GSN Alert: July 10th – National Piña Colada Day

other-caribe-pina-coladaPiña Colada translates to “strained pineapple”, but of course there’s more to it than that.  In fact, the cream of coconut is key to achieving the perfect balance of tropical flavors.  Coco López which was invented in 1948 in Puerto Rico by Don Ramon Lopez Irizarry.  The canned coconut product soon found its way around the country’s bars and by 1954 it was used at the Caribe Hilton Hotel’s Beachcomber Bar in San Juan.  One of the hotel’s bartenders, Ramón ‘Monchito’ Marrero Pérez (pictured at left), it generally the person credited with inventing the classic silver-age cocktail. Twenty-four years later, the Puerto Rican government recognized the Piña Colada as the national drink.

Here’s the original recipe as specified by Ramón Pérez.

“Pour 3 ounces of coconut cream, 6 ounces of pineapple juice and 112 ounces of white rum into a blender or shaker with crushed ice, and blend or shake very well until smooth. Pour into chilled glass, garnish with pineapple wedge and/or a maraschino cherry.”

The Caribe Hilton Hotel still serves the original, but also offers a molecular mixology version which contains coconut oil infused white rum, clarified pineapple juice, house made pineapple syrup and coconut water, served with a coconut ice pop.

Now I’m thirsty.  ¡Salud!

GSN Brews News: July 7th 2020 Edition

Portland, Oregon’s Cascade Brewing Company has launched Patio Paradise, a new sour ale. The 5.5% abv wheat ale is aged in oak for up to 10 months and infused with grapefruit zest, basil, coriander, and sea salt. The brew is available on draft and in 4-packs of 12-ounce cans at Cascade’s Portland locations as well as throughout its distribution footprint. The brewery has also announced a new series called Sour Slushies. The drinks are made from Cascade’s ales blended with fruit juice and served frozen. The Slushies launch on July 8 and will be available at the Cascade Brewing Barrel House and through the brewery’s online store.

White Plains, New York-based Paulaner USA has launched Grapefruit Radler in the U.S. The 2.5% abv beer is a 50-50 blend of Paulaner’s München Lager and a grapefruit infusion. The beer is rolling out now in 4-packs of 16.9-ounce cans. It joins the rest of the Paulaner family of beers, including Hefe-Weizen, Oktoberfest Märzen, and Oktoberfest Bier, among others.

Oregon’s 2 Towns Ciderhouse has introduced Good Limes Roll, a new offering made with fresh-pressed Northwest apples and blended with key limes and organic blue agave nectar. The 5.6% abv cider is rolling out in 500-ml. bottles and kegs across Oregon, Washington, California, Alaska, Idaho, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, Montana, and Arizona. 2 Towns’ core ciders include Brightcider, Pacific Pineapple, Easy Squeezy Raspberry Lemonade cider, and Prickly Pearadise prickly pear cider, among others.

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Spirited News: July 7th 2020 Edition

The Macallan has expanded its Double Cask range, adding 15 and 18-year old expressions to the lineup. The two new whiskies are bottled at 43% abv and are matured in Sherry-seasoned casks made from European and American oak. The 15-year-old whisky will retail for around $135 and the 18-year-old is positioned at $330. Both are rolling out now across the U.S.

Volley, a new Tequila-based hard seltzer, has launched in New York, New Jersey, and Florida. The 5.25% abv seltzers come in four flavors—Zesty Lime, Spicy Ginger, Sharp Grapefruit, and Tropical Mango—and are made with three ingredients: 100% blue agave Tequila, sparkling water, and organic juice. Each 12-ounce serving contains between 100 and 110 calories. At retail, 4-packs (variety and single flavor) are available for $11.99 instore, $13.99 online (to ship nationwide).

Bombay Sapphire is launching its first artist-designed bottle. The brand collaborated with Chicago-based artist Hebru Brantley, who brought his street art and Afro-Futurist influences to the design of the bottle. An extension of Bombay’s “Stir Creativity” campaign, the launch of Hebru Brantley Limited Edition will benefit the Chicago chapter of the Black Lives Matter organization. It is available now in select states and on Reserve Bar, retailing for a suggested $23 a 750-ml.

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily

Sting Like A Beer Brandy Barrel Honey Ale

Goodwood Brewing Company’s Sting Like a Beer, encased in an artistic tribute to Louisville native Muhammad Ali, is brewed with locally sourced honey and aged in brandy barrels. Using the solera method, Sting Like A Beer is a blend of various aged Honey Ale to provide unique flavors from each stage. ABV:8.7/IBU:33

GSN’s Thoughts: Wow, this is a powerhouse of flavor. Not nearly as sweet as you might suspect, the barrel aging tempers down the honey and at the same time mutes the typical hoppiness of an ale. This is a beer that needs a long enjoyment, not only for the high ABV, but also the overall chewiness which approaches the body of an Imperial. Goodwood has always had an interesting approach to their beers, and this latest expression is no exception. GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Goodwood Beer


GSN Review: Guillotine Vodka

Guillotine is an all French spirit crafted from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay grapes, chosen from vineyards in the Aÿ-Champagne wine region. The grapes are handpicked, de-seeded, pressed, then fermented and slowly distilled in a 100-year-old distillery following standards of traditional French expertise that preserve the subtleties of the fruit.

Guillotine Originale Ultra Premium Vodka is a classic, clear vodka made from the finest Champagne-region grapes.

Guillotine Heritage Barrel-Aged Vodka is a unique “aged” vodka. This is the only French vodka from Champagne-region vineyards aged in oak barrels.

Guillotine Originale Vodka (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Bright and crisp with a slight grape nose.
Taste: Exceptionally smooth entry with a soft, near creamy mouthfeel. Light in minerality, the body is more akin to a highly refined, yet unaged fruit brandy. Towards the end, there are some peppery notes which last for some time.
Finish: A dry and quick finish.
Overall: A very well done vodka, and one that has gotten rave reviews around the GSN offices. We like everything about it.
GSN Rating: A

Guillotine Barrel-Aged Vodka (90 proof)
Visual: Bright copper.
Nose: Woody notes bring a curiously dessert-like nose. Think spice-cake, cinnamon bread and autumnal baking spices.
Taste: The cask aging creates an entirely different affair with flavors of young tobacco, burnt sugar, creme brulee and oak itself. The overall effect is of a very young aged brandy that hasn’t quite smoothed out all of the wrinkles.
Finish: Fairly long, with a lot of wood flavors staying on.
Overall: It’s hard not to like this one. It begs for contemplation and slow sipping. I can see how this would be a perfect vodka to use in a aromatic cocktail. A well done effort.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Guillotine Vodka

Father’s Day French Julep
1.25 oz. Guillotine Heritage
Muddled Persimmon
0.25 oz. Sherry
0.5 oz. Honey
Build in rocks glass
Garnish with Persimmon and Mint Leaves

GSN Alert: July 2nd – National Anisette Day



Really?  National Anisette Day?  Ok…

Anise (an herb) actually has a fairly storied history with liquor as it is used as a flavoring agent in absinthe, aguardiente, arak, Jagermiester, ouzo, pastis, raki, and most likely Chartreuse.  Be that as it may, anisette as a solo liquor is fairly obscure in 21st century mixology.  The GSN offices only have one old dusty bottle that is pulled out for obscure cocktails that no has imbibed in decades.  Thus, I have relatively little to say on the subject other than to recommend a few brands that you can probably find at your local liquor store.

Try looking for Anís del Mono, Marie Brizard, Pernod, or if all else fails, Sambuca.  These are best served watered down with a bit of ice-cold water until the liqueur becomes cloudy, known as louching.  A glass of this can be quite refreshing as an after dinner beverage.

GSN Review: Natural Blonde Bloody Mary Mix

John Aquino is a native Charlestonian and the creative founder of Natural Blonde Bloody Mary. After traveling around the country as a mixologist, he decided to return to Charleston to continue his bartending career. John has made quite a name for himself, winning 5-Bacardi Mojito Challenges and competing in the Cabana Cachaca world finals in Rio de Janeiro. He was one of the 14 mixologists asked to compete in the “Bloody Mary Throw Down” at the Official Bridge Run After Party of 2012, and it was there that he debuted the prototype of what was to become Natural Blonde Bloody Mary. He wanted to create something new, light, and refreshing; remembering a Yellow Tomato Gazpacho he once had at Hank’s Seafood, made by Executive Chef Frank McMahon, and using that as his inspiration, he created his unique mix.

After winning the Bloody Mary competition, and after many requests for his recipe, Aquino decided to create a marketable mix for retail sale in local stores. Since his mix uses fresh tomatoes (as opposed to canned or even paste, as the majority of retail mixes do), he had to experiment with multiple types of yellow tomatoes to find the right balance of acidity, water content, and flavor. After two years of testing, he finally reached his favorites when he came upon the Valencia Gold and Carolina Gold Tomatoes, which he sources locally. Wanting to add to the flavor, with the help of some chef friends, he created a green hot sauce as well as a sweet-hot pickle juice, and with a few more ingredients, a final mix was created.

GSN’s Thoughts: Everything tastes fresh, fresh, fresh, as if made minutes before. Initially tart with bright vinegar and tangy with juicy tomato, the mix goes through several stages of flavor. Nicely balanced, the jalapeno adds a friendly warmth to the blend. Lastly, some of the spices come through adding a lot of top notes and savory characteristics. As if all of that weren’t enough, we absolutely love the color of the tomato puree. This is a mix that joyfully pops out of the glass. Having tasted dozens of Bloody Mary mixes over the years, this one is our favorite. Highly recommended!
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Natural Blonde Bloody Mary

GSN Review: Miru Vodka & Rex Whiskey

Miru is a vodka made from Pacific Cascades spring water and grain, distilled multiple times. Originating from an old wives tale about the Saurian goddess of the sea and inspired by female dominance and divine stature, each bottle of Miru features the goddess form, signifying the beauty of the bottles and the power of the drinks. Miru also is available in a pear flavored version. Rex Rye Whiskey is aged in charred Bordeaux wine barrels.

In September 2020, their parent company Royalty Spirits will host the first ever Women In Business Expo with registered women vendors from across the county, introducing women-owned brands to new opportunities, enhancing consumer awareness and igniting a movement towards women-owned companies. The Women In Business Expo will not only celebrate the bounty of women creators, but also facilitate long-lasting business relationships.

GSN’s Thoughts: Miru Vodka is very straightforward with a smooth entry and a mineral/rainwater character. There is no sweetness or bitterness. Miru Pear Vodka has an intense pear flavor, but seems more like a natural flavoring than a natural pear flavor. This would be best in a mixed drink. Rex Whiskey is light, smooth and has a slight molasses character. The Bordeaux cask aging adds a level of char that intensifies the offering. Again, more of a mixer than a straight sipper.

GSN Ratings:

Miru Vodka B
Miru Pear Vodka C+
Rex Whiskey B-

For more information go to: Miru Vodka and Rex Whiskey

GSN Review: Royalty Spirits CBD Mixers

Chaunci King of Royalty Spirits, the first African American woman to own a spirits company in the Pacific Northwest, recently debuted three non-alcoholic one-of-a-kind cocktail mixers infused with CBD, for teas, iced coffees, mocktails and more with full mobile bartending services.

There are three flavors Exotic Berry, Sweet & Sour, and Vanilla & Ginger. Each is infused with 25mg of CBD.

In September 2020, the company will host the first ever Women In Business Expo with registered women vendors from across the county, introducing women-owned brands to new opportunities, enhancing consumer awareness and igniting a movement towards women-owned companies. The Women In Business Expo will not only celebrate the bounty of women creators, but also facilitate long-lasting business relationships.

GSN’s Thoughts: The vanilla-ginger has a slight sour tang, and a soft ginger heat. The vanilla comes through nicely and has a lasting smoothness. The sweet and sour has a citrus bite that is mouthwatering and reminds me of lemon-lime candies. Lastly, the exotic berry has a lot of fresh strawberry character. Tasty and summery. Each of these will work really well in a gin, vodka, blanco tequila or an interesting addition to a sparkling wine.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Royalty Spirits

GSN Brews News: June 30th 2020 Edition

Empty wooden table platform and bokeh at night

Illinois-based Destihl Brewing is introducing a hard seltzer lineup this summer. The 5% abv seltzers will be packaged in 16-ounce cans in a variety 8-pack featuring four flavors: Agave Lime (made with agave nectar and lime peel), Lemon Ginger (ginger root and lemon peel), Piña Colada (pineapple and coconut purees), and Raspberry Lime (lime peel and raspberry puree). Destihl’s new hard seltzer range will hit some Illinois markets by late July, followed by shipments in August to the brewery’s entire distribution footprint of 37 states, plus Washington D.C.

Comstock Park, Michigan’s Perrin Brewing Company has launched a new variety pack featuring its Clear Coast line of hard seltzer. The 12-pack features Strawberry Kiwi, Orange Passion, and Pineapple Papaya flavored seltzers, all at 5% abv and containing 100 calories per 12-ounce can. The variety 12-pack is now available at the Perrin Pub and in retail shops across Michigan.

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Spirited News: June 30th 2020 Edition

Beam Suntory has relaunched Old Tub, one of the oldest brands from the James B. Beam Distilling Co., as a limited release Bonded Bourbon. The 50% abv whiskey is non-chill filtered and calls back over 140 years to the early days of Beam. Previous bottlings of Old Tub were exclusively available at Jim Beam’s visitor center. Old Tub is rolling out now across the U.S. for a suggested price of $23 a 750-ml. and will be available at select retailers for a limited time.

Constellation Brands has officially launched a new line of Svedka flavors called Pure Infusions. The 30% abv spirit comes in three flavors—Strawberry Guava, Ginger Lime, and Dragonfruit Melon—each containing 70 calories per 1.5-ounce pour. The trio is available nationwide in 750-ml. and 1-liter bottles for a suggested price of $15 and $16, respectively.

The Equiano Rum Co. has launched its flagship expression in the U.S. A blend of rums from two distilleries—Gray’s in Mauritius and Foursquare in Barbados—Equiano retails at $60. At Gray’s, the rum is made from local molasses and barreled for a minimum of 10 years in a combination of French Limousin oak and ex-Cognac casks; the finished product is then sent to Barbados to be married and barreled with rum from Foursquare. Equiano is named after Nigerian-born writer, entrepreneur, and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano, and will be giving 5% of profits to freedom and equality projects.

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Alert: June 30th – National Mai Tai Day

Legend about the origins of the Mai Tai has it that Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt, the founding father of America’s South Pacific-styled tiki restaurants, bars and nightclubs claimed to have created it in 1933 at his then-new bar named Don the Beachcomber (later a famous restaurant) in Hollywood.

However his rival, Victor Bergeron, also known as ‘Trader Vic’, claimed to have invented it in 1944 at his Oakland California restaurant. He used Jamaican rum, fresh lime, orange curacao, a dash of rock candy sugar, and French orgeat syrup, then garnished it with lime and mint. It’s said he tested his newly concocted drink on two Tahitian friends and upon tasting it, one of his guests exclaimed in Tahitian “Mai Tai-Roa Aé!” meaning ‘out of this world, it’s the best!’ and so the cocktail was named. Trader Vic is said to have charged 44 cents for a Mai Tai, in honour of the year it was invented.

To back up his claim, he had the friends for whom he invented the drink, sign affidavits swearing it to be true. Cocktail historians and theoreticians have battled ever since as to whose claim is more authentic.

GSN Brews News: June 23rd 2020 Edition

Ventura, California-based Flying Embers has announced three new flavors of hard kombucha, part of what the company is calling the Flight Series. The new flavors are Blueberry Cassis (7% abv), Rhodiola Rose (7% abv), and Watermelon Basil (4.5% abv), which also has added sea salt. The new releases are available from the company’s taproom as well as throughout its distribution footprint in 16-ounce cans.

San Francisco-based 21st Amendment Brewery has debuted Soma, a new hard seltzer brand. Rolling out now across 21st Amendment’s 30-state footprint, Soma is at 4.8% abv and comes in Watermelon, Guava & Passion Fruit, Mango, and Black Cherry flavors, containing 100 calories a 12-ounce can.

Vermont-based Citizen Cider is launching a new range of hard seltzers. Citizen Seltzer is debuting in three varieties—Apple All Day, Ginger Love, and Lemon Spritz—across Citizen’s 14-state footprint. Made using only local ingredients from Vermont, the new offerings are at 5% abv and come in at 100 calories, 2 grams of carbs, and 1 gram of sugar a 16-ounce can. A mixed pack will join the launch starting next month. Citizen’s core cider range includes the traditional semi-dry Unified Press, ginger-infused The Dirty Mayor, dry-hopped The Lake Hopper, and dry ale-style Wit’s Up varieties.

Longmont, Colorado-based Oskar Blues Brewery has launched Death by Affogato Porter. The 6.5% abv beer is brewed with chocolate malt, malted oats, vanilla, lactose, cacao nibs, and coffee sourced from Colorado’s Traction Coffee Roasters. Affogato is the second release in the Death by Porter series, following January’s Death by King Cake. The beer is now available across the U.S. in 4-packs of 12-ounce cans.

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Spirited News: June 23rd 2020 Edition

Lawrenceburg, Indiana-based MGP has announced the latest limited edition of George Remus Bourbon, set to launch in September. Remus Repeal Reserve Series IV is bottled at 50% abv and is made from two mashbills distilled in 2008. 77% of the blend is a Bourbon made with 21% rye; the remainder is a whiskey with 36% rye content. The new limited edition will retail for around $85 a 750-ml. and will begin rolling out in September, reaching full distribution by Repeal Day in early December.

San Diego, California’s Cutwater Spirits has launched Rum Mint Mojito, the latest addition to the company’s line of canned cocktails. The 5.9% abv offering is made using Cutwater’s white rum, cane sugar, mint, and soda water. The gluten-free drink is the 19th entry in Cutwater’s line of canned cocktails and is now available in California, New York, and Florida in 4-packs of 12-ounce cans for around $10.

Azulana, a canned sparkling Tequila cocktail, has expanded to a number of new markets, including Texas, Tennessee, Indiana, and Minnesota. The brand initially launched in Los Angeles last year and has since extended its range throughout Southern California. Produced in Guadalajara by Pure Azul Beverage Co., the 100%-blue agave cocktails are at 4.3% abv and come in Original, Lime, and Pineapple Rosemary flavors. Further additions to Azulana’s distribution territory are in the works for later this summer.

E.&J. Gallo has expanded its spirits portfolio with the addition of luxury Tequila brand Don Fulano. Gallo is now the exclusive U.S. importer for the upscale brand, owned by the Fonseca family. The Don Fulano range includes Blanco ($50), Blanco Fuerte 100 Proof ($60), Reposado ($60), Añejo ($80), and Don Fulano Imperial Extra Añejo ($190). The brand’s Tequilas are made using a dual distillation process, comprised of a double column still and a traditional copper pot still.

Rigby, Idaho-based Blue Ice Vodka has introduced a new flavored expression. Made with non-GMO Idaho potatoes and Idaho Mountain huckleberries, Blue Ice Huckleberry is bottled at 80 proof and contains 57 calories an ounce. The new offering joins Potato and Organic Wheat vodkas in the Blue Ice lineup, all of which are available in 29 states in 1-liter, 750-ml., and 50-ml. bottles.

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily