GSN Alert: February 2nd – National Pisco Sour Day

1610834_10152862980905943_61540934822568108_nThe Pisco Sour has been around for nearly 100 years now, but you still rarely see it on cocktail menus outside of metropolitan cities.  Hailing from Lima, Peru, it was created by Victor Morris an ex-patriot American.  Designed as a South American spin on the Whiskey Sour, it became an instant hit.  Originally a simple mix of pisco, simple syrup and lime juice, by 1924 the recipe included the key addition of egg white topped with aromatic bitters.  Sadly, only five years later Morris declared bankruptcy and soon passed from cirrhosis of the liver.  Perhaps too much of a good thing.

If you want the total authentic experience, make sure to use Amargo Chuncho bitters which are made in Peru.

Pisco Sour
1.5oz Peruvian pisco (Porton, Barsol or Encanto are good brands)
0.75oz fresh lemon juice
1oz simple syrup
1 small egg white
Amargo Chuncho Peruvian Cocktail Bitters (use Angostura bitters in a pinch)Combine pisco, juice, syrup and egg white in a shaker; and shake vigorously without ice. Add ice, shake well again and strain neat. Place a few drops of bitters on top of the foam.

What’s Brewing: Flying Embers Organic Hard Kombucha

Flying Embers, adaptogenic organic hard kombucha, recently launched its fermented alcohol (4.5% ABV) beverage line. Flying Embers is now available with its innovative brews: Ancient Berry, Lemon Orchard, and Ginger & Oak. The Organic Hard Kombucha features live probiotic cultures, botanical adaptogens, and functional wellness benefits. Each brew is vegan, gluten-free and certified organic.

Served locally throughout Southern California, the brews are now available statewide in 22 oz bottles, 16 oz cans, and consumer-friendly kegs at mainstream and naturals grocery — including Whole Foods, Safeway, Erewhon, Berkeley Bowl, Bristol Farms, and Mothers Market.

“Flying Embers is the culmination of my passion and knowledge of twenty plus years of fermentation and creating better-for-you beverages,” said Flying Embers Founder Bill Moses. “I could not be more excited to bring forth a new and functional way to experience kombucha.”

“We are thrilled for Flying Embers to join our portfolio of brands,” said Tom Reyes, President of Reyes Beverage Group. “Their unique craftsmanship and commitment to organic, premium products offer a new experience for kombucha and alcohol drinkers in the Southern California market. Our sales and distribution service will allow Flying Embers to grow its range of availability across its existing and future product portfolio.”

Three flavors are available including Ginger & Oak, Lemon Orchard and Ancient Berry. Each of them are tart, refreshing and just boozy enough to help you relax. Our favorite was the Ginger & Oak which had a nice and easy burn, paired with a curious Sarsaparilla flavor. These all make for a great beverage on their own, but you can certainly add some vodka, gin or rum for an extra kick. Kudos to Flying Embers for being the first on the market with what will undoubtedly be THE alcohol trend for 2019.

GSN Rating: A

For more information go to Flying Embers

GSN Alert: January 31st – National Brandy Alexander Day

brandy-alexander-290x290Sure, we’ve all had at least one Brandy Alexander in our lifetimes.  But rarely does anyone wonder who the eponymous Alexander was.  My good friend Gary ‘gaz” Regan wrote about the origins of this dessert-like concotion a few years ago.  Here’s what he discovered.

“One of the earliest known printed recipes for the Alexander can be found in Hugo Ensslin’s 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks. The cocktail, according to historian Barry Popik, was likely born at Rector’s, New York’s premier pre-Prohibition lobster palace. The bartender there, a certain Troy Alexander, created his eponymous concoction in order to serve a white drink at a dinner celebrating Phoebe Snow.

Phoebe Snow, I should explain, was a fictitious character used in an advertising campaign for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. The company wanted to get the message across that it powered its locomotives with anthracite, a clean-burning variety of coal. The ads emphasized this by showing Ms. Snow traveling while wearing a snow-white dress.

Getting back to the Brandy Alexander, I should note that it was first known as the Alexander #2. Want to know the secret to making the drink? Go heavy on the brandy and light on the sweet stuff. My recipe is a decent jumping-off point; you can play with it to make it your own. Try the original gin-based Alexander, too.  It’s a mighty fine drink.”

Here’s gaz’s recipe:

Brandy Alexander
2 oz Cognac or other fine aged brandy
1 oz Dark crème de cacao
1 oz Cream
Garnish: Freshly grated nutmeg
Glass: Cocktail

Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

GSN Alert: January 25th – National Irish Coffee Day

imagesAlthough different variations of coffee cocktails pre-date the now-classic Irish coffee by at least 100 years, the original Irish coffee was according to sources invented and named by Joe Sheridan, a head chef at Foynes, County Limerick but originally from Castlederg, County Tyrone. Foynes’ port was the precursor to Shannon International Airport in the west of Ireland. The coffee was conceived after a group of American passengers disembarked from a Pan Am flying boat on a miserable winter evening in the 1940s. Sheridan added whiskey to the coffee to warm the passengers. After the passengers asked if they were being served Brazilian coffee, Sheridan told them it was “Irish coffee”.

Stanton Delaplane, a travel writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, brought Irish coffee to the United States after drinking it at Shannon Airport, when he worked with the Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco to start serving it on November 10, 1952, and worked with the bar owners Jack Koeppler and George Freeberg to recreate the Irish method for floating the cream on top of the coffee, sampling the drink one night until he nearly passed out. The group also sought help from the city’s then mayor, George Christopher, who owned a dairy and suggested that cream aged at least 48 hours would be more apt to float. Delaplane popularized the drink by mentioning it frequently in his travel column, which was widely read throughout America.  (Wikipedia)

Irish Coffee
In Irish Coffee Glass, place a teaspoon and fill with boiling water for five seconds. In this pre-warmed glass, put one teaspoon of brown sugar and 2 ounces of Irish Whiskey. Fill the glass with 4 ounces really hot, strong black coffee. Stir well to melt all the sugar. Then carefully pour 1.5 ounces of lightly whipped cream over the back of a spoon so that it floats on top of the coffee. Do not stir after adding the cream, as the true flavour is obtained by drinking the hot coffee and Irish Whiskey through the cream.

GSN Alert: January 17th – National Hot Buttered Rum Day

cocktail_spirit_hot_buttered_rumIn honor of National Hot Buttered Rum Day, Good Spirits News is happy to share a selection of videos by the Small Screen Network.  Filmed in the Seattle area, these videos feature our friends Robert “Drinkboy” Hess, Kathy Casey and Kacy Fitch from the Zig Zag Cafe making their versions of this iconic winter cocktail.  Cheers!~

GSN Review: Collabor&tion Bourbon Whiskies

Collabor&tion is the culmination of nearly two years of work between the Bardstown Bourbon Co. & Copper & Kings American Brandy Co. Two deluxe expressions of 10-year-old straight Bourbon whiskey finished for 18 months: one in C&K American Brandy barrels and the other in Muscat Mistelle barrels.

Steve Nally, Bourbon Hall of Fame Master Distiller for BBCo, and Brandon O’Daniel, Head Distiller for C&K, hand-selected the bourbon for the project, blended it, and chose the barrels for the finishing process. The bourbon used to produce Collabor&tion was distilled in Indiana in 2006 by Lawrenceburg Distillers and is made from a mash bill of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley.

“Exceptional bourbon will always carry beautiful dark fruit notes (figs, raisins, dates) as well as apple and pear to complement the classic honey, spice and butterscotch. Aging in brandy barrels not only accentuates these notes – it layers more on top of that foundation to create an incredibly rich, smooth and complex whiskey” says Nally.

O’Daniel adds, “A Mistelle barrel is a unique vessel. Mistelle is unfermented grape juice (in this case Muscat) fortified with un-aged brandy (Muscat eau-de-vie) and then aged in bourbon barrels for 18 months. The empty barrels are deeply and highly caramelized with the grape sugars and fruit essences. The whiskey exiting these barrels is pure joy.”

Collabor&tion Brandy Barrel Finish (113 proof)
Visual: Dark copper.
Nose: Rich, wood forward nose with a sheen of high notes. Soft caramel, light grapeiness, lush dried date and fig. Very enticing, open and evocative.
Taste: The brandy essence comes forward, but quickly turns into a shower of fig and light clover honey. Dessert-like, but not overly sweet, just a compact bomb of flavor. Really smooth and balanced despite the firepower behind the high-proof.
Finish: Long with a lot of the dried fruit keeping pace with the fade.
Overall: An exceptional spirit that hits all the marks. Well done and highly recommended.
GSN Rating: A+

Collabor&tion Mistelle Barrel Finish (94 proof)
Visual: Dark copper.
Nose: Even more vine fruit on the nose, with a sharp edge of oak wood. This would be the sister of the Brandy finished whiskey. Lighter, more ethereal and vivacious. The wood and fruit nose work in tandem to deliver a solid unifying scent.
Taste: Quite sweet and grape forward, but entirely unlike a sherry cask aged spirit. The fruit character plays the leading role, but also allows the bourbon itself to shine.
Finish: Long and with a lot of the sweetness playing out over the minutes.
Overall: A truly fine “dessert” whiskey that will pair well with crème brûlée or pipe tobacco. A brilliant match of spirit and cask. Highly recommended!
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Bardstown Bourbon

GSN Review: Barrel Char in a Jar Kit

For those DIY spirits enthusiasts out there, there is an appeal to making your own flavor profiles. But, buying barrels, even small ones is expensive and they don’t last forever.  Barrel Char in a Jar allows you to experiment with five different woods with a small and easily stored kit that contains everything you need right out of the box (minus the spirit itself).

US laws prohibit home production of strong alcoholic spirits (beer and wine are not considered strong) as this would involve distilling; which is illegal without a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF). Many of the so-called “make your own” kits actually just contain a bottle of artificial flavoring which the user must add to some kind of store bought vodka or grain neutral spirit. Real aging gets its flavor, color and aroma from the wood and char of the barrel.

With this kit, you are getting all the high-end types of wood used in the most expensive spirits. The user of this kit will be able to take a spirit of their choice, (like unaged whiskey, white rum or blanco tequila) and age it in a way that is similar to the way large-scale manufacturers do. You will get the dark color and complex flavors that real barrel aging will produce.

The basic Barrel Char kit consists of a quart size jar with two sample bottles for comparing your original spirit and finished product as well as several kinds of wood for aging. These include:

  • American White Oak (barrel char)
  • Cherry (light toast)
  • French Oak (medium plus toast)
  • Sugar Maple (medium toast)
  • Yellow Birch (medium toast)

Yellow Birch provides some burnt caramel and vanilla bean notes to spirits, while Sugar Maple adds a maple candy note to things without adding too much sweetness. Unlike some commercial products which just add maple syrup to their spirits (which you can do as well if desired), this wood adds some maple flavor without too much sweetness. With the exception of the Oak , all of the wood is harvested using hand tools in the USA and toasted in a commercial kitchen.

In addition to the 5 types of wood, with the kit you get filter papers, an instruction booklet, and activated charcoal. The activated charcoal is pre-washed so there will be a minimum of black dust. There are enough consumables in the kit to flavor approximately 2-3 conventional (750ml) bottles of liquor per wood if you don’t count the barrel char oak. If you use every flavor, you should get 8-12 bottles of flavored liquor before the consumables run out.

Overall, a fun way to try experimenting and make something new for you home bar.

GSN Rating: A

To order go to: Gnarly Apple on Etsy