GSN Review: HyperChiller


The HyperChiller is the invention of Nick Anusbigian, an iced coffee lover, who tried making ice coffee at home with cold brew and pour over ice recipes. After deciding neither of these methods were convenient or easy, he went back to spending time and money everyday buying ice coffee from the coffee shop.

As Nick said, “I came up with the HyperChiller when my wife, Julie, got me a Keurig for Christmas in 2014. This came out of my frustration, which I know many of you share, of trying to make great iced coffee quickly at home.”

After experimenting with prototypes and developing a detailed specification he took to Kickstarter to fund the production of the first run of HyperChiller. Since then the product has taken off, with tens of thousands of HyperChiller sold around the world and with coverage in Oprah Magazine, Ask Men, Maxim, Uncrate and other press outlets.

But, this is not just for coffee, it can also chill wine, spirits and cocktails very quickly.  Just be aware that if you do make a cocktail, you’ll have to add water to account for the usual 20% dilution when shaking or stirring a drink with ice.  Unless of course, you like really string cocktails.

HyperChiller Review: We tried this around the office this week with coffee, wine and whiskey.  It works as advertised and does it well.  The set up of the system is super easy and needs only to be done once  month to keep things fresh.  The only drawback is that it takes 12 hours to bring the Hyperchiller to the desired temperature. So, if using with freshly brewed coffee, you’re only going to get one serving every 12 hours.  That being said, it works much better with room temperature liquids like wine and spirits, liqueurs, or juices. Just pop it back in the freezer for a few hours and it is ready to go again. The design is well done and it’s a handy item to have on hand in the freezer if you are an iced coffee fanatic or if someone stops by unexpectedly for a glass of wine and you don’t happen to have a bottle chilling in the refrigerator. GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: HyperChiller


Union Horse Distilling was initially launched as Dark Horse Distilling in 2010, but was forced to change their name due to a trademark dispute between the distillery and the E&J Gallo Winery. Since the name change, the distillery, located in Lenexa, Kansas has released both Reunion Straight Rye as well as Reserve Straight Bourbon in addition to their un-aged Long Shot White Whiskey and Rider Vodka.

Reunion Straight Rye is a handcrafted small batch 100% rye distilled using Union Horse’s sour mash recipe and is listed as having been aged up to 5 years, representing some of the earliest barrels laid down by the distillery, although no age statement is available on the bottle.

With a focus on locally sourced grain and a family owned business, Union Horse is faithful to the spirit of a family owned American small business.

Reunion Barrel Strength Rye Whiskey (112.3 proof)
Visual: Dark orange-brown.
Nose: A perfect balance of spice and sweet char.  This smells like you’re stepping into a rickhouse. Full of character and expectation.
Taste: A rush of intense rye that never fades, but opens up into a bloom of woody caramelization.  The grain flavor goes on and on with teasing notes of sweetness and rich smoked oak.  A wake up call to the taste buds.
Finish: As I mentioned, this goes on a long time.  It’s not just the barrel strength that imbues it with a strong character.  The flavor itself is memorable from the first sip and retains a presence long after you’ve finished your dram.
Overall: One of the best rye whiskies not only to come out of the mid-west, but one of the finest in the U.S. Seek this one out ASAP, you will not regret it.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Union Horse


1953_12Interestingly enough, the first printed recipe for the Margarita shows up in the December 1953 issue of Esquire magazine (pictured at left) Here’s what they had to say about it: Drink of the Month – “She’s from Mexico, Senores, and her name is the Margarita Cocktail–and she is lovely to look at, exciting and provocative.”

1 ounce tequila
Dash of Triple Sec
Juice of 1/2 lime or lemon

Pour over crushed ice, stir. Rub the rim of a stem glass with rind of lemon or lime, spin in salt–pour, and sip.

Anyone today would certainly recognize that recipe, albeit in a more definitive form (more Triple Sec, no lemon, and no crushed ice).

But, the origins of the Margarita go back much further, probably about 25 years earlier.  No one knows for sure who created the drink, but my favorite theory about the name is that it was originally called a Tequila Daisy.  The Spanish word for daisy is Margarita, and a Tequila Daisy was basically a Margarita (tequila, orange liqueur, sour mix).  In any case, it has become one of the top 10 cocktails of all time.

Here are some modern versions crafted just in time for your celebration:

GildedHareThe Gilded Hare (Courtesy of Matt Grippo at Blackbird in San Francisco)
1.5oz Suerte Blanco Tequila
.5oz Gonzales Byass Amontillado Sherry
.5oz Cinnamon Syrup
.5 Grapefruit
.5 Lime
5 Drops of Bittermens Hellfire Shrub
This winter influenced margarita is a tad complex. Suerte Blanco tequila, amontillado sherry, lime, grapefruit, cinnamon and habanero. Big bright tequila flavors up front and a warm lingering finish of spice and wood with just enough kick to warm your mouth without the burn.

image012 Lemon Basil Margarita (Courtesy of Cointreau)
1 1/2 oz. Blanco Tequila
1 oz. Cointreau
1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
1/2 oz. Lime Juice
3 basil Leaves
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and add ice. Shake and strain over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with basil and lemon wheel.

drinkCRUZ Citrus Margarita (Courtesy of CRUZ Tequila)
2 parts CRUZ Silver Tequila
¾ parts agave nectar
1 lime squeezed
½ lemon squeezed
½ orange squeezed
1-2 parts filtered water
A couple sprigs of mint
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain over fresh ice. Garnish with a mint sprig.

image001Cucumber Lavender Margarita (Courtesy Tortilla Republic, West Hollywood)
2 oz. Casa Noble Organic Tequila (or other 100% agave silver tequila)
2-3 ½ Inch Cucumber Slices, muddled
1.5 oz. Fresh Squeeze Lime Juice
0.75 oz. Lavender-Infused Simple Syrup
(soak 4-5 sprigs of lavender in simple syrup for 2-3 days, or purchased at Farmers’ markets and specialty grocers). Shake. Pour into a 12.5 oz. glass on rocks. Garnish with cucumber and fresh lavender blossoms.

image006The Milagro Blood Orange Margarita (Courtesy of Milagro Tequila)
1 ½ parts Milagro Silver Tequila
¾ part Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
1 part Fresh Lime Juice
¾ part agave nectar
Pour all ingredients in a Boston Shaker with ice. Shake and strain over fresh ice in a salt-rimmed rocks glass. Garnish with orange and lime wheels.

image003StrawBeerita (Courtesy of Licor 43)
3 oz. chilled beer, lighter-style lager
1 oz. Licor 43
1 oz. tequila
1/2 oz. lime juice
3 Strawberries
Directions: Cut strawberries and a few lime slices and muddle in a shaker. Add tequila, Licor 43, lime juice and ice and shake. Pour mixture into a margarita glass and top with beer. Garnish with a strawberry slice and lime wedge.


A lovely little cocktail that hits the spot every time.  First appearing in print in Harry Craddock’s 1930 cocktail guide The Savoy Cocktail Book, this is most obviously a variation on the classic Sidecar cocktail.  By substituting Chartreuse for triple sec and adding a dash of aromatic bitters, it adds a layer of complexity which transforms the drink into something three-dimensional.  I love the occasional Sidecar, but really they are pretty dull on the taste buds.

If you don’t happen to have Chartreuese Jaune on hand, you can try the green (vert) version, but only use about a third of an ounce instead of the full half ounce. Otherwise things will be out of balance.

My first impression of this cocktail was of apricots with a nose of pineapple. Interesting considering neither is in the recipe.

Champs-Élysées Cocktail
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.

c9b29f44-8d0e-4d67-8a95-1eb17483c764What is Cane Camp? 

Cane Camp is a cultural immersion program set against the vibrant backdrop of Puerto Rico. Over the course of the program, you can expect to learn the ins and outs of rum production and craft brewing, and experience the rich history of this beautiful island. While beverage production will take center stage at Cane Camp, expect a strong focus on conservation, climate and environmental issues. We will be visiting the diminishing Bio-Bay, exploring the intricacies of responsible rum production and experience a snapshot of the current state of the environment in Puerto Rico.

744476db-52c2-4567-a89b-431bc0ec046aHow do I apply?

Follow this link to complete the Cane Camp 2017 application:

0808b8ca-d19c-43aa-8c71-5f02f111c6c0Please keep in mind that there are only 50 spots available for this experience and applications close at 11:59 EST on February 23rd, so make sure you take the time to carefully consider and fill out each field of the application. We read these blind (that means we can’t see your name or bar) and base all of our decisions on the creativity and care you put into your responses.


15626399_144244089397489_1467792453588275863_oThere aren’t a whole lot of spiced whiskies out there. So, I was quite intrigued to receive a sample of one by the same couple who head up Sukkah Hill Spirits (see my reviews of their liqueurs here). Here’s what owners Howard and Marni Witkin have to say about their journey towards creating CALI.

“We didn’t realize that we were going into the liquor business. We just thought that we were sharing a delicious home-made drink with friends. Our founder, Taste Mistress, and resident foodie – started making homemade liqueurs in our kitchen. We poured it for dinner guests, and they were hooked. Soon a few bottles grew to dozens of bottles and we had local stores asking to carry our liqueurs.

By the time we caught our breath, we had an operating distilled spirits plant, pallets of liquor, gold medals, industry recognition, and two of the best liqueurs on the market. But our taste mistress is a whiskey girl at heart, and we started dreaming about a whiskey we could call our own. It took us a few years, but the sipping whiskey that emerged is something unique and incredible. A full-bodied whiskey with whispers of wonderful aromatic spices and botanicals. The flavors of CALI arise organically from the interaction of the rich corn mash bourbon, and spicy rye, mellowed by clean oak and then finished with our own signature blends of herbs, spices and botanicals.

We make every bottle by hand, in our little beach town distilled spirits plant from all natural ingredients. Never GMO. Never Industrial. We are truly excited to bring our family of natural hand crafted spirits to your family.”

CALI California Sipping Whiskey (85 proof)
Visual: Orange-gold.
Nose: Ginger, cinnamon and clove painted against malty whiskey canvas.
Taste: Remarkably smooth for a higher-proof whiskey.  The initial impression is of warmth and spice cake.  This opens up quickly into a broader palate that is predominantly cinnamon.
Finish: Long with a lot of the spices lingering and creating a cooling sensation on the tongue. Very much akin to an allspice liqueur.
Overall: I wish this was more widely available.  It honestly puts many spiced rums to shame.  You can even use it in Tiki drinks for extra pop. Try this is a Hot Toddy or neat in a Brandy snifter.  It is a great winter warmer.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: CALI Distillery

ilkeyoteWait…a spirit made from Agave, and it’s not Tequila? Correct. Tequila is a unique product of Mexico, which involves many traditional production techniques. Il Keyote is made from 100% organic Blue Weber Agave sourced from Jalisco, but that is where the comparison to Tequila ends. Cannon Beach Distillery ferments, distills and matures Il Keyote a bit more like Brandy than Tequila. This technique provides the flavor of the agave, which is balanced with the woody tones pulled from toasted American white oak barrels. The result is an entirely new style of spirit. Leave the salt and lime aside.

Mike Selberg opened Cannon Beach Distillery on July 1st 2012 with the singular goal of crafting the best possible spirits. Every drop of alcohol they produce is fermented from raw ingredients, distilled, matured, bottled and labeled in-house, in Cannon Beach, Oregon.

(To order Cannon Beach spirits go to CraftedLife.com)

Il Keyote (80 proof)
Visual: Pure gold.
Nose: Fresh, oak nose with a more subtle grassy and vegetal undertone. New leather, oak shavings and soft pepper.
Taste: Notes of butterscotch, caramel cream, buttered toast, and slight high notes of baking spice and horehound.  Quite unique and very tasty.
Finish: Medium long with a smooth finish.  Just a hint of warm, creamy sweetness to end things on a dessert-like note.
Overall: I was not expecting an agave spirit to taste as different.  This is far and away as unlike Tequila, Mezcal or Sotol as night and day.  Kudos to Master Distiller Mike Selberg for trying something new and succeeding with a crafted liquor that might have been just a curiosity.  This is a spirit to savor and have your mind and palate expanded.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Cannon Beach Distillery


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