GSN Year in Review 2018 Edition: The Best of the Best

Each year, the Good Spirits News offices receive hundreds of products sent to us unsolicited for review.  While many are good, some are average, and a few are poor, what we always hope for is a product that is 1) true to its style, 2) exceptionally well crafted and 3) creative.

The following are the various products that garnered GSN ratings ranging from an A- to an A++ during this calendar year.  All are highly recommended and well worth seeking out.

Unsurprisingly, American whiskies dominated the field, while other worldwide whiskies also made inroads into the fastest growing segment of the spirits industry.

Amaro
Amaro Montenegro
Baltamaro Amaros
Cerasum Aperitivo
Donna Rosa Rabarbaro
Riga Black Balsam Bitter

Brandy
Hine Rare, Homage & Antique Cognac
Pierre Ferrand Renegade Barrel No. 1 Cognac
Pierre Ferrand Renegade Barrel No. 2 Eau-de-vie

Cocktail Subscription Box
Shaker & Spoon Cocktail Club Subscription Boxes

Genever
Bols 100% Malt Spirit

Gin – American
Battle Standard American Dry Navy Strength Gin
Rogue Spirits Gin

Gin – Flavored
Beefeater Pink Gin
Luxardo Sour Cherry Gin

Gin – Irish
Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin

Glassware
Tequila & Mezcal Jarritos Glasses

Liqueur
Colina Colada

Rum
Bacardi Añejo Cuatro, Reserva Ocho & Gran Reserva Diez Rums
Bumbu Rum
Don Q Double Aged Vermouth Cask Finish Rum
Owney’s Rum
Plantation Jamaica Xaymaca Special Dry Rum

Rum – Flavored
Hue-Hue Coffee Rum

Sake
HeavenSake Sake

Shochu – Flavored
Rihei Ginger

Syrups & Bitters
Curious No. 1 Cocktail Elixir
RAFT Botanicals Cocktail Syrups & Bitters
RAFT Botanicals Cranberry Five Spice Cocktail Syrup

Vermouth
La Valdotaine Amaro Dente di Leone & Verney Vermouth
Little City Vermouth

Vodka
Nemiroff Vodka

Vodka – Flavored
Nemiroff Vodka

Whiskey – American
Bare Knuckle Bourbon, Rye & Wheat Whiskies
Basil Hayden’s 10 Year Old Bourbon Whiskey
Basil Hayden’s Two by Two Rye
Booker’s Batch 2018-02 “Backyard BBQ”
Booker’s “Kathleen’s Batch” Bourbon
Brewers Batch No. 2 Virginia-Highland Whisky
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch No. C918
FEW American Whiskey
Heaven’s Door American Whiskeys
Heaven Hill 27-Year-Old Barrel Proof Whiskey
J.H. Cutter Whisky
Knob Creek Cask Rye Whiskey
Knob Creek Twice Barreled Rye
Little Book Whiskey: Noe Simple Task
Lock Stock & Barrel 18-Year Straight Rye Whiskey
Maker’s Mark Private Select & Cask Strength
McKenzie Bottled in Bond Bourbon Whiskey
McKenzie Single Barrel Bourbon – Lucky Hare Collaboration
Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Fall 2018 Edition
Parker’s Heritage Collection 12th Edition Whiskey
Redwood Empire American Whiskey
Rogue Spirits Whiskies
Tommyrotter Triple Barrel American Whiskey
Westland Garryana 2018, Edition 3|1 Whiskey
WhistlePig The Boss Hog V: The Spirit of Mauve

Whiskey – Flavored
Hochstadter’s Slow & Low Rock and Rye Whiskey

Whisky – French
Brenne French Single Malt Whisky

Whiskey – Irish
Egan’s Fortitude Irish Whiskey
Egan’s Legacy Reserve Irish Whiskey
Kilbeggan Small Batch Rye Irish Whiskey
Powers Three Swallow Irish Whiskey
Tipperary Boutique Distillery Whiskey
The Tyrconnell 15 Year Old Madeira Cask Finish

Whisky – Japanese
Nikka Whiskey From The Barrel

Whisky – Scotch
Glenfiddich Fire & Cane
The Glenlivet Code
Glenmorangie Signet
Glenmorangie Spios
Highland Park’s The DARK Whisky
Highland Park Valknut Whisky
Laphroaig Cairdeas Fino Cask

GSN Alert: May 5th – Cinco de Mayo

Cinco_de_Mayo,_1901_posterMany people assume that Cinco de Mayo is the Mexican equivalent of the United States’ Independence Day.  Not so.  That originally happened on September 16, 1810.  Instead, Cinco de Mayo took place on May 5th in 1862 and is a day of remembrance for a key battle that took place in Puebla, Mexico.  For both Mexico and the U.S., it was a day that is significant for two reasons.  1) It was the first time that the French had been defeated in any battle in over 50 years, and by an army half its size, and 2) it was the last time a European country tried to invade North America.

Regardless of your nationality, any holiday is always a good time to have a drink or two.  So, in that spirit, GSN is happy to share a few non-Margarita recipes with you to mark the day in style.

Conquistador
Created by Milagro Brand Ambassador Jaime Salas
1 ½ parts Milagro Reposado
½ part Ancho Reyes
½ part Crème de Cacao
½ part Manzanilla Sherry
1 dash Angostura Orange Bitters

Chill coupe glass with ice and water and set aside. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir until well chilled and diluted. Discard chilling ice from the coupe. Strain ingredients into chilled coupe. Using a vegetable peeler, remove a long piece of orange peel. Express the oil over the cocktail, rub the peel around the rim of the glass, and place atop the cocktail.


Berentzen Apple Guava Rita
1.5 ounces of Berentzen Apple
1 ounce tequila
3 ounces guava nectar
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
Garnish with lime wedge.  Salt or sugar rim to taste.

Combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake vigorously.  Pour into margarita glass.  Garnish with lime wedge.


Thunder & Spice
Created by Thor Messer (The Rumpus Room, Milwaukee)
1 1/4 oz St. George California Agricole Rum
1 oz Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur
2/3 oz simple syrup
2/3 oz fresh lime juice
1 dash Bittercube Orange Bitters

Shake all ingredients well then double strain into a chilled coupe glass.


Destornillador
Created by Blair Frodelius (Good Spirits News)
1.5 oz. Hangar One Chipotle Vodka
1.5 oz. fresh squeezed orange juice
0.25 oz. Chartreuse Yellow
2 dashes Fee’s Aztec Chocolate Bitters

Add ingredients to mixing glass and shake with ice.  Strain into chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with dried red chipotle pepper lengthwise on bamboo spear and laid across top of the glass.


Shangra-lita
Created by Blair Frodelius (Good Spirits News)
1.5 oz Pama Liqueur
1 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
0.75 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tsp simple syrup
2 dashes Tabasco sauce
0.5 oz Club soda

Mix all ingredients except club soda in ice filled shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and top off with club soda.  Stir gently and serve.

GSN Review: Perfect Purée of Napa Valley Hibiscus

sh-homeNative to warm-temperate, subtropical and tropical regions, the hibiscus is a flowering plant from the mallow family, Malvaceae. Hibiscus is high in antioxidants and flavonoids and has cooling properties. Cultures throughout history have enjoyed hibiscus tea, from the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt to many countries in Central America and the Caribbean. In Hawaiian culture, a single Hibiscus flower is usually worn by women and depending on which ear it is worn behind, it signals whether or not she is available for marriage.

Perfect Purée of Napa Valley Sweet Hibiscus has slightly sweet and tart, lemon-berry notes that will be a favorite for chefs and bartenders alike. Created from the extract of the edible hibiscus flower, the floral aromatics of this flavor will inspire tropical creations from beverage to sorbet.

GSN loves these easy to use, fresh and flavorful fruit, herb and flower purees in our cocktails.  We recommend ordering a sample pack to experiment with.

GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Perfect Puree

GSN Alert: 2014 Tales of the Cocktail® Official Cocktail Competition

2014-Logo-with-New-OrleansTaming the Hurricane For the 2014 Cocktail Competition, Tales of the Cocktail® is getting back to its New Orleans roots by celebrating one of the city’s most renowned cocktails: The Hurricane. A legend of the French Quarter since the 1940s, the Hurricane has become a staple in bars around the world. Now we’re challenging bartenders to pay homage to this classic cocktail with their own creations. The Hurricane hails from Pat O’Brien’s on Bourbon Street.  Whiskey was in short supply after WWII, while liquor distributors were overstocked in rum; their solution was to force bars to buy a case of rum with every Scotch purchase.  Legend has it that Pat O’Brien’s head bartender, Louis Culligan, came up with the Hurricane as a way to get rid of all that rum.  Culligan revealed his recipe to “Cabaret” magazine in 1956:  4 ounces of gold rum, the juice of 2 lemons, and 2 ounces of “Fassionola,” a brand of bottled red passion fruit mix. How you reinterpret this drink for 2014 is up to you, but in order not to stray too far from the original concept, your recipe must follow these three rules:

  •     Your base spirits must include (but are not limited to) at least one rum.
  •     Your sweetening agents must include (but are not limited to) passion fruit.
  •     It doesn’t matter how you get there, but the color of your drink should be red — or at least reddish, which is one of the hallmarks of the Hurricane.  So is the Hurricane’s signature curvaceous tall glass; bonus points for crafting a drink that looks good in one.

Click here to enter: TOTC 2014 Competition