GSN Alert: Cocktail Book Preview – Winter 2018 (January-March)

It’s looking to be a long winter, so why not curl up with a good book?  GSN presents the latest round-up of new titles coming out in the next three months.  Learn some new tricks, brush up on your knowledge, and try a new cocktail or two!

The Pocket Guide to Whisky by Blair Bowman (Birlinn Pocket Guides) The ever-expanding world of whisky can be a daunting one, with a deluge of new brands, distilleries and literature on the subject making it all but impossible for the amateur whisky drinker to find their feet in the industry. Following on from the bestselling Pocket Guide to Wine, Blair Bowman provides a compact and accessible, easy-to-use guide to help budding whisky enthusiasts on their way. Uniquely, The Pocket Guide to Whisky explores every kind of whisky, from the well known Scottish giants of Glenlivet, to the exotic Japanese Hibiki, and includes the ever-growing and hotly debated blended whiskies too! This little volume will tell you everything you need to know, from what to look for in whisky and what to avoid, to getting the best value for money to the perfect accompaniments to your dram and the ideal whisky for every occasion. From novice to expert, this guide enables whisky lovers to find out more about the brands they already like and to make informed choices as they explore further.

Whiskies Galore: A Tour of Scotland’s Island Distilleries by Ian Buxton (Birlinn Ltd) Island whiskies have long held a fascination and a powerful emotional draw on whisky drinkers the world over. Their special combination of heritage, mystique, and remote location captures the imagination; their highly distinctive flavours are often imitated but seldom bettered. There have been few books on island whisky and none written in recent years. But Whiskies Galore is not your average whisky book. It is not merely a catalogue of distilleries, but a story of discovery and adventure. Join Ian Buxton on a personal journey across Scotland’s islands, where he learns to shoot with high explosives, ends up hurling his dinner into the sea, and comes face to face with a basking shark. Combining an expert’s knowledge of whisky with a travel writer’s fondness for anecdote, and with a keen description of place, he provides a special treat for all who love the islands’ magical drams.

The Connoisseur’s Guide to Worldwide Spirits: Selecting and Savoring Whiskey, Vodka, Scotch, Rum, Tequila . . . and Everything Else (An Expert’s Guide … and Savoring Every Spirit in the World) by Richard Carleton Hacker (Skyhorse Publishing) Everyone thinks that they know how to drink, but do you really know the difference between a scotch and a whiskey? How about a gin or vodka martini? Do you know whether Johnny Walker is a single malt or a scotch? Well now is the time to finally learn the definitive answers to these questions, and so many more that you’ve always had about your favorite drinks. In The Connoisseur’s Guide to Worldwide Drinking, world-class connoisseur and celebrated critic Richard Carleton Hacker provides you with all the information that you’ll ever need to properly enjoy and imbibe very type of spirit, and to start drinking alcohol the right way. Complete more than a 100 full color photographs, The Connoisseur’s Guide to Worldwide Drinking is a perfect buy for every alcohol consumer, whether novice or aficionado. With The Connoisseur’s Guide to Worldwide Drinking you’ll be the most knowledgeable drinker in every bar that you walk into and at every cocktail party that you attend.

What a Swell Party It Was!: Rediscovering Food & Drink from the Golden Age of the American Nightclub by Michael Turback (Skyhorse Publishing) Opening this book is like swinging open the doors to another time and place, when big city life was a unique mixture of innocence and sophistication, romance and formality. It spotlights twenty-five legendary clubs that thrived in the 1930s and ’40s, just as Jazz exploded into mainstream popularity and alcohol was no longer illegal to serve. Through these pages and recipes, enter past the proverbial velvet rope into establishments forever-immortalized, such as Chez Paree in Chicago, Café Trocadero in Hollywood, The Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles, The Blue Room in New Orleans, and New York City’s Cotton Club. In addition to including entrée, appetizer, dessert, and cocktail recipes from their original menus, each featured venue will be introduced with vivid anecdotes and history, narrated in a breezy style and illustrated with reproductions of vintage photos.

Sunny’s Nights: Lost and Found at a Bar on the Edge of the World by Tim Sultan (Random House Trade Paperbacks) The first time he saw Sunny’s Bar, in 1995, Tim Sultan was lost, thirsty for a drink, and intrigued by the single bar sign among the forlorn warehouses lining the Brooklyn waterfront. Inside, he found a dimly lit room crammed with maritime artifacts, a dozen well-seasoned drinkers, and, strangely, a projector playing a classic Martha Graham dance performance. Sultan knew he had stumbled upon someplace special. What he didn’t know was that he had just found his new home. Soon enough, Sultan has quit his office job to bar tend full-time for Sunny Balzano, the bar’s owner. A wild-haired Tony Bennett lookalike with a fondness for quoting Shakespeare and Samuel Beckett, Sunny is truly one of a kind. Born next to the saloon that has been in his family for one hundred years, Sunny has over the years partied with Andy Warhol, spent time in India at the feet of a guru, and painted abstract expressionist originals. But his masterpiece is the bar itself, a place where a sublime mix of artists, mobsters, honky-tonk musicians, neighborhood drunks, nuns, longshoremen, and assorted eccentrics rub elbows. Set against the backdrop of a rapidly transforming city, Sunny’s Nights is a loving and singular portrait of the dream experience we’re all searching for every time we walk into a bar, and an enchanting memoir of an unlikely and abiding friendship.

Julep: Southern Cocktails Refashioned by Alba Huerta & Marah Stets (Lorena Jones Books) Craft cocktail maven Alba Huerta succinctly tells the story of drinking in the South through themes such as “Trading with the Enemy,” “the Rural South,” “the Drinking Society,” “the Saltwater South,” and others that anchor the menu at her destination bar, Julep. With historical overviews, 15 bar snack recipes, and 65 bespoke cocktail recipes, ranging from the iconic Mint Julep (and variations such as Rye Julep and Sparkling Julep) to modern inventions like the Snakebit Sprout, Liquid Currency, and Hot July, Huerta recounts the tales and traditions that define drinking culture in the American South today. Approximately 80 evocative cocktail and location photographs convey the romance and style that distinguish Julep and serve to inspire beverage enthusiasts to relive Southern history via the bar cart.

Belgian Abbey Beers by Jef Van den Steen (Lannoo Publishers) Belgian beer expert Jef Van den Steen looks at the history and production of all thirty Belgian abbey beers. What are the remarkable stories about this authentic, labor-intensive product? In which way are Trappist beers different from the others? In Belgian Abbey Beers, Jef Van den Steen unravels the different stages in the production process of the beers and talks very passionately about the origin and development of the various breweries within the walls or under the license of the abbey. Each brewery is presented with practical information, different types of beer, and tips for tourists. Photographer Andrew Verschetze magnificently captures the beers from the barrel to the glass.

 

 

GSN Alert: October 4th – National Vodka Day

vodka_glass_gl_16dec10_istock_bIn honor of National Vodka Day, Good Spirits News is proud to share some of our many reviews from over the years, plus a few original flavored vodka cocktails created by Blair Frodelius.  Cheers!

Alchemia

Aylesbury Duck

Bak’s Bison Grass

Bengerminz

Bootlegger 21

Boru

Cariel

Chopin

Crystal Head

Deep Eddy

Double Cross

Exclusiv & here

Golia

Karlsson’s Gold

Ketel One

Leaf

Michael Godard

Orange V

Oval

Purity

Rehorst

Reyka

Russian Diamond

Smooth Ambler

Sobieski

Spring 44

Tuthilltown Indigenous

Vesica

Wódka

Orient Express
2 oz citron vodka
1 0z grand marnier
0.5 oz canton ginger liqueur
0.5 oz lime juice
2 dashes Fee’s orange bitters
Shake and strain into cocktail glass.  Spear a piece of pickled ginger on bamboo skewer and lay across top of glass.

Admiral Perry
2 oz absolut pear vodka
1 oz original cinn schnapps
1 oz dry vermouth
0.25 teaspoon white creme de cacao
Add all ingredients to mixing glass and stir with ice until chilled.  Strain into cocktail glass.  Garnish with a thin slice of pear.

GSN Review: Pearl Lime Basil & Strawberry Basil Vodka

Pearl_LB_SB_900

Pearl vodka is made from winter wheat and Canadian Rocky Mountain water. Each bottle is distilled five times and filtered.  Nautral flavorings are then added.

Pearl Lime Basil Vodka (70 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: More lime peel than basil leaf, but a very interesting mix.
Taste: Quite sweet and sugary with a lime forward flavor.  The basil disappears altogether here which is a shame.
Finish: Medium long with a lot of residual sweetness.
Overall: I would have liked more basil presence.  But, on a more positive note, you can drink this straight from the freezer or on the rocks and it works as a decent pre-mixed cocktail.
GSN Rating: B

Pearl Strawberry Basil Vodka (70 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Strawberry bubblegum nose, with no basil detected at all.
Taste: Again, more of the strawberry chewing gum flavor with a sweetness to match.  No basil makes itself known.
Finish: Medium long with lasting sugary, sweet notes of artificial strawberry flavor.
Overall: A rather flat and disappointing vodka.  This could have been an interesting entrant in the flavored vodka category, but it just doesn’t live up to its promise.
GSN Rating: C-

For more information go to: Pearl Vodka

GSN Backbar Review: July 13-17, 2015

indexRoyal Dutch Distillers, the Miami-based division of the Netherlands’ DeKuyper Royal Distillers, is introducing a new spirits brand, Rutte, in the U.S. market. A collection of spirits produced at Holland’s Rutte distillery, the line includes a Dry Gin, Dry Celery Gin, Old Simon Genever and Vodka. The Rutte range will be distributed in 40 U.S. markets, retailing around $38 a bottle.

indexBacardi Ltd. has unveiled Bonnie Rose, a new Tennessee white corn whiskey brand. Produced using an 80% white corn mash and copper pot stills, the Bonnie Rose lineup makes its debut with a pair of 35%-abv fruit flavored entries, Orange Peel and Spiced Apple. Both retail at around $19 a bottle. The range, which is being backed by a digital content series throughout the summer and fall, will initially launch across Nashville, Tennessee, with a nationwide expansion to follow shortly after. Along with Bonnie Rose, Bacardi’s American whiskey portfolio includes the Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon range.

indexBrown-Forman has unveiled Barrel Proof, the latest entry in its Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Collection. Aged in charred white American oak, each barrel of Jack Daniel’s Barrel Proof is exposed to a range of temperature variations, resulting in a whiskey that hovers between 125-140 proof. The new Single Barrel offering will be available nationwide starting in August, retailing at around $65 a 750-ml. The newcomer marks the second iteration in Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel lineup, following the launch of Single Barrel Select, a 94-proof single barrel Tennessee whiskey.

indexBacardi Ltd.’s Martini vermouth brand is adding a higher-priced tier to its range in the U.S. market. Martini’s new Riserva Speciale vermouths, including a Rubino (Ruby) and Ambrato (Amber), will roll out this fall, targeting the on-premise cocktail segment as well as selected retail accounts. Both new entries are 18% abv—slightly higher than the core brand’s 16%—and will be positioned at roughly $15 a 750-ml., or about a 50% premium to Martini’s core range, which includes Rosso, Extra Dry and Bianco offerings. Martini’s Riserva Speciale vermouths are differentiated by their use of 100% Italian wines—Langhe DOC Nebbiolo for the Rubino and Moscato d’Asti DOCG for the Ambrato—and a mix of botanicals that has been married in Piemontese “Tino” vats for two months.

imagesCocktail shot brand Liqs is expanding availability into the New York and New Jersey markets. Including Tequila Cinnamon Orange, Vodka Lychee Grapefruit, Vodka Kamikaze, Vodka Cucumber Lime and newly released Vodka Lemon Drop flavors, Liqs initially launched in Miami in 2013 and has since added Massachusetts, Texas, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Canada to its footprint. The brand, created by entrepreneurs Harley Bauer and Michael Glickman, retails at around $8 a single-flavor three-pack of shots.

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Backbar Review: November 3-7, 2014

indexThis month, Brown-Forman will debut a new “Whiskey Row” series from Old Forester with an inaugural release called 1870 Original Batch, according to the Courier-Journal. The series, which commemorates Old Forester’s history on Louisville’s Main Street Whiskey Row district, will include four expressions of whiskey that are based on actual products and oral history. 1870 Original Batch, which will be available in select markets at $44.99 a 750-ml., celebrates the year Old Forester became the first batched Bourbon. Bourbons from barrels in three different warehouses were blended for a 90-proof product meant to reflect inconsistencies in the original’s formulation. The series, which will eventually be produced at Old Forester’s planned Whiskey Row distillery, will feature three more expressions based on whiskies produced through 1923, when the brand left Whiskey Row. Currently, 1870 Original Batch is produced at Brown-Forman’s Shively facility.

indexPark City, Utah-based High West Distillery has reintroduced one of its limited edition whiskies for the winter season. First launched earlier this year on Valentine’s Day, A Midwinter Night’s Dram is a limited release version of High West’s Rendezvous Rye, finished for several months in both Port and French oak barrels. The 98.6-proof expression—which features notes of vanilla, caramel, cinnamon and dried fruit—is now available at select retail outlets, priced at $79.99 a bottle. High West Distillery’s portfolio has a current U.S. footprint of 40 states.

imagesWaconia, Minnesota micro-distillery J. Carver Distilling has sent its first shipment of craft gin and vodka to Minneapolis-St. Paul liquor stores, the local CBS affiliate reports. Last spring, owner Bill Miller purchased a 17,000-square-foot former Pontiac dealership and has turned it into a distillery able to produce 600 cases a month. The company focuses on craft recipes made from locally sourced ingredients, such as wheat grown 20 miles away from Waconia. Miller says he plans to open a tasting room within the next year and will look into making different whiskey and barrel-aged products. J. Carver Premium Gin and Vodka retail at about $20-$24 a bottle.

indexNovato, California’s Square One Organic Spirits is launching new citrus-based vodka Square One Bergamot to select markets ahead of a national rollout next February. Grown predominantly in southern Italy and along the Mediterranean Sea, the bergamot is a sour orange with a peel that is floral and tangy, the company says. The unfiltered vodka is created by layering the citrus with essential oils of pressed mandarin, navel and tangerine oranges and the essences of ginger, coriander and juniper botanicals. Square One Bergamot is currently available in California, Illinois and Missouri at $35 a 750-ml. bottle and $4.99 a 50-ml. bottle.

indexVermont-based craft whiskey distiller WhistlePig has debuted The Boss Hog: Spirit of Mortimer, a new limited edition expression. Created to honor the memory of WhistlePig’s deceased mascot, a pig named Mortimer, The Boss Hog: Spirit of Mortimer is a 100% rye whiskey aged for nearly 14 years and bottled at full barrel strength. The 117- to 124-proof entry is currently available nationwide, priced at $189 a 750-ml. The Boss Hog: Spirit of Mortimer follows last year’s launch of WhistlePig’s original The Boss Hog label, a 100% rye whiskey aged 12.5 years.

indexStoli USA’s Stolichnaya has released the third and final entry in its ultra-premium Elit Pristine Water Series vodka collection. Available this month, Elit Pristine Water Series: Andean edition is crafted with natural spring water sourced from the Andes Mountains, as well as distilled spirit made with grain harvested from SPI Group’s Tambov, Russia-based farm. The limited edition, 40%-abv expression, which is packaged in a Glencairn Crystal bottle, retails for around €3,000 ($3,729). The Andean edition joins the Elit Pristine Water Series’ previous Himalaya and New Zealand editions, launched in 2011 and 2013, respectively.

Adco-master675William Grant & Sons, is hearkening back to the earliest days of the category, launching a “replica” of the first single malt marketed by its Glenfiddich distillery. To create the 1963 replica whisky, Glenfiddich malt master Brian Kinsman pulled from various casks to match the archived liquid and ledger notes from the original. The finished product is 80 proof, with packaging styled to echo its ancestor, and retails at a suggested $100 a bottle. The limited edition is now hitting the U.S. market on allocation with a supply of 2,000 cases. The launch is being indexbacked by print and digital executions—including full-page spreads in major newspapers—recreated from the original whisky’s advertising materials.

Diageo has officially unveiled a new flavored extension to its Crown Royal Canadian whisky brand, Regal Apple. The new offering is a blend of Crown Royal whiskies infused with natural apple flavors from Regal Gala apples and retails at $24.99 a 750-ml. Regal Apple joins 2012 entry Maple Finished in the Crown Royal flavor portfolio.

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN Review: Michael Godard Vodka & Gin

15245-540x335In case you don’t know who Michael Godard is, all you need to do is look at the artwork on the bottles of vodka and gin.  Yes, he’s the artist whose fanciful artwork of olives, limes and assorted cocktail paraphernalia have graced the covers of books, compact discs and low-brow pop art items around the globe.  What makes his art more interesting is his personal back story.

In 2006, his 16 yr. old daughter Paige passed away after a battle with brain cancer. As Godard says, “All the money in the world can not bring her back, but the funds I help raise for a cure will help save another child.”  As a result Godard now works very closely with St Jude’s, Make a Wish, Nevada Cancer Institute and The Sharon Osbourne Colon Cancer Foundation.

The vodka is made from Dutch wheat that undergoes five distillations.  I assume that the gin uses the same base, but other than juniper I’m not sure what the other botanicals are.  Oh, each bottle is numbered in a limited edition, which makes for a potential collectible.

Michael Godard Vodka (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Sweet and with an unusual berry character.
Taste: A bit chalky with a moderate amount of minerality.  Somewhat sweet, but there is more body and heat here than I was expecting.  A bit of bitterness creeps in towards the end.  But, that’s not a bad thing.
Finish:  Dry, with a lot of mouthfeel.
Overall: Perfectly serviceable vodka with more character than many others on the market.
GSN Rating: B

Michael Godard Gin (80 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: A lot of high, bright herbal notes with a prevalent juniper character.
Taste: Quite light and sweet, but with a good sense of juniper.  It seems a bit unbalanced and harshly botanical.  There is more than a bit of fire and again, a lot of minerality.  Here, it seems at odds with the overall effect of the infusions.  Rather than a tight unity of flavors, they seem to be disparate and at odds with one another.
Finish: A lot of lingering sweetness, along with a chalky edge.
Overall: I’m not sure what to make of this gin.  It seems like a decent first attempt, but never really rises to the occasion.
GSN Rating: B-

For more information go to: Michael Godard Spirits

GSN Review: Black Button Distillery

black_button_distilleryWith new craft distilleries opening almost every day somewhere around the globe, I was pleased to hear of one that is located less than 100 miles from GSN headquarters.  Rochester, New York is located in the heart of New York State in the Fingerlakes region.  Black Button was started by 24-year-old, Jason Barrett whose family have been in the button making business since 1922.

The distillery utilizes locally grown corn, wheat, rye and barley for their products and ages their bourbon style whiskey in American white oak barrels.  At the time of this review, it was still aging and unavailable for tasting.

Unaged Corn Whiskey (100 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Sweet corn.
Taste: Very sweet and funky.  In spite of the high-proof, there isn’t an overabundance of heat here.  The overall impression is of roasted sweet corn with a hint of smokiness.
Finish: Medium long with lingering notes of sugar corn.
Overall: This is clearly a corn spirit and one that revels in it.  If you’re looking for a sweeter, and thus less aggressive moonshine/white dog, this fits the bill.
GSN Rating: B+

Wheat Vodka (84 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: Spun sugar.
Taste: Initially sweet and cane sugar-like with a cotton candy finish, there is also a less pronounced minerality which does well to give this vodka some character and oomph.
Finish: The sweetness prevails and goes on for quite a while.
Overall: There is a lot of body to this vodka, making it more overt than many vodkas which are distilled to the point of nondescript blandness.  Still much sweeter than I’d prefer.
GSN Rating: B

Citrus Gin (84 proof)
Visual: Clear.
Nose: A heavier and maltier character than a London Dry style, more akin to a Genever.  There is a slight hint of citrus on the nose and not a lot of juniper.
Taste: The juniper comes out to play here, adding a rich herbal depth along with a lot of bright and fresh citrus notes.  Orange, lime and lemon all want to be recognized as the lead role, but take equal billing.
Finish: Clean, refreshing and definite citrus make for a crisp ending.
Overall: A well done gin that has a lot of potential in mixing.  I like it.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Black Button Distilling