Last Minute Xmas Gifts from the Cocktail Whisperer

December 20, 2013

My bar is overflowing with lovely tastes and slurps for the holidays.  I know it's a bit late, but you never can do everything all at once, AND I've been a bit busy this year!  First of all to bring  you all up to speed, I've just released my first book (October) named Apothecary Cocktails, Restoratives from Yesterday and Today

This book, my first was published by Fair Winds Press.  

Another book is coming for October 2014 that I'm very excited about.  Stay tuned. 

So where do I start?  What do you want for Xmas?

Starting with rum, may I suggest Busted Barrel Rum from Fairfield, NJ?  This is gorgeous stuff, bursting with the flavors of Louisiana cane sugar molasses. 

It doesn't need much as a mixer so don't even think of drowning the delicate flavor in corn syrup cola.  This rum is perfect for a hot toddy, or perhaps for a few ounces of freshly squeezed orange juice.  Don't forget the nutmeg!

From Tailwinds Distilling in Illinois, may I suggest a rum from a most unlikely place?  The Taildragger Amber Rum and the Taildragger White Rum offer bursts of cane sugar woven with tropical fruits and spices. 

As with the Busted Barrel Rum, these are craft spirits, made from the best ingredients available.  I am passionate about craft spirits and these rums exemplify the care taken to ensure that each sip is memorable.  With the Busted Barrel Rum flavor profile firmly in my mind, I find the Taildragger is sumptuous and lush. 

Perfect for a Great Lakes inspired Tiki Bar influence punch or with a splash or two of freshly squeezed tropical fruits or even in a hot toddy with butter and simple syrup.  Sophisticated and worldly these rums are.  They make a lesser known coffee rum, brimming with the seriously intoxicating flavors of medium roasted coffee.  I'm completely taken by this coffee flavored rum over coffee ice cream.  

They also produce a Blue Agave spirit that is sold either aged or un-aged.  Not Tequila and not marked on the label as such, the Midnight Caye Silver and the Midnight Caye Rested is produced in small batches.  Seek it out, you'll be happy that you did!

An authentic NOM 1467 CRT Tequila Blanca from Rudo Tecnico is a 100% Agave spirit that is pure, lush and colorful in every sip.  With a playful label showing the Luce Libre fighter/wrestler- Tecnico, you would almost expect this Tequila to be brash and overpowering.  But it's anything but.  The Tecnico is soft, pure and citrus tinged.  Again, as with the rums, this tequila doesn't need much to shine.  A squeeze of lemon, a hit of agave syrup and a splash of Arrogante Damiana in place of the usual triple sec.  I never use triple sec.  Awful stuff.  Right up there with maraschino cherries.  Ick.  Don't do it and throw those red things out.  feh! 

Get yourself a bottle of Casa Noble Tequila.  It's just so gorgeous.   I recommend drinking it with a pinch of sea salt, a splash of Fruitations Tangerine and a finishing spritz of Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water in Pink GrapefruitThree drops of Bitter End Bitters "Curry" over the top. 

For bourbon, I think you should try to find the Old Forester Birthday Bourbon.  If you cannot, find the Buffalo Trace Wheated.  (It's like Pappy, really...)  Willett's is fun too.  Breaking and Entering Bourbon from St. George in California is Kentucky royalty, blended and bottled on the left coast.   Get some! 

Four Roses Bourbon Whiskey is my go/to when I'm traveling.  I know what goes into the bottle and it's always the very best!  I saw it in Italy!

Liqueurs?  I'm a fantatic for pürspirits Their elderflower liqueur is a thing of rare beauty and form.  The spice and blood orange a delight.  GET SOME!!!

Creams?  300 Joules may well be the best "silk" liqueur that I've passed through my lips this year.  They do a sumptuously decedent lemon that drips with acidity and structure, cinnamon that offers bursts of freshly scraped spices and the ginger that screams out for Scotch whisky and a bit of seltzer. 

300 Joules is the truest form of craft, made with passion and care in New Jersey!  I'm a HUGE FAN.   I'm mixing 300 Joules Lemon with Campari and a bit of Barr Hill gin along with sweet Vermouth in a tip of the hat to the Negroni.  It's a creamy Negroni that you MUST taste!

I've located a Maple Cream that just rocks from Vermont.  The Vermont Ice Maple Cream Liqueur is hauntingly good.  Enrobed in sweet Vermont cream and grade B Maple Syrup, this cream is perfectly geared for sipping or even woven into  adult "martinis" or a milkshake. 

Vermouth is on my list for flavor this year with Uncouth Vermouth, Atsby, Channing Daughter's VerVino and Imbue on my tasting list.  

For Gin, I am drinking the experimental Barr Hill Barrel Aged Gin...  Ok, so you can't get it, but you can buy their raw honey distilled Vodka as well as their grain based (raw honey finished) gin. 

Normally I don't drink a whole lot of vodka.  Bluewater from the left coast always charms me, as does Karlsson's Gold Vodka which is ACTUALLY MADE FROM POTATOES!!!

Just so you know that I read the comments on Facebook, spiced rum????  well that's a no-brainer.  Sailor Jerry.  I love the higher proof and the true Caribbean flavor.  My absolute favorite spiced rum is not available in the United States.  It comes from the island of Saba.  They make spiced rum in a style that is sadly, nearly extinct.  A fine adaptation of the style of "spiced-rum" is available on St. Barth.  Usually it is Rhum Agricole with Caribbean-type spices.  Most restaurants make their own rhum punches... but that's something else entirely and will require a trip to taste them.  Good idea.

 

Carpano Antica is my always go/to for a fun way to bring history into your glass!

 

If you've had a bit too much, FERNET BRANCA should be your GO/TO!!!  

UNDERBERG if you can get it is the miracle cure!

Syrups... Fruitations in New England with their BRILLIANT, all natural fruit syrups has become one of my favorites along with Royal Rose (the rose is a favorite) and of course Sumptuous Syrups of Vermont with their Chocolate Mole.  WOW!

Bitters:  Of course Bitter End from Santa Fe.  Bill York has got the lock-down on Curry with his India by the drop bitters.   Tuthilltown's Bitter Frost "Basement Bitters" is part of my kit along with Joe Fee's historically delicious bitters.  The Black Walnut is a favorite this year.  

Dutch's in New York State has a bitters kit that includes a Colonial Style, a Boomtown Style and a Prohibition Style Bitters in a handsome package.  "Drink With Conviction!" 

Whisky:  Nikka from the barrel got my attention...  Japanese Whisky that beats the Scots at their own game.  Don't agree?  Try it. 

 

Ah.. so many flavors... So little time! 

 

If you want to find my book, Apothecary Cocktails, please click here... 

 


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