Spirited-Awards-Logo2015 Spirited Awards® Winners

American Categories
Best American Bar Team- Employees Only (New York)
American Bartender of the Year- Ivy Mix (New York)
Best American Brand Ambassador- Brooke Arthur (House Spirits)
Best American Cocktail Bar- Williams & Graham (Denver)
Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar- Employees Only (New York)
Best American Hotel Bar- The Broken Shaker (Miami Beach)
Best American Restaurant Bar- Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks (Boston)
Best New American Cocktail Bar- ABV (San Francisco)

International Categories
Best International Bar Team- 28 Hong Kong Street (Singapore)
International Bartender of the Year- Ryan Chetiyawardana (London)
Best International Brand Ambassador- Claire Smith-Warner (Belvedere Vodka)
Best International Cocktail Bar- Artesian (London)
Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar- The Black Pearl & The Attic (Melbourne)
Best International Hotel Bar- Beaufort Bar, The Savoy (London)
Best International Restaurant Bar- Blind Pig at Social Eating House (London)
Best New International Cocktail Bar- Dandelyan (London)

Writing Categories
Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication- PUNCH
Best Cocktail & Spirits Writer- Dave Broom
Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book- Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail by Dave Arnold
Best New Spirits Book- Whisky: The Manual by Dave Broom

Overall Categories
Best Bar Mentor- Jim Meehan (Portland)
Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient- Amaro di Angostura
World’s Best Cocktail Menu- Dead Rabbit (New York)
World’s Best Spirits Selection- Canon (Seattle)
World’s Best Bar- Dead Rabbit (New York)

Special Recognitions
Lifetime Achievement Award- Jonathan Downey
Sam Guarino Citation- Steve Mannan

Papas-Pilar-Dark-RumRarely is an alcoholic spirit named for a writer.  Sure, plenty of writers imbibe, but arguably one of the best known was Ernest “Papa” Hemingway.  Hell, he even created the Papa Doble Daiquiri!  So, it isn’t surprising to find some new rums that share the old man’s nickname.  Pilar, by the way was the name of his fishing boat, and oddly enough his nickname for his second wife.  His first wife’s nickname was “Tatie”.  Of course, that doesn’t have the same ring to it.

The bottle of the rum is pretty captivating.  Based on the design of a soldier’s canteen complete with a small chain, it also has a compass engraved into the metal cap.  The rum itself is a blend of copper pot and column distilled rums from the Caribbean, Central America and the US aged in ex-bourbon and port casks, then topped off with a brief aging in sherry casks.  Lastly, it makes its way to Kentucky where it is blended.

If you look at the front of the bottle you’ll notice the number 24.  This is the oldest rum used in the blend, but that’s all it is.  Being a blended rum, there is no actual age statement.  On the other hand, the statement “Never a Spectator” sums up Hemingway the man.  He was always on the move seeking new adventures.  I think he would approve of this rum.

Papa’s Pilar Blonde (84 proof)
Visual: Pale yellow.
Nose: Sweet, fresh engaging rum with hints of butter, creamed corn, sweet tobacco and vanilla.
Taste: Initially very smooth, but then a peppery aspect takes over belying a hefty dose of pot-still rum.  Nice vanilla and caramel tones with a goodly dose of minerality (unusual in a rum) and crisp edges.
Finish: Medium long with a lot of the sweet character lingering long on the palate.  Far removed from a typical Cuban-style rum, this has a lot of friendly character.
Overall: Quite nice, and perfectly crafted for Daiquiris and Mojitos. The higher proof will shine through the lime juice.
GSN Rating: A-

Papa’s Pilar Dark (86 proof)
Visual: Rusty orange-brown.
Nose: Richer and darker than the blonde, this has more sherry coming through.  Sweet and dessert-like with a raisin and current character.
Taste: Much sweeter than the blonde, with the port and sherry smoothing out the high notes and making for a relaxed and laid back entry.  In a pinch this could almost pass for a spiced rum with the variety of woods, distilled wines and styles represented here.
Finish: Long with a lot of brown bread, molasses, baking spices and cracked pepper.
Overall: I’d easily have this as my nightcap in a snifter with a twist of lemon every night.  A very unique and special rum that has so much going for it, that it’s truly one of a kind.  Great stuff!
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Papa’s Pilar

Bluecoat-Gin-e1392181560287I remember ten years ago reading about Philadelphia Distilling opening in Pennsylvania.  It was a huge deal at the time because it was the first legal distillery in the state since 1919.  Today, the company is one of the top ten small craft distilleries in the USA.

The gin uses only five botanicals; juniper, coriander, lemon and orange citrus peel and angelica root.  Distilled five times, the spirit is then aged for three months in new charred American Oak barrels.

The name Bluecoat pays homage to the colonial soldiers of the Revolutionary War.  The British wore their “redcoats”, but the American coats which were available weren’t always necessarily blue.  More often than not, they were brown, sometimes green.  But, blue was the popular choice amongst the officers.  Eventually, the foot soldiers prefered the color, and in 1779 by act of Congress, General George Washington ordered that all military coats be blue.

Bluecoat Gin (94 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Citrus and juniper work in tandem creating a fruity, yet dry nose.  Sprightly and engaging.
Taste: The juniper comes through loud and clear, but does not dominate the blend.  Quite tasty and balanced with just the right amount of lemon and orange.  There is a dry and slightly bitter edge that creeps in after a minute, keeping things from being too sweet and fruity.  Intensely up front and self-assured.
Finish: Long and with hints of the citrus popping in and out.  It tastes like the citrus was infused from fresh peels as opposed to dried.  Quite refreshing.
Overall: A great gin for any cocktail, especially ones that lean toward lemon, lime or orange juice.  But, the simple approach of a few botanicals also makes it a perfect gin for more complex cocktails like the Aviation or Last Word.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Bluecoat Gin

643_0You may have heard of Pink Gin (gin with aromatic bitters), but Blue Gin?  The London No. 1 isn’t as gimmicky as it sounds.  The natural coloring comes from gardenia flowers and adds a sky blue hue to the spirit.  Crafted in London, UK, using a blend of Suffolk and Norfolk grain along with twelve botanicals, the gin is quadruple distilled in small batch pot stills.  Packing a punch at 94 proof; it utilizes juniper, coriander, angelica, orris root, liquorice root, orange and lemon peel, almond, savory, cinnamon, cassia bark and gardenia.  But, there is a 13th ingredient: bergamot oil.

Bergamot is made from the rind of Bergamot oranges and was one of the ingredients used in the original Eau de Cologne dating back to 1709.  Today, you can smell Bergamot in Earl Grey tea.  The blue color of this gin comes from the fruit of the Gardenia plant and is a natural food coloring.

The London No. 1 Original Blue Gin (94 proof)
Visual: Pale blue.
Nose: Juniper forward with some citrus.  Quite bracing and loaded with high notes of botanicals.
Taste: Mellow and smooth with a creaminess that moves into more dry territory rather quickly.  The juniper berries lead the way and definitely render this a London Dry style.  Nothing unusual or out-of-place.
Finish: Medium long with a hint of blackberry at the very end.  Pleasant and slightly sweet.
Overall: A very well crafted gin that will work just as well in a G&T as a classic Martini.  I appreciate its subtlety and the fact that it stays true to form within the category.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Gonzalez Byass

indexRoyal Dutch Distillers, the Miami-based division of the Netherlands’ DeKuyper Royal Distillers, is introducing a new spirits brand, Rutte, in the U.S. market. A collection of spirits produced at Holland’s Rutte distillery, the line includes a Dry Gin, Dry Celery Gin, Old Simon Genever and Vodka. The Rutte range will be distributed in 40 U.S. markets, retailing around $38 a bottle.

indexBacardi Ltd. has unveiled Bonnie Rose, a new Tennessee white corn whiskey brand. Produced using an 80% white corn mash and copper pot stills, the Bonnie Rose lineup makes its debut with a pair of 35%-abv fruit flavored entries, Orange Peel and Spiced Apple. Both retail at around $19 a bottle. The range, which is being backed by a digital content series throughout the summer and fall, will initially launch across Nashville, Tennessee, with a nationwide expansion to follow shortly after. Along with Bonnie Rose, Bacardi’s American whiskey portfolio includes the Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon range.

indexBrown-Forman has unveiled Barrel Proof, the latest entry in its Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Collection. Aged in charred white American oak, each barrel of Jack Daniel’s Barrel Proof is exposed to a range of temperature variations, resulting in a whiskey that hovers between 125-140 proof. The new Single Barrel offering will be available nationwide starting in August, retailing at around $65 a 750-ml. The newcomer marks the second iteration in Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel lineup, following the launch of Single Barrel Select, a 94-proof single barrel Tennessee whiskey.

indexBacardi Ltd.’s Martini vermouth brand is adding a higher-priced tier to its range in the U.S. market. Martini’s new Riserva Speciale vermouths, including a Rubino (Ruby) and Ambrato (Amber), will roll out this fall, targeting the on-premise cocktail segment as well as selected retail accounts. Both new entries are 18% abv—slightly higher than the core brand’s 16%—and will be positioned at roughly $15 a 750-ml., or about a 50% premium to Martini’s core range, which includes Rosso, Extra Dry and Bianco offerings. Martini’s Riserva Speciale vermouths are differentiated by their use of 100% Italian wines—Langhe DOC Nebbiolo for the Rubino and Moscato d’Asti DOCG for the Ambrato—and a mix of botanicals that has been married in Piemontese “Tino” vats for two months.

imagesCocktail shot brand Liqs is expanding availability into the New York and New Jersey markets. Including Tequila Cinnamon Orange, Vodka Lychee Grapefruit, Vodka Kamikaze, Vodka Cucumber Lime and newly released Vodka Lemon Drop flavors, Liqs initially launched in Miami in 2013 and has since added Massachusetts, Texas, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Canada to its footprint. The brand, created by entrepreneurs Harley Bauer and Michael Glickman, retails at around $8 a single-flavor three-pack of shots.

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

Daiquiri by Dave Stolte

Daiquiri by Dave Stolte

Ah, the Daiquiri!  One of the simplest, yet most delicious cocktails for summer imbibing.  Daiquiri is a Taino word for a beach and oddly enough, an iron mine near Santiago, Cuba.  (I think of beaches, not mines when I’m drinking one).  The drink itself on the other hand was created roughly around the turn of the century (20th, not 21st) at a bar named Venus in Santiago.  As with most cocktails, no one knows for sure who came up with the drink, but it most likely was an American named Jennings Cox.  It quickly made the move from Cuba to the U.S. and became a standard drink within a decade, first in Washington DC and then New York.

Surprisingly, it was not a shaken cocktail at first, but rather a long drink prepared similarly to a julep.  A tall glass was filled with cracked ice, sugar was added along with a hefty dose of lime juice.  White rum topped it off, and then it was all stirred until the glass became frosted.

Other drinks which are similar to the Daiquiri are the Navy Grog, the Bacardi Cocktail, The Floridita, and the Papa Doble, named after Ernest Hemingway who created his own frozen drink several decades ahead of the blender daiquiri craze of the 1970’s.

Here’s are a few versions for you to try today:

2 ounces light rum
3/4 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
Garnish: Slice of lime.
Gently shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Bacardi Cocktail
1 1/2 ounces light rum (must use Bacardi)
3/4 ounce lime juice
2 dashes grenadine
Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

1 1/2 ounces light rum
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1/8 ounce white crème de cacao
1/8 ounce grenadine
Garnish: Lime twist
Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Papa Doble
3 ounces Bacardi or Havana Club light rum
Juice of 2 limes
Juice of 1/2 grapefruit
6 drops of maraschino liqueur (Luxardo is my favorite)

Fill a blender one-quarter full of ice, preferably shaved or cracked. Add the rum, lime juice, grapefruit juice and maraschino. Blend on high until the mixture turns cloudy and light-colored. ( See Hemingway’s book, Islands in the Stream, page 281.) Serve immediately in large, conical goblets.


Hemingway with his namesake Daiquiri

The Daiquiri is one of those golden age cocktails that gets a bad rap these days.  Especially in New Orleans where they are vibrant day-glo colors and flavored with artificial syrups.  Yet, a true Daiquiri is a thing of beauty.  Refreshing, elegant and transformatively balanced.

Daiquiri as a word hails from Cuba and is a place name, rather than a beverage.  The drink was created around the time of the Spanish-American war and quickly made its way from Cuba to Washington, DC to New York City.  Originally a stirred drink built in a Collins glass, it evolved into a shaken drink served in a Champagne flute.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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