Author Archives: Rob Theakston

Drinkhacker Reads – 06.02.2014 – Bursting Bubbles In Beer And Bourbon

No sooner than hours after the announcement broke of Diageo’s commitment to build a brand new $115 million distillery in Kentucky came the expected thinkpieces on the future of American whiskey making and whether or not we are currently watching the proverbial bubble on the market about to burst. Whether or not this happens remains to be seen, but there seems to be a kernel of truth to it. One need look no further than the wildly out of control secondhand market as evidence for consideration.

Just days after The Atlantic published its think piece on the over-saturation of craft distilling, Entrepreneur files a similar piece lamenting the demise of craft brewing due to the increase in production and ingredient costs. Looks like the bourbon world isn’t the only place with a very large bubble manifesting itself.

In less gloomy news, Feis Ile, that lustful festival that Islay single malt fans crave, took place this past week. Lots of special editions were on hand to drool over. UK-based Vinspire offers one of the more comprehensive recaps of the festivities. [Vinspire]

And finally today, science takes a moment to reflect upon the ingredients necessary to create perfect beer foam in the pint glass, and examines whether or not a wine’s terroir really has a major effect on the end result.

The Drinkhacker Shopping List – 05.30.2014

Welcome to another edition of the Drinkhacker Shopping List, our semi-regular compendium of the best and worst beverages we’ve covered over the recent weeks. This time around we’ve had plenty to go around in every category, including some exceptional A-rated offerings, especially in the bourbon category.

TheList053014 525x1113 The Drinkhacker Shopping List   05.30.2014

We’ve also had a few expansive tasting reports for your consideration:

Rhone Rangers 2014
Whiskies of the World Expo San Francisco 2014
Blue Chip Wineries of Paso Robles, 2014

RIP Rogue Founder Jack Joyce

joyce 525x349 RIP Rogue Founder Jack Joyce Rogue brewery co-founder Jack Joyce passed away yesterday at the age of 71. Via Oregon Live:

Following a career as both a small town attorney and Nike executive, Jack and some friends founded Rogue in 1988 in Ashland, Oregon. From the outset, Jack set Rogue on a path of innovation, creativity, and rebellion. Rogue made hoppy, flavorful beers and was told that no one would drink them. Rogue made a wide range of beers and was told no one wanted variety. Rogue sold 22oz bottles of beer and was told no one would pay a premium for a single serve beer. Rogue opened multiple pubs and breweries and was told that it would be wise to follow a more efficient and logical business plan. Rogue took the road less, or perhaps never, travelled. Rogue was the first U.S. craft brewer to send beer to Japan. Rogue won 1,000 awards for product and packaging excellence. Rogue worried about getting better, not bigger. Rogue began distilling. Rogue began farming. Rogue remained dedicated to its small town roots and made sure to give back to its local communities. Rogue started a Nation. This was all vintage Jack. He was the true Rogue and will be missed by us all.

A tip of the glass to a pioneer, and from all of us here at Drinkhacker, our sincerest condolences.

Drinkhacker Reads – 05.28.2014 – “Just Brew It” Edition

The Pew Charitable Trust offers up a long and informative read on the current state of craft beer sales in America, and how it poses a potential threat to bigger beer companies. We’ve been touching on this subject here and there in Reads over the past few months, but this article brings everything up to date quite nicely. [Stateline]

Because it’s a slow news day, the Wall Street Journal profiles James Nielsen, the 34-year old who did the unthinkable and ran the “beer mile” in under 5 minutes. Apparently, the first ever championships are scheduled to be held later this summer. We’ll keep you posted. [WSJ]

Infamous Indiana whiskey distiller MGP announced yesterday via press release that it will be expanding its core offering to include 14 new spirits from which clients may choose for their bespoke bottling. Eight of these new 14 will be flavored whiskey options including black licorice and butterscotch flavored whiskeys. The other six include two new rye whiskeys, a 95% wheat whiskey, a 100% barley malt whiskey, and two bourbons, one produced with 45% wheat, and the other produced with 49% barley malt. Watch for reviews in, oh, three to seven years when other folks start bottling these things. [Press Release]

Finally today, we were super excited to receive a link to something called BeverageGrades, a new and somehow “objective” metadata web resource to help us pick out new bottles of wine which using several different scientific criteria, thereby rendering the need for subjective critical opinion obsolete. We’re pleased to report after numerous attempts at selecting different types of wine, we got exactly what we were looking for.

Screen Shot 2014 05 28 at 1.21.54 PM Drinkhacker Reads   05.28.2014   Just Brew It Edition

Screen Shot 2014 05 28 at 1.26.42 PM Drinkhacker Reads   05.28.2014   Just Brew It Edition

Drinkhacker Reads – 05.27.2014 – Hangover-Free Alcohol?

While other columnists and pundits bemoan the loss of innovation from the millennial generation, there’s a group of students looking to become the exception to the rule. Three enterprising young folks are developing Prime, a new beverage guaranteed to eliminate hangovers. While it will help with the next morning, the group claims that it will not help the user in avoiding bad choices the night before. The group has set up an indiegogo campaign to help develop the product further. On a most excellent TV side note, the team of college students also has a chemistry student named Walter as one of its founders. Looking forward to seeing where this goes!

In other science news, we took a break from enjoying gin and tonics, strawberry mint juleps, and other concoctions to read this outstanding piece by Jordan Devereaux, aka the Cocktail Chemist. It’s the first of what could very well be a multi-part piece on the actual chemical effects alcohol has on the body. It’s incredibly heavy on the science, but well worth the read — having a Wikipedia tab up for certain elements of the discussion helps as well. Excellent stuff. We’re looking forward to part 2. [Chemistry of the Cocktail]

A new study to be published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research is making the case that folks mixing alcohol and energy drinks do so for purely hedonistic reasons. This one may seem quite obvious to anyone who has spent a weekend surrounded by people at a dance music festival. However, looking for the surprising connection, researchers found that:

“People who drank A+EDs to sober up were actually at an increased risk of experiencing alcohol-related injuries and harms… This finding is interesting because it could mean that consumers are incorrect if they are assuming that drinking caffeine might reduce their intoxication.”

So: Alcohol gets you drunk, no matter what you mix it with. All clear? [Science Codex]

Finally today, the New York Times takes craft beers down to the microscopic level and examines the genetic map of the beers. Not as science-heavy as some articles on yeast and genetic origins, but it certainly highlights the promise and potential of future innovations in yeast strains we may be enjoying in the not too far off future.

Recipe: Memorial Day Cocktails 2014

In some circles, it’s the official start of summer. In others, it is a time to pay reverence and salute those who have dutifully served in our United States Armed Forces. Whatever your occasion, we’ve taken the liberty to try out all of the cocktails suggested below and present them for your celebratory consideration. May you have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend!

Ungava Negroni 300x300 Recipe: Memorial Day Cocktails 2014Ungava Negroni
1 ½ oz. Ungava Gin
1 ½ oz. Campari
1 oz. sweet vermouth
Orange twist for garnish

Add all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish
with an orange twist and serve.

HighTechPunch 224x300 Recipe: Memorial Day Cocktails 2014Hi-Teq Punch
3 parts Milagro Silver tequila
2 parts lemon juice
2 parts simple syrup
2 parts sparking water
5 parts Hibiscus Tea (1 tea bag per 16oz hot water)
1 part ginger juice
1 part Lillet Rose

Build ingredients in a punch bowl over a large ice block. Garnish with lemon wheels. Stir well for one minute to dilute. Serve to your guests in a rocks or punch glass and enjoy.

Spring Lemon Aide
(Created by Bobby “G” Gleason, Suntory-Beam Master Mixologist)
1 part Jim Beam Honey
2 parts fresh lemon sour
4-6 fresh blueberries
club soda
1 small (reasonable) splash of simple syrup
Lemon wheel for garnish

In a mixing glass, muddle the blueberries with a splash of simple syrup. Add the Jim Beam Honey, lemon sour and shake with ice then fine strain over fresh ice in a tall glass then top with club soda. Garnish with fresh blueberries and a lemon wheel on the rim.

Mint 200x300 Recipe: Memorial Day Cocktails 2014Mint Sparkler
1 oz. Lucid Absinthe
1 ½ oz. pear vodka
1 oz. peach schnapps
4 oz. lemon-lime soda
1 mint sprig

In a cocktail shaker, add Lucid Absinthe, pear vodka, peach schnapps, lemon-lime soda and ice. Shake
and strain into a highball glass. Garnish with a mint sprig and serve.

Drinkhacker Reads – 05.22.2014 – Buffalo Trace Experiments With Getting High

Warehouse Floor Experiment 300x220 Drinkhacker Reads   05.22.2014   Buffalo Trace Experiments With Getting HighThe company may be running short on supplies of its flagship brands (Eagle Rare, Blanton’s, Buffalo Trace), but Buffalo Trace Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley is keeping busy putting out more limited runs of the Experimental Collection branch of the Buffalo tree. This time around finds the crew toying with warehouse floor location, a well-known factor in determining the speed at which Kentucky whiskey ages. From the press release:

The barrels aged on the first floor of Warehouse K resulted in a bourbon with a delicate flavor, subtly sweet, with a very mild oak taste.
Barrels aged on the fifth floor of Warehouse K yielded a bourbon that tasted of sweet vanilla and a light caramel, coupled with light wood flavors.
The ninth floor of Warehouse K resulted in a bourbon with a deep aroma. The flavor was of a roasted nut sweetness paired with green pears and figs.
“Through this experiment, we learned that something as simple as varying which floor a bourbon ages on does bring out different flavors in the bourbon, said Harlen Wheatley, master distiller. “The higher floors had slightly deeper, woody notes as well as more varying fruity flavors.”

This round should be available later in June at the usual asking price of $46 for a 375ml bottle. Review to come.

Drambuie is up for sale. The legendary Scottish liqueur currently owned by Suntory is available for an asking price of around $169 million, according to the Financial Times. No word on any buyers yet, but this one isn’t likely to be on the market for too long. [FT]

The next installment of Bonham’s whisky auctions is set to take place later this month in Scotland. Amongst the items up for bid are a 50 year old Glenfiddich and a bottle of The Macallan Millennium Decanter 50 year old. Start saving your quid now, because if it’s anything like the last auction, things are sure to heat up quickly. [Scotland Now]

And finally today, the sports obsessed city of Cleveland seems to be having a great string of luck. CBS is reporting that one fan is taking it to the limit with a new beer dedicated to the latest QB draft pick, Johnny Manziel. There’s no word on whether Johnny Manz’ale will be made readily available to the public, but it’s no doubt a nice welcome for yet another quarterback destined to contribute to the Cleveland Curse. [CBS Sports]

Drinkhacker Reads – 05.19.2014 – Pitbull Fighting In Court

Ready for another lawsuit? Totally ignoring the fact that the descriptive classification “pit bull” has been around since before the 18th century, rapper Pitbull is filing a lawsuit against New Amsterdam for marketing a cocktail christened the “Pit Bull” (fans of semantic detail please note: there’s a space between the two words). If his litigation skills are anything like his rapping ones, this headache may be around for quite some time. [Billboard]

From one dog to another, the profile of Bulldog Gin has been on the rise as of late and thanks to a recent distribution deal with Campari, there’s no sign of it slowing down. The Shout does a quick profile on the company’s history, and how it’s been making waves in recent competitions. [The Shout]

Elsewhere in the world of gin reads, the New Statesman takes a quick look at gin’s role in the history of British colonialism. It’s a quick read, but enjoyable from a historical perspecrhetoric 173x300 Drinkhacker Reads   05.19.2014   Pitbull Fighting In Courttive. Much like Fred Minnick’s story of the role of women in the history of whiskey, there’s definitely promise for future scholarship along these lines. Here’s hoping someone picks up the ball and runs with it from here. [New Statesman]

And finally today, on its way to stores is the third release in the (un)limited edition Orphan Barrel Bourban project. Rhetoric, a 20 year old bourbon, will feature juice distilled at both Bernheim distilleries and aged in a completely different warehouse. Diageo has recommended it at a retail price of $85, but no doubt folks will be upcharging from there as hype and demand accelerates. [Previously on Drinkhacker: our review of the first two whiskeys in the Orphan Barrel series]

Drinkhacker Reads – 05.14.2014 – Days Of Wine and Cocaine

On the heels of a report saying that alcohol kills 1 person every 10 seconds, here’s a map of the world’s drunkest countries. As we all can see, the world has some catching up to do with Russia. However, in an effort to curb the abuse, our comrades have the solution to curb the drinking: drugs. And speaking of drugs, here’s an article from Russian TV discussing how the heavy use of cocaine in the UK has led to it now being detectable in the nation’s drinking water. Cheers!

In other science news, researchers are now backtracking on something they said before, which contradicts something they said years before that. According to yet another new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the naturally occurring antioxidants found in red wine do not help longevity in ways previously thought. One possible solution to this problem would be to drink more, but we’re already doing that (we have drugs to fix the problem of excess and abuse). Tune in next week when we discover a newly published study debunking the results of this one.

Unsurprisingly, the relationship between mega-spirits companies Suntory and Campari has ceased to be. Following the acquisition of Beam, Suntory has announced effective this June that the domestic distribution deal between the two will be rendered null and void. This isn’t a major loss for Campari, as the Suntory deal only represented 1 percent of overall Campari sales last year. The announcement came on the heels of the revelation that Campari’s profits were down 47 percent in the first quarter, citing unfavorable economic conditions as a primary reason for the massive slip. [Just Drinks]

Last night’s Bourbon Affair kick-off event was hampered by pretty heavy rain and was moved indoors to the uberposh 21c hotel in Louisville, but it didn’t deter everyone from having a grand old time. If you’re in the Kentucky area with nothing to do this weekend, you’d be hard pressed to find more interesting things to do. There are still tickets available to many events including a Wild Turkey hunt with Jimmy Russell, a tour of the Stitzel-Weller distillery with Tom Bulleit, and a “grain-to-glass” class with Woodford Reserve master distiller Chris Morris. [Kentucky Bourbon Affair]

Drinkhacker Reads – 05.12.2014 – Liquored Up Pigs

Last week we made mention that the sale of Whyte and Mackay to Emperador may happen sooner than later. It seems as if this one is now about to happen. Representatives between the two companies are scheduled to meet in London this Friday to agree to terms. Economic Times is reporting that the deal is valued at close to $700 million. It’s not clear as to whether or not W&M will also include Jura and Dalmore in the package deal. [ET]

Buffalo Trace (“Potentially Running Out Of Stuff Since 2012“) has pushed whiskey boundaries with its Single Oak Project and Experimental Collections, but there’s a new project going on that just might trump its continuous tinkering. Templeton Rye is attempting to raise hogs that taste like its whiskey, even before being sent to slaughter. The Templeton Rye Heritage Pork Project (or what we’re calling “Project Oinkway”) is going on now. There’s something to be said about bringing home the booze and the bacon at the same time, and this should prove to be a quite tasty affair.

In new product news, our main man with an eye on the TTB Sku just dug up in his weekly sweep of new items a gem of a new release: a Macallan Rare Cask. However, what’s totally unclear about this whole situation is what makes it rare. There’s no age statement to be found, no details on how the casks were selected. It’s just “rare”. This seems to be in parallel with the recent trend to eliminate as much label information on the aging and origin of Scotch as possible. Let’s just hope it’s not the direction everyone’s heading in for the long haul. [Sku's Recent Eats]

And finally today, we’ve received word that our pals over at the Whiskey Explorers Club have thoroughly revamped their blind tasting game, My Whiskey IQ. It’s been enhanced for use on smartphones and tablets (it had previously been mainly desktop friendly), given a clean new interface and has more advisory suggestions/discovery elements based on your flavor preferences. Swing on by and give it a test drive when your quarterly shipment arrives. [Whiskey Explorer's Club]

The A-List – April 2014

Hello and welcome to this month’s edition of the A-List, where we look back at the best of last month’s reviews and ratings and compile them into a really useful, printer-friendly graphic you may take along during your next trip to the store. We’ve reached the 3/4 mark of reviewing Buffalo Trace’s Single Oak Project in its entirety, and April also saw a return of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society casks to the top of the pile.

(Rob’s note: For the best bang of the buck this month, Hammer & Son Old English Gin is well worth the price. It’s G&T season around our neighborhood, and this was one of the better ones we sampled at our block’s drinking club).

AListApr14 525x890 The A List   April 2014

March and April also saw an incredible amount of book reviews, so we compiled a complete list of our reviews over the last two years to help you get your own drinks library started in good form.

Drinkhacker Reads – 05.08.14 – Beam, Suntory, Beam and Suntory

With the Suntory-Beam/Beam-Suntory deal now complete, sources are telling Reuters that Suntory plans to sell $8 billion in debt to finance the purchase of the company. Elsewhere, Chuck Cowdery looks into his crystal ball to figure out what exactly the whole deal will mean for the corporate culture of both companies, and what the future may hold for us.

In other bourbon news, the Courier Journal reports there’s a new distillery opening shortly along the Bourbon Trail. New Riff distillery will be a bit out of the ways in Northern Kentucky, but looks to be a bit different from most of the folks on both the traditional and craft bourbon trails. Across the Commonwealth, Janet Patton reports there’s a new buyer for the Charles Medley distillery. South Carolina’s TerrePure is looking to invest $23 million over the next year and a half to bring the distillery back to life. This coming on the heels of a potential overhaul of the old Taylor distillery, it seems as if the ghosts of Kentucky past are coming back to life.

With its lawsuit with the Explorer’s Club still pending, Johnnie Walker/Diageo is once again revamping the ultra-super-mega-premium range to present its Premium Collection. This expression will be released annually with a limited offering of 8,888 bottles at a cost of about $740. Of course, one is simply not going to be able to roll down to the corner store to get their bottle. It will only be available in Singapore Changi Airport through May, and most of Asia-Pacific travel retail outlets in early summer. This move makes sense for Diageo, as it tries to somehow recover the losses of last quarter in the Chinese market due to the government crackdown on extravagant gifts and offerings at functions. [Moodie]

For those who have significant amounts of money to burn, an insane Maccallan collection collected over the last 50 years by an Italian restaurant owner will find itself on the auction block at McTear’s next Wednesday. The full collection runs over 400 bottles, wirh the first 164 up for sale in this round. [Glasgow]

And finally today, Joshua Feldman over at the Coopered Tot has been doing some outstanding historical research on old whiskey advertisements. Recent posts on women, racism, and male intimacy in advertising over the past century has been worthy of peer review in scholarly journals, so why not whiskey? Well researched and worth the time to read all three in the series. [Coopered Tot]

Drinkhacker Reads – 05.05.2014 – Happy Cinco De Mayo!

Looking for a break from tequila today? How about a refreshing gin and tonic? GQ today runs a quick portfolio piece on the new breed of American gins taking a share of the market traditionally held by the UK and Europe. We’ve reviewed most of these and agree with their rightful inclusion. [GQ]

If you’re not looking for a break from tequila today, here’s a few bottlings we’ve reviewed recently that received high marks.

Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila
KAH Tequila
Abreojos Tequila Silver
Baron Tequila Platinum

So it’s looking like Diageo is looking to jettison its Whyte and Mackay properties to Philippines-based Alliance Global Company, but nothing has come through that’s solidified as of yet. Most product lines would go with Alliance, however both The Dalmore and Tamnavulin brands would stay with Diageo, according to terms of the deal. Markets aren’t exactly responding favorably to this news, with Alliance’s stock dropping a few percentage points over the past few days. [Bloomberg]

Months after the infamous Pappygate of 2013, there are still no definitive leads in the case. Law enforcement officials believe it to be an inside job, but there are still no solid clues as to who is behind one of the best-orchestrated modern spirit swindle sagas. NPR’s Noah Adams checks in to see how the investigation is going, and does a bit of footwork himself. [NPR]

And finally today, the Telegraph UK takes an in-depth look on the Scotch revival in the United States, and what U.S. distillers are doing to counter the surge with their own renaissance. Not much in terms of new information for those who have been keeping score for the past year or so, but it’s an interesting profile piece nevertheless. [Telegraph UK]

The Drinkhacker Shopping List – 05.02.2014

Happy Friday everyone! Before everyone heads to the store to get supplies for Derby De Mayo, college graduation, or whatever else you’re celebrating this weekend, might we suggest you check out our list of everything we’ve reviewed in the past several weeks? It’s filled with some really great (and some not so great) affordable options which could serve as alternative fare to what you normally drink.

TheList0502141 525x1179 The Drinkhacker Shopping List   05.02.2014

ICYMI: Kudos to our fearless leader for the informative story in Wired about mass-produced wine.

Also, looking to get that recently graduated college person in your life off the Fireball and into something more age appropriate? Why not get them a good solid book for a gift! We’ve got a whole mess of them reviewed and compiled in one handy page for your perusal!

Recipe: 2014 Cinco De Mayo Cocktails

Whether you’re Mexican or not, it’s margarita time. Want something different? Try one of these…

Superfecta
Superfecta Recipe: 2014 Cinco De Mayo Cocktails2 ½ oz. Camus VSOP Elegance Cognac
dash of water
7 mint sprigs
1 tsp. sugar

Muddle mint, sugar and dash of water in a shaker. Add cognac and ice and shake. Strain into rocks glass. Garnish with mint and serve.

Pepinita 245x300 Recipe: 2014 Cinco De Mayo CocktailsPepinita
1 ½ oz. Trianon Blanco Tequila
1 oz. agave nectar
1 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
splash of orange liqueur
cucumber slices
chili powder

In a shaker, add ingredients and muddle cucumber slices. Add ice and shake. Strain into a chili powder rimmed glass. Garnish with more cucumber slices and serve.

Conquistador Recipe: 2014 Cinco De Mayo CocktailsConquistador
(created by Milagro Brand Ambassador Jaime Salas)
1 ½ parts Milagro Reposado
½ part Ancho Reyes
½ part crème de cacao
½ part Manzanilla sherry
1 dash Angostura Orange Bitters

Chill coupe glass with ice and water and set aside. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir until well chilled and diluted. Discard chilling ice from the coupe. Strain ingredients into chilled coupe. Using a vegetable peeler, remove a long piece of orange peel. Express the oil over the cocktail, rub the peel around the rim of the glass, and place atop the cocktail.

Avion 171x300 Recipe: 2014 Cinco De Mayo CocktailsAvión (PO) Loma
1.5 oz. Avión Silver
½ oz. lime juice
¼ oz. lemon juice
3 oz. grapefruit juice
2 slivers muddled jalapeño
soda water
ancho chile salt, jalapeño, and grilled lemon wedge for garnish

Combine all ingredients and shake. Salt rim of glass with chile salt. Pour contents of shaker into glass and top with soda. Garnish with grilled lemon and jalapeño.

papaya smash Recipe: 2014 Cinco De Mayo CocktailsPapaya Smash
1 slice of fresh papaya
¼ oz. agave nectar
1 ¼ oz. Avión Añejo
½ oz. Aperol
½ oz. orange juice
¾ oz. fresh lime juice
garnish with fresh papaya

Add a slice of fresh papaya and agave nectar to your mixing glass. Muddle to release the papaya flavor. Combine ingredients in shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain over ice, and garnish with a fresh slice of papaya.

Drinkhacker Reads – 04.30.2014 – Bonham’s Rare Spirit Auction

And so another edition of the Bonham’s Whisky, Cognac and Rare Spirits auction has started and the bids are currently flying fast and furiously. But the biggest head scratcher in the pile (so far) has been the 23 Year Old Rip Van Winkle that just sold for US$5,712. A complete list of items and results is available here.

The Spirits Business shares a listicle most interesting: the American Craft Distillers Association’s 10 most Pioneering Craft Distilleries. While these things are largely subjective, it’s hard to argue against the inclusion of some of them. [The Spirits Business]

Good news for beer drinkers in Missouri: state legislators have voted to pass a bill to allow for the sale of single bottles of beer. Previously, the law stated that all beer must be sold in a minimum package of 3 bottles. This new bill seeks to remedy this issue and be set for action in 2015. In other government-in-action news, the Florida state legislation voted down a law that would restrict the growth of microbreweries in the state. [KMOV]

And finally today, the city of Louisville has no problem honoring its hometown heroes. Celebrities such as Muhammad Ali and Diane Sawyer have their likenesses adorned on the side of giant buildings, courtesy of large hanging banners. So kudos to Tom Bulleit for joining these ranks. The man behind the Bulleit brand was honored with his own mug over looking Third Street in honor of his contributions to the  industry and the city at large. [Herald Leader]

Recipe: 2014 Kentucky Derby Cocktails

For Kentuckians, having horses take 2 minutes to fly around a track at great speed is reason enough to celebrate for roughly two weeks leading up to the main event. This of course, can lead to a large consumption of mint juleps. That can get tiresome, believe it or not, so here are some twists for your consideration. Of course, if you’re looking for the real deal Julep, we’ve got you covered there, too.

Blackberry Recipe: 2014 Kentucky Derby CocktailsBlackberry Mint Julep Margarita
2 parts Milagro Anejo tequila
1 part lime juice
1 part honey syrup
5 blackberries
6 mint leaves

Muddle berries and mint. Add rest, shake and strain over ice in julep glass. Garnish with blackberries and mint sprig.

Reviver Recipe: 2014 Kentucky Derby CocktailsSpring Reviver
1 oz. rhubarb tea
1 oz. Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
1 oz. Lillet Rosé
.75 oz. fresh lemon juice
3 dashes absinthe
1 strawberry slice, mint sprig or edible flower (for garnish)

Shake ingredients with ice and fine strain into a chilled coupe glass, garnish with a strawberry slice and a mint sprig or an edible flower.

Dewlep Recipe: 2014 Kentucky Derby CocktailsThe Tullamore Dewlep
2 oz Tullamore D.E.W. Original
½ oz vanilla sugar syrup
dash peach bitters
12 mint leaves

Pour all ingredients into a cup. Gently muddle mint, fill with crushed ice and stir gently to combine garnish with a sprig of mint and straw.

Bailey Recipe: 2014 Kentucky Derby CocktailsMajor Bailey
(by Jon Santer)
2 oz Hendrick’s Gin
1 sugar cube
¼ oz simple syrup
8 mint leaves
1 spear cucumber (for garnish)

Muddle in julep glass. Top with crushed ice until a mountain peak of ice forms above the glass. Garnish with copious amounts of mint and a cucumber spear.

Drinkhacker Reads – 04.28.2014 – De Niro Launches De Vodka

One of the greatest actors of the modern age is helping to co-brand a new vodka. Robert De Niro, star of such cinematic classics as The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Meet The Fockers, is partnering with Artisan Spirits Merchants to create VDKA 6100. We’re not exactly sure what the 6100 means, but the Wall Street Journal landed an interview where he wasn’t asked the question. The super premium product will be available first in De Niro’s restaurants and in New Jersey. [Wall Street Journal]

In science news, Boston Beer Brewer Jim Koch reveals a trade insider secret to Esquire magazine on how to drink all night long without getting drunk. We’re not exactly sure how many college kids heading to Thirsty Thursdays at the local pub will heed these wise words, but it’s still some probiotic food for thought. [Esquire]

The Rum Renaissance Festival happened this past weekend in Miami, and the Miami New Times filed a complete report on the festival’s ongoings, complete with its 10 favorite rums sampled throughout the weekend’s events. Definitely not a bad way to spend the weekend. [Miami New Times]

In new release news, Kilchoman is releasing a second installment of its Loch Gorm whisky line, Bacardi is launching a new Aberfeldy 18 year old Scotch, and Beam has a whole mess of new expressions in their Signature Series line coming up: Rolled Oats, Red Wheat, Six Row Barley, Triticale, and High Rye. [Major hat tip to the most excellent Sku's Recent Eats for the Beam find!]

And finally today, Business Insider presents a feature on Fireball Whiskey, and how the brand jumped ahead of the pack to become one of the most successfully marketed spirits in recent decades. Which, if you think about the competition, is really kind of amazing. Or insane. Or both. [Business Insider]

Recipes: 2014 Spring Cocktails

For a least some of the nation (sorry New England and Midwest!), the brutal, crushing cold of winter has passed and things are starting to warm up and become tolerable once again. With that we’ve had a plethora of cocktail recipes heading our way over the last few weeks, and we’ve culled and tested the best of the best for your consideration:

image003 1 200x300 Recipes: 2014 Spring CocktailsMayan Mule
1 part Milagro Reposado tequila
½ part fresh lime juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
3 parts Ginger Beer

Place 2-3 ice cubes in a Collins glass. Add fresh squeezed lime juice, Milagro, ginger beer and bitters. Stir. Garnish with mint sprigs and a lime wheel.

Presbyterian Revenge
(Created by John McCarthy of Bathtub Gin)
1.5 oz. Black Grouse Scotch
.75 oz. Cynar liqueur
.25 oz. lemon juice
.25 oz. simple syrup
1 dash grapefruit bitters

Shake and strain into a rocks glass with ice. Top with a splash of soda, garnish with a grapefruit twist.

BlossomMule 300x193 Recipes: 2014 Spring CocktailsBlossom Mule
(Created by Mulberry Project)
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
3/4 oz. Maraschino liqueur
2 oz. sake
4 oz ginger beer
4 dashes of Pechaud’s Bitters
cherry blossom for garnish

Pour the lime juice/Maraschino/sake into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Shake well. Strain contents over fresh ice, into a tall glass. Add the ginger beer followed by the the Pechaud’s Bitters, stir and garnish with cherry blossom flower.

Chandon Recipes: 2014 Spring CocktailsChandon Lavender
1 oz. lavender simple syrup (1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon lavender florets)
2 oz. fresh lime juice
3 oz. Chandon Brut Classic

Simple syrup: Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let sit 30 minutes. Strain the syrup into a clean container and refrigerate. Discard the lavender.

Cocktail: Pour the simple syrup and lime juice in a decorative glass and stir to mix. Add Chandon Brut Classic and serve.

Mo-Coco-Jito
6 fresh mint leaves
3 fresh lime wedges
4 ounces Amy & Brian’s coconut juice
2 ounces rum
splash of club soda

For a fresh take on a refreshing mojito, muddle together mint, fresh lime, and rum in a martini shaker. Pour in the coconut juice and a splash of club soda; shake well. Strain and pour into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice and garnish with a mint leaf.

The Drinkhacker Bookshelf 2013-2014

Lately we’ve been churning out book reviews at a rather brisk pace, so we thought it would make sense to compile a list pretty much everything we’ve read over the last two years. Titles are linked to our reviews, and purchase links to Amazon are also supplied when available (note: prices may vary between formats and editions).

Recipes
Shake, Stir, Pour by Katie Loeb A/$16 [Buy]
Craft Cocktails At Home by Kevin Liu A/$9 [Buy]
Cocktails: The Bartender’s Bible by Simon Difford A-/$34 [Buy]
Ice Cream Happy Hour by Valerie Lum A-/$11 [Buy]
Liquid Vacation by P Moss A-/$28 [Buy]
The New Old Bar by Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh  A-/$14  [Buy]
Extreme Brewing by Sam Calagione A-/$16 [Buy]
The Best Craft Cocktails by Jeremy LeBlanc and Christine Dionese A-/$15 [Buy]
Market Fresh Mixology by Bridget Albert and Mary Barranco B+/$14 [Buy]
The Home Distiller’s Workbook by Jeff King B+/$9 [Buy]
Poptails: 60 Boozy Treats Served on a Stick by Erin Nichols B+/$12 [Buy]
Savory Cocktails by Greg Henry B+/$12 [Buy]
The Old Fashioned: An Essential Guide by Albert Schmid B+/$10 [Buy]
Alt Whiskeys by Darek Bell B+/$30 [Buy]
The Best Shots You’ve Never Tried by Andrew Bohrer B+/$6 [Buy]
The Big Book of Martinis For Moms by Rose Maura Lorre and Mavis Lamb B/$10 [Buy]
Dr. Cocktail by Alex Ott  B-/$13 [Buy]
The Architecture of the Cocktail by Amy Zavatto C/$12 [Buy]
The Signature Series by EGO unrated/$22 [Buy?]

Historical/Reference
Whiskey Women by Fred Minnick A/$17 [Buy]
Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage by Mike Veach A/$19 [Buy]
The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart A-/$16 [Buy]
Uncorking The Past by Dr. Patrick E. McGovern A-/$16 [Buy]
Kevin Zraly’s Windows on the World Complete Wine Course  by Kevin Zraly A-/$30 [Buy]
Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch by William Knoedelseder A-/$13 [Buy]
Drinkology Wine: A Guide To The Grape by James Waller A-/$4 (used) [Buy]
Vodka Distilled by Tony Abou-Ganim A-/$23 [Buy]
The Kentucky Mint Julep by Joe Nickell B+/$12 [Buy]
Beam Straight Up by Fred Noe B+/$16 [Buy]
The Curious World of Wine by Richard Vine  B/ $15  [Buy]
The New York Times Book Of Wine edited by Howard Goldberg B/$17 [Buy]
A First Course In Wine by Dan Amatuzzi B-/$19 [Buy]

Rating Guides/List Books
Drinking Japan by Chris Bunting A/$19  [Buy]
The World’s Best Whiskies: 750 Essential Drams From Tennessee To Tokyo by Dominc Roskrow A-/$26 [Buy]
The Smart Guide To Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Elizabeth Riley Bell  B+/$14 [Buy]
Destination Cocktails by James Teitelbaum B+/$14 [Buy]
The 40 Minute Irish Whiskey Guide by 27Press B/$3 [Buy]
Wine: A Tasting Guide by Marnie Old  B/$20 [Buy]
Bordeaux by Oz Clark B-/$23 [Buy]