GSN Alert: 2020 James Beard Media Award Winners – Beverage Categories

Congratulations to the winners of the 2020 James Beard Media Awards, presented by Capital One. Although we typically celebrate the best of the best at an event in New York City, the Foundation cancelled the annual in-person event to ensure everyone’s safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At a time when both the media and the food industries have been decimated by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Foundation understands the positive impact that a James Beard Award nomination or win can have on a career. Whether in the kitchen or in the newsroom—now more than ever—celebrating these professionals is paramount for our community.

Join us at 1:30 P.M. ET today as we kick off our new digital series, James Beard Awards at Home. The series will be an ongoing conversation with the committee chairs and winners of the James Beard Foundation Media Awards about the nature and future of writing, reporting, and broadcasting about food during a global pandemic. Stay tuned for more information on the full schedule and lineup of participants.

Now on to the winners!

2020 James Beard Foundation Book Awards

For cookbooks and other non-fiction food- or beverage-related books that were published in the U.S. in 2019.

Beverage with Recipes

The NoMad Cocktail Book
Leo Robitschek
(Ten Speed Press)

Beverage without Recipes

World Atlas of Wine 8th Edition
Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson
(Mitchell Beazley)

2020 James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards

For articles published in English in 2019.

Personal Essay, Short Form

“For 20 Years, happy hour has seen us through work — and life”
M. Carrie Allan
The Washington Post

Wine, Spirits, and Other Beverages

“Seltzer Is Over. Mineral Water Is Forever.”
Jordan Michelman

GSN Spirited News: May 26th 2020 Edition

Absolut has launched a new collection of ready-to-drink cocktails. The new releases are split into two lines, Absolut Vodka Sodas and Absolut Cocktails. The 5% abv vodka sodas come in three flavors—Lime & Cucumber, Grapefruit & Rosemary, and Raspberry & Lemongrass—all at 97 calories per serving. Absolut Cocktails include a Mango Mule and a Grapefruit Paloma at 7% abv, and a Berry Vodkarita at 10%. Absolut’s new RTDs are now in national distribution, retailing at around $13 a 4-pack of 12-ounce cans.

Teeling Irish whiskey is launching a special Father’s Day edition of its single malt expression. Selling exclusively on ReserveBar through June at $60 a bottle, the limited edition is finished in five different types of wine casks. $5 from every bottle sold will go to the Raise Your Spirits campaign supporting bars and restaurants.

Brown-Forman has teamed up with Whiskey Barrel Foods to create Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Cocktail Bitters, designed to complement Jack Daniel’s flavor profile when used in cocktails. The bitters are at 46.9% abv and bring flavors of vanilla, wood, berry, ginger, and maple. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Cocktail Bitters are now available on Whiskey Barrel Foods’ website for $15 a 3-ounce bottle.

Five midwestern distilleries have teamed to create Distiller’s Handshake, a new blended whiskey sold to benefit Iowa’s service workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. The 50% abv blend is acollaboration among Iowa’s Templeton Rye, Cat’s Eye Distillery, Cedar Ridge Distillery, Mississippi River Distilling Company, and Illinois’ Blaum Bros Distilling Company. The whiskey retails at $50, with all proceeds going to the Iowa Restaurant Association and bartenders throughout the state.

Loveland, Colorado-based craft distiller The Family Jones has unveiled Ella Jones Straight Bourbon WhiskeyThe newcomer has a mashbill of 75% corn, 15% rye, and 10% malt—all sourced from Colorado—and is a blend of whiskies with an average age of 2.8 years. Bottled at 47% abv, Ella Jones is rolling out in Colorado at a retail price of $55 a 750ml.

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Review: Rabbit Hole Boxergrail Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey

It’s a story as old as the universe: boy likes Scotch, boy meets girl, girls likes Bourbon, boy likes Bourbon, boy and girl start making booze. We’ve all been there, right? Meet Kaveh Zamanian and his sweetheart Heather. It’s a true story and the booze they’re making is Louisville-based Rabbit Hole.

But what is Bourbon without its best buddy, Rye Whiskey? Kaveh concocted a perfect combination of rye (95%) and malted barley (5%) and created a rye whiskey that has spent more than two years in #4 charred American white oak barrels made by the Kelvin Cooperage.

Boxergrail Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey, composed of 95% rye, celebrates Louisville’s rich boxing heritage. Local fighters, emerging from neighborhood gyms, followed a path down a boxing rabbit hole to become prizefighting champions. This rye whiskey adds malted barley to its mash bill. Deliberately distilled from a proprietary cooking process and aged in hand-selected barrels, this  whiskey is crafted in small batches.

As well, Rabbit Hole has partnered with Tales of the Cocktail to donate up to $150,000 to their CAPS program. Read more about the initiative here.

Rabbit Hole Boxergrail Rye Whiskey (95 proof)
Visual: Copper.
Nose: Immediate rye spice with a lot of high woody notes. Fresh leather, brown bread, raisin, along with slight toffee and sugar frosting.
Taste: Nice bite and rye kick to the palate. Smooth entry with a huge body. Really chewy and memorable.
Finish: The spice goes on for miles until it finally lays down with a final cinnamon finish.
Overall: A truly lovely rye. Rabbit Hole is a stellar distillery producing some of America’s best spirits.
GSN Rating: A++

For more information go to: Rabbit Hole Distillery

GSN Spirited News: May 19th 2020 Edition

Brooklyn, New York-based Widow Jane has announced Lucky Thirteen, a new barrel pick program featuring 100 barrels of whiskey. Each barrel is aged for 13 years after distilling from a high-rye mash bill. The whiskies are proofed down to 45.5%-49.5% abv, with master distiller Lisa Wicker choosing the final proof after considering where in the rick house each barrel aged. Barrels will be available across the U.S., with Total Wine, plus other retailers in California, Florida, New York, and other states signing on to purchase barrels. The whiskies will retail at around $90 a bottle.

San Francisco-based Hotaling & Co. has added Convite Mezcal to its portfolio. Hotaling will bring three of Convite’s agave spirits to the U.S.: Mezcal Espadín Esencial ($45/40% abv); Mezcal Espadín-Madrecuishe Blend, a $70 bottling at 42% abv made from Espadín and wild-grown Madrecuishe agaves; and Mezcal Coyote, a $160 bottling made from 12-year-old wild-grown Coyote agave that’s bottled at 46% abv. The spirits are available now in New York, California, Texas, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Georgia.

Martini & Rossi, part of the Bacardi portfolio, has launched two new frozen RTD cocktails, Frosé and Frosecco. The 6.5% abv wine cocktails come in 10-ounce packages and can be consumed right from the pouch or poured into glasses. Both are made from Italian wine with natural fruit flavors added and do not contain artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup. Martini & Rossi Frosé and Frosecco are now available across the U.S. for $4 a pouch.

Seagram’s Gin has debuted its latest flavored expression, Watermelon Twisted. Featuring a base of Seagram’s Extra Dry gin that’s infused with watermelon flavors, Seagram’s Watermelon Twisted gin is now available nationwide, retail priced at $11 a 750-ml. The new extension joins the flagship dry gin as well as Pineapple, Lime, Peach, Grape, Red Berry, Melon, and Apple Twisted gins.

Lucas Bols has relaunched its Bols Liqueurs range with a new formula and packaging. The line, which includes Blue Curaçao, Apricot Brandy, and Peach flavors, among numerous others, is now made with natural botanicals. The Bols Liqueurs bottles have been updated as well: they now feature a new logo, and are more in line with the look of the Bols Genever lineup.

Purcellville, Virginia-based Catoctin Creek Distilling Company will launch #InThisTogether Rye on June 1, with all profits going to charities supporting struggling bars and restaurants. The 40% abv whiskey was blended from spirits left over from the distillery’s barrel select program, from which many restaurant accounts had to abstain after suffering financial hardship due to Covid-19. Catoctin took those previously selected single barrels and blended them into this new “Infinity Barrel” Rye, which retails at $49 a 750-ml. It will be sold at the distillery with curbside pickup and at retailers in Washington D.C., Delaware, and Maryland through distributor Prestige-Ledroit. It’s also available online for direct shipping in Virginia only.

San Francisco-based Hotaling & Co. has added The Arran single malt Scotch whisky to its portfolio. Effective June 1, Hotaling will be the exclusive importer of The Arran’s entire lineup, which includes the Robert Burns Malt; 10-, 18-, and 21-year-old whiskies; and a variety of cask-finished expressions, with retail pricing ranging from $40-$246 a 750-ml.

Sailor Jerry has unveiled a new limited-edition commemorative bottle in partnership with the United Service Organizations (USO). Retailing at $15 a 750-ml., the special edition pays homage to the brand’s namesake, Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins, who served in the Navy, and will be distributed nationally through the summer season. As part of the launch, Sailor Jerry and Anchor Media are donating $150,000 to the USO, adding to Sailor Jerry’s total contribution of $1 million supporting the USO and other military organizations since 2016.

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Review: Shots Box

Take a trip to your local liquor store and you’ll quickly realize that buying the ingredients for a cocktail is a pricey and sometimes disappointing adventure. Why pay for a whole bottle only to realize that it isn’t something that you really like?

Enter Shots Box, a monthly subscription service that brings a variety of interesting spirits and liqueurs from around the world to your doorstep. Their goal is to connect you to new brands, have you enjoy new cocktails that are more interesting than “the usual,” and provide an easy way for you to share and read opinions on different products written by people just like you.

Once you sign up, you receive a box of 10 mini bottles along with several recipe cards to create a single cocktail. Each card has clear and easy instructions along with a color photo of what the finished drink should look like.

GSN was sent the following minis to sample:
3 different gins
2 cream liqueurs
1 honey/bourbon liqueur
1 vodka
1 tequila
1 coconut rum
1 sambuca

The variety is interesting and will appeal to just about anyone interested in spirits. I would have liked to have had two less gins and instead an american whiskey along with a scotch.  But, perhaps these will be forthcoming in upcoming shipments.

In any case, it is a great way to try new products, saves a trip to the liquor store and all for the cost of one typical top shelf spirit. Plus, if you really like one of the spirits, you can order full-size bottles directly from the Shots Box website. They also have a selection of glassware, barware and cocktail-centric decor available for purchase.

GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Shots Box

GSN Review: Pierre Ferrand Ancienne Methode Dry Curaçao

Developed by Pierre Ferrand owner and President Alexandre Gabriel in collaboration with Professor David Wondrich, this new Curaçao is based on recipes dating back to the 1700’s-1800’s.  The liqueur includes primarily bitter Curaçao orange peels, but also vanilla, prunes, lemon peel and sweet oranges along with over a dozen other ingredients.  They are all macerated in unaged brandy, which is in turn re-distilled and finally blended together with aged brandy and Cognac in oak casks.  To achieve the final touch, the Ferrand company adds some more dried Curaçao peels during the aging process.  All of this makes for a very nice addition to your arsenal of Triple Secs. The best part?  It retails for under $30 a bottle.

Pierre Ferrand Ancienne Methode Dry Curaçao  (80 proof)
Visual: Golden Honey color.
Nose: Fresh and natural orange peel bouquet with slight vanilla overtones.
Taste: Bright orange, crisp herb notes with some heat.  Less rich than Grand Marnier, but still quite viscous.  There’s almost a sense of carbonation on the tongue.  Not overly sweet, but tempered by a slight bitterness that comes through midway.
Finish: An almost baked fruit flavor gives way to a touch of bitter orange and candy floss.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to their Facebook page

GSN Review: IZO Mezcal Joven

It began as a dream for Gaston Martinez. Slowly, the dream turned into a vision as Gaston spent years searching his native Durango for just the right recipe to craft a mezcal. Enter Master Mescalero, José Gonzalez. Using the knowledge and experience cultivated through three generations of Mezcalero’s, José brought his passion and art to create IZO Mezcal Joven. José now spends his time overseeing the distillery.

Always fascinated with the culture of Mexico, Gaston’s friends, Linda Belzberg and her son Torrey were attracted to his story, and so it came to be that with their help, IZO was born. Torrey dwells in the trenches of the company’s production and marketing operations, while Gaston is IZO’s ambassador.

Each member of the IZO team is considered family, from the Jimadores who harvest the wild agave, to the burros who lug it to the trucks, which carry it to the fire pits, to the team members that cook the agave hearts in the volcanic ovens and extract the juice to fill the fermentation tanks, to the plant workers who watch over the distillation process and then fill, cork and label each bottle and finally to Jose’, the Master Mescalero whose job it is to oversee each step of the process.

The distillery incorporates solar paneled water treatment, a nursery to grow agave seedlings, a bee colony with numerous bee hives to promote the pollination of plants and enhance the natural fermentation process and an area to properly maintain the health and welfare of three sturdy burros, “Cenizo, Mezcal and Agave”!

Sustainability is one of IZO’s most important goals, as they recognize that it takes 8-10 years for the Cenizo agave plant to grow to maturity. Today it may seem like there is an abundance of wild agave for harvesting, but only through participating in a robust renewal program, can they be certain that there will always be enough agave for future generations.

Lastly, even the bottle has been designed to reflect quality using black smoke ombre in the glass, a real onyx cap and the letterpress label.

IZO Mezcal Joven (94 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Medium smoke with a fresh and bright agave nose. Some tropical fruit and saline add to the high notes.
Taste: A sweet agave entry, which quickly opens into a smokey body. A fairly hefty mouthfeel, but still quite light and easily approachable. The flavors are friendly and welcoming.
Finish: Medium long with a tinge of creosote at the fade out. This is a young Mezcal, which makes it ideal for enjoying with a meal.
Overall: An excellent Mezcal for those looking to try the field. We especially enjoyed the lightness and smooth flavor, which many rustic Mezcals do not offer.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: IZO Mezcal