain a foothold in the mixology world.  Today, the Aperol Spritz is well-known and perhaps it’s most iconic legacy.

On the shelf, one might mistake Aperol for a less expensive version of Campari, and to a degree it is (it is even owned by the same company).  Made with rhubarb, cinchona, gentian, bitter and sweet oranges, it has the familiar chalky bitterness, but is much lighter, sweeter and milder.  Coming in at only 11% alcohol, this is less boozy than most wine and less than half the proof of Campari.

We here at the GSN offices have been experimenting with what we’re calling a Negroni Primavera, a lighter spring-like version of the Campari-gin-vermouth cocktail.

Add equal parts of Aperol, Old Tom gin and Lillet Blanc to an ice-filled rocks glass, then add a dash of orange bitters.  Stir and serve.

Aperol Aperitivo (22% abv)
Visual: Candy apple red.
Nose: Grapefruit, orange peel and framboise.
Taste: Sweet with a light bitter edge, almost like eating candied grapefruit peel.  A thick mouthfeel with an friendly and direct flavor.
Finish: Medium long with more of that candied citrus sensibility.
Overall: Definitely a gateway drug to Campari.  This works exceptionally well with Prosecco, gin, and even on its own over ice.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Aperol

5007822_Limoncello_di_CapriLimoncello has been produced in Italy for over 100 years, and there are plenty of different brands available.  Today, we’re focusing on Limoncello di Capri which is the biggest seller worldwide.  Created by Vincenza Canale in the late 1800’s as a digestif, she used locally grown Sorrento lemons in her recipe.  Today, the company uses organically grown Sorrentos, and helped pass regulations that specify this type of lemon must be used in order to be called a Limoncello.  The company was also the first to trademark the name Limoncello in 1988.

The recipe is simple.  Using only the thin oil laden peels, the citrus is rested in a neutral grain spirit until the color and flavors are infused, and then sugar and water are added.  The typical cloudiness is due to the emulsification of sugar and oils, similar to what happens with ouzo and absinthe.

Limoncello di Capri (64 proof)
Visual: Cloudy lemon yellow.
Nose: High lemony citrus notes, quite fresh and mouth-watering.
Taste: Luscious lemon tang with enough sugar to keep it from being tart.  The mouthfeel is slightly thick, but in no way is it syrupy.
Finish: A slight bitter edge reminiscent of lemon peels creeps in, keeping things from getting too sweet.
Overall: This tastes like the whole lemon, and not just the peel and sugar.  One of the better limoncellos I’ve had.  Great as a brunch opener or a nightcap.  Mediterranean summer in a glass.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Limoncello

I'll Have What She's HavingSpring is finally here!  What better time than to try some new floral and herbal cocktails?  Here are a few that the GSN staff have been enjoying over the past week.

I’ll Have What She’s Having
By Ian Hardie (Huckleberry Bar, Brooklyn)
1 1/2 parts Caorunn Gin
1/2 parts St. Germain
1/2 parts Aperol
3/4 parts lemon juice
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Shake all ingredients and add to a coupe glass. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.

Sandeman SpirtzSandeman Spritz
By Jim Meehan (Please Don’t Tell, NYC)
1 1/2 parts Sandeman Founders Reserve Port
1 1/2 parts Grapefruit juice
1 1/2 parts Pellegrino Chinotto
Combine the first two ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake with ice and strain into a Douro spice (write to info@laboiteny.com for more info) rimmed rocks glass filled with ice.Top with Pellegrino Chinotto. Garnish with half a grapefruit wheel.

Day SpaDay Spa
By Clint Rogers and Harrison Ginsberg (The Dawson, Chicago)
1 1/2 parts Caorunn Gin
3/4 part Camomile Cucumber Syrup
3/4 Lime juice
1/2 part Cocchi Americano
1/2 part Grapefruit juice
3/4 part Suze
3/4 part Chareau
Two dashes Jamaican #2 Bitters
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Strain into a rocks glass, then fill with fresh ice. Garnish with cucumber slices.

Sandeman Sangree revisedSandeman Sangree
By Peter Vestinos (Wirtz Beverage Group, Chicago)
1 1/2 parts Sandeman Porto Founders Reserve
3/4 parts Plymouth Gin
3/4  parts Lemon Juice
1/2 parts Simple Syrup
2 parts Soda water

Combine all ingredients, except the soda water into a cocktail shaker. Shake briefly with ice. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Add soda water. Add a lemon wheel and grate nutmeg across top.

indexHeaven Hill Brands is debuting Raven’s Lace PeachBerry Whiskey, geared toward female whiskey drinkers, this June. The 60-proof offering combines peach and strawberry flavors with whiskey and is described as a shift away from flavored whiskies the company says are geared toward male audiences. Raven’s Lace PeachBerry Whiskey is available in 50-ml. and 750-ml. formats, retailing at $14.99 a 750-ml. Initial launch markets include Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Tennessee.

indexFlorida-based importer and marketer Imperial Brands has added Tromba Tequila and Cedar Ridge Whiskey to its stable. Founded by former Don Julio master distiller Marco Cedano, the Tromba Tequila range features Silver, Reposado and Añejo entries ($39-$47 a 750-ml.) and is currently available in New York and Illinois. Also joining the portfolio is Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery’s handcrafted whiskey collection, which will be distributed in New York and New Jersey and includes the brand’s Iowa Bourbon, Malted Rye, Wheat and Single Malt expressions ($36-$48).

imagesPhillips Distilling’s UV vodka brand is extending its flavor lineup with the launch of UV Sangria. Rolling out next month, the red sangria-flavored expression is targeted toward the cocktail occasion and priced at around $11.99 a 750-ml.

indexNew York-based Domaine Select Wine Estates (DSWE) has added French vermouth brand La Quintinye to its Classic & Vintage artisanal spirits portfolio. Produced by EuroWineGate Spirits & Wine, La Quintinye Vermouth Royal is made with a blend of white wines from southwestern France, fortified wine and a variety of botanicals. The range features three expressions, including Vermouth Royal Rouge, Vermouth Royal Blanc and Vermouth Royal Extra-Dry, and is available in 350-ml. and 750-ml. formats, priced at $21.99 a 750-ml.

indexSt. Louis-based The Legendary Hatfield & McCoy Family Brand LLC has launched a new American whiskey in key U.S. markets. Produced and bottled by Charleston distiller Local Choice Spirits, The Legendary Hatfield & McCoy Family Brand Whiskey is made with a blend of corn, barley malt, yeast and natural flavors and aged in oak. The 80-proof offering is currently available on- and off-premise across 12 markets, priced at around $39.99 a 750-ml. Expansion into nine additional markets is set to follow this summer.

indexDallas, Texas-based Zodiac vodka has entered California via a new partnership with Young’s Market Company. The move, which marks the brand’s first launch outside of Texas, leads the first phase of Zodiac’s national expansion plan, with distribution to Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina to follow shortly. For its second phase, Zodiac plans to enter Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Washington D.C. and other markets by the end of 2015. Launched in 2014, Zodiac vodka is a gluten-free potato vodka produced in Rigby, Idaho. The brand features both Original and Black Cherry expressions priced at $24.99 a 750-ml.

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

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