Showing posts with label spirits. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spirits. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Dominican Dark Rum And A Couple Of Recipes

Ron Barceló Rum was founded nearly a century ago by Julian Barceló, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.  The brand's popularity took off quickly, and it is now the top exported dark rum in the world.  

Barceló is made from the fermented juice of sugar cane, while other Dominican brands favor using molasses. The result, says Barceló, is a smoother and more well-rounded taste that showcases the true characteristics of the cane.  Ron Barcelo's world portfolio of award-winning rums includes Barcelo Imperial Premium Blend 30 Aniversario, Barcelo Imperial Onyx, Barcelo Imperial, Barcelo Gran Añejo and Barcelo Añejo.

I was sent a sample of the Barceló Imperial, along with some suggested cocktail recipes.  The recipes worked great for me, but I also liked sipping the Imperial over an ice cube, and even with a splash of club soda or tonic water tossed into the mix.



1.5 oz Ron Barceló Dark Series

1 oz Aloe Vera Juice

½ oz fresh cucumber water

4 slices muddled cucumber


Muddle cucumbers

Add all ingredients and shake well

Garnish with a cucumber slices or peel



1 oz Ron Barcelo Imperial 

1 oz Antica Formula 

1 oz Campari 


Pour all ingredients over ice, stir and garnish with orange peel 

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Monday, August 24, 2020

Single-Estate Tequila

Does a single-estate tequila have the same cachet as a single vineyard wine?  It does if you listen to the makers of the La Adelita line of tequila.  A single vineyard often imparts more characteristics to a wine that are inherent to the site.  One might draw a similar conclusion about the selection of specific hops used in brewing - the locale determines the flavor profile.  In tequila, the terroir, if you will, of the plantation where the agave plants are grown is what gives the sip its character.

The folks who market La Adelita tequila say a "partnership of distillers, agave farmers and cult wine artisans" crafted this array of spirits.  The line is named after women warriors who took part in the Mexican Revolution in the early part of the 20th century - a decade-long armed conflict which sprang from a rigged presidential election.  The name is also borne by one of the most famous ballads of the revolution and "la Adelita" has come to signify any woman who is fighting for her rights.  

The Blue Weber agave estates - Rancho El Fraile - are in the highlands of Jalisco, where generations of jimadors have harvested the piñas when their time had come, usually after about seven years of growth.  The tequilas are distilled in small copper pot stills that were imported from Cuba shortly after the Mexican Revolution.  

La Adelita Tequila founder and CEO Chris Radomski says, "As the tequila category blew up, it lost its authenticity, and I wanted to do something at a higher level while keeping it authentic," with an affordable price point.

La Adelita tequila comes in five different varieties: Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, Cristalino and Extra Añejo.  I was provided with a sample of Blanco, a bright, clear tequila with notes of lime and a clean finish.  The others in the line are aged in American oak whiskey barrels for three, 18 or 48 months.  La Adelita Blanco carries an alcohol content of 40% abv - 80 proof - and retails for $40.

If you are looking to fashion some cocktails, the margarita is no doubt the top tequila-based drink.  Don’t buy the mix, because margaritas are incredibly easy to make, using only tequila, triple sec, and lime juice.  Experiment with the portions to suit your taste.  Almost as easy is the Tequila Sunrise - tequila, orange juice, and grenadine.  

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

A Hops Liqueur, Distilled In L.A.

This bottle of Grand Hops California Liqueur was a Christmas gift from one of my more adventurous alcohol friends.  Marge is always willing to try a new grape, style or brew.  She doesn't always turn in a glowing review but, for those of us like her, it's not about finding a new favorite - it's about the search for one.

Grand Hops is made by Greenbar distillery, established in 2004, Greenbar was the first distillery to open its doors in Los Angeles since Prohibition.  They were on the leading edge of craft spirits then and, apparently, now.

Greenbar's Litty Mathew says the Grand Hops spirit was handcrafted to bring "the spicy, citrusy flavors of hop flowers found in California IPAs."  He recommends trying it with "whiskey, rum, gin, tequila, soda… even beer."

What's in it?  I'm glad you asked.  Grand Hops contains molasses, aromatic and bittering hops, quillaja - a Brazilian flowering plant - and cane sugar.  The product is certified organic by the nonprofit Oregon Tilth, based in Corvallis, Oregon.  Alcohol hits a Port-like 20% abv.

This liqueur is unlike any I have ever had.  It smells extremely herbal - not unexpected since it is made from hops - and has aromas of pine, citrus and sour beer.  It is not a very pleasant nose, but not an off-putting one either.  Mathew calls it "funk... the good kind."  The palate brings grapefruit into a scenario reminiscent of Retsina, the Greek resin wine.  To call Grand Hops offbeat doesn't do justice to the drink or the word.  I am glad I had the chance to try it, but I don’t envision ever seeking it out again.  Maybe my opinion will change after I've had a chance to use it as an ingredient in a cocktail.

Update:  The Grand Hops label shows a recommended recipe using it with whiskey and simple syrup.  I had no whiskey in the house, so I used gin.  To sweeten it a tad I used Italian chestnut honey.  Pouring it tall with club soda (tonic water even sweeter) produced a cocktail that isn't going to make me forget about martinis, but was actually pretty good.

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Monday, March 26, 2018

Big Sur Gin, Big Flavor Martini

Stirred, not shaken.  As so often happens in the movies, James Bond got it wrong when he directed bartenders to shake his martini.  That tends to bruise the gin, aerating it too much and giving it a more biting flavor.  There are a lot of scientific details, but I just took their word for it.

San Diego County's Calwise Spirits Company says their Big Sur Gin is distilled from grapes and wild native herbs.  The label brags that you can "taste Big Sur without licking plants," which is probably a good thing on both counts.  The spirit is crafted using juniper, sage, bay, fennel, elderberry, yerba santa, lavender, lemon, so there's a lot of good stuff in that bottle from Spring Valley.  The gin comes at 80 proof and sells at Whole Foods for around 30 bucks.  Calwise also makes two rums, spiced and blonde.

Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry is dry, not sweet, made from a wine base with plants, alpine herbs and spices included.  For a martini, they suggest equal parts Dolin Dry and gin. Yeah, right.  I make mine at a three to one ratio.

I like a dirty martini, which means a bit of olive juice tossed into the mix before stirring.  I’m currently using Dirty Sue, a twice-filtered brine.  I'm also using a dash of Peychaud's bitters.  It hails from New Orleans, so I'm all set to make a sazerac if I want.

Together, Big Sur Gin and Dolin make a distinctly aromatic martini.  Pine notes and citrus on the nose, and a bit of a kick on the palate.  The juniper comes on stronger than in most gins and the herbal element is huge with fennel.  It's an outdoorsy flavor.  Spicy may be a good word for it.  This gin does not try to hide its attributes.  It definitely makes a martini on which a wine lover can ruminate.

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Martini Time: Boodles Gin

Boodles is a British, London Dry gin that has been around since 1845. The company was named after Boodles gentlemen's club, run by one Edward Boodles. This is the gin that was reputedly served there and is believed to have been a favorite of Winston Churchill, although other gins also make that claim. Who wouldn't? This "proper British gin" is now made at the Greenall's distillery

The Boodles crest offers "labour and patience" as two of the gin's ingredients. The company claims Boodles is a "clean spirit distilled from British wheat and then infused with a number of traditional herbs and spices, including nutmeg, sage, and rosemary." The PR department says Boodles is known for its "distinctive floral nose and lingering juniper flavor, with a clean finish," and that sounds fairly accurate. Nine botanicals make up Boodles -  it's just fun to say - and contribute to its aroma and taste. Juniper, coriander seed, angelica root and seed, cassia bark, caraway seed, nutmeg, rosemary and sage are all blended together to make Boodles. They claim they are the only gin to contain nutmeg, rosemary and sage in its recipe.

There are some piney notes on the nose, from the juniper, and a floral element, but both are quiet. The gin tastes very elegant and smooth, at 45.2% abv. No citrus botanicals are used, unlike other London dry gins. They figure you’ll put a slice of lemon or lime in your cocktail, so there's no need. Boodles also makes a Mulberry gin, which I gather is like a sloe gin, except made with mulberries.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Gin For Los Angeles

Mulholland Gin is called "The Spirit of L.A." on the label, and those who know about the history of Los Angeles are not surprised. William Mulholland built the aqueducts that allowed Southern California to siphon off Northern California's water.  There'd be no San Fernando Valley without him.

The label also says "In good times and bad, all will drink. If not water, then Mulholland." I'm for that, even though Mulholland Distilling is all the way over in Downey, not in the Valley. It's described as a new world gin made with botanicals of cucumber, lavender and lime. It's distilled from 100% GMO corn and hits Navy strength, at 48% abv, 96 proof.

Walton Goggins and Matthew Alper collaborated on this gin, as well as a vodka and a whiskey. Goggins is a familiar face, having acted in some fairly notable television series. Alper has spent time on the other end of the lens as a cameraman and photographer. His brother founded OTTIMINO Winery while his wife is in sales at Frog's Leap Winery.

The cucumbers in Mulholland Gin come across strongly, with lavender, juniper and vanilla notes right behind. It's a very aromatic gin, and has a flavor that’s refreshing on its own, although the alcohol level reaches up to about my limit. Still, it’s a great martini gin. I liked it better nice and clean instead of my usual dirty style. It may not be as thirst-quenching as water, but it's a damn sight more interesting.

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Friday, September 8, 2017

Two Fine New York Gins

The New York Distilling Company says their spirits are "purposefully different." The Brooklyn-based distillery is run by "cocktail people making spirits for cocktails," Allen KatzBill Potter and Tom Potter. The latter also co-founded the Brooklyn Brewery.  The distillery makes ryes and gins that are distilled in Brooklyn from grains grown in New York State. I was ent tiny sample bottles of each for review.

Gin is perhaps the best use for juniper berries that there is. Originating in Great Britain in the Middle Ages, when they called it genever. The Dutch popularized gin as a medicinal product (for my rheumatizz) and today, whenever someone offers me a tonic for my soul, I say make it a gin and tonic.

Dorothy Parker Gin

The neutral grain spirit and botanicals are distilled together in a 1000-liter pot still, as in the 18th century. The botanicals include juniper berries, coriander seed, lemon and orange peel, whole green cardamom pods, cinnamon bark, elderberries and hibiscus petals.  The process takes seven hours to distill, and it's then left for a week before being slowly proofed in a column still to 44% abv over the course of two to three weeks.

The Dorothy Parker Gin has really herbal aromas - the juniper and coriander play large - and great traces of citrus on the sip. It's fantastic straight up, even better as a dirty martini.

Perry's Tot Navy-Strength Gin

Again, the neutral grain spirit and botanicals are distilled together in a big pot still. The list of botanicals is similar, including juniper berries, coriander seed, lemon, orange and grapefruit peel, whole green cardamom pods, cinnamon bark, angeleica root, whole star anise and wildflower honey.  The distillation process is the same, but it’s proofed higher, to 57% abv.  They say Perry's Tot gin is the first Navy Strength gin produced in the U.S. in 100 years.

The aromatics are much the same as the DP, except with more citrus notes and more firepower on the palate, to be sure. Navy strength means, in this case, 114 proof. It doesn't mess around. And it's exactly what you want in your G'n'T. They call theirs are "Tot & Tonic." If you really want to get crazy at your home bar, try their recipe for the "Innocenti." Stir over ice the Perry's Tot, a dry vermouth, Lillet Blanc and Benedictine and strain into a cocktail glass.

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Plymouth Gin

Plymouth Gin comes from the seaport town of Plymouth, England, and there is only one distillery there making it. It has changed hands a few times since its birth in the 18th century, but the recipe has remained a prize of British history.  I was invited to an interesting evening in Los Angeles in which the atmosphere of their Refectory Cocktail Bar was created at a pop-up at the Lost Property bar on Vine Street in Hollywood.  Master Distiller Sean Harrison and International Brand Ambassador Sebastian Hamilton-Mudge were on hand to give the joint an even more British flair.  The fleet of bartenders were creating and pouring all 32 drinks from the Refectory Bar menu, and I sampled a few of the more definitive ones.

Plymouth Gin is slightly less dry than the London style and has a more herbal quality to it along with a juniper flavor. I'm not an expert on gin, but on this evening I didn’t have to be. I just had to like it. Easy.

Gin is actually Dutch, not British. In fact, British soldiers discovered the spirit while in Holland and brought it back home with them. If you are ever going to use the phrase "for medicinal purposes" as an excuse to drink, it had better be with gin. British sailors used gin mixed with lime juice to prevent scurvy while on long sea voyages. Gin and bitters help settle an upset tummy. Quinine fights malaria, so have a gin and tonic.

The "Marguerite" is made from Plymouth Gin, French dry vermouth and orange bitters.  It is stirred chilled and served straight up in a gimlet glass. The lemon spray leaves a vigorous citrus aroma and the drink shows off its herbs to the fullest. Light and smooth, it's a great "anytime" cocktail.

The "Pink Gin" comes three different ways. The Modern Long is mixed in a tall glass with soda, on the rocks.  The Gin Pahit apparently originated in Britain's colonial days in India, with more Angostura Bitters. I ordered the Classic, which is like a very dry martini, served in the same type of glass. Citrus spray again makes a refreshing nose and it’s quite a bit more dry than the dirty martini I favor.

The "Gin Pennant" adds Plymouth Sloe Gin to orange and lemon juice, syrup, soda and a dash of apricot liqueur to the Plymouth Gin base.  It's built in a very unusual glass and served on the rocks. It's a sweet and easy cocktail with a straw. You get a nose full of mint when you go for the sip. It reminds me of the sweet drinks I would concoct in my college days, only far, far better.

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