GSN Alert: Bacardi Tiki Rumba

Looking to mix up your fall evenings with some high energy rum-filled entertainment?

BACARDÍ Rum is excited to share it’s bringing the tropical flavors, smooth sounds, and good vibes of the Caribbean to rum lovers at home this fall with its first-ever virtual Tiki Rumba – connecting people across the U.S. through delicious rum cocktails and great music!

Consumers can join in on the tiki action, as hosts Tiki & Slow Jams invite DJs from across the U.S. to showcase unique tropical sounds and mix up signature tiki BACARDÍ cocktails like the Cuatro Mai Tai, made with BACARDÍ Añejo Cuatro.

Available for a limited time on Cocktail Courier, attendees can purchase an easy at-home Cuatro Mai Tai kit that yields up to 16 cocktails for you and your friends to mix up and enjoy during the virtual sessions.

Interested in joining in on the Tiki Rumba fun? Follow the steps below!

  1. RSVP to a free Tiki Rumba event of choice via
  2. Purchase a Cuatro Mai Tai kit for delivery; link to purchase:
  3. Tune in and learn how to mix up a delicious tiki masterpiece at home
  4. Enjoy the taste of BACARDÍ Añejo Cuatro + rum vibes of Tiki Rumba!

Alternatively, those not able to attend the live events each week can also check out the Tiki Rumba site for cocktail recipes, pre-recorded cocktail demos and curated Tiki Rumba playlists from the local DJs.


  • 5 oz BACARDÍ Añejo Cuatro rum
  • 75 oz Orange Curacao
  • 5 oz Lime Juice
  • 75 oz Orgreat
  • Orange Bitters

METHOD: Shake and serve over crushed ice in a tiki mug. Garnish with a dehydrated orange wheel and/or mint sprig 


GSN Alert: November 8th -National Harvey Wallbanger Day

tumblr_inline_moeit2yoeL1qz4rgpProbably most of us have had at least a few Harvey Wallbangers over the years.  My first was served out of a huge plastic trash can at a frat party in Geneva, NY back in the early 1980’s.  My most recent was at 2014’s Tales of the Cocktail® in New Orleans where it was served at one of the many parties.  But, few of us know the true story behind this variation on a Screwdriver.  Fellow writer Robert Simonson penned the following article a few years ago and uncovered the fascinating man behind the myth.  So, make yourself a H.W. and spend a few minutes with a legend.

Searching for Harvey Wallbanger by Robert Simonson 

The Harvey Wallbanger has one of the most memorable names in cocktail history. And one of the worst reputations.

A mix of vodka, orange juice and Galliano, it was one of the preeminent drinks of the 1970s, a decade recognized by drink historians as the Death Valley of cocktail eras—a time of sloppy, foolish drinks made with sour mix and other risible shortcuts to flavor, and christened with foolish monikers like Mudslide and Freddie Fudpucker.

Not that Harvey Wallbanger is one of those. It’s actually got one of the best—and most unforgettable—handles in the annals of mixed drinks. This may be why it’s survived long enough to be reappraised. Shortly after Galliano reconfigured its recipe a couple of years ago, returning the Italian liqueur to its original formula, mixologists began to sneak the drink back on respectable lists.

This is all good news for Donato “Duke” Antone, the largely forgotten bartender who, according to longstanding legend, is the creator of the Wallbanger, as well as a number other two-ingredient wonders of the time, like the Rusty Nail and White Russian. Antone, the oft-repeated story goes, ran Duke’s “Blackwatch” Bar on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood in the 1950s. The few biographical facts that pop up again and again tell us that he was the brother-in-law of one-term New York State Senator Carlo Lanzillotti, and that he managed featherweight boxer Willie Pep, a childhood friend. He died In 1992 at the age of 75, according to an obit in the Hartford Courant. At the time he was the retired headmaster of the Bartending School of Mixology in Hartford. The Courant notice repeated the claims that he invented the Wallbanger, Rusty Nail, as well as the Flaming Caesar and many other drinks.

So, did he? As much as we hate to doubt a WWII vet and “the recipient of two silver stars, two bronze stars, two Purple Hearts and a Croix de Guerre” (the Courant), the bartending profession has a long history of credit-grabbing. The provenance of almost every famous cocktail is clouded by the claims and counterclaims of various barmen. Even Jerry Thomas, the father of modern mixology, wasn’t above a fib or two.

Certainly, all the drinks associated with Donato display the same, ham-fisted modus operandi. Take a potent, straightforward base spirit (vodka, whiskey), throw in a taste-profile-dominating liqueur (Galliano, Drambuie, Amaretto, Kahlua), maybe some juice or cream, and presto: new drink! But few figures in bartending history can lay their hand to so many famous drinks, so one doubts Donato invented all of them. So this article will concentrate on clearing away as much fog as possible from the most frequent cited of his children.

According to folklore, Donato invented the Harvey Wallbanger in 1952. It is said he named it after a Manhattan Beach surfer and regular named Tom Harvey—a man about whom we can find nothing. But the cocktail didn’t become popular until the early 1970s. This sudden reversal of fortunes coincides with the arrival of George Bednar, who in 1966 became marketing director of McKesson Imports Co., an importing company that handled Galliano. Previously, the liqueur had a staid ad campaign that featured the line “Fond of things Italiano? Try a sip of Galliano.” Bednar somehow found the Wallbanger and hoisted it up the barroom flagpole. The original ads pushed the drink as a replacement at brunch for the Bloody Mary. Round about late 1969, a rather pained-looking, sandal-wearing mascot named Harvey Wallbanger appeared. His line: “Harvey Wallbanger is the name and I can be made!”

And, boy, did the world make him! Soon, reports were cropping up of bowls of Wallbangers being consumed at Hamptons parties and on Amtrak trains. Harvey Wallbanger cakes were sold. A Puli named after the drink won dog shows. By 1976, Holland House was putting out a Wallbanger dry mix and pre-blended bottles of the cocktail were sold. Riding this wave, Galliano became the number one most imported liqueur during Me Decade, exporting 500,000 cases a year to the U.S. (You’d think the Galliano people—the liqueur is now owned by Lucas Bols—would be interested in the origins of their most famous drink. But the company, while curious, had little or no information to offer about the Wallbanger or Donato.)

Antone, however, is difficult to find during this heyday. He’s not quoted or mentioned in articles or advertisements. The California ABC office can find no listing for a bar called Duke’s “Blackwatch” Bar on Sunset. (To be fair, their computer records are not complete.) Neither do L.A. guides or newspapers from the time mention it. Given that the drink rose to fame with the arrival of Bednar, one can’t help but suspect that good old Harvey was the invention of the Galliano marketing department, and that Antone had nothing to do with it.

The flaw in that theory lies in the Courant obit, which indicates that Antone himself never denied creating the drink. So what came first, the Blackwatch or the Bednar?

I dug up a number of answers in the back pages of the Hartford Courant, which printed a few stories on Antone over the years. It even ran a photo or two, provided pictorial evidence that a short, balding man with thick, black-framed glasses named Donato “Duke” Antone did indeed breathe air. A 1966 Courant article about Antone’s bartending school, located on Farmington Avenue, tells us that he was born in Brooklyn in a Italian-Jewish neighborhood, ran liquor for bootleggers as a youngster, had his first legal bartending job at a place called Diamond Jim Brady’s, and was he was “a likable, fast-talking Runyoneseque character.”

Turns out, there’s a good reason you can’t find evidence of Antone and the Blackwatch Bar in Los Angeles during the 1950s and ’60s. It’s because the man was living in Hartford that entire time. The 1966 Courant piece says he founded his school in 1949 “after he found, when working in Las Vegas, that it was difficult to find good bartenders,” and that it “took him 14 years to perfect the school’s curriculum.” Those would be the years when he was supposed mixing up Harvey Wallbangers for beach bums.

The 1966 story identifies Antone as the author of some new drinks—including the Italian Fascination, which “has won prizes” and “contains Galliano, Kahlua, triple sec and sweet cream”—but the Wallbanger is not mentioned as one of them. However, in a subsequent 1970 Courant story (about how Antone taught his trade to his 12-year-old son!), Antone gets full credit for the Wallbanger. Of course, by that time, the drink was gaining fame and popularity. So what happened between those two date lines?

This sentence in a 1977 Courant piece, in which Antone is “retired,” might hold the key: “Antone…has not limited himself to mixing drinks. Rather, he has been active in all aspects of the liquor industry ranging from restaurant design to marketing.”

“Marketing”! OK, theory time. Could it be that George Bednar, newly hired at McKesson in 1966 and looking for a way to boost Galliano sales, read about Antone’s Galliano-heavy Italian Fascination cocktail, and then traveled up to Hartford to see if the bartender, for a fee, could come up a few more cocktails featuring the liqueur? (Around this time, Antone also invented Freddie Fudpucker, basically a Harvey Wallbanger with tequila.) The tale of the Blackwatch Bar, phantom surfer Tom Harvey, and the sudden appearance of the Wallbanger cartoon figure—that could all well be examples of Bednar and Antone’s marketing acumen. One can see how the two men might have bonded. Antone was a boxing man, and Bednar played football for Notre Dame and the St. Louis Cardinals in the mid-’60s. Booze and sports. They were made for each other.

Noted cocktail historian David Wondrich—who, as it turns out, has been doing his own digging in the Wallbanger—pointed out the Harvey surfer character had been designed by commercial artist name Bill Young, at Galliano and McKesson’s behest. The cartoon figure hit the U.S. like a lava flow in late 1969, “pop art posters, bumper stickers, buttons, crew shirts, mugs and the whole bit,” according to an Oct. 30, 1969, San Antonio Light article uncovered by Wondrich.

“I wonder what the execs at McKesson thought in 1969,” mused Wondrich, “when Bill Young showed them the dopey little cartoon surfer he had come up with, complete with a dopey name, ‘Harvey Wallbanger,’ and an equally dopey slogan, ‘I can be made.’ I doubt they realized what they were in for. With Young’s Harvey to blaze the way, Antone’s simple—even dopey—drink would go on to be the first drink created by a consultant to actually take the nation by storm.”

By 1981, Duke had opened a new academy, Antone’s School of Mixology, and was full-on boasting that he was the genesis of “the Harvey Wallbanger, the Rusty Nail, the White Russian and the Kamakazi, as well as the Freddie Fudpucker.” The reporter of that account, sticking in the word “claims” a couple of times, seemed disinclined to believe him.

Do I believe him? Well, I never had much faith in the story of the Harvey Wallbanger’s creation. (A surfer at Manhattan beach going all the way to Sunset Boulevard for a drink? A Italian-American who gives his bar a Scottish name?) But I do believe Antone had something to do with creating the cocktail. To paraphrase the cartoon Harvey, “cocktail history is the game, and I can be made up.”

Robert Simonson writes about spirits, cocktails and wine for such publications as The New York Times, Imbibe, Edible Brooklyn and Manhattan, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and GQ. He holds an advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, and another from the Beverage Alcohol Resource. He was nominated for 2012 Spirited Award for Best Cocktail Writing. Follow him on Twitter: @RobertOSimonson

GSN Alert: National American Beer Day – October 27th

National American Beer Day raises a glass to the rich American beermaking history and those who savor the continued traditions. Pour your favorite pint with millions who enjoy the storied brews across the nation.

Brewing beer in America begins long before Europeans arrived since Native Americans brewed beer from a variety of ingredients. They used corn, birch sap, and water to ferment their beverage. Then when the first colonists arrived in Virginia, they began combining their brewing traditions with the supplies at hand – that included corn, too. Since then, brewing and brewers became a principal occupation in the colonies. Interestingly, the first white child born in Manhattan grew up to be the first brewer born in America.

Today, the brewery established by David G. Yuengling is the oldest producing brewery in the United States. He established the Eagle Brewery in 1829. Amazingly, the brewery still remains in the family to this day.

Unlike most other breweries of the time, the Eagle Brewery survived Prohibition. In fact, very few survived. Those that did survive tried various legal and illegal tactics. In the Eagle Brewery’s case, they reduced their alcohol content to within the legal limit. They also branched out. Ice cream anyone? Yes, the Yuengling’s started a dairy. Others turned their beermaking supplies into other products. When prohibition lifted, they returned to full-fledged beermaking. 

Despite these efforts, nearly every brewer existing before prohibition dissolved. Out of just over 1,300 brewers, only about 100 remained after prohibition. Today, we recognize the names of many of those surviving breweries. 

The skill of a brewer requires years of practice in the trade. It’s revered even. In Milwaukee, their professional baseball team is named after the brewer. In St. Louis and Denver, the stadiums are named after prominent brewers.

More than 2,100 breweries are manufacturing beer in the United States. They range in size from industry giants to brewpubs and microbreweries. 

American Beer Facts
  • The U.S. produced 196 million barrels of beer in 2009.
  • Americans consume roughly 20 US gallons of beer per capita annually.
  • In 2008, the United States ranked sixteenth in the world in per capita consumption. However, total consumption was second only to China.
  • After Congress repealed prohibition, the industry consolidated into a small number of large-scale breweries.
  • The majority of the new breweries in the U.S. are small breweries and brewpubs. As members of the Brewers Association, they are termed “craft breweries” to differentiate them from the larger and older breweries.
  • Larger breweries most commonly produce the American lager.
  • However, smaller breweries (many founded in the 1980s) produce a range of styles.
  • Beer styles originating in the United States include:
    • American pale ale
    • Pennsylvania porter
    • American IPA
    • steam beer
    • amber ale
    • cream ale
    • Cascadian dark ale.

Courtesy of National Day Calendar

GSN Alert: October 20th – World Calvados Day

Avallen Calvados has partnered with UK-based Difford’s Guide and premium drinks distributor Mangrove UK to launch World Calvados Day. Taking place on Tuesday 20 October, the inaugural celebration of the French apple brandy will see the UK trade celebrate with special offers and specially created cocktails being served in bars around this date.

Registered as an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) in 1942, calvados is one of three world-renowed French brandies alongside cognac and armagnac. It must be produced using a choice of 300 apple varieties exclusively grown in the biodiverse orchards of Normandy. The apples are naturally fermented to make cider, then distilled and aged for a legal minimum of two years in French oak.

Avallen Calvados founders Stephanie Jordan and Tim Etherington-Judge entered the world of calvados in 2019 determined to revitalise the category. Since launching, their ‘planet-positive’ caldavos has been recognised with numerous accolades. They have also made it their mission to help bee populations, donating to the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust with each bottle sold and planting wildflowers.

Stephanie said: “Calvados is an important historical category and one which is gaining renewed interest, so it’s right it should have its own day. And what better time of year to celebrate French apple brandy than the busy harvest time, when the process of making delicious calvados kicks off with thanks to the bees for pollinating all the lovely blossoms in spring.

“Made using apples (and a few pears), water and time, this spirit celebrates biodiversity, regenerative agriculture and tastes amazing which is why at Avallen we want to champion the category and put care at the core of what we do.”

Simon Difford said: “One of the key base spirits, calvados appears in hundreds of cocktail recipes but until Avallen has not had a brand that champions its mixability. Indeed, most consumers would be hard-prressed to name a brand of calvados or a calvados cocktail. Hence, we’re delighted to be working with Stephanie and Tim to promote delicious calvados cocktails.”

Avallen is distributed in the UK by Mangrove UK. The company’s managing director, Nick Gillet, added: “It’s been impressive to see the determination with which the team at Avallen has worked to promote this category, which was previously looking a bit tired and jaded. They have sparked new interest in calvados and are leading the way in our industry in adopting and championing sustainable practices.”

20 October 2020 – Bethany Whymark

GSN Alert: October 19th – International Gin & Tonic Day

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.

GSN Alert: October 16th – National Liqueur Day

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


GSN Alert: October 4th – National Vodka Day

vodka_glass_gl_16dec10_istock_bIn honor of National Vodka Day, Good Spirits News is proud to share some of our many reviews from over the years, plus a few original flavored vodka cocktails created by Blair Frodelius.  Cheers!


Aylesbury Duck

Bak’s Bison Grass


Bootlegger 21




Crystal Head

Deep Eddy

Double Cross

Exclusiv & here


Karlsson’s Gold

Ketel One


Michael Godard

Orange V





Russian Diamond

Smooth Ambler


Spring 44

Tuthilltown Indigenous



Orient Express
2 oz citron vodka
1 0z grand marnier
0.5 oz canton ginger liqueur
0.5 oz lime juice
2 dashes Fee’s orange bitters
Shake and strain into cocktail glass.  Spear a piece of pickled ginger on bamboo skewer and lay across top of glass.

Admiral Perry
2 oz absolut pear vodka
1 oz original cinn schnapps
1 oz dry vermouth
0.25 teaspoon white creme de cacao
Add all ingredients to mixing glass and stir with ice until chilled.  Strain into cocktail glass.  Garnish with a thin slice of pear.

GSN Alert: National Drink Beer Day – September 28th

Like most things, we look to the ancient Egyptians for answers. Historians point to beer as a ceremonial drink over 5,000 years ago because papyrus scrolls have been discovered documenting early beer recipes. But the Mesopotamians may have actually been the first to develop beer over 10,000 years ago, before recorded history.

Beer made its way to Europe and gained popularity during the Middle Ages. (Why drink polluted, possibly contaminated water, when you can drink a safer alternative, beer?) Eventually, German monks became master brewers, coming up with some of the fermentation techniques that brought the world closer to the beer we know and love today.

Did you know in European cities like Prague — ordering beer in a restaurant is cheaper than ordering water?

Europeans who arrived in the New World actually complained when they were out of beer and had to brew more. (Apparently, the love of beer was so strong, that upon arrival, brewing beer was one of the first things on the Pilgrims’ to-do list!)

Today, there are light beers with great flavor and less calories as well as dark beers like Guinness, served up warm in authentic English, Scottish and Irish pubs alike. There are ales and lagers which are distinguished by the type of yeast used in the fermentation process.

Is craft beer on your radar? Millennials especially are showing much more refined palates and a broad knowledge of all kinds of beer. You’ll find a wide spectrum of craft brews, foreign and domestic, to fit every taste.

If you’re really looking for something different, try hard cider. It has a great “kick” to it! Plus, Foodie Alert: Don’t miss the perfect opportunity to pair a great beer with a delicious dish. And if you’re the adventurous sort, DIY with a home brew kit.

So on National Drink Beer Day, drink responsibly and in moderation, but enjoy. Just this once, pass up the white wine or your evening Cabernet. Get a frothy, ice-cold glass of beer with a good “head” on it and remember that beer is no longer just your parents’ brew!

Courtesy National Today

GSN Alert: September 20th – National Rum Punch Day

A_Midnight_Modern_ConversationBack in my college days, I thought that punch equalled a 1.5l bottle of Silver Bacardi mixed together with a few cans of tropical flavored Hawaiian Punch.  After a few different occasions where this was the beverage of choice, I had enough to last me a lifetime and moved on to other less cloying things like IPA.  In fact, I hadn’t had any punch for a few decades until I read David Wondrich’s phenomenal book Imbibe! back in 2007.  I decided to make a batch of Philadelphia Fish House Punch for my first effort, and there’s been no turning back for me.  Granted, there is a bit of extra work involved than just emptying bottles into a large bowl (oleo-saccharum, anyone?), but it pays off in spades.  Not only is a real punch incredibly tasty, but you realize why punches are gaining popularity again.  These days, many of the best bars offer punch bowls on the menu, and some are even served with antique cups.

Here’s the recipe for PFHP (luckily, it doesn’t actually call for any fish).

Philadelphia Fish House Punch
(Servings: 18 – 20)
1 cup sugar
4 lemons, peeled and peels reserved
4 cups black tea (or water)
1 cup lemon juice
4 cups rum, Jamaican
2 cups cognac
1/2 cup peach brandy
Garnish: lemon wheels and freshly grated nutmeg

In a large bowl, add sugar and lemon peels, and rub together to release the citrus oils into the sugar. (This is called oleo-saccharum).
Allow oleo-saccharum to infuse for at least 30 minutes.
Dissolve sugar with warm water or tea.
Add rum, cognac, lemon juice and peach brandy and stir to mix.
Add a block of ice to chill, and continue to add smaller pieces of ice for desired dilution.
Garnish with lemon wheels and freshly grated nutmeg.
Ladle into individual glasses.

Another quite popular punch is Planter’s Punch, the recipe for which was first published as a poem in the New York Times on August 8, 1908.

Planter’s Punch
This recipe I give to thee,
Dear brother in the heat.
Take two of sour (lime let it be)
To one and a half of sweet,
Of Old Jamaica pour three strong,
And add four parts of weak.
Then mix and drink. I do no wrong —
I know whereof I speak.

Pretty easy to figure out what the measurements are, if you’re handy with a jigger.


GSN Alert: September 15th – National Crème de Menthe Day

Qtimthumb.phpuick!  How many classic crème de menthe based cocktails can you name? Go!

That’s what I thought.  Highlight the area to the right to see if you got them all -> Grasshopper, Stinger

Crème de menthe is one of those liqueurs that once you try, you will never forget.  For obvious reasons it is used in a fair amount of obscure Irish cocktails, but personally I avoid those.

Crème de menthe is not a cream based liqueur, but rather a category of spirits known as crèmes, which are more syrupy and sugar laden than standard liquors.  It is made from Corsican mint or peppermint and is either colorless (white) or vibrantly green.  Most products today use food coloring to achieve the effect.  The flavors are exactly the same however.

If you want to try making your own at home, here’s a recipe courtesy of Marcia Simmons, co-author of DIY Cocktails which I have previously reviewed here.

DIY Creme de Menthe
1 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves (divided)
1 1/2 cups vodka
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water

  • Measure out 1 cup of mint leaves and tear them in quarters Place mint leaves in a sealable glass jar and pour vodka on top. Shake and let steep for 12 hours.
  • After steeping is complete, strain mint leaves from infused vodka. Return infused vodka to the jar.
  • Bring the water and sugar to a boil, and let simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool, then add syrup to mint-infused vodka.
  • Take the additional 1/2 cup of mint leaves, tear them, and add them to the jar. Shake and let steep for 10 hours.
  • Strain twice to remove all mint leaves, keep in resealable bottle. Keeps for two months.

GSN Alert: September 7th – National Beer Lover’s Day

Beer and the process of brewing beer may predate known history.  As varied as the methods, grains, and flavors, beer continues to change and evolve over time.
Virginia colonists brewed beer. William Penn included a place for brewing beer within the colony of Pennsylvania which can still be visited at Pennsbury Manor today. The first President of the United States recorded a recipe for brewing beer in his notes. Samuel Adams holds a place in both beer and tea history in this country.  There were a few beer lovers and patriots among the nation’s founders.
The United States also derives its rich brewing history from beer-loving German immigrants during the mid-1800s. Some of those immigrants families’ names are as familiar today as they were a hundred years ago.
While some names have faded into the past, smaller batch brewers continue to experiment with old and new recipes.  The crafting of beer carries rich traditions, often requiring years of training and experience in the trade. Depending on the brewery, the path to brewmaster may take years to develop the skill and expertise necessary to produce a quality beer every time.  One certain requirement is a love of beer and the craft. Toast to this iconic beverage on September 7th with a pint of your favorite!

GSN Alert: August 28th – National Red Wine Day

It’s always a good time for red wine, especially on August 28, National Red Wine Day. Today, we throw out all those stuffy rules about how and when to drink this nectar from the gods.  Instead, we grab our coolest glass and savor the taste of our favorite red wine.

Red wines including merlot, pinot noir, Bordeaux, cabernet sauvignon and blends like shiraz, don’t always have to rest at a  temperature of between 65-70 degrees before you can enjoy a glass.  In fact, there are some experts who say it’s perfectly acceptable to refrigerate red wines and drink them cold, especially during exceptionally hot weather.

So, ignore the wine snobs, make your choice and commit to drinking responsibly. Then, hoist your glass in a toast to National Red Wine Day.

Courtesy of National Today

GSN Alert: Tales of the Cocktail Foundation Announces Top 4 Finalists for the 2020 Spirited Awards®

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (August 24, 2020) — Tales of the Cocktail Foundation (TOTCF) is honored to debut this year’s Top 4 Finalists for the 14th annual Spirited Awards®. Founded in 2007, the Spirited Awards celebrate beverage professionals, products, and establishments across every facet of the global spirits and cocktail community. The award categories spotlight a range of talent from bartenders, journalists, and brand ambassadors, to brands and media, to ensure each aspect of the industry is well represented and recognized for its contributions.

This year the Foundation and its Co-Chairs have made some changes to champion this community more thoughtfully. The Best Bar Mentor category was expanded in order to recognize additional mentors worldwide who continue to nurture and inspire others. Previously, one mentor was selected annually, and now there are American and International recipients. Further, the Pioneer Award (which since its inception in 2012 has lived within the annual “Dame Hall of Fame,” program) has now been folded into the Spirited Awards. This decision was made in order to amplify the accomplishments of individuals who have made unique and lasting contributions to the accessibility and intersectionality of the global drinks community over their careers. Additionally, the “Philanthropy Award,” which was first introduced as a single award in 2019, will be used as a platform to highlight examples of the altruistic work that so many organizations and individuals are undertaking in the wake of the COVID-19 global health crisis.

After much consideration and discussion with the Spirited Awards Committee, the Foundation has made the decision to update its policy around repeat winners. Its goal in doing so is to acknowledge that past Spirited Award winners have received honor and recognition for their achievements, and the Foundation wants to ensure that others who have not yet had this recognition have the opportunity to be awarded for their work in 2019 and beyond. This policy went into effect after this year’s Top 10 announcement, which means that this year’s Top 10 nominees who had previously won the category they were again nominated for were determined ineligible for the Top Four Finalist list. Moreover, moving forward, if a bar has previously won “World’s Best Bar,” they are no longer eligible to win another Spirited Award, except for “Timeless” or “Philanthropy” (which are selected through a different set of criteria).

These new rules affected a handful of Top 10 nominees this year. As such, the Spirited Awards judges had to re-cast their votes for those categories in order to determine the new Top 4 Finalists. Mandating this change in the middle of the judging process was not easy. The Foundation believes it is imperative to ensure the Spirited Awards process is more transparent, equitable and fair. In the coming months, the Foundation will announce additional changes to the submission and judging process, designed to make the Spirited Awards more inclusive and accessible for all.

“For many months now, we debated whether an awards ceremony is what the world needs right now,” shared Caroline Rosen, President of Tales of the Cocktail Foundation. “Ultimately, we decided yes, we do need to continue to celebrate the resilience of our peers. Doubling down on philanthropic recognition and introducing categories that more accurately depict the range of voices contributing to the progress of our industry in meaningful ways — these are just a few of many steps forward we’re looking to make as an organization. Changing policies mid-awards cycle and recasting votes was a very difficult decision that we do not take lightly, but our hope is that it will create a more equitable and fair structure for all nominees.”

For the first time in history, the Spirited Awards will exist in an entirely digital format with a robust digital playbill spotlighting changes to this year’s awards, information on the nominees and insight into the process employed by Spirited Awards Co-Chairs. TOTCF will leverage its social media and digital platforms to celebrate global excellence. This will occur in two phases: a September 21 rollout of specific category winners via Tales’ website and a pre-recorded digital ceremony for select categories on September 24 (categories and dates denoted below). Given the volume of categories, spreading winner announcements out over the course of the Tales of the Cocktail® 2020 week will enable the organization to more thoroughly spotlight the winners and their work on the organization’s channels.

The Raise a Glass: 2020 Spirited Awards Preshow will be hosted on September 24th at 3pm CST and the awards presentation will begin at 4pm CST. For more information, visit

2020 Spirited Awards Top 4 Finalists (listed in alphabetical order)*:


Best American Bar Team presented by William Grant & Sons

Winner announced on September 21

  • Café La Trova — Miami, FL
  • Jewel of the South — New Orleans, LA
  • Nickel City — Austin, TX
  • Pacific Cocktail Haven — San Francisco, CA

Best American Bar Mentor presented by BarSmarts

Winner announced at the Spirited Awards Ceremony on September 24

  • Bridget Albert
  • Alex Day
  • Lynn House
  • Don Lee

American Bartender of the Year presented by Pernod Ricard

Winner announced at the Spirited Awards Ceremony on September 24

  • Kevin Diedrich — Pacific Cocktail Haven, San Francisco, CA
  • Mary Palac — Paper Plane, San Jose, CA
  • Masahiro Urushido — Katana Kitten, New York, NY
  • Christine Wiseman — Broken Shaker, Los Angeles, CA

Best American Brand Ambassador presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

Winner announced on September 21

  • Tad Carducci — Amaro Montenegro
  • Vance Henderson — Hendrick’s Gin
  • Robin Nance — Beam Suntory
  • Dominic Venegas — Pernod Ricard USA

Best American Cocktail Bar presented by Pernod Ricard

Winner announced on September 21

  • Best Intentions — Chicago, IL
  • Katana Kitten — New York, NY
  • Pacific Cocktail Haven — San Francisco, CA
  • Raised by Wolves — San Diego, CA

Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar presented by Diageo Bar Academy

Winner announced on September 21

  • ABV — San Francisco, CA
  • Anvil Bar & Refuge — Houston, TX
  • Café La Trova — Miami, FL
  • Nickel City — Austin, TX

Best American Hotel Bar presented by Diageo Bar Academy

Winner announced on September 21

  • Death & Co at the Ramble Hotel — Denver, CO
  • Libertine Social at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino — Las Vegas, NV
  • Mr. COCO at the Palms Casino Resort — Las Vegas, NV
  • The Spare Room at The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel — Los Angeles, CA

Best American Restaurant Bar presented by Woodford Reserve 

Winner announced on September 21

  • Cleaver — Las Vegas, NV
  • Jewel of the South — New Orleans, LA
  • Jimmy’s — Aspen, CO
  • The Silver Dollar — Louisville, KY

Best New American Cocktail Bar presented by Elijah Craig

Winner announced on September 21

  • Bar Goto Niban — Brooklyn, NY
  • Century Grand — Phoenix, AZ
  • Silver Lyan — Washington, D.C.
  • Thunderbolt — Los Angeles, CA


Best International Bar Team presented by House of Angostura 

Winner announced on September 21

  • La Factoría — San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • MAYBE SAMMY — Sydney, Australia
  • The Clumsies — Athens, Greece
  • The Connaught Bar — London, UK

Best International Bar Mentor presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

Winner announced at the Spirited Awards Ceremony on September 24

  • Simone Caporale
  • Alex Kratena
  • Lauren Mote
  • Agostino Perrone

International Bartender of the Year presented by Martini & Rossi

Winner announced at the Spirited Awards Ceremony on September 24

  • Bannie Kang — MU, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Kelsey Ramage —  Supernova Ballroom, Toronto, Canada
  • Rémy Savage — Le Syndicat, Paris, France
  • Kaitlyn Stewart — Royal Dinette, Vancouver, Canada

Best International Brand Ambassador presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

Winner announced on September 21

  • Camille Austin — Casa Lumbre Spirits
  • Martin Hudák — Mr Black Spirits
  • Daniyel Jones — The House of Angostura
  • Dave Mitton — Lot No. 40 & J.P. Wiser’s Canadian Whisky

Best International Cocktail Bar presented by Tequila Fortaleza

Winner announced on September 21

  • Floreria Atlántico — Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • MAYBE SAMMY — Sydney, Australia
  • Native — Singapore
  • Swift — London, UK

Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar presented by Beam Suntory

Winner announced on September 21

  • La Factoría — San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Licorería Limantour — Mexico City, Mexico
  • Panda & Sons — Edinburgh, Scotland
  • The Baxter Inn — Sydney, Australia

Best International Hotel Bar presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation 

Winner announced on September 21

  • Fifty Mils at the Four Seasons Hotel — Mexico City, Mexico
  • Punch Room at The London EDITION — London, UK
  • Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood Hotel — London, UK
  • The Bamboo Bar at the Mandarin Oriental — Bangkok, Thailand

Best International Restaurant Bar presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

Winner announced on September 21

  • ámaZ — Lima, Peru
  • Le Mary Celeste — Paris, France
  • Sexy Fish — London, UK
  • Sober Company — Shanghai, China

Best New International Cocktail Bar presented by Perrier

Winner announced on September 21

  • BYRDI — Melbourne, Australia
  • Kwānt — London, UK
  • Tayēr + Elementary — London, UK
  • Tres Monos — Buenos Aires, Argentina


Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

Winner announced on September 21

  • DRiNK Magazine Asia
  • Half Full
  • The Spirits Business
  • VinePair

Best Cocktail & Spirits Writing presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

Winner announced on September 21

  • “Mixopedia: Under Foot” by Wayne Curtis for Imbibe
  • “JaNee: Where is She Now” by Aaron Goldfarb for PUNCH
  • “Can There Be Terroir in Spirits?” by Kara Newman for Wine Enthusiast
  • “The Case for Drinking Scotch in Tiki Cocktails” by Becky Paskin for The Daily Beast

Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

Winner announced on September 21

  • Cocktails with a Twist by Kara Newman
  • The NoMad Cocktail Book by Leo Robitschek
  • The Martini Cocktail: A Meditation on the World’s Greatest Drink, with Recipes by Robert Simonson
  • Minimalist Tiki: A Cocktail Wonk Look at Classic Libations and the Modern Tiki Vanguard by Matt Pietrek and Carrie Smith

Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History or Spirits presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

Winner announced on September 21

  • Drunk in China: Baijiu and the World’s Oldest Drinking Culture by Derek Sandhaus
  • Last Call: Bartenders on Their Final Drink and the Wisdom and Rituals of Closing Time by Brad Thomas Parsons
  • Understanding Spirits: Explaining Style and Quality by Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET)
  • Spirits, Sugar, Water, Bitters: How the Cocktail Conquered the World by Derek Brown and Robert Yule

Best Broadcast, Podcast or Online Video Series presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

Winner announced on September 21

  • Difford’s Guide
  • Happy Hour History
  • The Speakeasy
  • WhiskyCast


Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

Winner announced on September 21

  • Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal Las Milpas
  • Heaven Hill 7 Year Bottled-in-Bond
  • Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice
  • Tequila Fortaleza Winter Blend 2019

World’s Best Cocktail Menu presented by Perrier

Winner announced on September 21

  • ATLAS Bar — Singapore
  • Little Red Door — Paris, France
  • Raised by Wolves — San Diego, CA
  • Tayēr + Elementary — London, UK

World’s Best Spirits Selection presented by Beam Suntory

Winner announced on September 21

  • Amor y Amargo – New York, NY
  • Raised by Wolves — San Diego, CA
  • Sexy Fish — London, UK
  • The Office — Chicago, IL

Timeless American Award presented by Q Mixers

  • Angel’s Share — New York, NY

Timeless International Award presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Boadas Cocktails — Barcelona, Spain

*By the time of the Awards, some bars may have closed temporarily or permanently in the wake of the pandemic. Some individuals listed might be furloughed or laid off at the time of the Awards, changing their bar or brand affiliation. The Spirited Awards assess the body of work from the year prior and represents how the individuals, establishments and brands were originally nominated.

The following Awards will be announced on September 24, 2020, during the digital Spirited Awards ceremony: Helen David Lifetime Achievement, presented by William Grant & Sons; Philanthropy, presented by Santa Teresa 1796 Rum; World’s Best Bar, presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation;  and the Pioneer Award, presented by Diageo Bar Academy.

“In this very difficult time in the global industry, it is some rare good news to be able to celebrate the hard work of bartenders and bars around the world,” said Jacob Briars, Spirited Awards International Chair. “My hope is that the Awards this year shine a light on this amazing, resilient community, as well as inspiring the public to visit these great nominees.”

Spirited Awards Chairs:

Below is a list of Spirited Awards Chairs, responsible for overseeing the judging process this year:

Spirited Awards Overall Chair — Charlotte Voisey

Spirited Awards International Chair — Jacob Briars

Central U.S. Co-Chairs —  Bridget Albert, Shaun Traxler

West U.S. Co-Chairs — Kiowa Bryan, Mary Palac

East U.S. Co-Chairs — Laura Cullen, Andy Seymour

Europe Co-Chairs — Guiseppe Gallo, Claire Warner

Canada Co-Chairs — Evelyn Chick, Lauren Mote

Middle East & Africa Co-Chairs — Richard Irwin, Stephanie Simbo

Latin America & Caribbean Co-Chairs — Camille Austin, Tato Giovannini

Asia Pacific Co-Chair — Hayley Morison

Writing & Media Co-Chairs — Paul Clarke, Sandrea Lawrence, Francois Monti, Matthew Rowley

“The Spirited Awards not only unite hospitality at a time when we need it the most, they have allowed us to shine a bright light on the talent, passion and dedication of more incredible parts of the world. Although we may not be able to visit many of these vibrant establishments at the moment, the Awards are a reminder that no matter the distance, we are all united through a love of people, culture, food and drink,” shared Latin American & Carribean Spirited Awards Co-Chair Camille Austin.


Spirited Awards judges are a collection of respected bartenders, bar owners, educators and writers from across the globe entrusted with this critical calling. Drawing on their years of experience and their knowledge of the current work being done locally, nationally and internationally, together the judges can evaluate nominees from far and wide to ensure that the Spirited Awards represents the breadth and diversity of the global drinks industry. Over the past year, Tales of the Cocktail Foundation worked with the regional chairs to ensure this year’s judging panel would be more geographically diverse and focused on recruiting more judges from mid-sized markets to better represent the range of the industry on a global scale. This is especially evident in the addition of three new Writing & Media Co-Chairs who span the globe for 2020. The Spirited Awards® are not based on popular vote and all nominations will be evaluated by their respective judging committees.



Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is a non-profit organization that educates, advances and supports the global hospitality industry and creates lasting impact in our host communities. Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is the global leader in spirits education and a platform to tackle issues facing the industry. The pillars of the Foundation are to Educate, Advance and Support the hospitality industry through programs that benefit individuals and organizations in the community and to make a lasting impact in communities that host our events. Tales of the Cocktail® 2020 will be held digitally from September 21 – 24, 2020. For more information on Tales of the Cocktail, please visit

GSN Alert: August 25th – National Whiskey Sour Day

Each year on August 25, people across the United States observe National Whiskey Sour Day. “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.” – Mark Twain

Traditionally garnished with half an orange and a maraschino cherry, a whiskey sour is a mixed drink containing whiskey (often Bourbon), lemon juice and sugar.  Whiskey sours are shaken then either served straight or over ice.

An alternative to the traditional whiskey sour is the Boston sour which is made by adding a dash of egg white to the recipe.  Another variation is the Ward 8.  The Ward 8 has a base of either Bourbon or rye whiskey with both lemon and orange juices and grenadine syrup added for sweetness.