Amaretto_Bottles_4 Today is National Amaretto Day.  I’ll bet you had no idea.  Well, break out that dusty bottle from where it’s languishing in your closet and fix yourself an Amaretto Sour while I tell you a little background behind this unusual liqueur.

Amaretto Sour
2 oz Amaretto liqueur
1 oz Fresh squeezed lemon juice
½  fresh organic Egg white
2 dashes Aromatic Bitters

Dry shake (without ice) all ingredients. Add ice, shake again and strain into ice-filled glass.

Amaretto literally means “a little bitter”.  The original recipe contained bitter almond, but today’s liqueurs tend to be quite sweet.  We’ve all tasted a brand at least once.  Usually our first experience was sneaking a swig from our parents liquor cabinet.  Memorable and probably not our finest drinking moment.  “It has essence of tree nut, with elements of cane sugar”.

Yet, Amaretto has a long and distinguished heritage.  And it’s not necessarily almonds that you’re tasting.

Interestingly, the world’s best-selling brand DiSaronno contains no almonds, but rather uses a blend of seventeen herbs, fruits and most importantly apricot pits.  In fact, this recipe has been around since 1525, so who’s to say whether the product is supposed to be almond or apricot pit flavored?

Lastly, Portland bartender extraordinaire Jeffery Morganthaler claims to have perfected the world’s best Amaretto Sour.  You can check out his version here.

Maple sugaring season in Quebec — the historic birthplace of syrup tapping—is just ending.  This is a vital time of year for the award-winning Tap 357 Canadian Maple Rye Whisky because it is how the brand obtains its “Grade A/Canada 1 Light” maple syrup for its blend.

Tap 357 is a premium small-batch Canadian whisky that marries rye whiskies that have been cask-aged for either 3, 5 or 7 years with pure maple syrup tapped at the first hint of spring.

Maple sugaring in Quebec generally occurs between February and April for approximately 20-25 days, if the weather cooperates. This is the only time of year one can obtain real maple syrup, and the quantity of the year is completely dependent upon the climate—for the maple sap to run out of the tap hole, one must have freezing nights followed by warmer days.

Master Blender Michel Marcil takes the naturally complementary flavors of fine, earthy rye and rich, true maple and transforms them into an elegantly smooth spirit with a delicate sweetness that is subtle, not sugary.  Thanks to skillful blending (and because Marcil has eschewed chill-filtering), neither flavor is allowed to dominate.  The finished result is a layered, nuanced and rounded spirit that’s great savored straight or added to creative cocktails.

Tap 357 (81 proof)
Visual: Light gold.
Nose: Heavy maple sugar tempered by a spicy and moderate rye.  Engaging and not at all cloying.  A spirit nose, not a liqueur one.
Taste: Very smooth and at first the rye seems to prevail.  But, in a matter of a few seconds, the maple character announces its presence and gives a friendly welcome.  Not overly sweet, the rye really works in tandem here to keep things from going off into Candyland.
Finish: Medium long with lingering dark maple notes.
Overall: I’ve had a few different Canadian whisky/maple products over the years and this one is the best.  The balance between the rye and the maple syrup is excellent.  Well done!
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Tap Whisky


Serrallés distillery recently debuted the second in a series of the exclusive “Barrica Única” Signature Release, a limited edition rum aging for the past nine years in American white oak barrels.

This collectible rum has a limited distribution of 36,000 numbered bottles, for the local Puerto Rican market, as well as the North American and European markets. In Puerto Rico, the product is available exclusively through Serrallés Distillery and can be purchased in special locations around the Island, including Oil and Vinegar in The Mall of San Juan, among others.

“This collection of rums offers a window into the versatility of our team of rum masters in producing rums that have nothing to envy against the best Scottish whiskeys or Cognac brandy,” said Roberto J. Serrallés, Vice President of Development Business of Distillery Serrallés, and member of the sixth generation of the company.

“Each bottle we distill brings with it the inheritance, passion and commitment of the Serrallés family to offer our consumers exceptional rums to share in the most special moments of life, such as Christmas. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.”

For 151 years, Serrallés Distillery has maintained its tradition of excellence in the production of exceptional rums in Puerto Rico, being these recognized among the best in the world. Its leading brand, Don Q, produced in Mercedita is the premium rum of Puerto Rico and the best-selling on the Island.

Don Q 2007 Signature Release Single Barrel (80 proof)
Visual: Dark gold
Nose: Rich and deep oak nose with a lighter layer of sweet vanilla-caramel.  Very much in the Don Q style.
Taste: Initially slightly sweet, but quite dry with a vanilla bean accent developing suddenly, then turning to a woody oak char that cleanses the palate. Closer in character to some Jamaican rums than I was expecting.  Fine, direct and perfect for a rum old-fashioned.
Finish: Medium long, with some sugar syrup flavors again bringing things full circle with an impression of sweetness.
Overall: Another great rum from Don Q.  I’d say that the 2007 is even more intriguing than the 2005.  If you have a bottle of each, try it and see what I mean.  There is more here than expected.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Don Q

b42086b2206396354f7173a543355bc0“85% of all known worlds in the Galaxy, be they primitive or highly advanced, have invented a drink called jynnan tonnyx, or gee-N’N-T’N-ix, or jinond-o-nicks, or any one of a thousand or more variations on the same phonetic theme. The drinks themselves are not the same, and vary between the Sivolvian “chinanto/mnigs” which is ordinary water served at slightly above room temperature, and the Gagrakackan “tzjin-anthony-ks” which kills cows at a hundred paces; and in fact the one common factor between all of them, beyond the fact that the names sound the same, is that they were all invented and named before the worlds concerned made contact with any other worlds.” – Douglas Adams

Be that as it may, we here on planet Earth will be celebrating International Gin & Tonic Day this weekend.  Cheers!

Gin and Tonic
2 oz. London dry gin
Tonic water (from a fresh bottle)
1-2 ample wedges of lime
Plenty of cold ice cubes
Highball glass

1) Chill the glass. You may want to fill it with ice, then empty it and refill, as some bartenders do with a martini glass.
2) Fill the glass with whole ice cubes. If you wish, take a wedge of lime and moisten the rim the glass with it.
3) Pour the gin over the ice, which should be cold enough that it crackles when the liquor hits it.
4) Fill glass almost to the top with tonic.
5) Squeeze one wedge of lime into the glass. Drop the squeezed lime into the drink as a garnish if you like; it’s not necessary, but can add a bit of extra flavor. (If you do, notes Dale DeGroff, make sure the peel has been washed.) Serve.

Yes, it’s time to once again drool over all of the new boozy books coming out in the next few months. Well, don’t literally drool on them. Regardless, these libatious literary works will be bound to leave an impression on you. Ok, enough with the puns…

Whisky Rising: The Definitive Guide to the Finest Whiskies and Distillers of Japan by Stefan Van Eycken (Author), Jim Meehan (Foreword) Cider Mill Press Raise a glass to Japanese whisky! Whisky Rising is the essential reference with revolutionary new insights into the emerging world of Japanese whisky, featuring profiles on distilleries new and old (some so new, they don’t even have whisky yet!), interviews with master distillers and blenders, and reviews and tasting notes for the best of the best, plus a definitive catalog featuring all of the must-drink whiskies! Follow the whisky bar guide and learn something new from the nosing and drinking tips. Whisky Rising will give you a taste of the good stuff!

The Periodic Table of Cocktails by Emma Stokes Abrams Image The Periodic Table of Cocktails is a fun, concise, and appealingly geeky new concept to cocktail appreciation. The foundation of the book is a periodic table organized by cocktail styles (Martinis and Up, Fruity/Tropical, Highballs/Muddles, Collinses/Fizzes, etc.) and by predominant base alcohols across the chart’s rows (vodka, gin, tequila, etc.). If you like one cocktail in the table, you should enjoy all the cocktails that surround it. The book also offers the background history and make-it-yourself recipe for each of the more than 100 “elements” or cocktails. The book will be published with a companion volume, The Periodic Table of Wine.

The Craft Cocktail Compendium: Contemporary Interpretations and Inspired Twists on Time-Honored Classics by Warren Bobrow Fair Winds Press Whether you’re new to mixing drinks or have been creating your own cocktails for years, The Craft Cocktail Compendium has everything you need to know to mix, shake, or stir your way to a delicious drink. With over 200 craft cocktail recipes, expert mixologist Warren Bobrow will help you broaden your skills and excite your taste buds with unique takes on timeless favorites and recipes you’ve likely never tried before.

The Curious Bartender’s Rum Revolution by Tristan Stephenson Ryland Peters & Small The Curious Bartender’s Rum Revolution is the fifth book by bestselling author Tristan Stephenson. Explore rum’s remarkable history from its humble origins to its status as life-blood of the Royal Navy and its love affair with Cuba. Discover its darker past, with tales of devils, pirates and its reputation as the revolutionary spirit. This fabled drink is in the midst of another revolution, transforming from uninspiring grog to premium product, with aged and spiced premium varieties leading the charge. Learn about how rum is made, from the science of sugar cane and molasses to distillation and unique ageing techniques. The Rum Tour will transport you to the most exciting rum distilleries the world has to offer, with Tristan’s signature tasting notes guiding you towards the right rum at the right time. Explore the legendary Caribbean home of rum to the pioneering rum makers around the world-embracing dynamic new techniques and taking flavor to dizzy new heights. Finally, Tristan’s mixology skills will help you master jazzed-up versions of the Mai Tai and Mojito, perfect a Planter’s Punch and keep you on trend with Brazil’s famous Caipirinha and Batida cocktails, made with rum’s sister spirit, cachaça.

Rum Curious: The Indispensable Tasting Guide to the World’s Spirit by Fred Minnick Voyageur Press Once the drink of sailors and swashbuckling pirates, rum is the most versatile — and the most varied — spirit in the world. It is consumed neat as a sipping drink, on the rocks, and in a dizzying variety of cocktails like the mai tai, mojito, and pina colada. In Rum Curious, author Fred Minnick first takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of the world of rum, describing its many styles; explaining the great variety of fermenting, distilling, and maturing processes; and highlighting distillers and distilleries. He then teaches the reader about tasting rum — revealing the experience offered by brands ranging from the familiar to the unusual and obscure. A final section provides recipes for classic and innovative rum cocktails from around the world. Rum Curious is the one book the reader will need to understand and appreciate rum in all its glorious variety.

Lost Recipes of Prohibition: Notes from a Bootlegger’s Manual by Matthew Rowley Countryman Press American Prohibition was far from watertight. If you knew the right people, or the right place to go, you could get a drink―most likely a variation of the real thing, made by blending smuggled, industrial alcohol or homemade moonshines with extracts, herbs, and oils to imitate the aroma and taste of familiar spirits. Most of the illegal recipes were written out by hand and secretly shared. The “lost recipes” in this book come from one such compilation, a journal hidden within an antique book of poetry, with 300 entries on making liquors, cordials, absinthe, bitters, and wine. Lost Recipes of Prohibition features more than 70 pages from this notebook, with explanations and descriptions for real and faked spirits. Readers will also find historic and modern cocktails from some of today’s leading bartenders.
Full-color illustrations throughout.

Absinthe: The Exquisite Elixir by Betina J. Wittels (Author), T.A. Breaux (Editor) Fulcrum Publishing Take an intimate look into the contemporary world of absinthe. International in scope, Absinthe: The Exquisite Elixir is a visually rich journey into an alluring subculture. Filled with color reproductions of classic and current lithographs, posters, cartoons, as well as photos of antiques, glassware, and other tools of the absinthe drinker, this new and comprehensive guide explains and illustrates the history, culture, and mystique of the drink known as the Green Fairy. The authors provide insights into the controversy and effects of the Green Fairy through the stories of famous connoisseurs, including Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway, and Pablo Picasso. In addition to a rich history, this detailed new guide includes recipes, reviews of existing Absinthe brands, and absinthe’s contemporary culture and ritual. Confirmed absinthe drinkers, neophytes, the curious, and collectors will all find this book equally intriguing and seductive.



Another beauty from Harry Craddock.  Found in the pages of the Savoy Cocktail Book, this looks to be a third cousin to the Sidecar cocktail. But, this is not for the faint of heart.  A seriously boozy tipple, the small serving size of this is well-chosen.  If you double the recipe you’re asking for trouble.

It’s possible I suppose that Mr. Craddock created this in tribute to the other famous bartending Harry of the day, Harry MacElhone who was head bartender at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, France. But, in all likelihood it is probably named for the fact that the two main ingredients hail from France.  In any case, this is a tasty little number that will certainly bring to mind the silver age of cocktails.

1oz brandy
0.5oz yellow Chartreuse
0.5oz lemon juice
1 tsp simple syrup
1 dash Angostura bitters

Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

The late Dr. George G. Moore had a great passion for single malt whisky and his adopted home in Virginia. A native Irishman, George came to the U.S. in the 1970’s to seek new opportunities. In 2011, after many years of building successful businesses in both the U.S. and Ireland, George finally had the chance to combine his two passions when he started Virginia Distillery Company. Today, George’s son, Gareth Moore, along with his wife, Maggie Moore, have taken the helm to continue building George’s dream amongst the Blue Ridge Mountains in beautiful Nelson County, Virginia.

Their current product, Virginia Highland Malt is brought over from Scotland. The whisky is then cask-finished in Virginia port-style wine barrels for an additional six to twelve months. As well, Virginia Highland will be releasing The Commonwealth Collection over the next year. This limited release collection features their Virginia Highland Malt Whisky aged in cider and wine barrels from our Virginia partners. The first in this series is the Cider Barrel Matured Virginia Highland Malt.

Virginia Distillery Company’s flagship Virginia Highland Malt Whisky won ‘Best American Single Malt Whisky’ at the World Whiskies Awards presented by Whisky Magazine where the American results were announced in New York on February 28, 2017.

“We’ve always said that our whisky doesn’t easily fall into the defined categories that exist throughout the spirits industry, which makes it even more of an honor to be recognized as having the Best American Single Malt Whisky for our Virginia Highland Malt,” said Virginia Distillery Company CEO Gareth Moore.

Port Finished Virginia Highland Malt (92 proof)
Visual: Pale copper-rose.
Nose: Soft heathery smoke overlaid with a sheen of rich port. Enticing, mouth-watering and solidly built.
Taste: Medium sweet with a lot of the port character leading the way.  A nice round almost creamy mouthfeel gives this whisky a dessert character. a pleasure to sip.
Finish: Medium long with plenty of lingering sweet fruity notes gently fading into slumber.
Overall: A beautiful port-forward whisky that will appeal to any lover of Highland scotches. Everything about this whisky succeeds. The kind of new world single malt that sets the standard for others to follow.
GSN Rating: A+

Cider Barrel Matured Virginia Highland Malt (92 proof)
Visual: Pale gold.
Nose: Some smokiness and a curious apple/oak marriage that reminds me of Armagnac. Very light and delicate overall.
Taste: Quite light and in the tradition of a Highland scotch with just a touch of sweet apple coming through at the tail end. This adds a dry and crisp edge to the affair which is quite appealing.  The cider really adds to the experience in a way I was not expecting.
Finish: Dry, crisp and with a long-lasting, yet feathery apple character.
Overall: A unique experiment that works.  I enjoyed the surprisingly apple character which waits until the last-minute to show up and then stays for the weekend.  An imaginative creation from the master blender.  (Note: The apple comes through more clearly when served at room temperature).
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: VA Distillery


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