Tag Archives: buy liquor

Barbados’ Best

5-Star Mount Gay 1703 Old Cask Selection Rum

As Floridians, we are lucky to be so close to the islands producing the great rums. Especially Barbados, “The Cradle of Rum,” whose Mount Gay is the oldest distillery in the world (founded 1703 as the label says) and makers of “The Rum that made Rum.” I have never seen rum this good at such a world-beating price. I’m serious, this is a historic rum made from the oldest rums in Mount Gay’s reserves, some as old as 30 years, which to my knowledge are are the oldest rums to be bottled. Think about other Whiskies and Spirits that old, like Pappy 20yr, Hennessy XO and others and what they cost and here you have pauper’s pricing, comparatively. Mount Gay’s master blenders, led by Allen Smith, sorted through old barrels (originally used for Kentucky bourbon) before assembling this magnificent rum made in pot stills fastened to the floor with bolts bigger than bottles. Layers of banana, sweet oak, vanilla, caramel, almonds and fruitcake spice are a monument to rum making. Offering it is our tribute to world-class rum.

 

Mount Gay 1703 Old Cask Selection Rum 86°

 

…this is molasses-based rum at its international finest; a clinic on what oak-aged rum should be aromatically. Entry is ideally balanced between vigor/freshness and oaky maturity; ends up graceful yet potent. Mount Gay’s pinnacle achievement.

Semana Gastronomica! With Gintonic for a Chaser…

gintonicI’m still trying to recollect all the glories of Spain for you let me pour you a stiff one. My amiga was so right about the spanish passion for gintonics. They hold the “and” while adding a slew of extras. Very different drink here. Bigger, wildly popular, and painstakingly diverse. I had planned to make a study of them on this trip but didn’t try a one in my first three days of wine tastings. I confessed my failure to the irrepressibe Juan Muga after a day of tasting and a four bottle dinner. Musta been close to 1 am. Great lamb, btw.

No problema, Juan said, we’ll have gintonic with coffee and dessert. The waiter wheels over a gleaming cart and the ritual began. Which gin of a dozen or so, dry or flowery? Juan and I went dry (Seagrams). Which tonic? The hip choice is Fevertree, which must excel in malaria control. Delivery was not the usual sleek long drink but a fishbowl goblet. I passed on a second round. There were more encounters than I could accept in good conscience, often after dinner, some available with extra botanical punch from freshly ground spices. However, a week of professional drinking with Spanish winemakers reminded me of the secret tonic universally loved in the wine world. Cold beer.

150 Year-Old Grand Marnier Gift Case With Pair of Reidel Stems

Grand Marnier 150“Hard to find, impossible to pronounce, and prohibitively expensive,” read the tagline in an advertisement for Grand Marnier Cuvée Cent Cinquantenaire. The New York Times agreed with them and patted them on the back for showing truth in advertising. For those of you are wondering, it is prounounced “CuVAY doo san sin-khan-ten-air.”

Created in 1977, the special cuvée Cinq Cinquantenaire was originally produced to conmemorate the 150th anniversary of Marnier-Lapostolle. It is pure luxury in a bottle that is carefully crafted at their distillery in Neauphle-le-Château. The Marnier-Lapostolle family selected rare Grand Champagne Cognacs up to 50 years in age largely from Grand Cru vineyards and blended a rich liqueur based on sunGrand Marnier 150 Anniversary-dried bigaradier oranges from the Caribbean. The blend, which is 82% Cognac, is then aged in large oak casks for at least three years.

The result is an elixir that represents the height of sophistication. It is like drinking a dream. Remarkable aromas and flavors, bitter orange softened with cinnamon, coffee, and cocoa; the mouthfeel and finish of a fantasy that never ends. That would be luxury enough, yet the gorgeous gift packages include the hand-finished Art Nouveau bottle in silky packaging with two custom balloon snifters designed by Riedel especially for savoring this rare drink.

Grand Marnier Cincquantenaire 150 Year Anniversary

“Medium to deep amber in color; although orange zest predominates in the nose, a host of other fruits – dried cherries, dates, plums – and an aroma of toasted almonds are also found here. The body is rich and thick, and the palate, distinctly orange zest with a nutty backdrop. The finish is nutty/spicy and very long…”  Wine Enthusiast

Best Rum Value Hands Down: El Dorado 12

mcqueen_two_fingers

How many fingers?

I penned a Stinger on El Dorado 21-Year-Old Special Reserve Rum last August. It was (and is) one of the most amazing rums I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a lot of rums). On a whim last week I took home a bottle of its little brother, the El Dorado 12-Year-Old Demerara. Boy I tell you, without a side-by-side comparison, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference. And at nearly a quarter the price I’d be hard-pressed to give a shizz.

Those of you who know me know how I roll. No soda. No ice. Just two fingers in a glass. And then two more fingers. And two more.

What time is it? Where’s the remote? Who cares?

If you enjoy sipping rum, this is your every day jam. I absconded with the last bottle, but we should have more very soon. Give us a ring if you’re interested.

Accolades:

96 points – Shawn Reynolds, B-21 Resident Historian
95 points- Beverage Tasting Institute

“Formerly King of Diamonds, this distinctive spirit, aged in oaken casks for 12 years and blended to achieve a smooth strength and rich, full-bodied taste, is a rum of superb colour, full, fragrant aroma; a sure delight to the most discerning drinker.”

This very special rum has been awarded the gold medal at the Caribbean Rum Taste Test held annually in London for seven of the 10 years of which this competition has been held [see below].

Granted the seal of approval at the International Wine and Spirit Competition of London in 1998, the El Dorado 12 years old rum was allotted 95 out of a possible 100 points at the Chicago Beverage Tasting Institute and awarded the gold medal. In describing the El Dorado 12 years old, the judges said “… Copper. Lush tropical fruit and spice nose. Round, mellow, full bodied palate with powerful fruit, tobacco, and orange peel. Leather and toasty and oak flavours. Hedonistic and well balanced.”

2009 & 2008 Gold Medal & Best in its Class – International Wine & Spirit Competition, London
2007, 2006, & 2005 Silver Medal & Best in its Class – International Wine & Spirit Competition, London
2005 Top 10 List – The New York Times – August 2005
2003 Seal of Approval – International Spirits Challenge, London
2003 Gold Award (Premium Category) – International Rum Festival, Canada
2003 Silver Medal – International Wine & Spirit Competition, London
2002 Commended – International Wine & Spirit Competition, London
2001 Gold Medal Winner (Premium Category) – Caribbean Communications Inc. Rum Fest
2001 Gold Medal – The Beverage Tasting Institute of Chicago
2000 Gold Medal Winner (Premium Category) – Caribbean Communications Inc. Rum Fest
2000 Seal of Approval – International Spirits Challenge, London
1999 Commended – International Wine & Spirit Competition, London
1998 Seal of Approval – International Spirits Challenge, London
1998, 1997, 1994, 1993, 1992 Gold Medal Winner (Premium Category) – Caribbean Communications Inc. Rum Fest

 

 

Twist: Three Keys to Sexier Cocktails

mixology-tangGeneration X and the younger tipplers who succeed us subsist in a new world rife with green terminology – organic, carbon footprint, renewable, hybrid – in which cable TV supplies a never ending onslaught of celebrity chefs melding the freshest and most exotic ingredients. Additionally, there exists a certain modicum of nostalgia toward our grandparents and the romanticized eras of Prohibition and World War II. Add a deep-seated desire to be fabulous and we can see why mixology has gained such a tremendous head of steam over the past decade. We celebrate this renaissance of tradition and attention to individuality with three brilliant additions to any proud liquor cabinet.

St-Germain Elderflower liqueur
96-100 Points, Wine Enthusiast

The Cheap Detective

2 oz. St. Germain
1 oz. Cynar ($24.99)
¾ oz. Campari ($23.99)
Grapefruit wedge

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with
grapefruit.

Elderflower Iced Tea

1 ½ oz. Earl Grey-infused gin*
1 oz. St. Germain
½ oz. lemon juice
Lemon wheel

Shake with ice and strain into a highball glass over ice.
Garnish with lemon.

*Infuse 750ml gin with 1 cup loose leaf Earl Grey tea at room temp for 7 days.
Strain out tea before using.

Brass Flower

1 oz. London dry gin
1 oz. fresh-squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice
¾ oz. St. Germain
Champagne

Shake everything but the Champagne with ice and strain into a
flute. Top with Champagne.

Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur

Strawberry Ginger Martini

1/12 oz. Canton
¾ oz. Gin
Large strawberries
Lime

Muddle 3 strawberries in shaker. Squeeze the juice of 1 lime wedge. Fill with ice. Add Canton and gin. Shake well. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with sliced strawberries.

Domaine de Canton Sidecar

1 oz Canton
1 oz cognac
Lemon
Crystallized ginger

Combine spirits with juice of 1 lemon wedge in shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with crystallized ginger.

Ginger Mojito

2 oz Canton
½ oz white rum
Club soda
3 lime wedges
Mint

Drop a few mint leaves into a tall glass. Squeeze in the juice of
3 lime wedges. Gently muddle mint leaves. Fill glass with ice then add spirits.
Stir well. Fill with club soda. Garnish with mint sprig.

Rothman & Winter Créme de Violette

Aviation

1 ½ oz Dry Gin
½ oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz Créme de Violette
1 tsp Maraschino

Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass

Toulouse

1 ½ oz Vodka
¾ oz Créme de Violette
¼ oz Vanilla liqueur

Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass

Blue Moon

2 oz Dry gin
½ oz Fresh lemon juice
½ oz Créme de Violette

Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass

Semana Gastronomica! With Gintonic for a Chaser…

gintonicI’m still trying to recollect all the glories of Spain for you let me pour you a stiff one. My amiga Summer was so right about the spanish passion for gintonics. They hold the “and” while adding a slew of extras. Very different drink here. Bigger, wildly popular, and painstakingly diverse. I had planned to make a study of them on this trip but didn’t try a one in my first three days of wine tastings. I confessed my failure to the irrepressibe Juan Muga  after a day of tasting and a four bottle dinner. Musta been close to 1 am. Great lamb, btw.

No problema, Juan said, we’ll have gintonic with coffee and dessert. The waiter wheels over a gleaming cart and the ritual began. Which gin of a dozen or so, dry or flowery? Juan and I went dry (Seagrams). Which tonic? The hip choice is Fevertree, which must excel in malaria control. Delivery was not the usual sleek long drink but a fishbowl goblet. I passed on a second round. There were more encounters than I could accept in good conscience, often after dinner, some available with extra botanical punch from freshly ground spices. However, a week of professional drinking with Spanish winemakers reminded me of the secret tonic universally loved in the wine world. Cold beer.

Disco Babies Pump the Brakes on French Wine Consumption

napkinA recent article in The Telegraph reports our French counterparts in Generation X and the more recent crop of Internet Generation adults elicited a marked decrease in France’s overall wine consumption. The figures are staggering (especially when you take into consideration population increases since the Baby Boom that followed WWII), dropping from 7 billion bottles per year to 4 billion, with the last two generations enjoying an occasion less and less frequently.

So what does this mean for the French wine industry? Probably not much given a vastly expanded global market due in part to China’s insatiable appetite. The article’s lament revolves more around a loss of tradition, a common cry when the torch is passed. I can only speak for the culture in which I live. I have a filtered water pitcher and Crystal Light in my frig. My wine rack is stocked right now, but I only pop a bottle once a week when I’m feeling froggy, partaking with daily meals isn’t a reality. But this is America. We don’t make a lot of sense sometimes. Or maybe we make too much sense. I sure would like to see a renaissance of the three martini lunch. And lead-based paint.

Once-in-a-Lifetime Highly-Limited 4.5 Star Scotch: Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix

snow-phoenix-boxThree Scotsmen were in church one Sunday morning when the minister made a strong appeal for some very worthy cause, hoping that everyone in the congregation would give at least one dollar or more. The three Scots became very nervous as the collection plate neared them, and then one of them fainted and the other two carried him out.

Two winters ago, the heavens pounded Scotland with snow and ice. After months of endless sub-zero drubbing, the roofs of four of Glenfiddich’s soccer field-sized warehouses collapsed under some four feet of snow (nearly 270 pounds per square foot). “The ice has frozen on the roof and it can’t go down the drain pipes and get away,” a source revealed. “It just lies there. The weight of the fresh snow just adds to it.” The distillery team struggled between thawing breaks in short, frigid bursts to dig the casks from their icy hold. Upon surveying the damage, Malt Master Brian Kinsman thought it appropriate to commemorate the occasion with a once-in-a-lifetime bottling. And Snow Phoenix was born.

The dark, decorative tin reads “Risen from ‘The Great Warehouse Collapse’ of 2010” and boasts an amazing, eerie snapshot of that fateful January, the ceiling collapsed to reveal a gray patch of light that strongly resembles a skyward bird. Inside is a full-color, fold-out brochure that illustrates the damage and further expounds on how this scotch came to be. A romantic  tale of man’s struggle against Mother Nature at the end of which the she beast proves a valuable ally?
Brilliant. If you know a Scotch lover, this is the deal. Very unique – only seventy six-packs came into Florida – and once it’s gone, well, according to Kinsman, this is a phoenix that will see but one rebirth. Don’t wait. This is a great addition to any collection. And in tribute to “The Great Warehouse Collapse” and Scottish wit, I leave you with this:

After his barn burned down, a wily Scottish farmer put in an insurance claim. The agent who came around to inspect the damage and settle up tried to sell the farmer some more insurance. “Are you covered against cattle theft? And what about floods?”

“Floods, eh?” said the farmer. “That’s very interesting. How do you set about starting a flood?”

Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix

Accolades:

“Light gold in color, this whisky has a very bright nose with green apple, pear, and brown sugar notes. The entry is exquisite – smooth, sweet, and elegant with a silky mouthfeel. The entry has clear oak notes combined with salted caramel and baked apple. Given the Snow Pheonix’s proof, the level of heat on the entry is very low. Things continue strong through the midpalate where it picks up a little heat that carries on through a nice finish. The heat lingers with some nice cooling on the finish.

Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix does an excellent job of balancing sweet, salty, and grain notes that all come together in one of our favorite Glenfiddichs. Glenfiddich doesn’t do many special releases, but we hope that the success of Snow Phoenix will encourage them to consider more in the future…it can be a little difficult to find, so if you find a bottle we highly recommend you pick one up.” 4.5 Stars/Very Highly Recommended, DrinkSpirits.com

“The pale gold whisky is unique and gorgeous. The nose offers pear, vanilla, sherry, and quite a bit of heat. That hotness is absent on the tongue. There a bounty of flavors erupt — sugar and spice, citrus notes, and a finish that heads toward brown sugar and burnt caramel character, with a touch of wood notes. It’s all in near-perfect balance, complicated but part of a delicious whole. Snow Phoenix is every bit as delightful and intriguing as the story behind it.”Grade: A, Drink Hacker

Sunday School: Of Lead and Pencils

Lead Pencil Art

Awww look, he has a heart on!

In the past I’ve read claims about the negative effects of alcohol consumption on men’s sexual health, but a group of Australian researchers recently posited that moderate boozing is actually beneficial. They assembled over 1,500 men from 20-80 (get some, Gramps!) and found that blokes who drink diminish their chances of erectile dysfunction. Mind you, this addresses dudes who dwell within the guidelines of low-risk drinking, BUT the study occurred in Australia where they define “low-risk” as up to four drinks per day, five days or less per week. I sustained those levels (and then some) in my twenties, but I can’t fathom a bottle of wine a day almost every day. It almost seems like work. (What about twelve drinks a day one day a week? I’m on that, son!)

So…the numbers.

Results reveal that any amount of alcohol consumption appears linked to lower instances of ED. Dudes who subscribe to low-risk saucing are 30% less likely to report issues with impotence. Those who drink and resist the urge to puff are 50% less likely than their bros in the smoking section to experience the sleepy soldier. Bear in mind that moderate consumption has long been associated with cardiovascular health and your little buddy is a part of that equation. Also, heart-related issues and smoking are major risk factors for ED. So lay off the cheeseburgers and put down the Camels. And feel free to add some virility foods. Tomatoes, almonds, walnuts, and oysters are all sources of various sexual health benefits.

“I’ll have a Caprese salad with a bowl of walnuts, a side of oysters, and a tumbler of rum, please.”

Change it up, big dog. Your bestie downstairs will thank you.

[source 1 2]

Cucumber: A Vodka Flavor Goes Beyond Jelly Beans

Effen Cucumber Vodka
Let go of the effen cucumber!

Can’t say when vodkanauts will run out of new flavors, some parts of the category looks more like a smoothie section or Ben and Jerry’s: pomegranate, berry upon berry including acai, blood orange (hurray!), dragon fruit, whipped cream (three kinds), cotton candy. Not for me, sweets and stickies have their place (in ports, tokaji, and such). I like my vodka savory with the taste of woods and the garden, like the mushroom vodkas of old Russia or pepper vodka. Or the botanical mysteries of gin, my first love.

Enter Effen, stage dutch, with a cucumber vodka. There’s is no fresher flavor – cool and crisp - than cucumber, perfect for a Bloody Mary or a a v&t. The classy distiller from the Netherlands is sparing with its flavors, plain, black cherry, and dutch raspberry.

For summer, it’s got to be cucumber vodka.

Sunday School: Father’s Day

Parenting Guide: New mom and dadLikely prompted by the first official celebration of Mother’s Day, Grace Clayton organized Father’s Day in June 1908 in memoriam of 210 fathers killed in West Virginia’s Monangah coal mine explosion. Though Mother’s Day gained federal recognition in 1914, Father’s Day fell from the radar. In 1972 Richard Nixon finally signed the holiday into law, paving the way for companies like Brookstone and Sharper Image.

So today’s the day. Don’t buy Dad some lame tie. If you’re a dude and you’re reading this, you’re old enough to know better. If you’re a chick, just ask a dude. We know what we like. And while I rarely plunk down the jang for a bottle of super premium spirits, I would certainly appreciate one. Way more than some ghastly Cosby sweater.

Here are some delicious treats that would totally make me temporarily forget how much money you’ve borrowed and not paid back over the years:

Lepanto O.V. Solera
96-100 Point Don Julio 1942 Anejo
Suntory Yamazaki 18 Year Malt Whisky
Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve
Aberlour A’bunadh Speyside Single Malt
Hirsch Special ReserveAmerican Whiskey Aged 20 years
Courvoisier 21(Connoisseurs’ Collection)
Van Winkle 12yr Special Reserve 90.4°
Midleton Very Rare Irish Whiskey
El Dorado 21yr Demerara

Fun Fact: Both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are officially spelled with a singular possessive apostrophe. Sexy!

Bartender’s Garden: Fresh, Fresh, Fresh

fruitJust like cooking, the best cocktails are made with the best and freshest ingredients (test yourself on a screwdriver made with fresh squeezed OJ). This is why the best bars are part kitchen, not just a small garnish tray of dead citrus, canned olives, and pearl onions. And June is the time to start playing. Florida blueberries are at their best, very sweet. Raspberries and blackberries on offer are from North America and closer to home. The first cherries are in, red Bings and calico Rainiers (go ahead, splurge $10 on a pitter), peaches, and apricots too. Puree for a truly fruity daiquiri or a drop of dazzle in a martini or tonic.

5-Star 15+ Year-Old Solera Brandy from Lepanto

Battle of Lepanto Ship

No engines. No guns. No problem!

Lepanto brandy takes its name from the 16th century maritime Battle of Lepanto, a victory for Mediterranean Holy League states over Ottoman forces. This triumph pinched off eastern access to the Mediterranean Sea, precluding Muslim forces from their southern infiltration of Europe. It bears additional historical significance as the last naval battle in which combatants engaged one another
in oar-powered ships. Rowing and fighting? No thanks. One at a time for me please.

Lepanto crafts its O.V. Gran Reserva from Palomino grapes and ages fifteen years in the Solera system. What’s Solera? In Lepanto’s case, they lay out a series of fifteen barrels; the first twelve are seasoned Tio Pepe Fino Sherry oak and the last three Oloroso sherry casks. They fill the first barrel with brandy and age for a year. With each passing year they fill one additional barrel until all in the sequence are occupied. After the next year they tap a measure from the oldest cask and bottle it for sale, replace that with juice from the second oldest barrel, and refill each subsequent drum in the same manner (with the youngest receiving freshly-made brandy). This is obviously resource- and time-intensive, not producing saleable brandy for fifteen plus years with most of the wine at any given time tied up in aging. And Lepanto began its Solera system in 1896, so today’s O.V. contains traces up to 115-years-old. Given the lengthy waiting period before the wine is ready, many folks who engage in the Solera system do so to have something they might pass down to the next generation. Best. Inheritance. Ever. Paul Pacult gives the O.V. Gran Reserva 5 stars and his “Highest Recommendation.” Attention cognac lovers: they’re playing our song.

Hangin’ with Hangar 1: Blimp and Flavors Soar

Hangar 1 Vodka BlimpTeam B-21 went up, up, and away on the Good Ship Vodka. Actually an airship (or is it lighter-than-airship?) that floated through Tampa Bay on its first leg of a U.S. tour since its inflation. If you saw the blue and white blimp hovering over east Tampa around the Hard Rock Cafe, drinks diva Shannon Sprentall and I were on board. We waved at you. Culmination of a dream for me. Always wanted to hook up to a zeppelin mooring port. Hangar One showed me that it takes a dozen roustabouts on the ground to corral the beast — or let it go. Felt like Gulliver being trussed up by the Lilliputians.

In short, a blimp is not a cheap stunt. Hangar One wanted a balloon to bring attention to the brand since its purchase by Proximo Spirits and to tie the brand to its origin, an old hangar. Honest, Jorg Rulfs started making artisan vodka in an empty hangar in a demobilized naval air station on the edge of San Francisco Bay on the Oakland side (one other famous tenant on the base is Rosenblum Cellars; great visit next time you’re in SF).

B-21's Shannon Sprentall on the Hangar 1 Vodka Blimp

After pilot  John McGuirk brought us back to earth, we tried flights of Hangar One’s full vodka fleet, including seasonal additions. Shannon and I agreed on the best of the main line: the Mandarin, made not from fruit, but from blossoms (and just as delicate). A seasonal vodka we spotted coming our way in the fall: Maine Blueberry, see-through clear with flavor as deep blue as the sky.