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: Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur

barrows-intense-gingerWe here at the GSN offices are always on the lookout for a good ginger beer for our Moscow Mules and Dark & Stormy cocktails.  So, we were intrigued by the bottle of Barrow’s that arrived a few weeks ago.  Not a ginger beer, but a 100% natural ginger liqueur which could be used to both amp up the ginger flavor in less than stellar highball and also act as a spicy addition to just about cocktail out there.  This is quite versatile.

Crafted in Brooklyn, NY by Josh Morton and named after the Manhattan street where he worked developing his recipe, he still  oversees every aspect of the process.  Less than 2,000 bottles have been made so far, so this is in a very real sense a boutique liqueur.  He starts with 30 pounds of locally purchased fresh ginger and then prepares it for infusion by hand.  It is then rested in unaged cane spirit for thirty days.  He fills the bottles by hand (I love the stopper top) and finishes by numbering each one.  I happened to get bottle #1405.

As a bonus for those readers who have special requirements for their libations, Barrow’s is gluten-free and certified kosher.

Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur (44 proof)
Visual: A cloudy yellow.  (Shake the bottle before use).
Nose: Spicy ginger juice with more than a touch of the heat to come.
Taste: A first, it just seems sweet and intensely sugary.  The mouthfeel is thick and syrupy.  After a few seconds though, the heat comes through brilliantly.  Fresh, intense (as the name suggests) and amazingly flavorful.
Finish: The percolating heat goes on for several minutes.  There is a sweetness, but it doesn’t seem at odds with the overall ginger character.
Overall: 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.  Use this in place of ginger syrup or Domaine de Canton. As a total plus, this makes for a perfect digestive after a large meal.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Barrow’s Intense

GSN Backbar Review: April 7-11, 2014

indexSerrallés USA and Brooklyn-based Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur have formed a new U.S. sales and marketing partnership. The 22%-abv ginger liqueur will join Serrallés USA’s portfolio, which includes Don Q, Caliche Rum, Palo Viejo, Death’s Door Spirits, Wondermint and Kringle Cream Liqueur. Beginning in April and May, the rollout will focus on markets in the Northeast, with Southern Wine & Spirits distributing the product in New York, Fedway in New Jersey, Brescome Barton, Inc. in Connecticut and M.S. Walker in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C. and Maryland will follow later this year and national distribution is expected in 2015. Barrow’s retails for about $31.99 a 750-ml. and $19.99 a 375-ml.

indexDiageo has partnered with global soccer icon David Beckham and entrepreneur Simon Fuller for the worldwide launch of Haig Club Single Grain Scotch Whisky. Produced by House of Haig, one of Scotland’s oldest grain whisky makers, Haig Club is crafted by combining grain from three cask types for a smooth taste the company hopes will draw in new consumers of whisky as well as current whisky drinkers. Along with Haig Club, House of Haig also produces the Haig Blended Scotch and Dimple Scotch whiskies.

indexBeam Inc. is releasing the latest expression of Sauza Tequila’s ready-to-serve Sparkling Margarita range, Sauza Sparkling Margarita Watermelon. Following last year’s successful launch of the Sparkling line—which includes Original Lime, Wild Berry and Mango Peach—Watermelon will launch this month with a suggested retail price of $12.99 a 750-ml. The 9.95%-abv extensions use Sauza Silver Tequila for a base that is complemented by Triple Sec and made sparkling.

indexAgave Loco’s RumChata cream liqueur brand has launched its new RumChata Summer Iced Coffee Sampler Pack nationwide. The pack, which includes two 8-ounce cans of Casa del Sol coffee and a 750-ml. bottle of RumChata, provides the ingredients needed to make a RumChata iced coffee cocktail. The RumChata Summer Iced Coffee Sampler Pack is priced at around $19.95, in line with a regular 750-ml. of RumChata.

indexCognac Ferrand is debuting the Citadelle Gin Reserve Solera 2013 to the U.S. market this month. The French company’s latest release from its gin range is aged in three different casks for between two and five months and is then poured into a main solera vat before being bottled to achieve solera aging, the first gin to be produced in this method, according to the company. The casks used are ex-Cognac, ex-Pineau des Charente and American oak casks. The 44%-abv Citadelle Gin Solera Vintage 2013 is available nationwide in the U.S. for a suggested retail price of $34.99 a 750-ml.

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily