IMG_7797-800This is a drink that hails back to The Savoy Cocktail Book compiled by Harry Craddock in 1930.  However, there are a few differences.  Here is the original recipe:

1 Dash Absinthe
1 Dash Angostura Bitters
1 1/2 oz Dry Gin
1 1/2 oz Caperitif

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. Add a Cherry.

Now here is the version as published in the Mr. Boston Guide:

Cabaret Cocktail
1.5oz gin
0.5oz dry vermouth
0.25oz benedictine
2 dashes angostura bitters
Garnish: maraschino cherry

Stir with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.  Add cherry.

These really are two entirely different cocktails, even though they are both Martini variations.  Sadly, the original ingredient called Caperitif is no longer made.  It was a South African wine-based quinquina, similar to today’s Lillet Blanc.  Although it may make a comeback someday.  We’re seeing a lot of long forgotten vermouths back on the shelves these days.

WoodfordRyeWoodford Reserve branches out into the ever-growing rye whiskey market with this latest release.  To find out more about the history of the company, read my review of their Woodford Reserve Sonoma-Cutrer Finish here.

Rye whiskey by the way is not Canadian.  In fact, there is only one brand of Canadian whisky (note that there is no ‘e’ in the spelling) which is made from 100% rye mash.  It’s well worth seeking out if you can.  Look for Alberta Premium.  Virtually all other Canadian whiskies are made from a high percentage of corn, with a smattering of rye.

American rye whiskey on the other hand, must be distilled from at least 51% rye.  Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight, uses 53% rye in their grain bill.

Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey (90.4 proof)
Visual: Burnished copper penny.
Nose: Rich, enveloping spice driven aroma.  Mouth watering hints of vanilla, caramel and baking spices almost fool you into thinking this is a dessert.  Really fine nose. A+.
Taste: Impressively heady with a sharp and masculine rye bent.  Part of this is due to the higher proof, but I’ve had bottled-in-bond ryes that are 100 proof and don’t have this intensity.  Add a touch of water to bring this down to 80 proof and you’ve still got a powerhouse of a whiskey.  A+
Finish: This goes on and on for a few minutes.  Lots of character with bright high notes and deep low notes bookending the whole experience.  A+
Overall: World class rye whiskey that should be in everyone’s bar.  The perfect ingredient in a Manhattan, Sazerac or Old Fashioned.  A+
GSN Rating: Oh, did I mention this gets an A+?

For more information go to: Woodford Reserve

Candy-Manor-9_17_FrontCraft distilleries are nothing new these days.  However, using a vintage movie theatre as home base is unusual.

Mike Rasmussen and Ron Gomes decided to base their headquarters in Delaware inside the Old Smyrna Theater which opened in 1948.  It’s an interesting visual mix that makes the distillery seem like it’s been around for decades instead of just a few years.  Rasmussen calls the look “neo-speakeasy”.  That whole ethic fits well into the gin they are marketing.

Candy Manor (so the legend goes) was a front for a local brothel back in the day.  Ask for the “Candy Special” and got both chocolates and a lady to enjoy.  For all I know, you also got some bathtub gin to soothe your conscience.

Candy Manor Gin (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: More citrus than juniper up front.  Lightly herbal with a lot of lemon peel on the nose.
Taste: Sweet like an Old Tom style gin, as opposed to a London Dry.  Very smooth and appealing with more of the juniper coming through on the palate.  Flavorful with a nice blend of botanicals and a decent amount of flavor behind the distillate.
Finish: Medium long with more spice staying around than citrus.
Overall: Quite mixable and workable in a 3-1 Martini.  Try this in a prohibition era gin cocktail like a Gin Rickey or a White Lady.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Painted Stave Distilling

52906-OldCooch-FrontI love history and often find myself watching documentaries on television.  I’m always amazed at how little I was taught in school about American history.  So, I’ve made it one of my personal agendas to research the origins of American spirits.  Turns out that Old Cooch’s has a tale to tell.

The Old Cooch in question was Thomas Cooch who owned a fair amount of property including a bridge.  Amazingly enough during the entire Revolutionary War, only one battle was ever fought in Delaware and it ended at Cooch’s Bridge on the Old Baltimore Pike in Newark.  On September 3, 1777, the British and Hessian forces overcame the Colonials and took control of the bridge.  To this day, there are sightings of a headless ghost walking on the road near the bridge.  Perhaps he got his head blown off by a cannonball.  Old Cooch’s Corn Whiskey won’t blow your head off, but it will soothe your nerves.

Old Cooch’s Corn Whiskey (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Fresh, grassy funk of corn husk.
Taste: Lighter than expected with a watery mouthfeel.  The flavor is quite vegetal with a fair amount of heat.  There is a dry, semi-tannic quality that creates an oak flavor way at the back of the palate.  Semi-sugary, but balanced between heat and sweet.
Finish: Medium long with a lot of peppery notes percolating through the young oak.
Overall: This might appeal to those fans of moonshine who are looking for a lighter touch than the typical high-proof versions.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Painted Stave Distilling

indexE&J Gallo is launching a new liqueur, Viniq, into national distribution. A blend of premium vodka, Moscato and natural fruit flavor, Viniq was initially tested in seven markets beginning in May 2014 and enjoyed notable success in the nightlife sector in Los Angeles and Atlanta. Targeted at Millennial consumers, the 40-proof liqueur “shimmers” when shaken for an eye-catching effect, Gallo says. Now available nationally, Viniq retails at around $20 a 750-ml. bottle.

imagesIn an unusual twist, Chicago-based CH Distillery has introduced a spirit distilled from beer. The company borrowed several barrels of the neighboring Ale Syndicate’s du Sable Hoppy Saison, de-gassed the liquid and then distilled it twice before resting it in small rum barrels for five months. The resulting product is called Spirit of du Sable (40% ABV), priced at $11 a 2-ounce pour at CH’s own cocktail bar or $14 paired side-by-side with a 12-ounce pour of the original beer. Bottles in a 375-ml. size are available at retail in Illinois, priced at $30. Meanwhile, Chicago-based Mercenary Brewing and Distillery, is set to introduce a gin employing the same hops as its pale ale, as well as a whiskey made from stout. Distribution initially will be limited to northern Illinois.

indexDiageo is launching its second annual collector’s edition of Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky in celebration of the Lunar New Year. Johnnie Walker Blue Label Year of the Ram ($258 a 750-ml.) is now in limited release at retailers across the country. The styling of the new edition nods at traditional Chinese ceramic artistry: when four bottles with their signature Johnnie Walker labels are placed side by side, a single image unfolds, evoking a Chinese scroll painting. The bottle’s artwork illustrates three rams standing in distinguished positions, a traditional reference to the Book of Changes signifying a New Year of great fortune, according to the company.

indexPark City, Utah-based High West Distillery has relaunched Bourye, a Bourbon and rye whiskey hybrid offering. A blend of nine-year-old straight Bourbon and 10- and 16-year-old straight rye whiskies, the returning offering is positioned as a sipping whiskey, intended to be consumed neat or with water. Bourye is currently available across High West’s 42-state footprint, priced at $80 a bottle, and joins the distiller’s existing range of craft whiskies and vodkas.

indexBeam Suntory has introduced Skinnygirl Spicy Lime Margarita. Targeting the spicy-sweet flavor profile that’s growing in popularity, Skinnygirl Spicy Lime Margarita is 10% abv and retails at $12.99 a 750-ml., with a 1.75-liter positioned at $20 to follow next month.

imagesDiageo’s Captain Morgan rum is expanding with three new flavors, including Captain Morgan Pineapple Rum, Coconut Rum and Grapefruit Rum. The trio will be available nationwide, priced at $15.99 a 750-ml., and, according to Diageo, are targeted primarily toward the summer cocktail occasion.

indexMoët Hennessy’s Belvedere vodka has augmented its flavored lineup with the launch of Belvedere Wild Berry. Launching nationwide this April, the summer-inspired expression is made with a natural blend of Polish strawberries and American blueberries and includes no added sugar, the company says. Wild Berry ($34.99 a 750-ml.) marks Belvedere’s sixth flavored entry, joining the brand’s existing Citrus, Pink Grapefruit, Mango Passion, Lemon Tea and Bloody Mary offshoots.

indexBooker’s Bourbon, part of Beam Suntory’s small-batch whiskey stable, has released the first in a series of limited edition Bourbons celebrating founding distiller Booker Noe. The series’ first offering, called Batch 2015-1 or “Big Man, Small Batch,” is a 128.7 proof Bourbon aged seven years and two and a half months. Hand-selected by Fred Noe, Booker’s son and seventh-generation master distiller, Big Man, Small Batch ($54.99) will be followed by more commemorative limited release Booker’s offerings throughout the year.

indexPernod Ricard is launching its high-end Yellow Spot Irish whiskey in the U.S. market, beginning this month. A 12-year-old single pot still whiskey, Yellow Spot was previously available exclusively in select European countries. Made with a mash of malted and unmalted barley and triple distilled in traditional copper pot stills, the whiskey is matured in a combination of American Bourbon, Spanish Sherry and Spanish Malaga casks. It will retail for about $100 a 750-ml. bottle in the U.S. market.

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily


The Hanky Panky has been around since Ada Coleman created it for Charles Hawtry circa WWI at the Savoy Hotel in London.  A classic British cocktail, it is unusual in that it calls for Fernet Branca.  The good folks at Branca challenged me to create an updated version of the drink in time for Valentine’s Day.  After all, everyone should get a little Hanky Panky on February 14th.


A Little Hanky Panky (recipe by Blair Frodelius)
1.75 oz Tanqueray Old Tom Gin
1.75 oz Carpano Antica Vermouth
0.25 oz Cointreau
0.125 Fernet Branca
Dash of The Bitter Truth Orange Flower Water

Directions: Chill cocktail glass, then rinse  inside with Fernet Branca.  Discard extra.  Meanwhile, add other ingredients to mixing glass with ice and stir until well chilled.  Strain into rinsed cocktail glass and enjoy, by Jove!

IMG_7777-800Cocktail recipes are merely templates upon which bartenders impose their own ideas of ratios and ingredients.  So, it’s no surprise that many of the most popular cocktails are those which have been “improved upon” from the original version.  The story of the Bushwhacker goes back to 1975 and the era of the Fern Bar.  Apparently Linda Murphy, the owner of the Pensacola Sandshaker Beach Bar had vacationed in St. Thomas and discovered the drink at the Sapphire Beach Village.  She then tried to recreate it once back home.  It proved to be an instant hit, so much so that only eleven years later the first annual Bushwhacker Festival was held.  It continues to this day.

All that being said, this is very much the love child of the White Russian.  Think of it as a liquid candy bar.

0.5oz coffee liqueur
0.5oz amaretto
0.5oz light rum
0.5oz Irish cream liqueur
2oz half-and-half

Shake with ice. Pour into ice-filled old-fashioned glass.

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