GSN Alert: June 19th – National Martini Day

Mad-Men-Restaurants

The Martini is well deserving of its own day, as it is the most widely recognized cocktail in the world.  At its most basic, it is a combination of gin and dry vermouth.  On the auspicious occasion, GSN is proud to share a few of our favorite Martini recipes from the last 150 years.

Astoria
1 1/2 oz gin
3/4 oz dry vermouth
1 dash orange bitters
Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain
Add olive

Caprice
1 1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1/2 oz Benedictine
1 dash orange bitters
Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain

Dry Martini
2 oz gin
1/4 oz dry vermouth
Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain
Add olive or lemon twist

Gibson
2 oz gin
1/2 oz dry vermouth
Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain
Add onion

Hoffman House
1 3/4 oz gin
3/4 oz dry vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters
Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain
Add olive

Martini
2 oz gin
1/4 oz dry vermouth
1/4 oz sweet vermouth
Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain
Add olive (or lemon twist)

Savoy
1 3/4 oz gin
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1/4 oz Red Dubonnet
Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain
Add orange peel

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 Review: Maurin Vermouth

Maurin_DryBottleshot_300x520pxUntil recently, vermouths have suffered from a bad reputation, partially due to an unfortunate interpretation of the “dry martini”.  Waving a bottle of vermouth over the glass, or bowing in the direction of France totally misses the point.   Vermouth is meant to soften, meld and support a gin base.  Don’t even get me started on shaken vodka martinis.

So, it’s refreshing to see an appreciation for many classic styles of aromatized wines coming back into vogue.  These aren’t newcomers either, many of them are venerable versions with storied histories.  So it is with the French Maurin brand which enjoyed great success from the late 1800’s until the succession of two world wars, prohibition, and the wasteland of disco era cocktails.  The original recipe has been revived for a new appreciative generation of drinkers, and includes an unusual array of infused herbs and spices along with a touch of absinthe.

Maurin currently crafts a dry, a white and a sweet vermouth.  GSN was sent a bottle of the dry for review.

Maurin Dry Vermouth (34 proof)
Visual: Quite pale gold.
Nose: Spicy with a ginger note, bright, clear and crisp.
Taste: Round, smooth and mellow with a fruity sensibility.  Much more in the sweet camp than the tannic dry styles I’m accustomed to.  Quite pleasant and great on its own.
Finish: Some dryness comes through in the mouthfeel after a bit. but the overall effect is of an herbal fruit bomb.
Overall: One of the better dry vermouths I’ve had out of many.  What I particularly like is the warm, summery feel.  Sunshine in a bottle.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Anchor Distilling

GSN Review: Punt e Mes Vermouth

Punt-e-MesPunt e Mes means “point and a half”.  This actually makes sense based on the flavor profile.  It is two parts sweet and one part bitter.  Traditionally, Italian vermouths are a mix of bitter herbs, sweet wine, sugar  and a fortifying distilled alcohol base.  Punt e Mes is a perfect example of the style.  Made by the Carpano family (of Carpano Antica fame) until 2001, this Italian vermouth is now produced by the Fratelli Branca company.

Punt e Mes (32 proof)
Visual: Very dark brown.
Nose: Slightly medicinal in the vein of a Ricola lozenge.
Taste: Quite sweet and yet at the same time, slightly sour and bitter.  The bitterness creeps in towards the end after a large hit of slightly burnt caramel sweetness.  The herbal profile is mild and fairly mellow.
Finish: More sweetness than I prefer.  I’m reminded of cola syrup.
Overall: Better than many Italian vermouths, but somehow lacking a distinct herbal sensibility.
GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Fratelli Branca

GSN Review: Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth

group_anticaVermouth often gets relegated to the back of the bar and literally stays there until the bottle is emptied over a period of months (sometimes years).  Which is a shame, since quality vermouth is a real treat, not to mention crucial to several classic cocktails.

Carpano Antica just happens to be the original sweet Italian vermouth created by Antonio Benedetto Carpano in 1786 when he was just 22 years old.  Based in Turin, Italy, he infused over 30 types of herbs and spices in a neutral spirit which he distilled and to which he added white wine.  It was an instant hit, and vermouth has been so ever since.

Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (33 proof)
Visual: Dark brown.
Nose: Low notes of root beer and sweet caramel; high notes of candied orange peel and anise.
Taste: Slightly sweet at first, but the bitter notes accent quickly.  Very even-tempered and botanical.
Finish: A great palate cleanser with a flavor profile reminiscent of a German digestif, in spite of this being an aperitif.  Lingering bitter notes last quite a while.
Overall: This tastes crafted and not at all like inexpensive mass-produced sweet vermouths which often have a burnt caramel flavor which overwhelms everything.  You can drink this neat or with a twist of orange or lemon peel.  Absolutely perfect in a Manhattan.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Fratelli Branca

GSN Review: Martini & Rossi 150th Year Anniversary

image_martini-rossi_product-lineIt’s hard to imagine the world without Martinis.  Yet, at one time, finding dry vermouth in the United States was difficult, and when a recipe called for vermouth, every bartender would assume the sweet and dark style.  It is in no small part that the company of Martini & Rossi has been at the forefront of popularizing vermouth as a cocktail ingredient for 150 years, and are one of the most recognized brands worldwide.  How did they come to epitomize the timeless classiness of aromatized wine?

It all began in Turin, Italy in 1863.  Founded by Alessandro Martini who understood the properties of herbs, and Luigi Rossi a well-known wine merchant, they had immediate success with their vermouth. Over the ensuing decade, the company utilized up and coming artists to create their iconic poster art, including works by Marcello Dudovich and Andy Warhol.  The company truly understood the idea of brand recognition, and it has served them well.  Order a Martini in Europe, and you will not get a cocktail mixed with gin, dry vermouth and orange bitters, but rather a glass of vermouth on the rocks.  The waiter will only ask if you prefer blanc or rouge.

Today, the company has a large array of products ranging from sparkling wines to dessert wines, but at the heart of it all are the two vermouths.  So, in honor of the 150th anniversary of the great Martini & Rossi, I present my review of the following products from their portfolio:

Rosso (15% alc.) – Quite sweet with a burnt caramel overtone.  Spices and herbs are subtle, but support the overall body.  A good, solid sweet vermouth, but lacks subtlety.  GSN Rating: B+

Extra Dry (15% alc.) – Light and slightly fruity with a dry character.  The herbs work well here to counterbalance any inherent sweetness in the wine.  GSN Rating: A-

Asti (7.5% alc.) – A sweet and slightly musky sparkling wine with a load of sugar content.  Quite carbonated and bubbly.  Quite fruity.  GSN Rating: B

Moscato d’Asti (5% alc.) – A floral bouquet, with an intensely fruity flavor.  Very sweet and dessert-like.  The grape flavor is smooth and juicy with a lot of sugar retention.  Definitely an after dinner dessert wine.  GSN Rating: B

Rose (9.5% alc.) – Quite sweet, but with a lot of tight carbonation which tempers the fruitiness.  The grape flavor is quite prevalent and leaning towards Demi-sec in terms of sugar.  Good balanced flavor overall with no bitterness.  GSN Rating: A-

Prosecco (10.5% alc.) – Lightly carbonated with a sweet and slightly bitter character.  There is a chalkiness in the mouthfeel which adds body to the overall effect.  Flavorful and with a somewhat apple-like character.  Perfect for brunch!  GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Martini