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Allons-y!

Andy Heidel immediately creates a welcoming atmosphere in his book with the line “Making drinks should be fun. Drinking them? Even more fun”. Guide to the Cocktail Galaxy is a whirlwind of recipes, anecdotes, hints, and much much more. Heidel invites seasoned professionals, social drinkers, and amateurs to try their hand at mixing one of over 100 geek-themed concoctions. From fan favorites such as Game of Thrones and Star Wars to the underground followings of Farscape or Lost in Space, Heidel includes a unique cocktail creation or variation on a classic for you. You are  welcomed on the first page just as kindly as if you were to visit the famous Doctor Who Bar in Brooklyn, NY [The Way Station].

Heidel seamlessly weaves humor throughout with personal stories about his first “cocktail” to the mobile bar he created in high school. We here at Good Spirits News enjoyed reading about each cocktail and it’s creation, and we enjoyed tasting some of these cocktails even more! The book is equal parts mixology and hilarity with a heavy dash of geek thrown in.  However, the garnish on top of everything are the clever comments included with each recipe. If you explore Heidel’s world of spirits and liquors, he will “entertain and educate you along the way”. As the Doctor would say, “Geronimo!”

Review by Autumn Ellen Rose

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While superfoods have been around for ages, the demand for easy, tasty ways to embrace their powers has never been greater. Moreover, sophisticated consumers are interested in ingredients they can pronounce, served as close to farm-to-table as possible. But not everyone has time to grow and prepare a healthy diet from scratch. And for beverage enthusiasts looking to follow the latest trend of using vegetables in custom beverages whether they be cocktails or mocktails, Beetology is an easy option.

“Beets are the new pomegranate,” said Charles Herzog, Chief Beetologist and VP of New Business Development at Kayco, producer of Beetology beverages. “Chefs, foodies, health-conscious folks, and even athletes have been tapping into the versatile beet in creative new ways.” Even Martha Stewart is getting into the act, he added. “Her latest cookbook has a Chocolate Beet Cake! She says pureed beets made it extra moist and not overly sweet.”

That’s where Beetology’s new line of craft beverages comes in. These sweet, organic, cold-pressed juices are made from nothing but beets and a handful of other 100% natural, good-for-you ingredients like ginger, veggies, and fruit.

Every grab-and-go bottle of Beetology is 100% non-GMO, U.S.D.A. Certified Organic, and Certified Fair Trade. Each variety is non-soy, non-dairy, and certified kosher, with no preservatives, additives, artificial colors, or flavors. Find Beetology in the refrigerated section at health food, specialty, grocery, and kosher food markets.

Beetology comes in five blends. Here are GSN’s thoughts on each:

  • Beet + Lemon + Ginger – At first the sweet beet flavor seems to be all there is, but after a few seconds, a very slight ginger kick paired with some tart citrus comes out. But, it’s all very subtle and reticent. I’d like to see the spiciness ramped up some more here. Still, try this with some ginger beer and vodka for a bespoke beet-y Moscow Mule. GSN Rating: B
  • Beet + Veggie – Medium sweet with a slightly grainy texture. This would make an interesting alternative for a Bloody Mary base. GSN Rating: B+
  • Beet + Tropical Fruit – This is an odd one. Kind of like a beet flavored pina colada. It’s the coconut flavor stands out more than anything. I’m not sure where this might work other than an odd rum based cocktail. GSN Rating: B-
  • Beet + Berry – Definite berry flavor with a slight tartness. I like this one quite a bit and can see it working well with rums, vodkas and even some bourbons. GSN Rating: A-
  • Beet + Cherry – Fairly tart and bright with cherry flavor. This would make a surprisingly good non-traditional shandy when used with a lager, or used as a splash in a tiki style punch. GSN Rating: B

For more information go to Kayco

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Cocktail & Sons is the brainchild of Max Messier – an award-winning bartender and spirits consultant based currently in New Orleans, LA – along with his wife and co-founder Lauren Myerscough – a service industry veteran with focus on bar management and consulting services. Over the course of six years, Max produced a range of original and inventive syrups, cordials and tea concentrates for a variety of bars and restaurants in New York City, NY and New Orleans, LA.

With a successful track record of producing notable cocktail programs in high-profile bars and restaurants, Max decided to focus his culinary efforts towards revitalizing the forgotten relic of the concept called a “Home Bar” taught to him by his paternal grandparents during his halcyon days of youth behind their custom-built “wet” bar in their house. During his days “behind the stick” working in bars and restaurants, Max would always advise his bar patrons on how to build a proper Daiquiri or prepare a whiz-bang Old Fashioned in their home.

Max decided to pull out all of the recipes he had concocted over the years to produce a line of all-natural and handcrafted syrups designed for classic cocktails including Old Fashioned, Daiquiri, Mojito, Tom Collins, Margarita, Gimlet and new-fangled modern cocktails. In addition, the syrups could be used as base components for refreshing sodas. With the assistance of his wife and co-founder Lauren, the syrups were tweaked and jiggered and brought to life as excellent components for classic cocktails.

All of the syrups are produced with natural ingredients and real sugars – no additives, coloring agents or artificial additives – combined with original recipes plus each product was tested and approved by our bartender brethren across the United States of America.

Cocktail & Sons Watermelon & Thai Basil Syrup – This is a perfect summertime refresher. If your thing is sours, this adds an interesting twist with a fresh watermelon flavor. The color is pretty and with either a basil leaf or as suggested a mint leaf as a garnish, the presentation is elegant. We particularly enjoyed the watermelon flavor when balanced with the citrus. The Thai basil was minimal, but added just enough herbality to work in place of a bittering agent. Note: We made a few of the recommended gin based cocktails as indicated on the label. The first one came out a bit too sweet, so we added an extra quarter ounce of lemon juice and it seemed more balanced.

GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Cocktail & Sons

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Good Spirits News has always been a fan of keeping drinks delicious. One of the best ways to do so is to keep a cold beer just that, cold. During the hot summer days when picnics and concerts abound in the warm sunshine, keeping a drink cold can be a struggle. Enter the FlexiKooler. A truly innovative product by Stubby Strip to keep drinks both cold and convenient. The item itself is able to adapt to a wide variety of shapes and sizes by being both flexible and containing lengths of velcro which will allow someone to simply attach extra pieces to add extra space. The attached handle is comfortable and definitely makes carrying your can, 6 pack, or any number pack much more convenient. The highlight of this product was how long it kept our beverages cold. In the time it took for us to sip our beverages we didn’t notice any significant drops in temperature. This is a well thought out product, and is recommended for anyone who will be out enjoying the warm summer with a cold drink.

GSN Rating: A-

Review by Kieran Jerome Matthew

For more information go to: Stubby Strip

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Time for our quarterly round-up of the best new books designed to slake your thirst for knowledge. Whether your interest is in spirits, cocktails, ciders, barware, food and beverage pairings, you’ll find it here. There’s even a book for the cat lover.

As Grouch Marx once said, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

Cheers~!

Mezcal: The History, Craft & Cocktails of the World’s Ultimate Artisanal Spirit by Emma Janzen (Voyageur Press: July 14, 2017) Produced in Mexico for centuries but little known elsewhere until recent years, mezcal has captured the imagination of spirits enthusiasts with its astonishing complexities. And while big liquor is beginning to jump aboard the bandwagon, most mezcal is still artisanal in nature, produced using small-batch techniques handed down for generations, often with agave plants harvested in the wild. Join author Emma Janzen as she presents an engaging primer on all things mezcal: its long history, the craft of distilling it, and a thorough guide to many of the most common agaves used in production and how they shape the resulting spirit. In addition, top mezcal bars across the United States and Mexico contribute a selection of nearly fifty cocktails that accentuate its distinguishing qualities. Beautifully produced and authoritatively written, this is the definitive guide to exploring and unraveling the mysteries of this extraordinary handcrafted spirit.

The Cocktail Competition Handbook by Andy Ives (Mixellany Limited: July 15, 2017) So you want to win a global cocktail championship or for that matter even a local one. Whether you‘re a first-timer or a grizzled veteran of the cocktail competition circuit, it never hurts to hone your skills to a sharp edge thanks to the tips and tricks in The Cocktail Competition Handbook by Andy Ives. Editor of the BarLifeUK website and an active competition judge, Ives offers up sound advice selecting the right competition to enter, creating a drink, devising a presentation, and then delivering it to a judging panel. He also discusses how to promote you and your drink entry through social media promotion, marketing, and through understanding the needs of competition sponsors. He also discusses perceived competition politics. For competition organisers and brand personnel, The Cocktail Competition Handbook is an easy reference on the ins and outs of putting together a successful competition with more entries than you can possibly imagine. For judges, it is a reminder as to what competitors experience before they hit the stage and a reminder of what a good competition judge is intended to achieve. Set within the inspirational, instructive, and even at times irreverent content of Ives’ writing, The Cocktail Competition Handbook is a ready reference that should be in the competition war chest for every aspiring cocktail champion.

Spirit of the Cane by Jared McDaniel Brown & Anistatia Renard Miller (Mixellany Limited: July 30, 2017) Nine years after they first published their first history of Cuban rum, authors Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown have finished scouring libraries, archives, and databases gleaning as much of the truth about the origins of Cuban rum. Their findings include some rather eye-opening discoveries about the contributions made by Spanish, French, British, and Dutch sources that positioned this seductive spirit ahead of other Caribbean spirits by seeking and adapting new technologies and techniques to its production which is appreciated around the globe. Miller and Brown have also unearthed new evidence as to the origins of classic Cuban mixed drinks including the Mojito, Daiquirí, El Presidente, Cuba Libre, and Piña Colada. This revised and expanded discussion offers a fresh approach to the study of both Cuban rum’s remarkable history and the people who created a genre of mixed drinks that have achieved universal appeal. As the category continues to grow and mature, the authors present compelling reasons why Cuban rum does not live only on its past merits but shines with a brilliant future in the hands of a new generation of international bartenders.

Modern Cider: Simple Recipes to Make Your Own Ciders, Perries, Cysers, Shrubs, Fruit Wines, Vinegars, and More by Emma Christensen (Ten Speed Press: August 22, 2017) Homebrew guru Emma Christensen presents accessible hard cider recipes with modern flavor profiles that make for perfect refreshments across the seasons. This lushly photographed cookbook features recipes for basic ciders, traditional ciders from around the world, cider cousins like perry, and innovative ideas that take ciders to the next level with beer-brewing techniques and alternative fruits. With Christensen’s simple, friendly tone and 1-gallon and 5-gallon options, this book’s fresh and fizzy recipes prove that cider-brewing is truly the easiest homebrewing project–much easier than brewing beer–with delicious, fruit-forward results! So whether you’re a home cook trying your hand at a batch of simple Supermarket Cider or homemade Apple Cider Vinegar, a city dweller fresh from a day of apple picking in the countryside, or a homebrewer ready to move on to the next brewing frontier with Bourbon Barrel-Aged Cider and Spiced Apple Shrub, Modern Cider is your guide.

North Star Cocktails: Johnny Michaels and the North Star Bartenders’ Guild by Johnny Michaels (Minnesota Historical Society Press; Reprint edition: September 1, 2017) Recognized as one of the twin cities’ best drink makers, Johnny Michaels is the cocktail connoisseur’s answer to a gourmet chef. His home base is the James Beard award-winning La Belle Vie, but he’s designed the cocktail menus for several of its sister restaurants and other top metro eateries. Together with premiere bartenders such as Pip Hanson, Nick Kosevich, Jesse Held, Thea Sheffert, and others in the North Star Bartenders’ Guild, Michaels shares 125 original, crafted cocktail recipes utilizing fresh fruits and vegetables, tips on barkeep techniques and tools, and guides to artisanal liquors and bitters. From signature cocktails such as the Handsome Devil with bourbon, Bénédictine, Frangelico, and spicy bitters, to the Chloroform Kiss with citrus vodka, gin, yellow chartreuse, lemon, and cava, to high-end, nonalcoholic beverages and party punches tasty enough for anyone to enjoy, Michaels and the North Star Bartenders’ Guild’s recipes will help you not only learn the art of cocktails for entertaining and relaxing at home but also gain an appreciation for the unique originals, modern flavors, and sublime classics you enjoy on your next night out on the town. All author royalties earned from the sale of the book will be donated to SPCA International, an organization committed to advancing the safety and well-being of animals (www.spcai.org).

The Art of the Bar Cart: Styling & Recipes by Vanessa Dina & Ashley Rose Conway with Antonis Achilleos (Chronicle Books: September 12, 2017) From high-end magazines and design-inspiration websites to stores big and small, bar carts are a must-have piece of furniture. This book provides all the answers to the question—how can I get that look at home? The Art of the Bar Cart features 20 different styled bar setups—from tricked-out vintage carts to a collection of bottles tucked into a cabinet—themed around favorite libations, personal style, or upcoming occasions. Readers can choose from the warm and inviting Whiskey Cart, the fun and fresh Punch Cart, or mix and match to suit any style. With easy tips to re-create each look as well as recipes for the perfect drinks to pair with each cart, this beautifully photographed guide is an inspiration to anyone looking to create a unique décor statement, and a drink to serve alongside.

Cocktails FAQ: All Thats Left to Know About the Drinks, the Bars, and the Legends by Cheryl Charming (Backbeat Books: September 13, 2017) Cocktails FAQ spans the cocktails curious history from its roots in beer-swilling 18th-century England through the illicit speakeasy culture of Prohibition to the explosive, dynamic industry it is today. Along the way, readers learn how their favorite spirits are distilled and explore the cultural touchstones associated with numerous brands. Additionally, well-known bartenders from around the country offer up advice on everything, including using fresh-squeezed juices, finding artisanal bitters, and creating perfect cubes of ice that will help create intriguing, balanced cocktails. Finally, Cocktails FAQ features 25 must-know recipes for iconic drinks such as the Manhattan and the Martini, including cultural anecdotes and often-told myths about their origins.

High-Proof PDX: A Spirited Guide to Portland’s Craft Distilling Scene by Karen Locke (Overcup Press: September 19, 2017) Portland, Oregon has arguably more distilleries than any other city on the planet and they are eager for spirits lovers to taste their goods. In High-Proof PDX author Karen Locke has paved the way and shares with readers what they need to know before, during, and after a spirits tasting tour of Portland’s craft distilling scene. From histories to hangover cures, Locke provides readers with pro-tips, recommendations, and insights to enhance their visits to the tasting rooms and distillery tours.This guidebook to the higher proof alcohol made in Portland will help readers find their way around town without getting too drunk, hung over, or lost. Learn helpful tips on getting primed for high-proof drinking and get pointers on the best way to savor and taste craft liquors. First time visitors to a spirits tasting room will benefit from pointers. For the big picture on the distilling scene, learn about Portland’s distillery roots, how it’s evolving, and where the future of distilling in Portland is headed. Readers will also get recommendations on the best cocktail bars in the city and see what the city’s mixologists are creating with all this booze. Finally, learn about all the other locally made products including glassware, bitters, syrups, and shrubs that go into making a great cocktail at home.

3-Ingredient Cocktails: An Opinionated Guide to the Most Enduring Drinks in the Cocktail Canon by Robert Simonson (Ten Speed Press: September 26, 2017) 3-Ingredient Cocktails is a concise history of the best classic cocktails, and a curated collection of the best three-ingredient cocktails of the modern era. Organized by style of drink and variations, the book features 75 delicious recipes for cocktails both classic (Japanese Cocktail, Bee’s Knees, Harvey Wallbanger) and contemporary (Remember the Alimony, Little Italy, La Perla), in addition to fun narrative asides and beautiful full-color photography.

Los Angeles Cocktails: Spirits in the City of Angels by Andrea Richards & Giovanni Simeone with Vincenzo Marianella (Sunset & Venice: July 15, 2017) Los Angeles is a place that makes you thirsty. The dry air, the hot sun, the noir history―all leave us wanting a good, strong drink in a dark and moody bar. Fitzgerald and Faulkner drank here, so did Bukowski and Chandler. Oh, and pretty much everyone else, from Bugsy Siegel and Mickey Cohen to Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe. Even Elvis bellied up to the bar in this town. Now it’s your turn. “Los Angeles Cocktails” is more than a book; it’s a photographic adventure that enables us to explore Los Angeles, imbibe at the city’s best bars, and taste, via cocktails, the city’s colorful history. To be published in 2017 by Sunset & Venice, “Los Angeles Cocktails” features LA’s most inspired watering holes. From landmarks such as Musso & Frank’s, where you’re sure to get the perfect pour, to today’s incarnations of the classics, hidden away behind secret doors. From authentic, mid-century tiki bars to simulated speakeasies, these spots offer well-made drinks and an inviting atmosphere. Whether the joint has history or invents it, these are places that can’t be found anywhere else and that capture a certain essence of the city―be it bitter, sweet, or sour.

Whisky by Aeneas MacDonald, Edited & Annotated by Ian Buxton (Birlinn Ltd: August 1, 2017) This is – in the opinion of many whisky writers and experts – the finest whisky book ever written. It is certainly the first written from the point of view of the consumer and is thus historically significant. But more than that, poetic and polemic in style and with its emphasis on the importance of single malt whisky and its concern to protect and inform the consumer, it remains fresh and relevant to the interests of today’s whisky drinker. It is a remarkably prophetic book, and with Ian Buxton’s shrewd commentary and analysis, combined for the first time with period illustrations, it is brought bang up to date for today’s generations of whisky aficionados.

By the Smoke and the Smell: My Search for the Rare and Sublime on the Spirits Trail by Thad Vogler (Ten Speed Press: September 12, 2017) This memoir and manifesto–at turns thoughtful, raw, and even incendiary–offers an insider’s glimpse into the spirits industry, from the country’s foremost expert on sustainable, responsibly-sourced, and grower-produced spirits. Thaddeus Vogler is one of the most important people in the beverage industry today: a man on a mission to bring “grower spirits”–spirits with provenance, made in the traditional way by individuals rather than by mass conglomerates–to the public eye. By the Smoke and the Smell is Vogler’s remarkable debut. This book will completely change the way Americans think about and buy spirits. Alternately humorous and heartfelt, Vogler’s memoir will inspire readers not only to look at their liquor bottle’s labels more closely, but also to seek out wonderful and wonderfully made products.

Good Together: Drink & Feast with Mr Lyan & Friends by Ryan Chetiyawardana (Frances Lincoln: September 28, 2017) Good food, good drink, good company – that’s the recipe for a good time. Good Together sees Mr Lyan call on his many friends from the world’s best restaurants to share their favourite dishes, and shows how a great feast and delicious cocktails can easily be part of everyone’s lives and social gatherings. The book covers a range of occasions and holidays (from an enormous summer BBQ to an intimate romantic dinner), and Mr Lyan mixes world-class cocktails to suit recipes contributed by chefs including Nuno Mendes (Chiltern Firehouse), James Lowe (Lyle’s), Nieves Barragan Mohacho (Barrafina), Roca (El Celler de can Roca), Robin Gill (The Dairy), Isaac McHale (The Clove Club), Tien Ho (Whole Foods) and Richard Hart (Tartine) among many others. Good Together is a masterclass in how fun and simple it can be to bring together the very best food and drink to create a home gathering with impact.

Distillery Cats: Profiles in Courage of the World’s Most Spirited Mousers by Brad Thomas Parsons (Ten Speed Press: September 19, 2017) Distillery Cats cheekily tells the tale of the historical role of these spirited cats and their evolution from organic pest control to current brand ambassadors. James Beard Award-winning author (and noted cat enthusiast) Brad Thomas Parsons profiles 30 of the world’s most adorable and lovable distillery cats, featuring “interviews,” a hand-drawn portrait of each cat, plus trading card-style stat sheets with figures like “super-power” and “mice killed.” Featuring 15 cocktail recipes to enjoy while you page through, Distillery Cats is a quirky but essential addition to any cat or spirits lover’s bookshelf.

 

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If you’ve ever spilled your drink, and face it, who hasn’t at least once in their life; these innovative drinkware inventions may be just the thing for your next party. Mighty Mug started out as a company that came up with a creative solution for on-the-go drinkers who take their coffee, tea and water with them.  The initial product sold well enough and the idea was simple. Design a container that won’t easily be knocked over if it is accidentally hit.

The ingenious mechanism is hidden in the base of each glass. It is a kind of multi-point suction cup that adheres the a smooth surface if the glass is knocked on the side, but lifts straight up with no resistance.  The company sent us samples of their highball glass, pint glass and wine glass.  I should mention that none of these are actually made of glass, but rather a crystal clear plastic.

Of course drinking from plastic takes some of the enjoyment out of drinking, but if you can overlook that aspect, the idea works pretty well.

If you know anything about physics, you’ll know that the center of gravity for any object is where it is most vulnerable to being off-balance.  The taller an object and the smaller the base, the more likely it is to be knocked over. Therefore, the wine glass in our testing was the one that was knocked over more easily than the pint glass, and the whiskey glass never was tipped over.  It helps to have liquids in the glasses to give them extra weight, so as the drink disappears, so the likelihood of it getting knocked over goes up incrementally.

Overall, it’s a clever idea and one that works pretty well overall.  So, GSN gives the concept an A+, and the execution a solid B+.

For more information go to: The Mighty Mug

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Founded in 2004, Crunchies Natural Food Company was the first consumer brand to focus on freeze-dried snacks. Crunchies is the only U.S. consumer freeze-dry brand that is vertically integrated “farm to fork,” meaning that it knows exactly where its fruits and vegetables were harvested. Unlike dehydration, freeze-drying requires no additives for preservation and generally means a longer shelf life, lighter weight and that satisfying crunch. Committed to responsible sourcing and traceability, Crunchies is the only U.S. consumer freeze-dry brand that is vertically integrated farm to fork. All Crunchies products feature only one ingredient – fresh fruit or veggies – and are Non-GMO Project Verified, Gluten Free Certified, vegan, Kosher Parve and Halal with no added sugar or artificial flavoring. Other Crunchies products in the line include strawberries, mango, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, grapes, cinnamon apple, strawberry banana, mixed fruit and beet.

The GSN offices recently received samples of the strawberries, mango, pineapple, blueberries, and raspberries.  Why, you may wonder.  Well, because these freeze-dried fruits can also be used as a cocktail rim garnish.*  Some will work better than others.

The pineapple was the most difficult to work with, as some of the pieces were quite thick and leathery.  These might make a better garnish if stuck on a cocktail pick in a tiki style drink.  The mango is great with a traditional Margarita in place of a salt rim.  The blueberries add a lot of fantastic color, but the flavor is pretty subtle.  These might be more interesting as floating garnishes on a cream-based fruit cocktail.  The strawberry also looks great floating on top of a strawberry daiquiri.  The raspberries are pretty tart, but also contain the seeds, which make them a bit problematic.

Overall, though, an interesting idea which deserves some experimentation.

For more info go to: CrunchiesFood

*To learn the technique behind using freeze-dried fruit as a cocktail rim garnish, check out One Hungry Mama.

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