Good Spirits News - The spirited world of mixology
Blair Frodelius is a professional full-time musician, an award-winning mixologist, USBG Spirits Professional, BarSmarts Live & Wired graduate and member of the Museum of the American Cocktail. Several of his original cocktails can be found in the 75th Anniversary Mr. Boston Official Bartenders Guide, and one inspired by Harry Craddock in the Mixellany publication The Deans of Drink.
The Daiquiri is one of those golden age cocktails that gets a bad rap these days. Especially in New Orleans where they are vibrant day-glo colors and flavored with artificial syrups. Yet, a true Daiquiri is a thing of beauty. Refreshing, elegant and transformatively balanced.
Daiquiri as a word hails from Cuba and is a place name, rather than a beverage. The drink was created around the time of the Spanish-American war and quickly made its way from Cuba to Washington, DC to New York City. Originally a stirred drink built in a Collins glass, it evolved into a shaken drink served in a Champagne flute.
Below are three versions of the Daiquiri worth trying today in honor of the holiday. Each has its own character and flavor. All are lovely on a hot summer’s day.
1.5 oz White rum
0.5 oz Simple syrup
1 oz Fresh Lime juice
Pour all ingredients into shaker with ice cubes. Shake well. Strain in chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with half a lime slice.
2 ounces White rum
0.75 ounce Fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon Sugar or simple syrup (or less, to taste)
1 teaspoon Maraschino liqueur
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker (if using granulated sugar, stir to dissolve it in the lime juice before adding the other ingredients) and fill with ice. Shake well, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a thin slice of lime.
2 oz Light rum
0.75 oz Fresh lime juice
0.5 oz Fresh pink grapefruit juice
1 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Maraschino liqueur
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
As a rum brand long admired by the most enthusiastic rum professionals, Admiral Rodney has been redesigned and relaunched to showcase the treasures of aged rums hidden in the vaults of Saint Lucia Distillers, and to celebrate the life and achievements of a great naval strategist. Three clever blends with smart packaging make up the initial Admiral Rodney releases known individually by three prominent ship names in Admiral Rodney’s flotilla: HMS Princessa, HMS Royal Oak, and HMS Formidable.
The Admiral Rodney signature flavor profile comes from the robust base rum extracted from lower plates on the Coffey still, where there is less alcohol but more natural flavor and true rum character. These rums are then aged in oak casks and blended.
The Admiral Rodney Princessa is aged in ex-Bourbon and ex-Port barrels for 5-9 years.
Note: GSN was not sent the HMS Royal Oak or HMS Formidable rums for review.
Admiral Rodney HMS Princessa Saint Lucia Rum (80 proof) Visual: Copper. Nose: Nice balance of barrel and bright rum essence. Some spice, vanilla, sandalwood and cinnamon bread. Taste: More caramel notes in the tasting, with a sweet and candy-like entry. Light, smooth and lightly aged. Finish: Medium. The lasting impression is a touch of cask. Overall: A very easy to drink rum that has enough character to keep it interesting. We suggest keeping this for sipping or simple cocktails such as a rum Old-Fashioned, or a Cuba Libre. GSN Rating: B+
Trinchero Family Estates, the world’s second largest family-owned winery, has launched Trincheri Vermouth, a line of dry and sweet vermouths. Based on the original Trinchero family recipe from the 1890s, they pay homage to the family history in Italy, New York City and Napa Valley.
When founder Mario Trinchero first moved to New York from Italy in the early 1900s, he got his start as a bartender at the Waldorf Astoria and Barbizon Plaza hotels. The Trinchero family ultimately moved in 1948 from New York to Napa Valley, where Mario and his son Bob created Trincheri Vermouth to honor the classic cocktails Mario mixed at the prestigious aforementioned hotels.
Grapes sourced from Trinchero-owned vineyards including Barbera from Amador County and Chardonnay from Napa Valley make up the expressions in Trincheri Rosso while Trincheri Dry is sourced from Bullfrog Vineyard French Colombard in Central Valley, which is also owned by Trinchero Family Estates. Trincheri Rosso and Dry are both infused with Roman Artemisia and Cinchona Bark bitter herbs as well as other fruits, botanicals and spices that have been cold macerated for over a month.
Trincheri Dry Vermouth (17.5% abv)
It has a lovely and fruity floral nose. Quite appealing and natural. The taste is subdued and more akin to a dry white wine than a bitter and musky vermouth. This works well in a classic Martini, as well as an aperitif. I’ve found many dry vermouths to be too heavy handed with the herbs. This is not the case here. GSN Rating: A-
Trincheri Sweet Vermouth (17.5% abv)
The wormwood stands out on the nose with a more subtle base of wine. The flavor is dry and still retains the wormwood patina. Natural and still wine-like, there is no overt sweetness or added flavoring. Everything is balanced and fresh with an elegant taste that highlights the wine. This is a nice sweet vermouth to drink on its own with a slice of orange wheel on the rocks. GSN Rating: A-
Available in the Rochester and Buffalo, NY tasting rooms only, Black Button recently announced the release of their Pre-Prohibition Style Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Based on a recipe from before the era of prohibition, the whiskey is aged for a minimum of three years.
Quantities on this distillery exclusive spirit are extremely limited. The only way to get your hands on a bottle is to stop by one of their tasting rooms. There is a limit of 2 bottles per customer.
Founded in 2012 by Jason Barrett, Black Button Distilling is a New York State licensed Farm Distillery that uses over 90% New York State all-natural ingredients to make all of their spirits. Every batch is distilled from local NY grains that we proudly source from Edgewood Farms, located just south of Conesus Lake in the beautiful Finger Lakes Region.
Black Button Pre-Prohibition Style Straight Bourbon Whiskey (92 proof) Visual: Darkening copper. Nose: Sweet, deep notes of oak char, malt, new leather, cornbread and raisin. Taste: Sweet, warm summery notes of corn and grain with a hearty and approachable meld. The flavor is quite balanced and markedly traditional. Slight caramel and vanilla, but held in check with a cask forward finish. Finish: Long, sweet and with an even fade. Overall: Everything it’s supposed to be. A character driven, yet eminently smooth bourbon. Perfect for Mint Juleps or Manhattans. We found ourselves going back to this one countless times. GSN Rating: A+
Fee Brothers, located in Rochester, NY, is a fourth-generation family-owned business that began as a small saloon/delicatessen back in 1863. Today, the product list includes almost 100 drink and cocktail mix products, shipped to distributors and establishments across six continents.
Their latest release is a Toasted Almond Bitters. Perfect for tropical tiki-styled drinks, these will also add a boost of flavor to Amaretto and coffee flavored cocktails.
Our thoughts: These bitters have a lovely almond nose and a definite bitter edge to them that is in no way sweet. They will need some experimentation however, due to the lack of alcohol. I found that one or two dashes were not enough to break through a typical tiki cocktail, but rather a 1/4 tsp seemed to be just right. All in all, a handy item that is fun to experiment with behind the bar. GSN Rating: B+
Nosotros is a small-batch tequila brand based in Hermosa Beach, Los Angeles, and produced in Mexico. Co-founded by Carlos Soto and Michael Arbanas in 2016, La Historia de Nosotros, meaning “The Story of Us” in Spanish, was created with the vision of bringing people together to enjoy tequila with family, friends and loved ones.
What started as Soto’s school project at Loyola Marymount University in 2015 turned into reality in October of 2016 when Nosotros Tequila was officially founded and initiated their first small-batch production of 168 cases, amounting to 2,016 bottles. Shortly after receiving the first batch of tequila, the team began trying to distribute — not without challenges. In early 2017, down to the last few hundred dollars of their bank loan, the team submitted their tequila blanco on a whim to the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. At the 2017 competition, it was named “The World’s Best-Tasting Tequila” and was awarded a Double Gold, becoming the first tequila ever to do so after only one year on the market.
Nosotros is currently producing a reposado and a blanco at a distillery in Jalisco, Mexico, carefully selected by Soto on a solo distillery scouting trip to the region. The tequila is a result of the 50/50 blend of sustainably sourced sweet highland and peppery, earthy lowland agaves. Although Nosotros Tequila is not yet available world wide, the team reaches a global community through a 1% donation of all revenue to Waves for Water, an NGO focused on disaster relief by providing clean drinking water to those in need.
Note: GSN was only sent a sample of the blanco for review.
Nosotros Tequila Blanco (80 proof) Visual: Clear, as blancos should be. Nose: A hint of cooked agave, faint pepper and distillate. Taste: The distilled agave flavor is the most notable part. Finish: Mostly a clean alcohol finish, with hints of agave and a mild sweet aftertaste. Leaves a lingering warmth on the tongue. Overall: This is a straight forward blanco best enjoyed in your favorite mixed drink, simple or complex. My appreciation for this spirit grew as I kept sampling it. GSN Rating: A-
It feels as if Grand Marnier has been around for at least a few centuries. But, this quintessential spirit only dates back to 1880. The recipe was created by Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle who worked at a fruit liqueur distillery owned by his wife’s grandfather. He sourced Citrus Bagaradia oranges grown in the West Indies, which are still used in the production today. The Cognac base is made from the Ugni Blanc grape grown in the Cognac region of France. Sugar syrup is added, and then everything is aged in oak casks and filtered before bottling.
Here are a few classic cocktails for you to try that call for Grand Marnier:
2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
1 dash lemon juice
Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.
3/4 ounce gin
3/4 ounce dry vermouth
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce orange juice
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
1 dash orange bitters
Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.
Svöl, meaning cool or cold, was one of the eleven rivers that predate the creation of the world in Norse Mythology. The Viking runic compass symbol is on the bottle cap labels, while the bottle’s designs feature images of the Stockholm Archipelago in Sweden and the chalk cliffs of Møns Klint in Denmark.
Dating back to the 15th century, aquavit is traditionally made with a grain or potato distillate base that is infused and re-distilled with a variety of herbs and spices, always including caraway. Over the years, distinct regional styles of aquavit have developed in each Scandinavian country. In Denmark and Sweden, aquavits are made with un-aged grain distillates; Danish aquavits tend to be caraway-dominant with notes of citrus, while Swedish varieties often feature dill and fennel as lead flavors alongside caraway. Svöl’s Danish-Style Aquavit features caraway from Finland as its dominant flavor, which is then rounded out by other botanicals such as Icelandic angelica root and pine bark, rose hip, and gooseberry. Meanwhile, Svöl’s Swedish-Style Aquavit features fresh dill, which is cold-infused for 24 hours to ensure the bright fresh taste, and fennel that’s been cracked and roasted to release its flavor and aromas of lovage and lemon peel.
Svöl Aquavit is founded by Peter Nevenglosky, who is dedicated to paying homage to aquavit’s centuries of history. To ensure the integrity of the flavor profiles, Nevenglosky tapped Gunnar Gíslason, former Executive Chef at Agern in New York and owner of Dill Restaurant in Reykjavik, Iceland, to select and source botanicals from around the world; Jonas Andersen, business development manager for Great Northern Food Hall and Agern, also consulted on the botanical combinations and aromatics. Noted distilling expert Allen Katz developed the distillation and botanical extraction techniques at his New York Distilling Co in Brooklyn, NY, where Svöl Aquavit is made in a 1,000-liter copper still, beginning by mixing a unique blend of full grain New York rye, corn and barley spirit with a neutral grain spirit.
“Aquavit holds a unique position as a less-known, yet highly versatile cocktail spirit,” says Nevenglosky, who is also the founder of Drifter Spirits, the distribution network which represents Svöl Aquavit and Avuá Cachaça in the United States. “Our team of industry experts dedicated three years to category research, experimented with more than 50 botanicals from around the world, and ran hundreds of tests on stills of various sizes to achieve maximum concentration of flavor. Svöl Aquavit offers something new in the aquavit universe and we look forward to professional and home bartenders joining us on this journey of discovery.”
Svöl Swedish Aquavit (80 proof) Visual: Clear. Nose: The dill is quite forward and overlies a slightly more reticent caraway and fennel pairing. This smells like a hearty slice of dill bread. Taste: The dill is transformed into something entirely new with the herbal blend. A somewhat numbing effect on the tongue, almost akin to a spruce infusion. Deep, rich and very savory. Finish: Long and with a powerful flavor that goes on for several minutes. Interestingly, the dill flavor comes through more strongly at the tail end. Overall: A very traditionally flavored Swedish style aquavit designed to cut through the strong flavors of your meal. I recommend serving small pours in schnapps glassware. GSN Rating: A-
Svöl Danish Aquavit (80 proof) Visual: Clear. Nose: Nice entry of caraway and citrus peel on the nose. Softer and more disparate herbs connect to create an enticing palette. Taste: Dry and soft with a mellow and flavorful lemony caraway flavor. The overall impression is of quiet strength. Finish: Medium long, with the lemon being the final note before the fade. Overall: A gentle aquavit which pairs well with meals and creative Nordic cocktails. The balance is fine and savory. GSN Rating: A
There’s a popular saying amongst enjoyers of adult beverages. “Beer before liquor, never sicker, liquor before beer, never fear.” While GSN would normally agree that’s it’s not always a good idea to mix the two, there remain a few exceptions. Goodwood Brewing has crafted one such exception with “El Gozador”.
Described as an “Ale Aged in a Tequila Barrel” it has much more going on than simply mixing the elements of tequila and beer. It’s a clear amber/red colored brew with a nose of tequila and malt. Surprisingly the initial flavor is quite tart and unexpected, but once the initial tartness mellows out you are left with a light salty tequila flavor that rounds out the finish. There is a nice wood aged flavor that pairs well with the tartness as well. While El Gozador certainly isn’t a beer to be quaffed, it is surprisingly refreshing with the addition of lime and orange peel. Now that the hot summer days are in full swing, if you want to relax in the shade, this ale would be a perfect partner.
Piña Colada translates to “strained pineapple”, but of course there’s more to it than that. In fact, the cream of coconut is key to achieving the perfect balance of tropical flavors. Coco López which was invented in 1948 in Puerto Rico by Don Ramon Lopez Irizarry. The canned coconut product soon found its way around the country’s bars and by 1954 it was used at the Caribe Hilton Hotel’s Beachcomber Bar in San Juan. One of the hotel’s bartenders, Ramón ‘Monchito’ Marrero Pérez (pictured at left), it generally the person credited with inventing the classic silver-age cocktail. Twenty-four years later, the Puerto Rican government recognized the Piña Colada as the national drink.
Here’s the original recipe as specified by Ramón Pérez.
“Pour 3 ounces of coconut cream, 6 ounces of pineapple juice and 11⁄2 ounces of white rum into a blender or shaker with crushed ice, and blend or shake very well until smooth. Pour into chilled glass, garnish with pineapple wedge and/or a maraschino cherry.”
The Caribe Hilton Hotel still serves the original, but also offers a molecular mixology version which contains coconut oil infused white rum, clarified pineapple juice, house made pineapple syrup and coconut water, served with a coconut ice pop.