GSN Annual Holiday Gift Guide 2014 Edition

santa-napkinTime for our first annual round-up of the best gifts you can give your spirited friends and family this holiday season!  Cheers!


20130513_203300_13684735807Caffe Borghetti If I weren’t already a french-press coffee drinker, I’d switch to Caffe Borghetti every morning.  This is like fresh brewed boozy espresso.  Highly recommended!

kringle_cream_bowKringle Cream Liqueur Kringle has a dairy-fresh flavor that takes me back to childhood.  Like a butterscotch and maple cream flavored dessert.  I’d gladly drink this over eating a Danish, any day.

125th_Front_SMBLEFour Roses 125th Anniversary Bourbon  This is a world-class bourbon that exemplifies the art of distilling and blending.  Well worth seeking out to “cellar”.  Kudos to Master Distiller Jim Rutledge for this engaging beauty!

indexOld English Gin  Really well done and a testament to the historical recipes of the 1700’s.  It’s no wonder that Britains went mad for this style of gin.

Tindexhe BenRiach Authenticus 25 Year Old Peated Single Malt  Sweet, smokey, salty, tannic, grainy, malty, saline, spiced and fruity.  Yet throughout all of this, there is a total cohesiveness.  A killer whisky that defies tradition.

indexBaker’s Bourbon  This is like pure bourbon candy.  I’ve been sipping it for a few weeks every now and then, and I am still impressed.

indexTres Agaves Silver Tequila  Summer in a glass.  This is the kind of tequila you want to take home and introduce to your mother.

indexRedbreast 21-Year-Old Whiskey  They’ve done it again.  The Midleton Distillers have set the bar for Irish whiskies beyond anything else on the market.  Honestly, if it weren’t for the fact that it retails for $200+ a bottle, I would gladly make this my daily nightcap.

indexRhum Clement Select Barrel  So good, you’ll be saddened when the bottle is empty.  Absolutely one of the finest rhums I’ve ever had.

indexCitadelle Reserve Solera 2013 Gin  The mouthfeel is amazing and there is a lot of body to this gin that is unlike either the Plymouth style or Dutch genever.  Just outstanding.  This will make any cocktail wake up!

indexBarrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur  One of the best liqueurs I’ve had in a while.  Not only does it taste homemade, but it has a tropical/Asian sensibility that makes it indispensable for use in tropical based cocktails.

indexSelvarey Cacao Rum  Many flavored rums tend to extremes.  This one in no way can be improved upon.  A true artisanal rum that everyone should try at least once in their life.

indexIlegal Mezcal  This is a lovely mezcal that excels at everything.  Flavor, balance, distillation, mouthfeel, you name it.  Mezcal lovers seek this one out!

indexKavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon Single Cask Strength Whisky  Wow.  Just killer.  One of the finest bourbon barrel-aged whiskies I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking.

indexKavalan Solist Vinho Cask Strength Whisky  A killer whisky that shouldn’t work as well as it does.  I was amazed from the get-go at how well the flavor of the wine meshes with whisky.

Partida Anejo - Hi ResPartida Anejo Tequila  Absolutely beautiful.  An amazing tequila that will enhance a traditional Mexican meal.  If I had to choose a tequila to celebrate the spirit of Mexican distillation, this would be it.

indexThe Hakashu Single Malt Heavily Peated Whiskey  Possibly the finest Japanese peated whisky on the planet.  If you can find a bottle, buy it immediately and only share with your closest friends and loved ones.

indexBasil Hayden’s Bourbon  My current favorite bourbon for sipping straight, this also is absolutely amazing in Manhattans, Sazeracs and even Old Fashioneds.

indexAnchor Old Tom Gin  This gin is everything is should be and nothing it shouldn’t be.  Fantastic in a simple highball, but also with enough depth of character to shine in complex gin based cocktails.

indexAuchentoshan American Oak Whisky  This is a spirit to convert non-Scotch lovers to the wonderful world of Scotch.  If you are already a Scotchophile, this is one to keep within hand’s reach when arriving home after a bitterly cold winter’s day.

1413301533807Awestruck Lavender Hops Cider  Each sip surprises the palate and engages the mind to really reflect on what you’re drinking.  Very clever, creative and a real winner among ciders!


20131001_102455_138330149557Beachbum Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean by Jeff Berry (Cocktail Kingdom)  Literally every page is dripping with amazing discoveries, photographs and recipes that you will find it hard to put down.  It’s almost as if you are watching the history of what are collectively known as “tiki drinks” unfold in a “Mad Men” type way.

index17The Art of the Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level by Dinah Sanders (Sanders & Gratz)  Where has this book been all my life?  For those of us who love to sample as many cocktails as we can when visiting a new bar, unfortunately there comes a point where the alcohol wins.

51un7zkafil-_aa160_The Bar Book by Jeffrey Morgenthaler (Chronicle Books)  You may want to invest in some quality bottles if you really get serious, but it’s also just plain fun to realize that cocktails can be more than the sum of store-bought ingredients.  Cocktails ultimately can be infused with a part of yourself.

41jritnrd7l-_aa160_Death & Co. Modern Classic Cocktails by David Kaplan, Nick Fauchald & Alex Day (Ten Speed Press)  Out of the hundreds of cocktail guides out there, this one more than any other makes you feel like you are right there working with the bartenders from opening to last call.


indexBob’s Chocolate Bitters  Honestly, a minute after tasting these, I’d swear I just ate some chocolate.  Nicely done.

indexBob’s Ginger Bitters  Even if you weren’t to use these in a cocktail, they would be a great digestion aid in tea.  Really tasty too.


jackson-cannon-bar-knife-256px-256pxJackson Cannon Bar Knife  I honestly have not used a better knife at the bar, though I’ve tried many others over the years.  This is a sure winner that will become a cherished part of your routine behind the stick.

GSN Review: Anchor Old Tom Gin

6a00e553b3da20883401a73e101c66970dAnchor Distilling Company out of San Francisco already crafts two other styles of gin.  Their latest hearkens back to London, England circa 1823 when Old Tom was credited to Thomas Chamberlin an associate of the owner of Hedge’s Distillery.  The image of a Tom Cat goes back even further to a particular tavern in London which used it to let thirsty customers know that they could procure a mouthful of gin there.

What’s the unique difference between this style of gin and London Dry or even Plymouth?  Old Tom is sweetened with star anise and licorice root.  Anchor has added a third sweetener which has been making inroads in the culinary world of late: stevia.  Stevia comes from Paraguay, making this a truly New World style of gin.

Anchor Old Tom Gin (90 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Sharp piney notes in the forefront with a softer citrus and spice background.  Very fresh smelling.
Taste: Solid juniper entrance leads quickly into a slightly sweet spice driven bomb.  There’s no question that this is a traditional gin flavor, but the hint of sly sweetness softens the blow and actually rounds it out quite nicely.
Finish: Medium long with the final flavors leaning in the direction of chicle gum.  Interesting.
Overall: Another winner from Anchor Distilling.  This gin is everything is should be and nothing it shouldn’t be.  Fantastic in a simple highball, but also with enough depth of character to shine in complex gin based cocktails.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Anchor Distilling

GSN Backbar Review: Sepember 1-5, 2014

indexEdrington Americas, known for its Scotch whisky portfolio, has entered the vodka segment with the launch of Snow Leopard, a super-premium brand. Made and bottled in Poland, Snow Leopard is produced from spelt grain and distilled six times. Retailing at $34.99 a 750-ml. bottle, it’s currently available in top markets including New York, Miami, Dallas, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Edrington acquired Snow Leopard in late 2012 and, in addition to the U.S., the brand is present in London and pockets of Europe. Its profits support efforts to save the endangered snow leopard in Mongolia and Tibet.

indexBacardi is launching its super-premium Facundo Rum Collection into the California market. The lineup, which currently features four limited edition aged sipping rums, will be available at select on- and off-premise accounts throughout Los Angeles and San Francisco this fall. The move marks the collection’s first market expansion, following its November 2013 debut in New York and Miami. Ranging in price from $45-$250, Bacardi’s Facundo Rum Collection includes Neo, a blended white rum aged for up to eight years; Eximo, a blended rum aged for more than 10 years; Exquisito, which is made with 7- to 23-year-old rums and finished in Sherry casks; and Paraiso, which is aged for up to 23 years and finished in Cognac casks.

indexBeam Suntory’s Jim Beam Bourbon has added three new labels to its upscale Signature Craft range. Rolling out nationwide, Jim Beam Signature Craft Quarter Cask marks the collection’s third expression, as well as its second limited-edition offering. Quarter Cask, which is priced at $39.99 a 750-ml., is aged for a minimum of five years and finished with a variety of quarter cask Bourbons, then aged for at least another four years in smaller barrels. Concurrently, Jim Beam has launched its Signature Craft Harvest Bourbon Collection, a new series featuring six Bourbons made with different grains. Jim Beam has debuted Harvest Bourbon’s first two entries—Signature Craft Soft Red Wheat Bourbon and Signature Craft Brown Rice Bourbon, both of which retail for $49.99—with the series’ additional four expressions set to rollout throughout 2015.

indexSan Francisco’s Anchor Distilling has released Anchor Old Tom Gin, its third small-batch gin entry. Made with juniper berries, star anise, licorice root and stevia, the new 45%-abv offering is bottled unfiltered, and billed as a sweeter style than a London dry gin. Anchor Old Tom Gin, which is priced at $29.95 a 750-ml., joins Junipero gin, a London dry gin, and Genevieve, a Genever-style gin, in Anchor Distilling’s existing portfolio. Additionally, Anchor Distilling handles Berry Bros. & Rudd’s No. 3 London dry gin in the U.S.

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily