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During the 19th Century, French travelers started to visit Japan, which had finally opened its doors to the West. A deep friendship blossomed between these two cultures known for their taste and sophistication, establishing a respectful and long-lasting complicity.

Heavensake sake is a reflection of this exchange. It is perhaps the first time a product has been jointly developed by both great Japanese masters and distinguished French creators. The world’s first Junmai Ginjo is blended by Régis Camus, cellar master of Piper-Heidsieck since 1994 and eight-time winner of the Sparkling Winemaker of the Year award, in collaboration with sake brewery Urakasumi,

Heavensake is made of rice, water and koji. It is three times less acidic than wine, gluten-free and contains no added sugars, sulphites or preservatives, the company says.  The Junmai Ginjo is a blend of three types of rice all from the same prefecture, Miyagi-ken: Yamadanishiki, Toyonishiki and Kuranohana rice.

GSN recommends that you try this for your next celebration as a change of pace from champagne or wine. With Valentine’s Day coming up in a few weeks, make sure you order a bottle now.

HeavenSake (15% ABV)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Sweet apple and plum notes with a hint of salinity. Quite fresh and vibrant.
Taste: Exceptionally smooth, with a light tang of tropical fruit. As the flavors expand, there is a soft salted melon-like quality that keeps the palate clean.
Finish: Elegant and fairly short. The after effect is of a lightly peppered, low alcohol vodka.
Overall: Definitely one of the better sakes on the market. Each aspect is well-balanced and in concert with one another.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Heavensake

 

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Today is National Hot Toddy Day!  A perfect day for it, since it’s only 15 degrees in Central New York at the moment.  The GSN desk was sent a few recipes to share with our readers.  Enjoy!

image001DRAMBUIE® Rusty Apple Toddy
In a coffee mug, add:
3 parts heated Apple Cider
1 part DRAMBUIE® Scotch Liqueur
Juice from one-quarter Lemon wedge

image002Stir briefly. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Hot Tully
1 oz Tullamore Dew
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
3 oz hot water

First warm a mug with hot water, then discard and combine ingredients above.  Stir before serving.
Options: Add fresh ginger for a bit of a bite, or infuse the simple syrup with fun flavors such as cinnamon and orange, or apple and ginger.

image003Milagro Hot Toddy
1.5 parts Milagro Anejo Tequila
1 part Agave Nectar
4 Cloves
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Whole Anise Star
4 parts Boiling Water
1 Lemon Wheel
Optional: Whipped cream

It’s looking to be a long winter, so why not curl up with a good book?  GSN presents the latest round-up of new titles coming out in the next three months.  Learn some new tricks, brush up on your knowledge, and try a new cocktail or two!

The Pocket Guide to Whisky by Blair Bowman (Birlinn Pocket Guides) The ever-expanding world of whisky can be a daunting one, with a deluge of new brands, distilleries and literature on the subject making it all but impossible for the amateur whisky drinker to find their feet in the industry. Following on from the bestselling Pocket Guide to Wine, Blair Bowman provides a compact and accessible, easy-to-use guide to help budding whisky enthusiasts on their way. Uniquely, The Pocket Guide to Whisky explores every kind of whisky, from the well known Scottish giants of Glenlivet, to the exotic Japanese Hibiki, and includes the ever-growing and hotly debated blended whiskies too! This little volume will tell you everything you need to know, from what to look for in whisky and what to avoid, to getting the best value for money to the perfect accompaniments to your dram and the ideal whisky for every occasion. From novice to expert, this guide enables whisky lovers to find out more about the brands they already like and to make informed choices as they explore further.

Whiskies Galore: A Tour of Scotland’s Island Distilleries by Ian Buxton (Birlinn Ltd) Island whiskies have long held a fascination and a powerful emotional draw on whisky drinkers the world over. Their special combination of heritage, mystique, and remote location captures the imagination; their highly distinctive flavours are often imitated but seldom bettered. There have been few books on island whisky and none written in recent years. But Whiskies Galore is not your average whisky book. It is not merely a catalogue of distilleries, but a story of discovery and adventure. Join Ian Buxton on a personal journey across Scotland’s islands, where he learns to shoot with high explosives, ends up hurling his dinner into the sea, and comes face to face with a basking shark. Combining an expert’s knowledge of whisky with a travel writer’s fondness for anecdote, and with a keen description of place, he provides a special treat for all who love the islands’ magical drams.

The Connoisseur’s Guide to Worldwide Spirits: Selecting and Savoring Whiskey, Vodka, Scotch, Rum, Tequila . . . and Everything Else (An Expert’s Guide … and Savoring Every Spirit in the World) by Richard Carleton Hacker (Skyhorse Publishing) Everyone thinks that they know how to drink, but do you really know the difference between a scotch and a whiskey? How about a gin or vodka martini? Do you know whether Johnny Walker is a single malt or a scotch? Well now is the time to finally learn the definitive answers to these questions, and so many more that you’ve always had about your favorite drinks. In The Connoisseur’s Guide to Worldwide Drinking, world-class connoisseur and celebrated critic Richard Carleton Hacker provides you with all the information that you’ll ever need to properly enjoy and imbibe very type of spirit, and to start drinking alcohol the right way. Complete more than a 100 full color photographs, The Connoisseur’s Guide to Worldwide Drinking is a perfect buy for every alcohol consumer, whether novice or aficionado. With The Connoisseur’s Guide to Worldwide Drinking you’ll be the most knowledgeable drinker in every bar that you walk into and at every cocktail party that you attend.

What a Swell Party It Was!: Rediscovering Food & Drink from the Golden Age of the American Nightclub by Michael Turback (Skyhorse Publishing) Opening this book is like swinging open the doors to another time and place, when big city life was a unique mixture of innocence and sophistication, romance and formality. It spotlights twenty-five legendary clubs that thrived in the 1930s and ’40s, just as Jazz exploded into mainstream popularity and alcohol was no longer illegal to serve. Through these pages and recipes, enter past the proverbial velvet rope into establishments forever-immortalized, such as Chez Paree in Chicago, Café Trocadero in Hollywood, The Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles, The Blue Room in New Orleans, and New York City’s Cotton Club. In addition to including entrée, appetizer, dessert, and cocktail recipes from their original menus, each featured venue will be introduced with vivid anecdotes and history, narrated in a breezy style and illustrated with reproductions of vintage photos.

Sunny’s Nights: Lost and Found at a Bar on the Edge of the World by Tim Sultan (Random House Trade Paperbacks) The first time he saw Sunny’s Bar, in 1995, Tim Sultan was lost, thirsty for a drink, and intrigued by the single bar sign among the forlorn warehouses lining the Brooklyn waterfront. Inside, he found a dimly lit room crammed with maritime artifacts, a dozen well-seasoned drinkers, and, strangely, a projector playing a classic Martha Graham dance performance. Sultan knew he had stumbled upon someplace special. What he didn’t know was that he had just found his new home. Soon enough, Sultan has quit his office job to bar tend full-time for Sunny Balzano, the bar’s owner. A wild-haired Tony Bennett lookalike with a fondness for quoting Shakespeare and Samuel Beckett, Sunny is truly one of a kind. Born next to the saloon that has been in his family for one hundred years, Sunny has over the years partied with Andy Warhol, spent time in India at the feet of a guru, and painted abstract expressionist originals. But his masterpiece is the bar itself, a place where a sublime mix of artists, mobsters, honky-tonk musicians, neighborhood drunks, nuns, longshoremen, and assorted eccentrics rub elbows. Set against the backdrop of a rapidly transforming city, Sunny’s Nights is a loving and singular portrait of the dream experience we’re all searching for every time we walk into a bar, and an enchanting memoir of an unlikely and abiding friendship.

Julep: Southern Cocktails Refashioned by Alba Huerta & Marah Stets (Lorena Jones Books) Craft cocktail maven Alba Huerta succinctly tells the story of drinking in the South through themes such as “Trading with the Enemy,” “the Rural South,” “the Drinking Society,” “the Saltwater South,” and others that anchor the menu at her destination bar, Julep. With historical overviews, 15 bar snack recipes, and 65 bespoke cocktail recipes, ranging from the iconic Mint Julep (and variations such as Rye Julep and Sparkling Julep) to modern inventions like the Snakebit Sprout, Liquid Currency, and Hot July, Huerta recounts the tales and traditions that define drinking culture in the American South today. Approximately 80 evocative cocktail and location photographs convey the romance and style that distinguish Julep and serve to inspire beverage enthusiasts to relive Southern history via the bar cart.

Belgian Abbey Beers by Jef Van den Steen (Lannoo Publishers) Belgian beer expert Jef Van den Steen looks at the history and production of all thirty Belgian abbey beers. What are the remarkable stories about this authentic, labor-intensive product? In which way are Trappist beers different from the others? In Belgian Abbey Beers, Jef Van den Steen unravels the different stages in the production process of the beers and talks very passionately about the origin and development of the various breweries within the walls or under the license of the abbey. Each brewery is presented with practical information, different types of beer, and tips for tourists. Photographer Andrew Verschetze magnificently captures the beers from the barrel to the glass.

 

 

Illustration by Alberto Vargas from Playboy magazine, March 1967

Illustration by Alberto Vargas from Playboy magazine, March 1967

What to kill that dull ache in your head after a night of too much Champagne?  What to eat on a queasy stomach?  How about the best of both worlds?  A drinkable foodstuff?  Enter January 1st’s national libation, the Bloody Mary (or if you prefer The Red Snapper).  Rather than going into the history behind the drink, although quite fascinating, instead today I will provide you with some of the original recipes as first published in the 40’s and 50’s and let you pick one that seems appealing.

Red Snapper – Cocktail Guide and Ladies Companion by Crosby Gaiges 1941
2oz tomato juice
2oz vodka
½ teaspoon Worcestershire
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
1 dash of lemon juice
Salt, pepper and red pepper to taste
Shake well and serve in a Delmonico glass

Bloody Mary – Stork Club Bar Book by Lucius Beebe 1946
3oz Vodka
6oz Tomato Juice
2 Dashes of Angostura bitters
Juice of half a lemon
Shake together with ice or mix in Waring mixer and serve cold in highball glass

Bloody Bloody Mary – Bottoms Up! by Ted Saucier 1951
1½ oz Vodka
3oz Tomato
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
Juice of ½ lemon
Dash celery salt
Shake and serve in an Old Fashioned glass over a lump of ice, garnish with a mint sprig

Bloody Mary – Esquire’s Drink Book by Frederic Birmingham 1956
8oz Tomato Juice
3oz Vodka
Juice of two lemons
White of one egg
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 celery leaves
4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce

Dom Perignon

Dom Perignon

It’s no surprise that National Champagne Day is on New Year’s Eve.  But, how did it come to be associated with the holiday? 

Originally, Champagne wines were “still” or non-carbonated.  Barreled and usually consumed within a year, the yeasts lay dormant during the winter months.  However, with increased production, more wine meant sitting longer in barrels as the seasons warmed thereby reactivating the yeast.  If you know about fermentation, you know that yeast produces carbon dioxide.  So, these long-barreled wines gradually gained a sparkling, bubbly quality.

The man on the left (Dom Perignon) was the person responsible for a few important milestones in the history of Champagne.  First, he started bottling these wines instead of leaving them in barrels.  He also came up with a way to cork the bottle and secure it with heavy string.  King Louis XV eventually decreed that all Champagne had to be bottled, and other French wines had to remain in barrels.

With the novel effervescence, Champagne caught on in a big way in Europe and eventually the world.  At first it was out of reach of the middle and lower classes simply due to price.  Many bottles were broken, exploded or leaked, so that it was often merely good luck that bottles arrived safe and sound in shops around the globe.  This drove the price up.  The noble wealthy being habitual partiers, of course bought plenty of Champagne for their private functions.  By the time of the industrial revolution however, the nouveau riche wanted their share of the fun and began buying bottles for special occasions; weddings, anniversaries and of course, New Year’s Eve.

Today, almost anyone can buy a bottle of sparkling wine, many good ones are made in California, Spain and Italy.  But, to taste true Champagne, you must buy it from France.  Expect to pay in the low to mid three figures for a Vintage Champagne, or pick up a non-vintage bottle for under $40. Cheers!

With only one day to go until Christmas, there’s not enough time to order gifts.  So, we to suggest some items that we’ve rated highly this year that you can find in your local liquor store (hopefully).  For our last day of the GSN 2017 Advent Gift Guide, we’re focusing on the 18 spirited products that received a GSN Rating of A+ or higher (97-100) during 2017.

    1. C3 Carciofo Artichoke Liqueur
    2. Cannon Beach Distillery Il Keyote Agave Spirit
    3. Frey Ranch Barrel Finished Gin No. 1
    4. Glenmorangie Bacalta
    5. Highland Park Fire Edition Single Malt Scotch Whisky
    6. High Wheeler 21 Year Old Single Grain
    7. Kanon Organic Vodka
    8. Kavalan Amontillado Single Cask Whisky
    9. Kavalan Manzanilla Single Cask Whisky
    10. Little Book “The Easy” Whiskey
    11. Marble Distilling Co. Gingercello Reserve
    12. Old Potrero Hotaling’s 11 Year Old Whiskey
    13. Parker’s Heritage Collection 11-Year-Old Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
    14. Purus Organic Vodka
    15. Stranahan’s Sherry Cask Single Malt Whiskey
    16. Union Horse Reunion Barrel Strength Rye Whiskey
    17. Virginia Distillery Co. Port Finished Virginia Highland Malt
    18. Whistlepig Farmstock Rye Whiskey

With only two days to go until Christmas Eve, there’s not enough time to order gifts.  So, until then, we’re going to suggest some items that we’ve rated highly this year that you can find in your local liquor store (hopefully).  For Day 23, we’re focusing on the 30 spirited products that received a GSN Rating of A (93) during 2017.

  1. Amarula Cream Liqueur
  2. Corbin Cash Sweet Potato Liqueur
  3. Deadhead Dark Chocolate Rum
  4. Don Ciccio & Figli Nocino Walnut Liqueur
  5. Don Ciccio & Figli Amaro delle Sirene
  6. Dunedin DoubleCask 16 Year Old
  7. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch No. A117
  8. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch No. B517
  9. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch No. C917
  10. El Tesoro 80th Anniversary Limited Edition
  11. Frisco Brandy
  12. Galliano L’Aperitivo
  13. Haikara Yuzu Sake
  14. Highland Park Valkyrie
  15. Hirsch Small Batch 8 Year Old High Rye Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  16. Jura 10-Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
  17. Kavalan Pedro Ximénez Single Cask Whisky
  18. Laphroaig Cairdeas Quarter Cask 2017 Edition
  19. Lucid Absinthe
  20. The Macallan Edition No. 1
  21. The Macallan Edition No. 2
  22. Tap 357 Maple Rye Whisky
  23. Marble Distilling Co. Vodka
  24. Marble Distilling Co. Gingercello
  25. McKenzie Single Barrel Rye Whiskey
  26. Montanya Exclusiva Rum
  27. Redemption Wheated Bourbon
  28. South Island 25 Year Old Single Malt
  29. Union Horse Rolling Standard Four Grain Whiskey
  30. Westland Distillery’s 2017 Peat Week Commemorative Bottling
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