Bluecoat Gin

bluecoat gin

Bluecoat Gin is an “American Dry Gin” distilled 5 times in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It’s made from all natural, organic ingredients, including a “proprietary citrus blend” (more on that in a moment), and it comes in a sexy etched blue bottle. I tried it for the first time in a martini, which I’d argue is the perfect apéritif (before dinner) drink. I added 2 1/2 oz of Bluecoat, 1/2 oz dry vermouth, and stirred until ice-cold, then strained into a chilled glass with an olive garnish.

Gin geek rant (everyone else, skip down a paragraph): Bluecoat is a very tasty gin, and as I taste more and more gins, I’ve come to realize that unbridled citrus can spoil the flavor of gin for me. John Bernasconi (KGB Spirits owner) told me he discovered that too much citrus causes a gin to clash with the olive garnish in a martini. Since I made this discovery, I realize that my gin palate has me loving a gin like Tanqueray the most and further down would be a gin like Bombay Sapphire. The more prominent the juniper and more muted the citrus, the more I like it. Here’s a quote (by me): “I want my gin to taste more like pine trees and less like an orange grove.” A gin like Martin Miller’s Gin, though, has some subtle, soft citrus flavors, but still tastes good to a juniper lover like me. This brings us back to Bluecoat.

Unless citrus is handled properly in a gin, it can detract from my enjoyment and the mixability of that gin. While Bluecoat proudly touts citrus on the ingredient list, the gin still works incredibly well in a martini. The unique flavor you’ll find in Bluecoat is a mid-drink sweetness that still finishes quite dry. This is a good gin to drink straight, too, as it’s got some great complexities to it’s flavor. If you love gin, I think you’ll appreciate Bluecoat. God bless America.

Karlsson’s Gold Vodka

Karlsson's Gold Vodka

Karlsson’s calls their vodka “a natural vodka with taste.” It’s distilled from virgin potatoes in Sweden once, which is really unusual for vodka – most vodkas are distilled 4-6 times to render it properly flavorless. Karlssons has lots of flavor then, just as they claim. It has a very earthy scent, not the usual vodka ethanol smell I expected. I had it in their signature drink: the Black Gold. This may be the simplest cocktail yet.

Black Gold

  • 2 oz Karlsson’s vodka, poured over ice
  • dust the top with fresh cracked black pepper

I could never imagine drinking vodka this way and being able to describe it as “refreshing,” but it is certainly that. Karlsson’s is full-flavored, sweet, earthy, with minimal alcohol burn, and as far as I can recall, it may be the most interesting sipping vodka I’ve tried.

Maestro Dobel Diamond Tequila

Maestro Dobel Diamond Tequila

So I have had a bottle of Maestro Dobel Diamond Tequila in my liquor cabinet for a month. It’s a high-end tequila that is endorsed by Perry Farrell and sells for about $55 a bottle. It’s a combination of reposado (6+ month aged) añejo (1+ year aged), and extra añejo (really aged, ok?) tequila, but it’s still diamond-clear.

Unfortunately, I don’t like the taste of the stuff. It doesn’t mix well in drinks – I tried several margaritas and a Brave Bull, and I really disliked it. The bottle itself is absolutely classy, though: hand numbered with a steel base and crystalline glass – plus the stopper is heavy enough to kill a man when launched at a high velocity.

Unfortunately, as much as I’m a sucker for a snazzy package, the taste fell short.

I hope this isn’t the last time I need to write this phrase in my lifetime: “I’m sorry, Perry Farrell.

Buyers guides now available!

simple cocktails buyers guides

I’m excited to announce what may be one of the most useful features available at Simple Cocktails yet: home bar buyers guides!  Whether your budget is $50 or $500, I outline for you the basic ingredients to make the largest amount of cocktails in your price range.  Now go shopping!

ROOT and SNAP

Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction is likely the most unique name for a distillery I’ve ever encountered. Art in the Age for short, they believe in “empowering artists producing high quality work marked by fine craft and intellectual rigor.” On a practial level, this means they design and manufacture everything from belts to booze. This is not a belt blog, however, so I’ll focus on the booze.

There are currently 4 Art in the Age spirits: ROOT, SNAP, RHUBARB, and SAGE. I believe the first three (not SAGE) are considered liqueurs as they contain sugar, but they are not sticky-sweet, are totally organic, and are 40% AVB (most liqueurs are around 20%). I tried ROOT and SAGE.

root liqueur

Art in the Age says they made ROOT because they “thought it would be interesting and fun to turn back the clock and recreate a true pre-temperance alcoholic Root Tea.” The initial scent is root-beer-like, but the finish is surprisingly not sweet. In fact, it’s very much like an unsweetened black tea, quite herbal, and a flavor almost like a lit cigar. I mixed a “ROOT and Tonic“: 1 part ROOT to 2 parts tonic with a splash of maple syrup. I’ve yet to find a way to drink ROOT that I enjoyed.

Then I opened a bottle of SNAP, a ginger snap liqueur. I liked the ginger flavor right away and found it sweeter than ROOT. I then mixed SNAP with bourbon, equal parts of each, and fell in love. It’s Fall in a glass. Whether at room temperature or stirred to freezing cold, it’s an outstanding flavor combination that finishes very clean and tasty. For the lack of decent Fall cocktails out there, this one has already made it to the top of my list. I loved it and you’ll find that pairing this with bourbon makes an outstanding simple cocktail. I only hope my bottle of SNAP stays around until the Fall.

snap happy knob creek bourbon and snap liqueur

SNAP Happy

  • 1 1/2 oz SNAP liqueur
  • 1 1/2 oz Knob Creek Bourbon
  • serve room temperature, on the rocks, or stirred and strained into a cocktail glass

Captain’s Blood Cocktail

old port deluxe matured rum

India’s larget distillery Amrut makes Old Port Deluxe Matured Rum ($25) along with their large line of single malt whiskies. The scent of the rum is creamy butterscotch and it’s got a bit of spice in the finish. It also makes a fine ingredient for this simple cocktail:

Captain’s Blood

  • 1 1/2 oz Amrut Old Port Rum (or other dark rum)
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup
  • 1/4 oz lime juice
  • 3 dashes of bitters

Amrut Whisky

Amrut Whisky

According to the extremely complex rules of the English language, there are 2 spellings of “whiskey.” There’s whisky and whiskey. Generally the differentiation is how much the stuff resembles Scotch, which is the e-less whisky. American and Irish whiskies, like Jack Daniel’s or Jameson, use the extra e.

Amrut is in the tradition of Scotch, but it is distilled in India. Amrut Whisky is distilled from “Indian barley grown at the foot of the Himalayas.” As a quick reminder, usually for whisk(e)ys, barley = scotch, corn = american whiskey, and rye or other grains may be used, too.

“Regular” Amrut Single Malt was something brand new to me. I was met with a buttery and rich flavor combination that I would describe as “filling.” It finished in a very earthy, Indian fashion. It’s a much more complex flavor combination than I’m used to. It’s 46% ABV, and like anything over 40%, I found that adding water helped the flavor to settle and kept it from hitting me too intensely. Amrut Single Malt will run you about $55 a bottle.

Amrut Fusion Whisky

Amrut Single Malt Fusion is a different animal as it is even more complex in flavor. The distillery combines the Indian Himalayan barley with Scottish barley (that’s the “fusion”). It’s 50% ABV, and I ended up adding both water and ice in order to properly taste all the flavors it offered. Smoke is a prominent flavor that came forward in Fusion that I had not noticed in the standard Amrut. There is much more peat/mossy flavor in this rich whisky as well.

My concusion about barley-based single malts from this tasting, then, is they have a very complex flavor set that has to be savored slowly – it may be the most full and rich liquid I’ve ever encountered in a glass. This is an amazing whisky for sure and if you’re seeking a smokier, peatier whisky, this is certainly the one to try. Amurut Fusion retails for $75. As with any bottle of liquor of this quality, this is one to drink straight. Few, if any, simple cocktails will do these justice.

Hacienda Gin

Hacienda Gin

KGB Spirits in Alcalde, New Mexico has a gin that everyone should try because it’s great. Winning a bronze medal at the San Francisco Spirits Competition this year, Los Luceros Hacienda Gin is unique in that it has a potato base (instead of neutral grains), and according to KGB owner John Bernasconi, it’s the only potato-based gin in the world. Hacienda is a London Dry Gin, so you’ll notice the juniper immediately on tasting it, but there are elements that are unique to Hacienda that I found familiar as well, from its earthy finish to Hacienda to it’s pleasant freshness. Bernasconi said that he wanted to make a world-class product with his gin, so he’s sought out rare botanicals to use in Hacienda from around the world.

After a sip of straight Hacienda, I made my favorite cocktail, the Gin Old Fashioned. I tasted the difference in the flavor profile and it was great. A minty, herbal freshness told me I was dealing with something southwestern, but the flavor was still very comfortable for a London Dry gin lover. Even the bottle will draw you in, with a small, classy label, a handmarked distillery tag, and a crystal-clear glass stopper to match the gin. If you’re in or near New Mexico, buy yourself some Hacienda gin – it’s an excellent buy at $35. The rest of you? Start praying now for distribution to your part of the world.

Hacienda Martini:

  • 2 1/2 oz Hacienda Gin
  • 1/2 oz dry vermouth
  • olive garnish

JLP Tequila

jlp anejo tequila

A new brand of tequila has made an appearance in Albuquerque liquor stores: JLP Tequila. Named for the former governor of the Villa of Tequila, Jesus Lopez Portillo Y Galindo, JLP is a mid-range tequila will run you about $20-30, and it’s made from 100% agave. I tried all 3 of the varieties: Blanco (unaged), Reposado (aged 6 months), and Añejo (aged 12 months), and I’m pretty impressed.  While it has been widely available in California, JLP is new to New Mexico.

First, an explanation about the two types of tequila manufacture. Tequila is distilled from agave, just like some whiskey is distilled from corn, but there are 2 different ways of processing it from there: 100% agave or mixto.  100% agave is the most pure type, with no added ingredients. A mixto uses at least 51% agave, then sugars are used to make up the remainder of the mixture. This would expain why 100% agave tequilas start at $20, but a bottle of Jose Cuervo is $13.  It’s a mixto.

The older a tequila is, the less appropriate it is for cocktails, so I made a margarita with the JLP Blanco  and found that it made an outstanding margarita, one of the best I’ve ever had. It’s a very smooth tequila and the muggyness that tequila is famous for is a bit more subtle.

Tasting it in a glass by itself, the JLP Añejo is very smooth, highlighted by an outstanding peppery/chili finish. The middle child, JLP Reposado, is a fine tequila for a Tequila Old Fashioned:

Tequila Old Fashioned

  • in an old fashioned glass, add:
    • 1 tsp of raw sugar
    • 3 dashes of orange bitters
    • 2 oz of JLP Reposado Tequila
  • fill with ice and stir well
  • garnish with a lime wedge

 

It’s Spodee!

spodee and coke zero

Spodee is a brand new wine-based drink, combining red wine with moonshine, garden herbs, and a little chocolate, to end up with a very unique fortified wine. Like vermouth or port, combining the wine base with a higher-proof spirit makes Spodee more shelf-stable, as wine alone would spoil a few days after opened.

Spodee comes in a old-timey milk bottle and one of the signature drinks is “Spodee and Sody,” mixing Spodee with your soda of choice. The company recommends using a 1:1 ratio of Spodee to soda, which is good, but most folks who tasted it with me felt that a ratio of 1:4 Spodee to soda was better. The chocolate is the primary flavor you’ll taste, ending up with a Chocolate-Coke-type drink. You can see why Spodee’s clever marketing is a throwback to soda fountains and diners. There are even a few breakfast recipes with Spodee, like the Rise and Wine or Spodee and Joe.

Spodee retails for about $9 in a half-liter jug.

;

Page 51 of 54« First...10203040...4950515253...Last »