soltado_0128_straighthrFrom Destiladora Juanacatlán, a small distillery in the lowlands region of Jalisco, Mexico, Soltado Spicy Añejo Tequila is produced at one of only two farmer-owned, co-op distilleries in the country of Mexico.

Twice distilled, and filtered 10 times, their añejo tequila is made from 100% blue Weber agave and aged 28 months in American white oak.  After aging, Soltado Spicy Añejo Tequila is infused with fresh, locally grown organic Serrano peppers and cinnamon.

As part of their core values and brand mission, socially responsible Soltado has supported local and national charities through dollar matching programs, event donations, and by leveraging their fan base to drive awareness. From humanitarian causes, animal welfare, health related foundations, and urban farming initiatives, Soltado Tequila remains a purpose driven brand.

Soltado Spicy Añejo Tequila (80 proof)
Visual: Light gold with a slight copper tinge.
Nose: Verdant spiciness with a slight agave sweetness, but ultimately leads back to spice. Fresh tequila aroma with a slight earthiness. Mellow and pleasant.
Taste: Initially soft tequila, but then a massive wave of chili spice overpowers any subtleties. After a minute, the tequila comes through again and finishes with a mildly honeyed finish.
Finish: A slight lingering smoky sweetness.
Overall: A tequila that will appeal to chili-heads.  Great in a Bloody Maria, but also adding a splash of this to a chocolate liqueur like Bailey’s will make for a great wintertime/cold weather cocktail.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Soltado Tequila

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.

liqueurs2There are more liqueurs out there than you may realize.  A few of them are crucial for classic cocktails (triple sec), many are liquid desserts (Irish creams), and a few are totally unique (coca leaf liqueur).  What exactly is a liqueur, you ask?  Basically take a distilled spirit, add some sugar, and voila.  But that’s only part of the picture.  Often, liqueurs are flavored with fruit, citrus rind, berries, herbs, spices, and particularly in the case of Chartreuse the liqueur takes on the color of the ingredients.

Here are some of the many liqueurs that GSN has reviewed over the past several years.  Everything from ancho chili liqueur to bacon liqueur.  As an added bonus, I’ve included a video by the inestimable Robert “DrinkBoy” Hess which will show you how you can use as many liqueurs as possible in a single classic cocktail .

1921 Tequila Cream Liqueur

300 Joules Cream Liqueurs

Agwa Coca Herbal Liqueur

Ancho Reyes Chili Liqueur

Bärenjäger Honey & Bourbon

Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur

Berentzen Liqueurs

Berentzen Bushel & Barrel

The Bitter Truth Liqueurs

The Bitter Truth Pimento Dram

Bols Foam

Caffe Borghetti

Charbay Nostalgie Black Walnut Liqueur


Cointreau Noir

Crave Liqueurs

Crave Chocolate Truffle Liqueur

Domaine de Canton

Galliano L’Autentico

Galliano Ristretto

Godiva Dark Chocolate Liqueur

Heering Coffee Liqueur

Hiram Walker Caramel Apple Liqueur

Hiram Walker Triple Sec

House Spirits Coffee Liqueur

Jaan Liqueur

Kahlua Coffee Cream

The King’s Ginger

Kringle Cream

Licor 43

Love Potion #9

Lovoka Caramel Liqueur

Mama Walker’s Liqueurs

Mandarine Napoleon

Mandarine XO Grande Reserve

Marie Brizard Chocolat Royal

Mariposa Agave Nectar Liqueur

Original Canton Delicate Ginger Liqueur

Patron XO Cafe Dark

Pierre Ferrand Ancienne Methode Dry Curaçao

Punzoné Lemoncino

Pür Likör Liqueurs


Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur

Sorel Hibiscus Liqueur

St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Liqueur



Hitting U.S. shelves and backbars this autumn, The Nikka Whisky Distilling Company and U.S. importer Anchor Distilling Company introduce two new expressions that reflect the celebrated Japanese whisky company’s acclaimed distilleries: Yoichi Single Malt and Miyagikyo Single Malt, both non-age statement whiskies, each reflecting the unique characters of the respective distilleries – Yoichi, located on the northernmost island of Hokkaido, and Miyagikyo, near Sendai located in the northern part of main island, Honshu.

Considered the founding father of Japanese whisky, Masataka Taketsuru opened his first distillery, Yoichi, in 1934, located where the environs most closely resemble Scotland’s coastal distilleries, which offers briny flavor characteristics, and direct coal distillation with small pot stills is used to hark back to Scotland’s whisky production traditions, as studied by Taketsuru in 1918. Nikka’s second distillery, Miyagikyo, opened in 1969, is located in a river valley, thereby emulating the distilleries found in Scotland’s Speyside region; it employs indirect steam distillation and larger copper pot stills.

Miyagikyo Single Malt is distilled from 100% malted barley. Slightly peated with Sherry Cask influence. Aged in New American Oak, Ex-Bourbon Oak, Sherry Casks and many others, with the Sherry Casks providing a dominant flavor component. Notes of fruit and rich malts due to specifically selected yeasts.

Yoichi Single Malt is distilled from 100% malted barley. Portions of heavily peated malt aged in New American Oak, Sherry Casks and a variety of casks coopered in the Nikka cooperages. The terroir of the distillery introduces brininess from the ocean breeze.

Nikka Miyagikyo (90 proof)
Visual: Mild gold.
Nose: Notes of dark cherry, slight smoke, sherry cask and blackberry.
Taste: Smooth, round and initially quite fruity, but suddenly a blast of creosote hits, creating a BBQ glaze flavoring.  This then softly fades into a dry, salinity which acts as a palate cleanser.  Quite the journey.
Finish: Medium long with some of the malty notes making a late entrance.
Overall: Thought provoking, meditative and the kind of whisky that makes you contemplate.
GSN Rating: A

Nikka Yoichi (90 proof)
Visual: Light gold.
Nose: Dark, salty malt with a wood smoke patina finished with bright sherry.
Taste: Warm, sweet malt with just the right amount of peat smoke balanced by a sea salt briskness.  A touch of water brings out more delicate shades of dried apricot and Fuji apple.
Finish: Medium long with a lasting sweetness with a gentle kiss of peat.
Overall: Really well done and exceptionally blended.  One of the finest Nikka whiskies I’ve had the pleasure of tasting.  World class.
GSN Rating: A++

For more information go to: Nikka



Seeing as The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog in New York City has won top spot in the World’s Best Bar Competition in 2016, the appearance of this relatively new Irish whiskey seems timely.  Hell-Cat Maggie was the nom de plume of a female member of the ultra violent 1850’s Irish American street gang, the Dead Rabbits.  She apparently fought with tooth and nail, the former being filed into sharp fangs and the latter covered with brass claws.  I’m sure she was a fearsome sight to behold.

In any case, today she is still remembered in the 2002 Martin Scorsese film Gangs of New York, and now this whiskey which is made by the Cooley Distillery in County Louth, Ireland.  It is imported and bottled by the Phillips Distillery in Minnesota and is a blend of unmalted column still whiskey and malted pot still whiskey and aged for at least three years.

Hell-Cat Maggie Irish Whiskey (80 proof)
Visual: Light gold.
Nose: Malty with fresh-cut green apple, brown bread and gingerbread overtones.
Taste: Light, thin and a bit toasty.  Pleasant, but with very little character, and certainly no citrus or vanilla.
Finish: Medium long with a slightly sweet, bready quality.
Overall: A serviceable whiskey, but one that doesn’t stand out amongst the competition.  Definitely an entry-level Irish whiskey.
GSN Rating: B

Cara Seymour as Hell-Cat Maggie

Cara Seymour as Hell-Cat Maggie

img_2065There’s no evidence that this drink originated in a bar in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens, but who knows?  This is an aperitif-sized Manhattan spin-off that has got to be one of the simplest cocktails in the whole Mr. Boston Guide.

It’s a sweeter, less boozy and aggressive Manhattan at its core.  Actually, I think this is a wonderful way to start a cocktail party.  Batch a bunch of these and pass them out to guests as they arrive for a soiree.  I guarantee they will appeal to everyone who imbibes.

Carroll Cocktail
1.5oz brandy
0.75oz sweet vermouth
Garnish: maraschino cherry

Stir with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Add cherry.


I first heard of Oliver Pluff & Co. this past August when I attended BevCon in Charleston, South Carolina.  They were one of the local vendors who handed out free samples with a smile. Even though the temperatures outside were in the mid 80’s and humid, I never turn down an opportunity to try something new even if it’s a hot beverage.  So, I had a small cup of their Hot Toddy.  Just what I needed, actually.  It was the perfect way to begin my day.

The company followed up with me a few weeks later and sent me full size samples of their two hot toddy products, two of their mulling spice kits and a canister of their Bohea tea.  I had no idea what Bohea was, so I did a little research.

The word Bohea (BOO-hee) refers to tea in general during the early days of the colonies, being a blend of Pekoe, Orange Pekoe and Souchong.  Unbeknownst to me, the city of Charleston hosted their own version of a revolutionary “tea party” before the one that took place in Boston in December 1773.  Rather than dumping the imported tea into the Atlantic, they simply impounded it and then sold it to raise monies to finance the revolution.  A far better solution in my opinion.

The owner of Oliver Pluff & Co. is not one Mr. Pluff, but rather Mr. Kyle Brown.  He began his company in 2009.  Based on his research and interest in producing authentic colonial style tea blends, he made inroads with the Colonial Williamsburg organization in Virginia who were the first major buyer of his wares. Today, you can find his teas, toddies, wassails and myriad products across the United States at over 200 historic locales.

I believe that tea based cocktails and tea/spice infused spirits will be the next big thing to come along in the mixology world.  And why not?  We have alcoholic energy drinks. Why not go back to our colonial heritage to rediscover something that will be revolutionary in the 21st century?

We tried all of the items sent to us in the GSN offices this past week and loved them.  The products are beautifully packaged in tins (which can double as pencil holders or loose change canisters), and have a historical, vibrant quality.  The Hot Toddies (Orange Clove & Lemon Ginger) work great with any spirit, especially gin and blended Scotch; while the mulling spice kits can be used with cider or wine and become the base for a cocktail using Applejack/Calvados or grape brandy.  The Bohea tea works well on its own, but can also infuse a spirit like vodka or gin to give it an unusual twist. GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Oliver Pluff

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