Chilled Magazine features new products within the drinking and nightlife community and stories on the founders, distilleries and breweries in the market. Also drink submissions by bartenders, mixologists and readers are also featured here. Follow this site to get to know about everything related to bar industry and latest liquor, beer, wine and drinking products.
In my family, empirical learning is a requirement.
As a young girl visiting family in Germany, I spent much time with my grandmother, Omi, strolling through the dense forests. She would point out plants, encouraging our interaction, and I unabashedly rose to the challenge. On a particularly soggy Berlin afternoon walk, Omi pointed to a plant that looked like a type of mint with fur. “Stick your nose in it,” she mused. As I shoved my eager nose into this vibrant plant, I learned about my grandmother’s sense of humor as well as the first property one notices with this force of a plant. The tiny hairs of the fortifying stinging nettle act as a deterrent to local herbivores. Histamine is one of the chemicals released when the leaf comes in contact with the skin, so you can imagine how that nose of mine burned and itched. And that’s how I learned to approach plants more delicately.
When harvesting nettles fresh, it’s best to wear gloves, bundle them, and immediately hang them upside down, which allows the little hairs to fall off so you can access all the goodness the plant has to offer. Nettles pop up during the time of year when the immune system takes a hit. Late winter/early spring across most of the planet offers a challenge to the healthy body. Nettles will not only detoxify all the nonsense from your cellular system, but also stimulate red blood cell circulation, which nourishes the blood and offers an energy boost. The anti-inflammatory nature of nettles supports a speedy rebalance when suffering from ailments such as chronic muscle pain and rheumatoid arthritis. Albeit a prickly plant by visage, the nettle shines sweet on the inside.
Infusing nettles is an excellent approach to gaining its benefits. Using a 5:1 ratio of nettles with water will create a powerful healing remedy. Inspired by this simple concoction, I’ve created foam from the infusion to top this month’s Medicinal Mixology cocktail. Once you’ve created the infusion, simply mix in an egg white (or agar-agar, if vegan-inclined). After a few minutes of whipping, the mixture develops a lovely foam topping. Nettle is a hearty, uncomplicated herb. The more you consume, the more it will restore and invigorate the spirit.
2 oz. Brandy or Cognac
.5 Meyer Lemon, Juiced
.5 oz. Hibiscus Simple Syrup (1:1 organic cane sugar and water that’s been simmered with dried hibiscus flowers)
Nettle-Infused Foam (for Garnish)
Lemon Zest (for Garnish)
Edible Flower (for Garnish)
Preparation: Add liquid ingredients to a shaker tin with ice. Shake with fervor and strain into a glass of your choice. Top with nettle-infused foam to fill the glass. Garnish with fresh lemon zest and a dried edible flower of your choice.
When you have a conversation about Italian wine, most people think about the heavy hitters: Chianti, Sangiovese, Barbera, anything from Tuscany, and Montepulciano.
It’s also a common misconception that beyond Prosecco and Pinot Grigio, most Italian wines are reds. But if you really start to dive deep into Italian wines, you’ll find that some of the oldest varietals grown in the country are actually white. Ancestral grapes like Fiano, Coda di Volpe, Falanghina, and Malvasia were produced as far back as the Ancient Roman times. While these wines don’t get as much attention as some of the other Italian varietals stateside, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be drinking them.
Here, we list 10 of our favorite impressive bottles—both reds and whites—that will change how you think about Italian wines. Best of all, each one costs $25 or less, so you can buy them all without hurting your wallet.
This blended white wine is produced by Corrado Dottori near the town of Cupramontana in the Marche region of Italy. A blend of Trebbiano, Malvasia, and Verdicchio grapes, Nur is layered and complex. Because of an extended time resting on the skins during fermentation—a maceration that lasts upward of 14 days—the wine has a golden-orange hue and bracing tannic backbone that’s more akin to a lighter red. On the palate, there are notes of wildflower honey, orange rind, fresh apricots, and sea salt. As it leaves your tongue, the wine reveals more herbal flavors like chamomile tea, fennel, and licorice. Serve with fattier cuts of meat like pork (it has enough acid to cut through it), earthier cheeses, almonds, and dense berry jams.
A red blend from Campania, Kajanero translates to “the dark wine from Caiazzo,” which happens to be the name of the town where the grapes are grown. Composed of ancient grape varietals Pallagrello Nero, Pizzutello, Casavecchia, and Aglianico, the wine is intense, layered, and full of character. In the forefront of the palate are notes of blackcurrant, sour cherries, and blackberry brambles. On the finish, the wine reveals hints of juniper and black pepper. With a bright acidity and low tannins, this bottling can be enjoyed with almost any type of food.
This red blend is produced by second-generation winemaker Pierluigi Cosenza in the province of Ragusa in southeastern Sicily. The region has been producing incredible wines since the third century B.C., and it’s also one of the only Sicilian regions that have a Denominazione di origine controllata (or DOC) status. Made from Nero d’Avola and Frappato grapes, the wine is heady and rich with flavors of purple plums, black cherries, blackberries, wet earth, and chanterelles. This is an excellent companion to red meat, game meats (think rabbit), and pastas with more complex, tomato-based sauces.
2016 Poggio Di Bortolone Frappato
2014 Terre Siciliane Sikelè Nero D’Avola ($18)
This Sicilian red is for fans of more intensely flavored natural wines. It’s produced in the Southeastern province of Siracusa and made by Angelo Paternò and his two daughters, Marilina and Federica. Fermentation is with indigenous, natural yeasts, and the grapes on the property are all organically farmed. This bottling—our favorite in their portfolio—is made with 100 percent Nero D’Avola and big, juicy, and fruit-forward. There are subtle tannic notes that give the wine enough of a spine to hold up to heavier cuisines, and enough of a tart cherry vibrancy to drink on its own—especially in hot weather. On the finish, the natural funk from the terrior kicks in, and spicy black pepper notes tickle your tongue.
If you want a wine that tastes completely different than what you’d expect from an Italian white, try this bottling. Hailing from the hills of Parma in the Emilia-Romagna region, Vej Bianco Antico is a blend of two ancestral varietals: Malvasia and Malvasia di Candia. Organically farmed, the grapes are fermented with wild yeasts, macerated on the skins for long periods (hence its orange color and richness), and aged in stainless steel and concrete tanks. It’s bottled unfiltered without any chemical additives, including sulfur. Vej Bianco Antico is bold and deeply complex on the palate, with flavors of honeycomb, grapefruit and lemon zests, elderflower blossoms, jasmine, and pear. With a creamy texture from the leftover lees, it finishes with oxidative notes akin to sherries from Spain. While this wine is the perfect companion for a variety of different cuisines, it pairs especially well with spicier Asian fare, nuttier aged cheeses, olives, and fish.
This wine is very special—if you’ve had it before, chances are you still think about it. Produced in the Campania region of Italy by husband-and-wife team Antonio and Daniela Gruttola (who started making their wines in their garage), this bottling is made from 100 percent Fiano grapes, a varietal native to the region. After spontaneous fermentation with natural yeasts, the grapes are allowed to ferment and macerate on the skins for up to six months in amphorae clay pots. The wine is then bottled unfiltered and has an opaque amber color. On the palate, there is an abundance of floral notes, hints of citrus, and a rich brininess. The finish has a strong minerality and savoriness that lingers. If it were up to us, this wine would accompany all meat and cheese plates.
This Vermentino is grown and produced in Sardinia by Elisabetta Pala, a second-generation winemaker. Made with grapes from 30-year-old vines that are planted 200 meters above sea level near the Gulf of Cagliari, this wine is like a summer breeze trapped in a bottle. There is some skin contact during fermentation, which results in a greenish-amber hue, and the wine is rested and aged on the lees in stainless steel before bottling. With subtle vegetal notes at the forefront of the palate and nose, it opens up to reveal a beautiful floral aroma and flavor with hints of sage, orange blossom, and lemon curd. This is a bottle to bring to the beach and enjoy with fresh seafood, preferably bivalves.
Produced in the Vesuvio region of Campania, this blended white wine’s name—Lacryma Christi—literally translates to “the tears of Christ.” It is one of the oldest blends still being made to this day and believed to be the closest approximation to what the Ancient Romans would have drunk. This bottle is a blend of Caprettone, Falanghina, and Greco grapes grown by the Matrone family, who have been cultivating vines at their estate since the 18th century. Because it’s allowed to macerate on the skins for 48 hours during fermentation, the wine develops an incredibly concentrated floral bouquet and flavor and a beautiful orangish color. Medium-bodied with a lively acidity, it has notes of overripe peaches, candied lemon peel, and wet stone, with a brackish finish. This is a bottle that is very easy to drink, and often.
2016 Cantine Matrone Lacryma Christi Del Vesuvio
2017 Bisson Vino Frizzante Bianco ($19)
If you like to start your weekend mornings with Prosecco, but want a wine that doesn’t play by the rules, you need to snag a bottle of Pierluigi Lugano’s Bisson Vino Frizzante. Made in Liguria with Glera grapes—the traditional grapes used to make Prosecco—this bubbly comes with a crown top instead of a cork and is bone-dry. On the palate, it zings with a vibrant green apple acidity. There are also notes of pear, jasmine tea, fresh-baked sourdough, and an intense seaside salinity. It’s everything you want in a wine: inexpensive with beautifully designed packaging that’s downright crushable in the glass.
Another bubbly beauty, this super-quaffable wine is produced in Italy’s northernmost wine region, Trentino-Alto Adige, which borders Austria, Switzerland, and the Alps. Using 100 percent Schiava grapes—a red varietal that is native and exclusive to the region—the wine is made through natural, spontaneous fermentation and allowed to macerate on the skins in concrete tanks. It’s then pressed and bottled with residual sugar and refermented before being capped, which gives it an intense fizziness and almost-creamy texture from the lees that are trapped in the bottle. On the palate, all the signature expressions of the Schiava grape are present: an intense florality on the nose and flavors of strawberry bubblegum, rose water, and cotton candy. Because this wine is somewhere between a rosé and an orange wine, the color and flavor is lighter than other Schiava-based wines and more acidic, so it’s even more thirst-quenchingly good.
Every restaurant and bar should take advantage of the profit center that awaits with its beverage program, but pricing beverages accordingly is a must.
Choosing beverages—in this case, wine—is an important task. The goal is twofold: finding acceptable wines at all price points, and seeking out stunning and unusual wines at higher price points.
The days of having a straight formula for pricing wine are behind us. It used to go like this: A single glass of a wine was typically priced at the wholesale cost of the entire bottle. What that means is a glass of wine that you sell to your customers at $8 a glass would cost your business $8 for the entire bottle. But that formula doesn’t always work. At a neighborhood bar or restaurant, the wine should be priced at $8 a glass, whereas a steakhouse could charge anywhere from $12 to $15 a glass.
By the glass, wines see the highest profit margin, which could bring in four to five times the actual cost. But this also depends on the wine. Something like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is always one of the most popular wines at the best value. It’s a wine that will bring in money, even if it’s listed with a low price. This is not possible for a Napa Cabernet or more expensive wines.
Another common concern is the cutoff price point for wines by the glass. Again, this depends on your concept. A neighborhood bar or restaurant will usually sell wines for $7 to $10 a glass because it’s probably not buying wines that cost more than $10 a bottle. A fine dining restaurant may be more flexible if it has a huge wine-by-the-glass program. The cutoff price is also dependent on how popular the wine is. Your chardonnay by the glass will be very popular if you’re pouring it for $10 a glass. You shouldn’t pay more than $10 a bottle because your margins on popular wines should be higher.
For a higher-end wine (around $15 a glass), you can experiment with more unusual grapes and regions. You want to bring something interesting to your guests. These more obscure wines tend to be more expensive. If you pour a wine for $15 a glass, you have to ask if the guest will buy it at that price and make sure you’re making a profit. Typically, your lower-priced wines have higher margins, and your higher-priced wines by the glass will cost you more. Your wine-by-the-glass program should net you about 25 percent of the cost. This is why you should look at every wine individually and ask yourself what your best cost scenario is for you to be profitable on each wine you purchase.
Pour size is also a huge decision because if you’re pouring a lot of wine, an ounce here and there can really add up over time. A wine bottle holds 25.36 ounces. If you decide to pour five-ounce glasses, you get five glasses out of a bottle. If your pour is six ounces, you only get four glasses out of the bottle. Most diners have no idea how many ounces they are receiving. That’s why glass size is so important. Guests are very visual and can tell if the glass doesn’t look full, no matter what the size. They will feel cheated if the glass is too big and the pour too small.
Here at Chilled, we’re going to suggest the best possible wines by the glass for your bar program. Each story will highlight a handful of wines that meet our criteria of quality and affordability. The wines chosen will be wines that please the palate and can pair with all types of food, including nibbles. To kick things off, these are six of our favorite wines to drink by the glass right now, complete with quick descriptions and our suggested price per glass. If you’re looking to refresh your wine list this month, try one of these delicious and affordable vinos.
Masculan Chardonnay 2017
This volcanic, well-rounded, zippy, and intense Veneto Chardonnay drinks well above its price. Refreshing acidity and fragrant notes of lemon verbena linger throughout this outstanding food companion.
Suggested price: $9
Masculan Chardonnay 2017
Max Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Errazuriz Winery was recognized by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate as the Best Chilean Winery in 2017. This stunning Sauvignon Blanc has the fruit of New Zealand and the minerality of the Loire Valley.
Suggested price: $11
Max Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Naveran Brut Cava 2016
Dry, round, and made with the traditional method, this Spanish sparkler can be enjoyed as an aperitif as well as with a meal. Its versatility and reasonable price demand a bigger payback.
Suggested price: $11
Naveran Brut Cava 2016
Le Baron Côtes de Provence Rosé 2017
This blend of Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah is light and fruity with watermelon overtones. It’s perfect on its own or with summery food accompaniments.
Suggested price: $6
Le Baron Côtes de Provence Rosé 2017
Max Carmenere 2016
Carmenere, long lost in Bordeaux, has become the symbol of red wine in Chile. Well-spiced and long, this special wine received 93 points from James Suckling.
Suggested price: $11
Max Carmenere 2016
Storia Italiana Valpolicella Ripasso 2016
Mouthwatering, medium-bodied, rich, and expressive, this Italian gem has layers of flavor and a long finish. It drinks well above its cost.
When a cocktail recipe calls for bitters, the default standard has always been Angostura, the herbal, aromatic tincture with the oversized label.
But throughout the cocktail renaissance, Peychaud’s, citrus favorite Regan’s Orange No. 6, and even chocolate variants from modern producers like Bittermens have all gone from novel bar products to industry mainstays. As the demand for inventive cocktails increases, so does the breadth of obscure bitters, with flavors including everything from tobacco to seaweed.
Although we’re all about experimentation, it can be difficult to effectively use these strange-flavored bitters in a cocktail. So we turned to Amor y Amargo barman, author, and all-around bitters expert Sother Teague for the DOs and DON’Ts of using eclectic bitters.
DO Select Your Bitters Carefully
“Odd for the sake of odd tends not to survive,” Teague says of the countless bitters that have cycled through the shelves of his East Village bar. He suggests that while certain flavors may excite because they are trending in the current food landscape or have a certain shock value, they don’t always translate well into cocktails. “I’ve had many come and go,” he adds. “Truffle was my least favorite.”
DO Smell Your Bitters
“Grab a bottle and give it a shake,” Teague recommends. “This is not to stir it up, but to release aromatics.” This is similar to swirling a glass of wine or putting a drop of water into cask-strength whisky to open it up. Smelling is the first and most important step in properly assessing your new bitters because, according to Teague, “aroma is 90 percent of flavor.” As such, smelling the tincture prior to tasting it is the best way to get a sense of just what that bottle of Burlesque Bitters is all about.
DON’T Be Bound by Rules or Standards
“There are no rules!” Teague proclaims of only holding to traditional flavor combinations when pairing bitters with spirits. He suggests that some cocktail creations are a matter of personal taste, so a bitters combination that doesn’t work for one guest may be delicious to another. “I may not like tart cherry saffron bitters in my Martini, but that may sound perfect for you,” he says. “The biggest failure is not using them.”
Mixing with Bitters
Photo by Adam Jaime/Unsplash
DON’T Force It
“Often, we get so excited by something new, we feel obligated to force it into places where it shouldn’t go,” Teague notes. Some bartenders may want to use their shiny new bitters so badly they wind up shoehorning them into too many drinks on the menu, or jamming them into a recipe where they don’t fit. While everyone is entitled to creative liberty, sometimes we must accept that the strawberry rhubarb bitters aren’t playing nicely with the Rusty Nail riff.
“Hopefully this pot-shooting leads to better drinks through judicious R&D,” he adds.
DO Trust Your Palate Memory
Just like a certain smell can bring us back to a specific memory or time of life, your mind can reconstruct the flavor of something you’ve tasted before. Trusting these instincts is one of your best tools when experimenting with new flavors of bitters, because your palate won’t lie to you.
“If you follow your palate memory, you’ll likely never make a mistake,” Teague says. “You can mentally taste things without having them on hand. If you think about anchovies, you can ‘taste’ them—oily, salty, fishy. Now think about chocolate ice cream—creamy, chocolatey, rich, frozen. Now think of them together. If you think that would be good, it will be—for you. It sounds terrible to me.”
DO Build Out Your Trusted Bitters Toolkit
Effectively implementing various bitters into a menu requires selecting flavors that elevate the style of drinks a given bartender likes to make. This is going to be different for everyone depending on the kinds of cocktails your bar serves, as well as your own palate’s preferences.
“The brand 18.21 Bitters from Atlanta makes Barrel Aged Havana&Hyde Bitters—smoky and leathery, great in a Cognac Old Fashioned,” Teague affirms. But it’s important to note that not all flavor profiles like ‘“smokiness” are the same, so one won’t necessarily be the right smoke flavor for all the drinks on your menu. For Bloody Marys and Martinis, for example, Teague suggests a few drops of Memphis Barbecue Bitters from Santa Fe producer The Bitter End, which he describes as “spicy-sweet with hints of smoke” that can really “liven up” these classics.
Ultimately, Teague encourages bartenders to treat bitters—eclectic and otherwise—like a versatile set of tools that elevate and enhance the other flavors already present in a cocktail. They may not be the star of the show, but when cleverly introduced, they can bring a drink to the next level.
“Your Daiquiri will be great without them,” Teague notes, “but a dash of lime bitters will make it excel.”
Bars are places to go when you need to relax and unwind, socialize with friends, and enjoy a beautiful cocktail.
But where there’s alcohol involved, people are bound to get rowdy or act out of line at times. Bartenders have the tough job of monitoring these situations and taking action when a patron is misbehaving and creating an uncomfortable environment for other guests. And it isn’t just about making patrons feel comfortable—it’s also necessary to create a work environment where your employees feel safe.
“Every employee should feel empowered to make the choices they see fit when serving alcohol to a guest,” says Justin Ware, bar manager at Johnny’s Gold Brick and regional winner of Heaven Hill’s Bartender of the Year. “There have been several instances when a guest was making a female bartender uncomfortable in which I have stepped in and explained that they were doing so, and if it continued, I would ask them to leave. I personally have dealt with female guests making me feel uncomfortable and had to ask them to stop or they would be asked to leave. Safety and comfort in the bar should extend to guests and employees alike.”
Justin Ware – Chilled 100 Member, Houston
We chatted with Ware, as well as Davos Brand Ambassador Fernanda Rossano, about how they create safe spaces in their bars for both patrons and employees alike. These Chilled 100 members share their insight on how to deescalate a situation and the telltale signs to look for to avoid overserving a customer.
What type of action do you take if you notice someone is receiving unwanted attention in your bar?
Justin Ware – Chilled 100 Member, Houston
Justin Ware: This situation is a tough one for everyone involved. To start, my approach is always to make eye contact with the guest who I feel might be uncomfortable and ask them very straightforwardly, “Are you okay?” and “If you need anything, let me know.” Depending on the answer, the next step I take is to start a conversation with them and hope the person giving unwanted attention will get the hint. If the situation persists, I politely ask the guest to leave the person being bothered alone. If they refuse, we reserve the right to stop serving them and politely ask them to leave.
Fernanda Rossano – Chilled 100 Member, Dallas
Fernanda Rossano: I definitely watch closely, approach the person, and make sure they are okay. I’ve had all kinds of situations where I can either tell they are uncomfortable, or they will come to me [and tell me so]. I usually take the person in question outside to talk to them and figure out what going on.
How do you deal with rowdy customers who are making the drinking experience unpleasant for other patrons?
JW: Much like any situation that causes an issue, starting with a calm and very direct way of asking the rowdy guest to calm down or stop what they are doing is always the first step—being firm yet empathetic to their good time, while explaining that their good time might be affecting another’s good time. If the problem persists, a firm warning about the consequences that will follow is the next step. Finally, strike three and you’re out. Usually it’s time to refuse service and/or ask them to leave. No one person’s “good time” is more important than another’s.
Fernanda Rossano – Chilled 100 Member, Dallas
Photo by Austin Marc Graf
FR: Cutting people off has never been a problem. Usually where I’ve worked, there are other bars around. So closing tabs and suggesting elsewhere is easy. If I think there will be pushback, I usually make sure the door staff is prepared. If it’s a personality issue, I like to just give the patron a heads-up [that they’re annoying other customers].
Some people are pros at hiding how much they’re actually drinking. What are some telltale signs to look for to avoid overserving a customer?
JW: Intoxicated guests are part of our careers. No matter how hard we try, someone will get intoxicated and eventually need to be cut off. Signs we look for at my bar are the physical: blushed face, glazed eyes, slurred speech. We listen to how people ask for things. Are they demanding? Are they answering with a full, “Yes, I will have …” or are they just pointing at their empty glass and asking for “another”? Are they waiting their turn or are they shouting over people? Do they remember if they have a tab open or if they closed out? Are they taking over other people’s personal space without knowing they are doing so? Is their volume appropriate for the people and space around them? These are all telltale signs we look for.
FR: This is tough, but knowing the effects of alcohol on your own body really helps. Usually for pros, it’s hard to tell audibly, but eyes shaking and repeating of oneself is obvious. Anyone ordering their third cocktail from me gets watched. I learned that from my wife’s restaurant—if you order a fourth drink with your dinner, a manager has walked by your table and approved it. I like that rule. I make mental notes. If a person starts sending people to order for them, I usually mention they can only order a drink for themselves. Being responsible is super important. So staying sober behind the bar also gives you an edge on being responsible.
The White Russian is a perfect example of how pop culture can have an impact on the cocktail world.
The White Russian as we know it is thought to be a descendant of a 1940s drink called Alexander the Great, which was a mix of vodka, coffee liqueur, crème de cacao, and cream. But the drink’s less-popular counterpart, the Black Russian, actually arrived first on the scene.
As the story goes, the Black Russian was created in the 1940s by bartender Gustave Tops at the Hotel Metropole in Brussels for customer Perle Mesta, the U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg. The addition of cream didn’t appear until the 1950s or ‘60s, and the resulting White Russian experienced great popularity in the next couple of decades that followed. It fell out of fashion and was considered gauche for years until the Coen brothers released their cult-favorite film The Big Lebowski in 1998.
In the movie, notorious slacker Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski (famously played by Jeff Bridges) was obsessed with the three-ingredient cocktail and took to calling it a Caucasian when he ordered it in the bowling alley that he frequented. What followed was a surge in popularity for the drink, whether it was consumed out of true love or ironically at Lebowski-themed bowling nights. Either way, the sweet, creamy White Russian is a tasty drink that deserves a place in the classic cocktail canon.
Kahlua is the coffee liqueur most often used to make a White Russian, but you can mix your favorite iteration of the spirit in the drink. And if you’re lactose intolerant, feel free to substitute milk alternatives like coconut, almond, or oat for the heavy cream for a less-decadent (but equally delicious) drink.
1 oz. Vodka
1 oz. Coffee Liqueur
1 oz. Heavy Cream
Preparation: Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.
New spirits are hitting the market all the time, but some shine brighter than the rest.
From a couple of luxurious, flavored gins to a new vodka from a whiskey producer, these are the best spirits we’ve tasted so far in 2019. Grab ahold of these bottles to get ahead of the curve.
Copper & Kings Luxury Gins ($35)
Last month, Copper & Kings released not one, but two luxury gins to add to its collection of fine spirits. The first is The History of Lovers, which is a rose bouquet-forward pink gin, and the second is The Ninth, a juicy, orange gin that’s finished in Destillaré Orange Curaçao barrels. Both expressions are copper pot-distilled, contain all-natural colors and flavors, and work perfectly in spritzy cocktails like Gin & Tonics and Smashes.
Copper & Kings Luxury Gins
Coopers’ Craft Barrel Reserve 100 Proof ($30)
We love Coopers’ Craft Original expression for its light body because it’s perfect for mixing a stiff cocktail. So we were excited to hear about the release of its Barrel Reserve 100 Proof, which is aged in American White Oak barrels that have been both charred and chiseled to allow the whiskey to interact more deeply with the wood. Expect aromas of cinnamon and citrus with a palate that bursts with caramel and pear.
Coopers’ Craft Barrel Reserve 100 Proof
Stillhouse Classic Vodka ($22)
Stillhouse Spirits Co. made waves with its whiskies, which come in awesome flavors like Mint Chip and Coconut, and are packed in unbreakable stainless steel cans. Now, Stillhouse has launched its Classic Vodka (available for purchase April 2019), a spirit that’s distilled from 100 percent estate-grown corn and limestone water. The vodka is then filtered though sugar maple charcoal for a smooth finish that works well in all types of vodka cocktails.
Stillhouse Classic Vodka
Photo Courtesy of Stillhouse Sprits Co.
Balcones Distilling Texas Pot Still Bourbon ($30)
Following the celebration of its 10th anniversary last year, Balcones Distilling just added a new whiskey to its core lineup. Texas Pot Still Bourbon is made from a mash bill of roasted blue corn, Texas wheat and rye, and malted barley, and aged in new charred oak barrels for two years before bottling. It has a beautiful nose of Honeycrisp apples, kettle corn, and graham cracker, with flavors of honey and candied pecan on the palate. The finish is soft and dry, with a lingering spice that makes you want to take another sip.
Balcones Distilling Texas Pot Still Bourbon
Glen Moray Cabernet Sauvignon Cask Finish ($30)
This easy-drinking scotch is the latest whisky from Glen Moray, and we can’t get enough of its smooth, sweet flavor. After years of aging in ex-bourbon barrels, the single malt is placed in wine casks for its final months of maturation, where it takes on black currant and cherry notes from the red wine. Glen Moray Cabernet Sauvignon Cask Finish has aromas of sweet apple jelly and honey with flavors of vanilla, pepper, and dark chocolate, making it almost too easy to sip.
The winning bartenders, voted for by LDA+ bar patrons, will win a trip of a lifetime to Tales of the Cocktail this summer.
The contest opens on Friday, April 12 and runs through May 26, 2019. Bartender entrants are invited to submit an original cocktail recipe, an image and the name of their ‘Brocktail’ in addition to their contact details via the entry form that is available on the Brockmans Gin website.
Members of the public (LDA+) will be invited to vote not just once, but as often as once per day for their favorite recipes through an interactive app accessed on the Brockmans website. During the voting period, consumer votes will be fed into an interactive leader board that can be viewed almost immediately via the website and social media, encouraging friendly competition between the bars.
Brockmans 2018 Winner – Betty Brown
Photo by Kal Ruparell
The winner and runners-up will be announced on June 8, World Gin Day. Voting LDA+ customers in the United States have a chance to win Brockmans’ Black Book of Gin Cocktails just by voting for their favorite bar’s drink. The creator of the winning cocktail and the other top finalists, based on public votes, will each win a trip for two to the ultimate cocktail showcase, Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, which kicks off on July 16. The prize includes air travel, three nights’ accommodations, two nights at Tales of the Cocktail and dinner with the Brockmans’ team.
“The cocktails submitted should complement the extraordinary and stylish character of Brockmans Gin, which brims with blueberries, blackberries and bitter-sweet Valencian orange peel. Brockmans has inspired mixologists the world over to create some distinctive and delicious cocktails. As usual, we are excited to see not only what the world’s best bartenders will submit in 2019 but what gin lovers vote for.”
Bob Fowkes, Brockmans Gin Co-Founder
Entry Terms and Conditions will be available on the Brockmans website beginning in April. Entrants must be available to take their prize trip during the dates specified. No cash alternatives are available.
Vodka is the absolute best spirit for two-ingredient cocktails.
Its neutral, smooth flavor makes it the Swiss Army knife of spiking, able to pair nicely with nearly any beverage. It’s a shame that the spirit has been so long relegated to just mixing with soda water or orange juice when there are so many exciting drinks out in the world just waiting for a splash of neutral alcohol. It’s difficult to go wrong, but here are a few of our favorite beverages to mix with vodka.
Hot coffee’s rich, bitter flavor is the perfect match for many spirits, but mellower cold brew is an even better choice. Heat intensifies alcohol, making it hard to taste coffee’s flavor beneath the raw alcoholic heat. But with cold brew, you get the full flavor of the java with none of the extra burn. Vodka is easily the best choice for coffee fanatics looking to booze up their cup of joe without disturbing the taste of their precious 24-hour extraction.
You can’t call it a Moscow Mule without the lime juice, but it really doesn’t matter because this combo tastes just as great without the citrus. Bars tend to mix Mules with overly sweet ginger beer that makes your taste buds comatose. Instead, choose a quality ginger beer (like Fever-Tree) with a little spice and pep to really punch up your two-ingredient cocktail.
To say “Bloody Mary mix” here would be cheating, but dashing some vodka into tomato juice gets you halfway there. Sure, it tastes like a low-budget Bloody, but the mixture also speaks to vodka’s natural fit alongside savory flavors, which makes it unique among spirits. Try mixing rum with a few vegetables and tell us again why vodka and tomato isn’t an awesome combo.
Skip the fattening Piña Coladas and opt for a refreshing glass of vodka and coconut water instead. Whether you go for a mainstream brand like Vita Coco or an artisanal bottle like CoAqua, unsweetened coconut water really blooms with just a dash of vodka—so don’t go blasting out the delicate flavors with a huge glug of alcohol. Combine in a tall glass, stir briefly with a few big cubes of ice, and find yourself a sunny spot to kick back.
Mixing with Vodka
Photo by GoncharukMaks/Shutterstock
Forget OJ—grapefruit is the fruity vodka pairing your boozy brunch deserves. Unlike other sickly sweet juices, fresh grapefruit supplies both sweet and sour to create a balanced cocktail with just a touch of vodka. Add a little salt and this easy-to-mix drink is damn near perfection.
For a more adventurous pairing with the added bonus of delightful fizz, check out Jarritos’ entire line of fruit sodas. The Mexican soft drink comes in varieties like tamarind, guava, and jamaica (hibiscus), which add sweet, sour, floral, and spiced notes to any vodka. The whole range is a heck of a lot more interesting than your standard American sodas.
Unless we’re making a proper milk punch, we tend to keep our milk and booze separated at opposite ends of the daily routine. But Yoo-hoo’s “chocolate drink” contains no actual milk, making it the perfect chocolatey beverage for spiking. Its slight tang and vaguely malty taste give the two-ingredient cocktail a bit of complexity. The retro beverage may bring back memories of childhood, and a dash of vodka will make that nostalgic euphoria even better.
The Music of Mixology with Mozart White Chocolate Cream Liqueur.
A St. Patrick’s Day Brunch wouldn’t be quite right without an Irish Coffee to jump start the festivities. I wanted to combine my favorite brunch items into that first glass … coffee, orange juice, maple syrup and flavorful spirits that provide a kick for this special day! This riff on the classic is great either before brunch or with dessert.
Top O’ The Mornin’ To Ya
Top O’ The Mornin’ To Ya
By Owen Wolfertz
1 oz. Mozart White Chocolate Vanilla Cream
1 oz. Old Forester 86 Bourbon
1/2 oz. Orange-Vanilla-Maple Elixir*
Hot French-Press Coffee (or cold brew if iced)
Espresso Whipped Cream**
Preparation: Add Mozart White Chocolate Vanilla Cream, Bourbon and Elixir to coffee mug, top with hot coffee (or fill glass halfway with cold brew and then ice). Add espresso whipped cream on top.
peels of 4 Oranges
1 cup Sugar
1 Vanilla Bean, sliced down the middle
1 oz. Maple Syrup
1 oz. Orange Juice
Preparation: Combine orange peels, sugar, vanilla bean and maple syrup in a vacuum bag and seal. Place in a sous vide bath set to 50º C/122º F for 1.5-2 hours. Remove from bath, strain and stir in orange juice.
Preparation: Place heavy whipping cream in a cold metal bowl. Whisk until soft peaks start to form. Add the maple syrup and continue to whisk just until stiff peaks form. Fold in the ground espresso.
Behind the Bar Tip: For a smaller amount or for whipped cream on the fly, add 3 oz. of heavy cream and 1/2 oz. maple syrup (or 2:1 simple syrup) and a pinch or two of espresso to a clean shaker tin. Drop in the spring from your hawthorn strainer then hard shake for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Owen started in the industry as a server nearly 18 years ago. After years of watching bartenders where he worked, he finally convinced his boss to give him a shot and he never looked back. The energy, passion and camaraderie he found in the mixology community is what drives him. He is currently the General Manager & Beverage Director at Moxy in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and the Beverage Director at Jumpin’ Jay’s Fish Café.
At Moxy his bar program focuses on the local distillers and craft beer brewers. The products used are sourced from Moxy’s farm and other New Hampshire growers and foragers.
Owen takes a classical approach to building his cocktails while highlighting unique seasonal ingredients.