Tasting Notes – Spirits Edition: Forbidden Fruit from Lee Spirits Company

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The Tantalus cocktail featuring Forbidden Fruit Liqueur from Lee Spirits Company. Photo Credit- Guillermo Woolfolk/Mashing In

For this special installment of Tasting Notes, we take advantage of the exciting opportunity to sample and work with Forbidden Fruit, a nearly forgotten liqueur that has been recently resurrected by Lee Spirits Company (Colorado Springs, Colorado).

First created in the late 1800s, Forbidden Fruit, a citrus-based liqueur, at one time grew to such popularity that it was frequently mentioned as an ingredient in The Savoy Cocktail Book and The Café Royal Cocktail Book – two highly-respected tomes from the 1930’s that now chronicle the history of classic cocktails. Never heard of it? Well, the reason for that stems from the moment it was “acquired from the original producers by the Jacquin Company.”  This move set the stage for Forbidden Fruit to oddly meet its demise in 1970’s when the Jacquin Company decided to “[repurpose] the bottle design for their new Chambord Raspberry Liqueur.” Production of Forbidden Fruit completely ceased, leaving “classic cocktail enthusiasts . . . no choice but to try to substitute Forbidden Fruit with another ingredient or to recreate it themselves” . . . until Lee Spirits Company showed up.

Staying true to their “mission to authentically recreate classic cocktail ingredients”, the folks at Lee Spirits “scoured auction houses, purchased unopened bottles of original Forbidden Fruit Liqueur“, and reverse engineered Forbidden Fruit’s flavor and experience “as accurately as absolutely possible.”  After building a recipe containing “white grapefruit, honey, and a blend of spices”, Lee Spirits Company can now confidently declare that “it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference” between their version and the original in a side-by-side comparison. Due to Lee Spirits Company’s dedication and commitment to the revival of this historic liqueur, a wealth of classic cocktails can now resurface, and Forbidden Fruit can once again inspire new creations developed at bars around the country.

Forbidden Fruit is available now in 750ml bottles and can be found at fine retailers located in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

Now that the storied history of Forbidden Fruit has been covered, let’s get into these Tasting Notes so that we can finally experience what we have been missing for all these years.

Tasting Notes for Forbidden Fruit from Lee Spirits Company

Appearance: Forbidden Fruit is packaged in a tall, slender bottle that is adorned with a white label bearing a clean, mostly black and gray design that gets a just a pop of color from the illustrated grapefruit and spices.  The liqueur is extremely pale yellow in color and slightly cloudy, making its presentation somewhat reminiscent of freshly squeezed lemon juice.  When jostled, the liquid coats every part of the glass it encounters with an oil slick that impressively draws some lengthy and long-lasting legs.

Aroma: Citrus forward, the aromatics lead with a grapefruit character spiked with bit of sweet orange juice.  A lovely honey presence then builds and carries with it earthy and floral cardamom notes.  Coriander closes the profile with a complex, citrus quality that brings the grapefruit back up front.

Taste: The spices strike first here with floral cardamom, citrusy coriander and just a touch of cinnamon.  The citrus and honey then surface simultaneously to supply notes of candied grapefruit and orange.  Underneath it all, there is a soft undertone of creamy vanilla that further tempers the grapefruit with another layer of sweetness.

Mouthfeel:  Slightly syrupy and sticky in texture, Forbidden Fruit coats the palate with a healthy helping of sweetness.  That said, there is a touch of citrus-sourced bitterness that adds some dimension to the liqueur’s sweet character.  All those fermentable sugars produce an 32% ABV that offers some building – but not overwhelming – heat in the throat.  Honey and vanilla linger in the aftertaste.

Final Thoughts: On description alone, we were expecting Forbidden Fruit to be more of a bittering liqueur . . . but our ignorant expectation for something one dimensional was way off.  Instead, we were met with a dynamically complex spirit that is citrusy and floral, sweet and gently bitter, earthy and spicy.  Above all, it is just ridiculously unique.

Obviously, Forbidden Fruit is not necessarily meant to be a stand-alone spirit consumed neat like we did for the Tasting Notes above.  Its place is in a delicious cocktail, so we decided to continue our tasting journey by shaking up a Tantalus, a classic cocktail that also vanished when Forbidden Fruit met its fate in the 70’s.

Tantalus

  • 3/4 oz. Brandy or Gin (we went with Lee Spirits Dry Gin)
  • 3/4 oz. Forbidden Fruit
  • 3/4 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 oz. Honey

Add all ingredients to a shaker tin filled with ice and shake. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a lemon twist.

The recipe makes it so the herbs in the Dry Gin and the spices in the Forbidden Fruit are smoothed out and dialed back. This leaves incredibly bright citrus notes (tart lemon & grapefruit) and a floral honey presence with the opportunity to shine.  Any sweetness from the honey and Forbidden Fruit is balanced beautifully by the lemon juice and gin, resulting in an incredibly refreshing cocktail that drinks dry and disappears about as quickly as it is poured.

After experiencing just how delicious Forbidden Fruit and the Tantalus cocktail are, it is difficult to understand why this liqueur so easily faded away into obscurity.  With the bright but balanced flavors in Forbidden Fruit having the amazing ability to complement and enhance so many different kinds of spirits and mixers, its decades-long absence just does not make any sense.

The time is now and long overdue for Forbidden Fruit.  Whether you own a bar that specializes or dabbles in the cocktails of yore or are just a home bartender that enjoys wowing guests with classic-style cocktails, you need to have some Forbidden Fruit on hand.  Not only will this help you step up your cocktail game, but you will also play a pivotal role in assisting Forbidden Fruit reclaim its significant place in cocktail culture.  Prost!

 

 

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Tasting Notes – Spirits Edition: Full Volume from Highland Park Distillery

HP_17_Full_Volume_700ml_bottle_carton_PNG-768x864For this special mid-week installment of Tasting Notes, we take a moment to indulge ourselves with an afternoon dram of FULL VOLUME from Highland Park Distillery (Kirkwall, Scotland).

Just as a musician works with his/her “amps and equalizers [to maintain] critical balance at high volume by fine-tuning musical frequencies”, Highland Park’s Master Whisky Maker, Gordon Motion, uses his skills to ensure “that every individual wave of flavor finds its perfect place in the beautifully harmonized final spirit.”  FULL VOLUME illustrates this point by striking a balance between two styles: Bourbon and Scotch Whisky.  Originally distilled in 1999, FULL VOLUME is a Single Malt Scotch Whisky that has been matured in “100% ex-bourbon casks rather than Highland Park’s traditional sherry-seasoned ones.”  This lengthy rest ultimately produced a 47.2% ABV Whisky that offers harmonized “flavors of creamy vanilla and sweet citrus fruits from the bourbon casks, balanced by Highland Park’s characteristic aromatic smokiness.”

FULL VOLUME is available now in specially-packaged 750ml bottles for the suggested retail price of $100.  You can expect to find this Limited Release Whisky on shelves at select specialist retailers located throughout the U.S.

Now that we are all a bit more familiar with the inspiration behind FULL VOLUME, it appears it is finally time to find a good chair, grab a glass and crank it to eleven with some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for FULL VOLUME from Highland Park Distillery

Appearance:  Poured neat from a tasting vial, FULL VOLUME presents itself as a brilliantly clear whisky that is light straw yellow in color.  When held to direct light, the color holds for the most part but a touch of vibrant gold builds at its center.  The whisky is slick on the glass, coating the sides with a wide tract of slow-falling legs that eventually meet to create a complete oil slick that never loses its hold of the glass.

Aroma:  The nose begins with rich and inviting tones of vanilla and coconut.  That sweetness is then brightened up with notes of lemon and orange zest.  Tropical fruits bloom from the citrus to add notes of mango and papaya.  The expected presence of peat finally surfaces to close out the profile with some light smoke that works alongside just a touch of toffee.

Taste:  The grains and peat smoke quickly grab your attention here, but immediately mellow out to reveal citrus tones that come across as carefully grilled lemon and orange.  Sweeter, candied lemon tones then force through and bring with them juicy exotic fruits such as mango, pineapple and papaya.  Vanilla smooths it all out, creating a combined quality that mimics a lemon ice box pie that has just a bit of cinnamon in the crust.  The experience finishes with a pleasant combination of coconut and banana.

Mouthfeel:  Smooth and slightly creamy on the palate, FULL VOLUME has a beautifully long finish that allows you to fully savor notes of coconut and smoke.  That 47.2% ABV is nothing to scoff at, but it is incredibly well behaved and allows each sip to be effortless and thoroughly enjoyable. Not at all harsh or aggressive.

Final Thoughts:  If you are a bourbon drinker that has been looking for a way into the Scotch Whisky game, FULL VOLUME just might be your gateway.  Although distinct and attention-getting, the peat and smoke in this offering are far more reserved than you will find in most Scotch Whiskies.  The bourbon casks supply approachability with those familiar, gorgeous notes of vanilla and coconut, and the overall fruitiness – both the citrus and tropical fruits – of this expression keeps things light, bright and dynamic.  Just like the music that inspired it, this unique spirit comes across as a smooth, free-flowing thought piece as it evokes memory while stimulating contemplation and imagination. All in all, FULL VOLUME is bourbon reminiscent while still retaining its character and heritage as a Scotch Whisky, and that makes for one hell of a memorable sip. Be sure to check it out the next time you are on the hunt for something special to add to the home bar.  Prost!

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Image Credit: Mashing In/Guillermo Woolfolk. The other two images displayed above are the property of Highland Park Distillery.

 

 

Lee Spirits Co. Expands Distribution to Include Texas

LeeSpiritsLogoLee Spirits Company (Colorado Springs, Colorado) has officially announced that it will launch distribution in Texas this July with four products: Dry GinForbidden Fruit LiqueurCreme de Rose and Creme de Violette.

Founded in 2013 by cousins Nick and Ian Lee, Lee Spirits Company was formed with a mission “to develop and manufacture the finest Gin in Colorado and the United States along with accompanying liqueurs that would fit into classic cocktail recipes exactly as originally written” and to one day distribute those “products in retail outlets across the nation and globe.”  That vision has steadily coming to fruition over the last five years as several Lee Spirits offerings have won awards and the distillery has gradually expanded distribution to include Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and now Texas.

“Our team worked tirelessly to complete the deal with our Texas partners,” said Ian Lee, co-founder of Lee Spirits Company. “Texas marks the next step in our growth as a company. In addition, we are excited to launch our products in additional states in the upper Midwest and Eastern Seaboard by the end of 2018. Witnessing our brand’s planned-growth from small a southern Colorado distiller to a company pointed toward national and global distribution is a testament to hard work and dedication.”

Lee Spirits will enter the Texas market with the following four offerings (all descriptions sourced from the distillery’s website):

  • Dry Gin – Our flagship product. Created with original prohibition-era cocktails in mind. We make it just like it would have been made in 1920. It features a floral nose with an earthy finish. Goes perfect in a martini and any recipe from Jerry Thomas’ 1862 Bartender’s Guide.  ABV – 45%  (90 PROOF)
  • Forbidden Fruit Liqueur – Containing white grapefruit, honey, and a blend of spices, Lee Spirits’ Forbidden Fruit Liqueur is perfect to create authentic classic cocktails or to add a unique flavor to your modern creations.  ABV – 32%  (64 PROOF)
  • Creme de Rose – Creme de Rose is created in an American manner of traditional creme liqueurs. Freshly picked red and pink petals combine to recreate this traditional liqueur that brings a floral sweetness to any cocktail or pour it over ice and sip it on its own.  ABV – 30%  (60 PROOF)
  • Creme de Violette – American made product kept honest to its American roots. Our traditional recipe blends botanicals that recreate a Crème de Violette that allows you to reminisce about the past and leads you into the future.  ABV – 30%  (60 PROOF)

These Lee Spirits products will be available in the state of Texas beginning in July 2018.  You can expect to find these fine offerings available in retail stores located in Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and several other cities throughout Texas.  Prost!

LeeSpiritsCdV

Highland Park Distillery Introduces THE LIGHT 17 Year Old Scotch Whisky

HP-Runes-The-Light-Pack-700ml-768x902Highland Park Distillery (Kirkwall, Scotland) has officially announced the extremely limited release of THE LIGHT, a 17 Year Old Scotch Whisky aged on American oak.

Created as the striking antithesis to Highland Park’s recently released THE DARK, THE LIGHT is the second offering in a two-part series that “shares the story of the noble Viking warriors who are [Highland Park’s] ancestors, of [their] contrasting island seasons and of the intense balance of [their] whisky.”  Representing the “spring and summer in Orkney”, THE LIGHT is a 17 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky that gets its light golden color from being aged in 100% refill American oak barrels.  Clocking in at a smooth 52.99% ABV, THE LIGHT offers a sensory experience filled with notes of caramelized pears, nutmeg, vanilla, peat, cedar, oak and light smoke.

With only 28,000 bottles – 700ml or 750 ml bottles, depending on country – produced, THE LIGHT is available now as a highly limited release.  You can expect to find this Special Release at select specialist retailers located in the U.S. and across the world.  Prost!

Vital Information for THE LIGHT from Highland Park Distillery

Release – Special/Limited, May 2018
Style – Single Malt Scotch Whisky 
ABV – 52.99% (106 Proof)
Treatment – Matured in 100% refill American Oak barrels
Flavors – Caramelized pear | Nutmeg | Vanilla | Peat | Cedar wood | Oak | Light smoke
Fun Fact – A description of the inspiration behind this whisky series: “Light and dark are concepts that exist in opposition, yet together create a perfect balance. One cannot exist without the other; as one appears, the other disappears; together they create something greater than themselves – in nature, a perfect, continuous cycle.”
Availability – 700ml or 750ml bottles (size depends on country)
Distribution – Worldwide

 

Tasting Notes – Spirits Edition: Blazing HEEET Vodka from MerryGo Spirits

HEET3For this special edition of Tasting Notes, we find ourselves pregaming the weekend by getting into a little Blazing HEEET Hot Cinnamon Vodka from MerryGo Spirits.

Released as the first high-quality, luxury spirit from MerryGo Spirits, Blazing HEEET is here to spice up your summer with an experience that combines the sweet heat of cinnamon with the crisp taste of vodka.  More than just another gimmicky flavored-vodka, Blazing HEEET is an “ultra-premium American-made Vodka” that is 6x distilled, carbon filtered and made with 100% all-natural ingredients.  Clocking in at 68 Proof (34% ABV), Blazing HEEET is an “intense, hot cinnamon” libation that you can shoot straight, enjoy on the rocks, or mix into your favorite cocktail.  Blazing HEEET Hot Cinnamon Vodka is available now at fine liquor stores for the suggested retail price of $24.99 per 750ml bottle.

Now that we are all a little more familiar with the information behind Blazing HEEET, let’s go ahead and jump headlong into the fire and burn through some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Blazing HEEET Hot Cinnamon Vodka from MerryGo Spirits

Appearance: Blazing HEEET is packaged in a uniquely shaped, squat and heavy glass bottle.  The label is an eye-grabbing reddish orange in color with retro-style fonts, and the design cleverly incorporates actual strike points for matches.  The liquid itself is perfectly clear, but it does take on a bit of a haze when chilled.  There are absolutely no off colors from the added ingredients, and it looks exactly as one would expect when presented with a glass of vodka.

Aroma: That said, those expectations see a little realignment just as soon as you unscrew the cap on this bottle.  At that moment you are hit with a big waft of pure cinnamon.  It has that signature, attention-getting heat that the spice is known for, but there is also a candied note pushing forward. It is almost as if you infused a beautiful vodka with some of those cinnamon candies we all sought after at one time or another as kids.  It is clean, nostalgic, and it certainly has our attention.

Taste:  Each sip of HEEET leads with a rush of sweet heat from the cinnamon.  It is not overly aggressive, but it definitely takes the alpha role in the flavor department.  The heat from the cinnamon then seamlessly threads itself into the booziness of the vodka.  The experience closes with a pure and clean vodka flavor that possesses just a touch of earthiness.

Mouthfeel: Slick in texture, HEEET coats the palate well, hangs around for a moment, and then evaporates slowly to leave behind a lingering heat. That heat comes from both the cinnamon and 34% ABV, but it is tempered beautifully with that subtle sweetness. Subtle is the word here because both the sweetness and the heat are dialed in just right to avoid any issues with cloying.  The aftertaste is straight vodka.

Final Thoughts:  Although cinnamon-flavored spirits are all the rage right now, Blazing HEEET proved to this tasting panel that it is something special.  Sure, the aggressively aromatic cinnamon had a few us more than a little wary, but that all changed with a sip.  This thing is crafted for balance and it is artful in its execution.  It leads with the expected pop of cinnamon, but it is just the right amount to get your attention without burning you down. That is impressive enough on its own, but the finish is what truly amazes us. The fact that this spirit can start with an assertive flavor like cinnamon and close out with an aftertaste that is nothing but clean premium vodka is remarkable.  It would be so easy for Blazing HEEET to be one note, but the folks who crafted it clearly wanted you to know it is a vodka at heart.  This gives Blazing HEEET character, and that is not something we often find in flavored spirits.

All in all, Blazing HEEET just comes together to be a damn tasty flavored-vodka experience that can be easily enjoyed on its own with ice, thrown back as a shot with friends (we might have done a few . . . for science), or used to spice up an old cocktail recipe.  It’s delicious. It’s different. It’s fun. And it does not have be much more than that.  Be sure to check it out the next time you are looking for something to spice up the liquor cabinet.  Prost!

Side Note: Speaking of cocktails, we dabbled with Blazing HEEET in a variety of mixed drinks this week and this one turned out to be the office favorite.

HEEETcocktailShimmering HEEET

  • 1.5 oz. Blazing HEEET Hot Cinnamon Vodka
  • 3 oz. Pear Juice
  • Champagne

Combine the Blazing HEEET and pear juice with ice in a cocktail shaker.  Shake and strain into a collins or highball glass filled with fresh ice.  Top with champagne and enjoy.

This cocktail basically plays on the idea of champagne poached pears.  The sweetness of the pear juice tempers the heat of Blazing HEEET but draws out its comforting cinnamon characteristics. The champagne adds dryness and effervescence to round out the experience. This all results in a ridiculously refreshing cocktail that you can pair with a cool summer evening on the porch or you could use it to break up the mimosa monotony at brunch.

If you do not want to mess around with the pear juice and champagne, you can simplify this into a two-ingredient cocktail by replacing those with a Pear Cider like Samuel Smith’s Organic Perry Sparkling Pear Cider or the more adventurous could use an apple-infused Lambic like Lindemans Pomme/Apple Lambic.

Father’s Day Gift Guide From Highland Park

HighlandParklogoFather’s Day is just around the corner and Highland Park Distillery (Kirkwall, Scotland) has released a Scotch Whisky Gift Guide that makes it easier than ever to hook dad up with the perfect bottle.

Dad.  A guy that we all tend to think of as a person who is wise, experienced, and knows exactly what he likes and wants.  Coincidentally, people also characterize Scotch drinkers with those same attributes . . . so why not combine the two this Father’s Day?

It just so happens that Highland Park currently has a stunning array of Scotch Whiskies currently available on shelves and they have provided us all with a handy gift guide that breaks them all down.  Whether dad is new to whisky or has enjoyed Scotch for years, there is truly “an expression for every type of whisky-loving dad.”  Just check out the descriptions of the whiskies below, match a one to your father’s tastes, and give him a thoughtful gift on June 17 that he can enjoy and savor for months.  Prost!

HP_17_Magnus_Old_Fashioned_serve_and_bottle-587x720-61e031cf-4ef7-4084-abb5-a3664d6c985eFor the dad dedicated to tradition:

MAGNUSHighland Park stays true to their founder’s bold and uncompromising approach to whisky making – very little has changed the last 220 years. Magnus celebrates the unbroken traditions with a single malt whisky, matured in sherry seasoned American oak casks, that delivers notes of sweet vanilla, overlaid with distinctive aromatic smokiness. Magnus is a recent Gold Medal Winner in the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Flavors: lemon | vanilla sponge cake | caramelized pineapple | aromatic peat smoke | sweet violets

ABV: 40%

$40 RRP / 750 ml

18-year-old-pack-768x1039-532x720-4fc8097c-891b-4b12-862d-983838ce047fFor the proud craftsman:

18-YEAR-OLD – Named Best Spirit in the World in the Spirit Journal on two separate occasions, the intense balance of flavors going in Highland Park’s 18 Year Old owes everything to the distillery’s five traditional keystones of production. Slow burning, aromatic peat, Sherry seasoned European oak casks, cool maturation in Orkney’s temperate island climate and a long and unhurried harmonization process.

Flavors: Cherries | dark chocolate | toffee | marzipan | heather honey | aromatic peat smoke

ABV: 43%

$140 RRP / 750 ml

HP_17_Full_Volume_700ml_bottle_carton_PNG-768x864For the music-loving dad:

FULL VOLUME – This whisky was created using 100% ex-bourbon casks rather than Highland Park’s traditional sherry-seasoned ones. Distilled in 1999, FULL VOLUME was filtered at just over 4oC and delivers flavors of creamy vanilla and sweet citrus fruits from the bourbon casks, balanced by Highland Park’s characteristic aromatic smokiness.

Flavors: Vanilla | Coconut | Mango | Pineapple | Cedar Wood | Lemon peel | Vanilla pods | Light smoke

ABV: 47.2%

$100 RRP / 750 ml

HP_17_The_Dark_750ml_Pack_Trio_WEB-720x720-8fe6f19d-7da1-40f7-807f-44041a7eca9cFor the whisky connoisseur:

THE DARK – A 17-year-old since malt whisky that has been matured exclusively in first fill sherry-seasoned European oak casks. The result is a perfectly balanced whisky packed with flavors of dried fruit and spices overlaid with hints of smoky peat. With a limited release of just 4,500 bottles in the USA, THE DARK will be succeeded by THE LIGHT in summer 2018.

THE DARK is a recent Double Gold Medal Winner in the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, named Best Distillers’ Single Malt Scotch – 13 to 19 Years.

Flavors: dried fruits | cinnamon | toasted almonds | cedar wood | fruit cake | light smoke

ABV: 52.9%

$300 RRP / 750ml

 

**Editor’s Note** Before the letters begin filling our inbox, we are completely aware that women are just as likely to enjoy Scotch as men. So, if mom happens to enjoy a nightcap of fine whisky, please feel free to use the gift guide above for Mother’s Day as well.

Tasting Notes – Book Review Edition: Booze and Vinyl by André and Tenaya Darlington

BoozeVinylcover
Photo credit – Running Press. All other photos in this post are the property of Mashing In.

In recognition of this past Saturday’s Record Store Day festivities, this week’s special edition of Tasting Notes has us uniting recently acquired vinyl treasures with our love for all things beer and liquor in a review of the newly released Booze and Vinyl: A Spirited Guide to Great Music & Mixed Drinks by André and Tenaya Darlington.

Written and compiled to act as “the ultimate listening party guide”, Booze and Vinyl was born from André and Tenaya Darlington’s memories of time spent “[flipping] records on their father’s Thorens turntable, surrounded by jovial guests and the warm glow of the amp.”  The siblings – now food and drinks journalists – have recreated those feelings and experiences in this book by using eye-catching colors, striking photography, and gorgeous graphic design to showcase 70 iconic albums from the 1930’s through 2000’s alongside delicious cocktail recipes that properly convey the mood of the music.

The chapters of Booze and Vinyl are broken down into four genres/moods: “Rock”, “Dance”, “Chill” and “Seduce”. Each album then goes on to serve as its own mini-chapter with informative areas such as “Liner Notes”, trivia-laden background info on each artist/album (did you know Led Zeppelin’s IV “was recorded in a Victorian mansion where the band took breaks to roam the grounds with cups of tea in hand”?), and the “When to Spin” and “Before You Drop the Needle” sections that help you plan the perfect get-together.

Each album is then matched with two cocktail recipes, cleverly dubbed Side A and Side B. These cocktail pairings range from the more-than-obvious – such as Gin and Juice with Snoop Doggy Dogg’s Doggystyle or a Brass Monkey with the Beastie Boys’ License to Ill – to the imaginative yet wildly appropriate – think a lavender-colored Fallen Angel with Prince’s Purple Rain or a Long Happiness to pair with Björk’s “Violently Happy” from Debut.  Whether it was a band member’s favorite drink, references or originated in the band’s hometown, or just speaks to the overall soul of the band/album/song, it is quite clear that each cocktail pairing was laboriously thought out to ensure that it would enhance the drinker’s experience while enjoying the featured album.

Once you get beyond the beautifully arranged album and cocktail pairings that make up the bulk of the book, you begin to notice some subtly placed how-to and instructional sections meant to help you hone your skills as a host and at-home bartender.  The authors throw in a handful of food recipes to enhance a few of the featured albums and corresponding cocktails – like Punk Rock Tea Party Sandwiches that you can put together while listening to Blondie’s Parallel Lines.  Readers can also find a separate index that helps them easily track down two and three ingredient drinks, tips on “How to Host a Boozy Listening Party”, advice on “How to Host a Whiskey Tasting”, and a short final chapter that helps novice bartenders better understand things like working with eggs in cocktails, making simple syrup, and creating large batches of cocktails for a crowd.  To put it simply, if a reader is left confused or has a question about a recipe in Booze and Vinyl, the book is set up so that he or she can find the needed answers somewhere in those pages.  Every consideration has been made and there is no googling required.

All of that is well and good, but you do not really know much about a book of this sort until you put it to the test.  Since everyone in this office tends to be in the mood for “Rock”, we thumbed over to that chapter, broke out our copy of Appetite for Destruction by Guns N’ Roses, mixed up some Rattle Skulls and held an impromptu listening party to do just that (recipe below is quoted directly from Booze and Vinyl):

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Rattle Skull

A popular colonial drink that packs a wallop, this cocktail comes straight at you from revolutionary times to help woo that sweet child.  Why chase your beer with a shot when you can just have them together? That’s the early-American logic of this drink that is hard to refute. Try it over ice or without — the taste is similar to a Cuba Libre (rum and Coke). 

 

  • 12 ounces porter (Our choice was Night Swim Porter from Coppertail Brewing Co.)
  • 1 1/2 ounces rum or brandy (We went with some Dogfish Head Brown Honey Rum)
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce brown sugar syrup (1:1 sugar to water)

Add ingredients to a chilled beer mug and stir. 

The often shunned combination of beer and liquor nicely parallels the reckless reputation that Guns N’ Roses earned in the late ’80s, but the Rattle Skull comes together to produce a cohesive, nuanced experience that has stood the test of time . . . just like Appetite for Destruction.   The added lime juice brings out Night Swim Porter’s citrusy hops while the Brown Honey Rum accentuates the beer’s more malty and roasty notes.  Just as the recipe mentioned, the Rattle Skull comes across as a more balanced and dynamic Cuba Libre. This cocktail makes for the perfect drink to enjoy as you scream the lyrics to “My Michelle” (Track 7) or groove along to “You’re Crazy” (Track 10).

With that incredibly fun experience under our belts, we can now confidently declare that Booze and Vinyl is a cocktail guide that goes well beyond any previous experiences you may have had with cocktail recipe books.  It takes the sometimes intimidating art of bartending and makes it incredibly accessible by relating it to something we all love: music.  If a recipe proves challenging, the music – because you know it will be playing in the background – is always there to either draw out that calming, centering breath or pump you up with the confidence needed to totally crush one hell of a cocktail party.  This unique attribute makes Booze and Vinyl much more than just another coffee table book.  It can be read cover to cover or used as a quick reference guide for bartenders of varying experience levels.  Beyond that, this book arms its reader with a wealth of cocktail/listening party ideas that can be employed during a casual Friday night in with friends or in planning full-blown theme parties.  Just pick a genre or artist, stock the bar and fridge, fire up the turntable, and you are set.  Above all, this book mirrors the joy that music provides by putting a smile on your face, conjuring up memories of the past, and offering you the fuel to make some new ones.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  Prost!

 

Humboldt Distillery Celebrates 4/20 with Legal Cannabis-Infused Vodka

humboldt-distillery-humboldts-finestHumboldt Distillery (Humboldt County, California) has announced that it will be getting in on this year’s 4/20 festivities by mixing up a new cocktail with Humboldt’s Finest, a cannabis-infused vodka.

Fresh off a 2017 Double-Gold Medal win at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Humboldt’s Finest is a specialty Vodka infused with locally grown Cannabis Sativa, a strain of hemp “whose domestic cultivation was only recently authorized with the passage of the 2014 United States Farm Bill.”  Typically “grown for food, fiber and other industrial purposes”, the food-grade hemp infuses this THC-free vodka with “a unique botanical aromatic character.”  Humboldt’s Finest weighs in at 40% ABV/80 Proof.

“Humboldt’s Finest is infused with a legal food-grade hemp, without any detectable THC, so it’s legal in all 50 states,” says Abe Stevens, founder of Humboldt Distillery. “It does, however, retain a botanical aromatic quality reminiscent of fresh cannabis that gives it a pleasant herbal character, which makes some very tasty cocktails. One of my personal cocktail favorites is the Hemp Highball.”

Speaking of the Hemp Highball, here’s the recipe for Humboldt’s official cocktail of 4/20:

Hemp Highball

  • 1.5 oz. Humboldt’s Finest
  • 1.0 oz. jasmine simple syrup
  • .5 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 slices of cucumber
  • Soda water

To prepare jasmine syrup, brew a strong jasmine green tea and dissolve 1 part sugar in 1 part hot tea, allow to cool. Add Humboldt’s Finest®, a slice of cucumber, lemon juice and syrup to shaker. Shake and strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Top with soda water, and garnish with slice of cucumber.

If you are interested in making the cocktail above or just want to experience this cannabis-infused vodka on its own, you can find Humboldt’s Finest available in 750ml bottles (suggested retail price of $29.99) at fine liquor stores located “in a growing number of markets across the country including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas, and Wisconsin.”  Prost!

Whiskey Business Tasting Event Returns to Orlando for Fourth Year

WhiskeyBiz_editedOn Friday, April 27 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Orlando Weekly will host the 4th Annual Whiskey Business, Orlando’s premiere whiskey and bourbon tasting event, at the historic Cheyenne Saloon and Opera House (126 W Church St, Orlando, Florida).

Back for its fourth year, Whiskey Business is a unique event that allows whiskey fans the opportunity to sample a “variety of whiskeys, Scotches, ryes and bourbons” in one unforgettable evening.  As attendees roam the beautiful Cheyenne Saloon and Opera House, they will experience this stellar lineup of whiskeys while also enjoying a spread of little bites from local restaurants, a captivating burlesque show, musical entertainment, and so much more.  This event certainly has a little bit of everything, so let’s break it all down to ensure that we cover all that Whiskey Business has to offer.

The Basics

What – Orlando Weekly’s 4th Annual Whiskey Business
When – Friday, April 27 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Where – Cheyenne Saloon and Opera House | 126 W Church Street | Orlando, Florida

The Whiskey

It kind of goes without saying that the centerpiece of Whiskey Business is the whiskey, and the following distilleries/brands will be on site pouring samples of their fine libations during the event:

Beyond just the whiskey samples, brands from around the world will serve up whiskey cocktails while brand ambassadors and distillers present themed and interactive stations, ranging from flavor pairings to recipe creation, to distilling demos and Q&A sessions.

The Food

To satisfy any grubbin’ needs you may encounter during the event, the following establishments will be in the house to serve up sample-sized “little bites” to attendees:

The Entertainment

Blue-La-La’s Ladies of the Peek-A-Boo Lounge will be in attendance to entertain guests with a burlesque show.  Musical entertainment will be provided by DJ BMF and Phat n Jazzy.

The Cause

A portion of the proceeds raised at Whiskey Business will go to benefit The Barber Fund, a small, grassroots 501(c)3 organization established in 2014 with a mission to HELP THOSE LIVING WITH CANCER.

“The Barber Fund is proud to have helped men, women and children with cancers varying from Ovarian Cancer, another Sinonasal Carcinoma (very rare), Colon, Lymphoma and Neuroblastoma. We have paid mortgages, power bills, medical bills, phone bills, purchased groceries, chaperoned appointments, helped care for animals and so much more.”

Ticket Information

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by clicking here.  Tickets are available in the following tiers:

  • General Admission: $45 each before fees – Includes unlimited whiskey samples, access to the live entertainment, “little bite” dishes from the hottest local restaurants, and craft beer options.
  • VIP Admission: $75 each before fees – Includes early entry at 6 p.m., access to a private VIP area with private bar, a VIP gift, VIP lanyard, unlimited whiskey samples, access to the live entertainment, “little bite” dishes from the hottest local restaurants, and craft beer options.
  • Designated Driver: $20 each before fees – Must be 21 or older to attend and obviously does not include any access to alcoholic beverages

The ticket prices above are listed as “Early Bird” prices, so be sure to secure your tickets as soon as possible to take advantage of this reduced cost.

Alright that should just about cover all the information that is currently available for this year’s Whiskey Business. If any additional details surface before the event, we will be sure to update you with that information here.

If you are free and going to be in the Orlando area on April 27, just go ahead and get your friends together, lock down some tickets, and support The Barber Fund’s incredibly worthy cause by having an amazing time at Whiskey Business.  Make it happen.  Prost!

WhiskeyBiz2

 

 

Rogue Spirits Releases Oregon Single Malt Whiskey

IMG_9744Rogue Ales & Spirits (Newport, Oregon) has officially announced the release of its first five-year aged product, Oregon Single Malt Whiskey.

Produced at the only farm-brewery-distillery-cooperage in the United States, Rogue’s Oregon Single Malt Whiskey has been “handcrafted from ingredients grown on Rogue Farms in the Willamette and Tygh Valleys, distilled on a 550-gallon still and aged in the air of the Yaquina Bay in Newport, Oregon.”  After five years of careful aging, this medium to full-bodied Single Malt has picked up “an attractive aroma of floral honey, peach and mango” that slowly transitions to notes of “lush, ripe fruit and brown spice.”

“Ocean aging is where a lot of the magic happens,” says Rogue Distiller Jake Holshue. “The Single Malt Whiskey breathes in the steady, cool, coastal air for five years, which influences its flavor profile, making the spirit truly unique, and proudly rooted in Newport.”

In addition to the release of Oregon Single Malt Whiskey, Rogue Ales & Spirits is also introducing a three-year aged Oregon Rye Malt Whiskey and a two-year aged Dead Guy Whiskey.  All of these offerings are available now as Year-Round offerings packaged in 750ml bottles.  You can expect to find these new whiskeys at select retailers located throughout the United States.  Prost!

Vital Information for Oregon Single Malt Whiskey from Rogue Ales & Spirits

Release – Year-Round, launching February 2018
Style – Single Malt Whiskey
ABV – 40% (80 Proof)
Ingredients – Rogue Farms Risk™ Malt, Free-Range Coastal Water & Rogue’s Proprietary Pacman Yeast
Availability – 750ml bottles