National Bourbon Heritage Month on the Morning Brew (Video)

I talked about National Bourbon Heritage Month on The Morning Brew in Albuquerque yesterday! Check out the video which includes the background behind the Month, some raving about Bourbon Curious, and drinking Four Roses at 7 am!

Here’s a link to our National Bourbon Heritage Month blog post if you’d like to read more about it. Lisa took some great behind-the-scenes photos as well: Continue reading

Podcast 61- Skyy Vodka and Gin Old Fashioned

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“I caught you on a good year”: we go to the State Fair. Many types of fried food. Lisa talks about fried tequila shots. We taste Skyy Vodka. “If you haven’t heard Greg…” Greg’s signature drink? We taste Knickerbocker Barrel Gin, too, and make a Gin Old Fashioned with it. “Breaking records left and right.” The real reason for no orange garnish. An eyeball sucked out of a mummy. Lisa’s genius coffee mixing technique. The problem with stemless glassware.

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Brugal Especial Extra Dry Rum

brugal extra dry rum

It seems every liquor bottle comes with a legend of some sort, and Brugal Rum is no exception. A five-generations-old rum that’s both sourced and produced in the Dominican Republic, Brugal has a line of rums with vary age statements.

For your entry-level $25, you get Brugal Especial Extra Dry. Keenly wrapped in a net of string, Brugal is unique in a way that many silver rums are not: it’s barrel-aged. After distillation, Extra Dry is aged 2-5 years in oak casks, then the color imparted from the casks is filtered back out. Usually a silver rum is not aged, and because of that, it’s not particularly flavorful, maybe a step up from vodka. But in the case of Brugal, you get a huge nose of woodiness, and a spicy, bold, and very dry rum. Though a common rum complaint, you won’t catch anyone saying this particular rum is “too sweet” for them.

As I tend to prefer my Daiquiris to have a lot of character, meaning I prefer to mix them with aged rum, Brugal gives me a great alternative to the usually-murky brownness that you get with aged rum, then allows me to mix a flavorful-yet-light Daiquiri instead.

You may recall from our Tales of the Cocktail interview that Fabian preferred Brugal in his Daiquiris as well! Cheers Fabian!


Podcast 60- Clockwork Orange and J.R.’s Revenge

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Diner en Blanc Albuquerque: “the mayor WAS there….or at least we saw the pictures,” it all comes out the sweat-pores, and here’s some Instagram pics, we taste New Holland Clockwork Orange. “Can you make me a cocktail involving milk?” We make the J.R.’s Revenge cocktail. Who did shoot J.R.? “Let’s do ‘I Dream of Jeanie Next’.” Mistresses will kill you.

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Download Episode 60.

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It’s time to talk about Jägermeister

Jägermeister and Jägermeister spice

Some spirits have a bad reputation. Often, it’s deserved and occasionally it’s more of a guilt-by-association situation. Jägermeister is certainly one of those “bad reputation” spirits, and I think in their case, they fall in to both camps.

First, an origin story. Jäger is an 80-year-old German brand, creators of an herbal liquor that’s a bit like an Italian amaro, a blend of 56 macerated herbs, spices and flavors. Jäger is aged a year as part of its production, then bottled and shipped out.

Now for the uncouth side of Jäger. Remember scantily-clad cocktail waitresses with trays of ice-cold Jäger shots prancing around your local bar? Seen frozen Jäger-branded “shot machines”? How about “Jägerbombs” or “Liquid Heroin”? There’s the fact that they’ve virtually ignored craft cocktail bars, craft cocktail makers, and craft cocktail enthusiasts, too. Continue reading

Amaro Lucano

amaro lucano

In the world of craft cocktails, amaros are a staple of the bar, usually multiple varieties. In the real world of people’s home bars however, these Italian bitter liqueurs have yet to make as much of an impact.

Amaro Lucano is one of many amaros you may find at your local liquor store. Of the amaros I’ve tried, there tend to be several camps of them. There’s the citrusy, like Aperol and Campari. There’s the cola-esque like Averna. Then there’s the herbal, like Cynar, Fernet Branca or this one, Amaro Lucano.

Lucano is the most similar to Cynar, herbal and spicy, though there are enough differences to set it apart. First, the alcohol level is higher, 28% compared with Cynar’s 16%. Because of the increased alcohol level, and likely because of something in the secret recipe of 30 herbs, Amaro Lucano has an interesting tingle when you sip it. It’s hard to trace the source of that tingle, but everyone who’s tried it has noticed it to varying degrees of enjoyment.

At $30, Amaro Lucano is definitely an enjoyable, herbal amaro. If you love to taste new amaros, and experiment with them in your Negronis, it should certainly be on your list of amaros to try.

Podcast 59- Four Roses, New Holland Bourbon and Hanky Panky

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Rings on your ankles? Greg’s never spilled whiskey on his pillow. We talk about National Bourbon Heritage Month. “Who says they don’t get things done?” We taste Four Roses Single Barrel and New Holland Beer Barrel Bourbon. We make a Hanky Panky. Putting meat in jello? “New Orleans changed me!”

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National Bourbon Heritage Month

bourbon curiousOf all the “National _______________ Days” that seem to come daily on our social feeds, this one is unique because it wasn’t created in a marketing department or PR office, but by congress. That’s right, the U.S. Senate declared September National Bourbon Heritage Month back in 2007, a “month to celebrate America’s Native Spirit,” the official title also given by congress back in the 60’s.

Clearly, the best way to celebrate bourbon is by drinking bourbon, but first, it’d be wise to learn all we can about it so that we can find bourbons we like. I’ve been talking about it a little bit on the podcast, but the new book by Fred Minnick, Bourbon Curious: A Simple Tasting Guide for the Savvy Drinker is deeply interesting and unmistakably helpful.

Covering many details of bourbon making and history (did you know Tabasco sauce is aged in bourbon barrels?), Minnick leads us into the final 1/3 of his book: a highly-valuable tasting guide. Categorizing bourbon flavor profiles into 4 groups, grain-forward, nutmeg-forward, caramel-forward and cinnamon-forward, I realized quickly that the bourbons I’ve loved the most were in the cinnamon category.

four roses bourbon

…..then I realized that Simple Cocktails had previously missed an entire brand of cinnamon-forward bourbons. I’m not exactly sure why, but I has thought Four Roses was an expensive, exclusive bourbon, so I figured it’d be hard to cover here, but after reading Bourbon Curious, I noted that Four Roses is one of the oldest, most respectable bourbon brands in the flavor category I love the most, and I had to grab some immediately. Continue reading

Podcast 58- Bourbon Curious, Brugal Rum and Vermouth Spritzer

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“Thanks for asking Lisa.” Tamalewood and Greg is reading Bourbon Curious [Amazon link]. Tequila and Tabasco. “We gotta get on that.” We taste Brugal Extra Dry Rum. Involuntary eye-shutting. A fancy French word. We make a Vermouth Spritzer. “I always grab the white one.”

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Download Episode 58.

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La Quintinye Vermouth Royal

la quintanye vermouth royale

La Quintinye Vermouth Royal is one of several vermouths you may find at your local specialty liquor store. In this particular case, the line is French-produced, by mixing “fresh grape juice and Cognac from a single estate.”

Vermouth, as you know, is an essential ingredient to many classic cocktails, and I have a large summary post about vermouth here at Simple Cocktails.

In the case of La Quintinye (pronounced queen-tin-EE), is available in 3 varieties and I got them in 375 ml bottles ($15 retail). I always try to stick with the smaller bottles since vermouth’s lifespan is relatively short. Here are the flavor profiles of the three:

La Quintinye Extra Dry. Citrousy and sharp, this is your Martini vermouth. It has a little anise flavor, very herbal, and complex. It whets your tastebuds well, just as a good aperitif should.

La Quintinye Rouge. Chocolate and coffee on the nose, it’s peppery and cough-syrup bitter, though still sweet. This is a complex and quality vermouth in a Manhattan or Negroni.

La Quintinye Blanc. A similar herbal scent and flavor profile to Extra Dry, but with a sweet and rounded finish. With less of the sharpness of the Extra Dry, and this is a tasty vermouth to drink on the rocks with a lemon twist or in this Martini variant:

Sweet White Martini

  • in a stirring glass, add:
  • 2 oz unaged Old Tom Gin (I used Brothers)
  • 1 oz La Quintinye Blanc
  • stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with a lemon twist