GSN Alert: July 27th – National Scotch Day

Observed each year on July 27, National Scotch Day celebrates the iconic whisky. In order to be considered scotch, this classy and distinctive spirit must be made in Scotland. It must be fermented from malted barley, aged in oak barrels for at least three years and have an ABV or alcohol content of less than 94.8%. While most scotch is made with barley, water and yeast; other grains can be included.  All fermentation additives are excluded, per law. There are five distinct classifications of Scotch whisky including single malt scotch, single grain scotch, blended malt scotch, blended grain scotch and blended scotch. Scotch is often identified by the region where it was produced and each region has its own characteristics that influence taste. Despite scotch being made in Scotland,  you can enjoy the spirit anywhere. Kilt not required.

Courtesy of NationalToday.com

GSN Alert: July 24th – National Tequila Day

July 24th means National Tequila Day, and National Tequila Day means twenty four consecutive hours, 1440 consecutive minutes, and 86,400 consecutive seconds of honoring good times had with your favorite liquor over salt & lime. Just enjoy those good times responsibly, don’t swig that beautiful blue agave elixir behind the wheel, and do read up on its storied history in Mexico, the broader American Southwest, and beyond.

Tequila’s precursor, a milky, frothy agave drink known as pulque, dates all the way back to Mesoamerican times circa 1000 B.C., when indigenous Mexican tribes would commonly harvest and ferment it. It wouldn’t be until 16th Century A.D., however, that the contemporary tequila we know and love would be first produced, around a territory of land that wouldn’t officially become known as Tequila until 1666.

That wouldn’t stop Spanish aristocrat Don Pedro Sánchez de Tagle from opening the world’s first tequila factory 66 years prior in Jalisco, the Mexican state where the modern city of Tequila is located. It definitely wouldn’t stop Don Jose Antonio de Cuervo from founding the first Vino Mezcal de Tequila de Jose Cuervo in Tequila over a century later in 1795, birthing the world’s most successful tequila brand to this day.

The origins of Tequila are fairly well documented, but unfortunately, the history of National Tequila Day’s origins are a little murkier. Not much can be found on who originated the holiday, what originated the holiday, and why it takes place on the dates it does. Perhaps the originators imbibed a little too much on their own supply to remember. Regardless, common zeitgeist rules that National Tequila Day takes place on July 24th in the United States, and the Mexican Senate just ruled in 2018 that their own occurs on the third Saturday of every March.

Courtesy of National Today

GSN Alert: July 19th – National Daiquiri Day

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Ernest Hemingway with his namesake Daiquiri

National Daiquiri Day happens each year on July 19, when people fill their glasses with this rum-based cocktail. Did you know the daiquiri was likely invented by Cuban miners? An engineer named Jennings Cox supervised a mine in a village named Daiquiri in 1898 during the Spanish-American War. After work, Cox and his colleagues would gather at the local bar. One day Cox mixed Bacardi, sugar, and lime into a glass of ice. Named after the Daiquiri mines, the drink became a popular staple in Havana.

Below are three versions of the Daiquiri worth trying today in honor of the holiday.  Each has its own character and flavor.  All are lovely on a hot summer’s day.

Daiquiri
1.5 oz White rum
0.5 oz Simple syrup
1 oz Fresh Lime juice
Pour all ingredients into shaker with ice cubes. Shake well. Strain in chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with half a lime slice.

Floridita
2 ounces White rum
0.75 ounce Fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon Sugar or simple syrup (or less, to taste)
1 teaspoon Maraschino liqueur
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker (if using granulated sugar, stir to dissolve it in the lime juice before adding the other ingredients) and fill with ice. Shake well, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a thin slice of lime.

Hemingway
2 oz Light rum
0.75 oz Fresh lime juice
0.5 oz Fresh pink grapefruit juice
1 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Maraschino liqueur
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

 

GSN Alert: July 14th – National Grand Marnier Day

J.Labanda-2It feels as if Grand Marnier has been around for at least a few centuries.  But, this quintessential spirit only dates back to 1880.  The recipe was created by Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle who worked at a fruit liqueur distillery owned by his wife’s grandfather.  He sourced Citrus Bagaradia oranges grown in the West Indies, which are still used in the production today.  The Cognac base is made from the Ugni Blanc grape grown in the Cognac region of France.  Sugar syrup is added, and then everything is aged in oak casks and filtered before bottling.

Here are a few classic cocktails for you to try that call for Grand Marnier:

Leap Year
2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
1 dash lemon juice
Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Satan’s Whiskers
3/4 ounce gin
3/4 ounce dry vermouth
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce orange juice
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
1 dash orange bitters
Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

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 Alert: July 2nd – National Anisette Day

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Anise

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 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 Alert: The Bat and Tequila Connection

Without bats, there is no tequila. Tequila is exclusively produced from the blue agave, and the lesser long-nosed bat is the plant’s primary pollinator. Bats feed on the nectar of agave flowers and hop from flower to flower carrying with them the pollen to fertilize other plants. However, industrial practices used for the production of tequila this past century have led to the loss of the genetic diversity of the agaves and to the loss of an important food source for the lesser long-nosed bat, first listed as a threatened species in Mexico in 1994.

To help with this bat’s conservation, the IUCN and ecologist Rodrigo Medellin work with liquor brands to make them “bat-friendly.” Currently, seven brands of tequila and three brands of mezcal have this label. To qualify, all they need to do is to allow at least 5% of their agave plants to flower, let the bats come and pollinate, and use the resulting seeds to replant their fields. These requirements are checked every year.

GSN Alert: Introducing T‑Mobile 5Gin and 5Ginger Beer

It’s 5G o’clock somewhere. T-Mobile and Sprint came together with the perfect blend of capacity, coverage and relentless Un-carrier spirit to build the country’s largest, fastest and most reliable 5G network. Now, T-Mobile’s Extended Range 5G covers 300 million people months ahead of schedule — nearly everyone in the country — and Ultra Capacity 5G covers 150 million! To celebrate, T-Mobile has bottled the Un-carrier spirit as an actual spirit: Ultra Capacity 5Gin. And because #5GforAll, there’s even a non-alcoholic Extended Range 5Ginger Beer. Starting today, June 24 at 12 pm PT, visit t-mobile5gin.com to order your very own bottle of 5Gin or six pack of 5Ginger Beer. Limited quantities are available, and just like T-Mobile’s 5G network, they’re gonna go fast. Salut!

“Last year, when we said we’d cover 300 million people with 5G by the end of 2021, people thought we were crazy. Now, we’ve blown by that goal SIX MONTHS ahead of schedule, and we won’t stop building the nation’s largest, fastest and most reliable 5G network,” said Mike Sievert CEO of T-Mobile. “Now, we’re gonna celebrate in a way ONLY T-Mobile would — by bottling the Un-carrier spirit. Yes, you heard that right. And as we begin to get back to all the things we have missed, it’s time for a celebratory toast with 5Gin and 5Ginger Beer. You know the GIF from The Great Gatsby? That’s me right now. Cheers!”

GSN Alert: June 19th – National Martini Day

Mad-Men-Restaurants

The Martini is well deserving of its own day, as it is the most widely recognized cocktail in the world.  At its most basic, it is a combination of gin and dry vermouth.  On the auspicious occasion, GSN is proud to share a few of our favorite Martini recipes from the last 150 years.

Astoria
1 1/2 oz gin
3/4 oz dry vermouth
1 dash orange bitters
Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain
Add olive

Caprice
1 1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1/2 oz Benedictine
1 dash orange bitters
Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain

Dry Martini
2 oz gin
1/4 oz dry vermouth
Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain
Add olive or lemon twist

Gibson
2 oz gin
1/2 oz dry vermouth
Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain
Add onion

Hoffman House
1 3/4 oz gin
3/4 oz dry vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters
Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain
Add olive

Martini
2 oz gin
1/4 oz dry vermouth
1/4 oz sweet vermouth
Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain
Add olive (or lemon twist)

Savoy
1 3/4 oz gin
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1/4 oz Red Dubonnet
Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain
Add orange peel

GSN Alert: June 14th – National Bourbon Day

imagesBourbon is the quintessential American spirit, and today is a today to celebrate it!  GSN is proud to share some classic bourbon cocktails from some of the great cocktail guides of the past 150 years.

Bourbon Crusta
2 ounces bourbon whiskey
1/2 ounce triple sec
1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur
1/2 ounce lemon juice
2 dashes orange bitters
Garnish: Orange peel.
Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Bourbon Milk Punch
1 1/2 ounces bourbon whiskey
4 ounces milk
2 teaspoons simple syrup
2 dashes vanilla extract
Garnish: grated nutmeg
Shake vigorously with ice, strain into a brandy snifter or wine glass.

Commodore
2 ounces bourbon whiskey
3/4 ounce white crème de cacao
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1 dash grenadine
Shake with ice. Strain into champagne flute.

Eastern Sour
2 ounces bourbon whiskey
1 1/2 ounces orange juice
1 ounce lime juice
1/4 ounce orgeat
1/4 ounce simple syrup
Garnish: Shell of the lime used for the fresh juice.
Shake with ice. Strain into an ice filled tumbler.

Lion’s Tail
2 ounces bourbon whiskey
1/2 ounce pimento dram
1/2 ounce lime juice
1 teaspoon simple syrup
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Mint Julep
2 ounces bourbon whiskey
4 whole sprigs mint
2 teaspoons sugar
Garnish: Mint sprigs dusted with powdered sugar.
Muddle in a cocktail shaker until the sugar is dissolved and the mint is blended in. Add ice, and then shake well. Strain into a glass filled with shaved ice.

Seelbach
1 ounce bourbon whiskey
1/2 ounce Cointreau
7 dashes Angostura Bitters
7 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
5 ounces champagne
Garnish: Lemon twist.
Build in a champagne flute.

Suffering Bastard
1 ounce lime juice
4 ounces ginger ale
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 ounce bourbon whiskey
1 ounce gin
Garnish: mint sprig, orange wheel, and cherry.
Build in a rocks glass.

Ward 8
1 1/2 ounces bourbon whiskey
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce orange juice
1 teaspoon grenadine
Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Whiskey Sour
2 ounces bourbon whiskey
1 ounce simple syrup
3/4 ounce lemon juice
1 teaspoon egg white (optional)
Shake with ice. Strain into a sour glass, or an ice filled Old Fashioned glass.

GSN Alert: June 10th – World Gin Day

world-gin-day-20141-lst136433In honor of World Gin Day, here is a list of the gins that Good Spirits News has reviewed over the years.  Hopefully you will pick up a bottle and make yourself a favorite gin cocktail.

 

 

GSN Alert: June 4th – National Cognac Day

704px-Map_of_Cognac_Regions3.svgIn honor of National Cognac Day (odd, I know, since Cognac is a French spirit), Good Spirits News is proud to present a selection of some of the best classic cocktails featuring this iconic spirit.

Editor’s note: French grape brandies made in the Cognac region are the only brandies that can be labeled as Cognac.blah

Alexander
1 1/2 ounce brandy
1 ounce cream
1 ounce crème de cacao
Garnish: Sprinkle of nutmeg
Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Between The Sheets
1 ounce brandy
1 ounce light rum
1 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce lemon juice
Garnish: Lemon twist.
Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

East India House
2 ounce brandy
1 teaspoon pineapple syrup
1 teaspoon maraschino liqueur
1 teaspoon orange curaçao
3 dash Angostura Bitters
Garnish: Lime twist
Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass.

Fog Cutter
2 ounce lemon juice
1 ounce orgeat
2 ounce light rum
1 ounce brandy
1/2 ounce gin
1/2 ounce sweet sherry
Shake everything, except the sherry, with ice. Pour into a tall ice filled tiki mug or chimney glass. Float the sherry over the top.

Sidecar
2 ounce brandy
1 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce lemon juice
Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Stinger
1 ounce brandy
1/4 ounce white crème de menthe
Garnish: Fresh sprigs of mint, and serve with a glass of water.
Stir with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Vieux Carre
3/4 ounce rye whiskey
3/4 ounce brandy
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
1/8 ounce Benedictine
1 dash Peychaud’s bitters
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Garnish: Lemon twist.
Build over ice, in an Old Fashioned glass.

GSN Alert: May 30th – National Mint Julep Day

mint_julepYou would think that National Mint Julep Day would be held at the same time as the Kentucky Derby, but it is not so.  But, any day is a good day for this iconic American creation.  It turns out that the Mint Julep is most likely the oldest cocktail served in the United States, going back to the original 13 colonies.

Author and cocktail historian David Wondrich recently published his findings in his revised and expanded version of Imbibe! Updated and Revised Edition: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to “Professor” Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar.  Here’s a pertinent excerpt from a recent interview Dave had with Robert Simonson.

RS: There’s new material on drinks in the new book, particularly the history of the Julep, which you say is a much older drink than previously thought.

DW: It’s a much earlier drink. In 1770, in Virginia, there are two solid references to the julep being a recreational drink. That’s a big deal, I think. I had looked at the part on the julep in the original edition and I was shocked and disappointed. I wrote almost nothing about it. I wanted to kick myself, because that’s the most important drink.

RS: You call it the “first true American drink.”
DW: It’s a foundational drink. It’s how we started to be different. The mint julep is also the only drink that I’ve championed that hasn’t been revived yet.

RS: Really? People make nice mint juleps at many places.
DW: Some. Not so much. Nobody really specializes in them. People will make them if you ask.

RS: And it was a brandy drink originally?
DW: In the 1700s, it was a rum drink. The Revolutionary War years and a little after, a whiskey drink. Once the country got rich again and started making money again, it was a brandy drink, up until the Civil War.

RS: Can we say it was originally a Virginia drink?
DW: That seems to be the case. But I think it was [bartender Orsamus] Willard at the City Hotel in New York who popularized the iced version.

And here is Wondrich’s favorite (and authentic) version for you to try at home:

The Prescription Julep
1.5 ounces VSOP cognac or other good brandy
0.5 ounce rye whiskey
2 tsp sugar (to taste), dissolved in 1/2 ounce water
2 sprigs fresh mint, plus more for garnish

Place the sugar and water in a tall glass or julep cup and muddle until sugar is dissolved. Add mint leaves to the sugar syrup and gently press to release the flavorful oil (don’t get too aggressive: smashing up the mint releases bitterness in the leaves). Add the spirits and stir to combine. Fill glass with crushed ice and stir with bar spoon until the glass begins to frost, adding more crushed ice if needed. Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint; serve with a straw.