Author Archives: Rob Theakston

Drinkhacker Reads – 01.23.2014 – Beam Investor Sues Over Takeover

As previously speculated, all is not going to swell in the Beam-Suntory transition land. Bloomberg is now reporting that an investor is filing suit against Beam alleging the transaction undervalues the company. The suit is being spearheaded by Beam’s largest shareholder, hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, who lost a pretty hefty sum recently with investments involving JC Penney and Herbalife. Attorneys for Ackman argue the suit is baseless and without merit. This could get ugly. [Bloomberg]

After an 80-year absence on the market, Dunville Irish Whiskey is making its return. The relaunch comes courtesy of Echlinville Distillery, which received an all-systems-go clearance to distill last year. Some very limited shipments are currently making their way to key markets in the U.S., Europe, and the UK, with a wider release being planned in subsequent years. [Irish Times]

Jelly Belly has introduced a new flavor we’ve all been craving: beer. The company will be launching an ale flavor resembling a Hefeweizen, which will be in stores sometime this year. The process to perfect this taste? Three years in the making. Let’s see if we can score a bag and find out if they’re worth the wait. [CBC]

And finally today: researchers in Spain are using high-def slow motion cameras to figure out why beer foams up. Now if they can only figure out why people are so attracted to the Kardashian family, flavored vodkas, and Mumford and Sons. [The Guardian]

Drinkhacker Reads – 01.20.2014 – Macallan Sets Record For World’s Most Expensive Scotch

MacallanM 300x300 Drinkhacker Reads   01.20.2014   Macallan Sets Record For Worlds Most Expensive Scotch If there were any signs that the whiskey market was potentially heading towards a bubble burst, yesterday’s record-breaking auction at Sotheby’s Hong Kong would surely be a leading indicator. The bottle of Macallan M sold at an auction on Saturday for $631,850, setting a new world record for most expensive whiskey ever. We’re quite pleased to say we’ve got two here in the office unopened, and we’re willing to trade a bottle with the folks for a Pappy van Winkle or two. Stop on by. [Complex]

In science news, researchers at the University of Oregon published a study declaring that a moderate amount of alcohol can actually help strengthen the immune system, thus validating several centuries of old wives’ tales and the phenomenon that is the Hot Toddy. [Daily Mirror]

Elsewhere in science-related news, The Atlantic continues its in-depth look at the process of spirit making with a profile of the recent string of fermentation science programs popping up at universities around the nation. While critics may scoff at such programs and dismiss them with a flippant, off-handed comment about how students are just looking for another excuse to drink, we here at Drinkhacker think of them pursuing a noble cause. A+ [The Atlantic]

Meanwhile, The Atlantic’s sister site Quartz breaks down the world’s whiskey consumption using infographics. Good stuff for finding out where all those bottles are going, and where they’ll most likely be heading in the future. [QZ]

And finally today, Gizmodo compiles some of the weirdest spirits packaging on the market. We’re not exactly sure weird or cool would be the right adjective to describe some of these, but beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. [Gizmodo]

Drinkhacker Reads – 01.16.2014 – Conan O’Brien: Beam Spokesman?

Not everyone is taking the Beam-Suntory merger so hard. In fact, there are several who stand to gain from such an alliance. One fellow who is trying is hardest to make his enthusiasm known is America’s favorite TBS Late Night Host, Conan O’Brien:

No word yet from Beam execs as to whether or not they’re interested.

In less classy news, Brown-Forman has taken to the internet to proudly exhibit their social media director’s poor grasp of global economics in a hysterical display of American exceptionalism by proclaiming to be “American Owned.” Hysterical coming from another company and owning brands beyond American borders. As the kids say, “epic fail” Brown-Forman. [WDRB]

However, if you’re really needing to figure out exactly which brands to boycott, here’s a handy chart courtesy of NPR’s Marketplace as to who owns what (though it’s missing a few big brands and their owners, including Campari-Wild Turkey). [NPR]

Elsewhere in the Beamosphere: Bloomberg profiles the potential risk of Suntory’s purchase, The New Yorker chimes in with its “thinkpiece,” and Forbes delves into the lack of details bondholders have been afforded throughout the week.

Elsewhere in the drinkosphere: Diageo is planning a £30M expansion of its Clynelish distillery, Diddy and Diageo (Diddageo?) (Diaggy?) are gearing up for a head-on celebrity tequila marketing battle with Justin Timberlake and Beam (Justin Beamory?), and the robot bartender (HAL Malone?)is being readied for launch shortly.

And finally today, the Smithsonian chimes in with its complete guide to hangovers. Not sure how many more times this story can be rewritten, but this one is thoroughly researched yet accessible and heavily linked with external information. [Smithsonian]

A Pro-Suntory Argument for the Consideration of the Anti-Beam Acquisition Crowd

SpecialComment 300x300 A Pro Suntory Argument for the Consideration of the Anti Beam Acquisition Crowd

Perhaps the most troublesome trend from the announcement of Suntory’s potential purchase of Beam yesterday is the stench emanating from that petri dish of democracy, the anonymous reactionary commenter festering in pockets of news web portals and its hydra-headed cousin, social media. Some of the contributions have been a bit disturbing and mildly ill-informed. In the efforts of providing a counter-argument, let’s take some of these ire-filled declarations from the chorus and consider them for a moment.

1.“This is the economic equivalent of Pearl Harbor” or: “This is the continued march of Socialism across the country”

The latter was heard on afternoon drive talk radio here in my old Kentucky home. It was tempting to take the bait and call in and inform the dear host that Japan really isn’t too keen on socialism, and that
his geography compass was off the marker by a few degrees/nations.

Beam jobs in Kentucky are relatively safe. At least for now, they’re not going anywhere. Beam Global has too much invested in the state – historically and economically – to just jump ship to Japan or
Connecticut. The distilleries are here, the logistics are here, the know-how is here, and the product is here. For those worried jobs will be shifted overseas? Remember one of the golden rules: in order for a spirit to be legally christened bourbon, it must be made right here on our fruited plains. This is something most of the established world has acknowledged and agreed to comply with.

From the always excellent Scotch and Ice Cream:

“The reality is that this is one of those moments where you’re forced to see that there can be sides to unfettered capitalism that aren’t necessarily going to align with your personal values and morals. Beam will have to be made in the United States to still be bourbon (and let’s not kid ourselves: Jim beam is bourbon for many people) which means that the more blue-collar production jobs probably aren’t going anywhere. Corporate structure in Deerfield IL may see a slimdown though. But there’s this fiction that people are selling themselves that is patently untrue – that Beam was somehow some sort of small, mom & pop cooperative and the benefits of Beam’s profits were seen in a big way by the average worker. The largest shareholders were institutional investors – Wall Street. Insider holdings of BEAM were comparatively small, and in the last two months, insiders sold 328,000 shares and only bought 12000. (27:1). “

For some, this still many not prove to be enough. Consider this: many of the iconic brands we know and love, things commonly thought to be synonymous with America, are no longer made here. So please continue to rant about only buying American made products, on your computer, which was probably not manufactured or assembled in America. Or better yet, do it on your smart phone. When’s the last time you checked on its manufacturing point? It’s the nature of the global economy. This acquisition should come as no surprise to anyone.

2. “The quality of the product will change”

As numerous people will stand up and attest to, Suntory has an excellent track record of premium spirits and like most skillfully crafted things coming from the land of rising sun, there’s a lot of pride in the quality of the products they produce. People reminisce about the good old days when items manufactured in America were made with pride. Those values never left Japan. The quality will continue to be high, if anything to keep from having to deal with a potential PR disasters. Anyone here remember the great Maker’s Mark Proof Switch of ‘13? And speaking of which…

3. “I’m switching and staying with Maker’s Mark”

Sorry, Joe Merica, Maker’s is part of the Beam Empire, and therefore is soon to be owned by Suntory. Try again.

Let’s take a step back for some historical context. Before the current bourbon bubble, before Pappymania and before Bob Ritchie was years away from endorsing Red Stag, the Japanese were already aware of bourbon’s potential both financially and aesthetically. Back in the ’80s the Japanese were quietly investing all over Kentucky: the Toyota North American HQ in Erlanger, KY and a new plant in Georgetown, KY being a prominent example. Japanese investors were involved in Buffalo Trace before it was Buffalo Trace, when people were satisfied with Ancient Age and Blanton’s was in its infancy. They were also in Lawrenceburg, figuring out how to improve and profit on Four Roses.

Again, the honorable Timothy Read from Scotch and Ice Cream:

It’s worth noting that the Four Roses renaissance of the last few years has been under the ownership of Kirin. It’s possible that the [Beam] product will change, and it’s possible the product will change for the better. It’s also possible that there will be a series of export-only bottlings (as you see with Age International’s Blanton’s offerings, as well as Four Roses Platinum) that are intended for a Japanese market. Remember, whisky is huge in Japan, and it’s possible Suntory simply wanted its own bourbon on the shelves alongside Kirin’s.

There’s always the possibility that Suntory will tank the quality of Beam, but it’s silly to jump to that conclusion. It also ignores that Beam has been reducing quality quite well – the Maker’s debacle, dropping proof on Old Grand-Dad and dropping age statements on Basil Hayden’s.

If all of this simply isn’t enough to sway you, then please start sending your bottles of Four Roses, Bulleit, and Wild Turkey over to Drinkhacker HQ. We’ll take them off your hands free of charge so you can remain guilt-free in your patriotic purchases. Because in case you didn’t know: Four Roses is still Japanese-owned, Bulleit is owned by Diageo UK, and Wild Turkey by Italy’s Gruppo Campari. Look out, ye who are filled with fear: we’re just one country away from the Original Axis of Evil reuniting and taking all of the bourbons away from us.

This merger hasn’t happened yet. There are still many hoops to jump through before the deal is sealed. There are numerous things that could derail this transaction. On top of it all: this whole transition
could take months, maybe even a year, before final. It’s still too soon. Anything can still happen, and it just might.

We beg of you: don’t buy into the ridiculous xenophobia certain spirit writers are trying to promote. You’re too smart a consumer to fall prey to such convenient jingoisms. As someone so eloquently put it on Twitter: if you’re not going to buy Beam, do it on taste.

(A very special thanks to Timothy Read from Scotch and Ice Cream for the engaging conversation and much needed dose of inspiration. If you haven’t already, you’d be well served to make his site a daily must-read)

Drinkhacker Reads – 01.13.2014 – Suntory To Acquire Beam For $16 Billion

Screen shot 2014 01 13 at 12.31.17 PM 300x165 Drinkhacker Reads   01.13.2014   Suntory To Acquire Beam For $16 Billion No other story today could possibly dominate headlines in the spirits world like the stunning announcement that Beam Global is going to be acquired by Japanese mega-conglomerate Suntory for a cool $16 billion. Of course, along with this announcement has arrived a plethora of articles using the image of Bill Murray from his portrayal of a Suntory spokesman from the movie Lost In Translation. Let’s dig deeper into this historic acquisition with a bit of context, courtesy of our friends on the web:

Start with a brief history of Suntory, and a brief overview of Beam history. Then check out a Forbes profile on the man behind Suntory, Nobutada Saji.

Crain’s Chicago provides an excellent summary of the acquisition. CNN reports that this could be the second largest acquisition by a Japanese company of an American company in history, and will result in the 3rd largest spirits company in the world.

Who stands to win from this? Big surprise: Investors and shareholders. However, not everyone is happy. BusinessWeek is reporting that the shareholder rights law firm of Johnson & Weaver is already investigating the proposed sale, and whether or not Beam’s board “failed to satisfy their duties to the company’s shareholders.”

There’s some early commentary available, but most is still forthcoming. Here’s a good piece by Louisville’s David Mann about the local implications of the Beam takeover. Bourbon scribe Chuck Cowdery offers up his compulsory op-ed, as does the usually brilliant Shanken. Other than that, the general vibe from most bourbon writers seems to be that it’s simply too soon to tell what the future will hold for Beam after Suntory Time arrives.

No doubt there’ll be much more coming in the next few days. We’ll stay on top of it all and deliver you the best synthesis of analysis possible.

Recipes: Golden Globe Cocktails 2014

This Sunday two of the funniest women in the history of comedy, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, will be hosting this year’s edition of the Golden Globes. A rundown and reviews of the best movies nominated this year can be found on our sister site, Film Racket. In the meantime, here are a few recipes inspired by some of the nominees in the Best Motion Picture Musical/Comedy category, courtesy of Belvedere Vodka.

HerCosmo Recipes: Golden Globe Cocktails 2014

Her Cosmo
50 ml Belvedere Vodka Mango Passion
15 ml Domaine de Canton
10 ml fresh lime juice
20 ml cranberry juice

Combine all ingredients in a tin and shake with ice. Fine strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with an orange twist.

nebraskacrush Recipes: Golden Globe Cocktails 2014

Nebraska Crush
40 ml Belvedere Vodka Pink Grapefruit
20 ml pink grapefruit juice
15 ml cinnamon syrup
Dash fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a tin and shake with ice. Fine strain over crushed ice into a rocks glass and garnish a pink grapefruit wedge.

LlewynDavisManhattan Recipes: Golden Globe Cocktails 2014

Llewyn Manhattan
60 ml Belvedere Vodka
10 ml Dolin Rouge
2 dashes lavender bitters

Combine all ingredients in mixing glass and stir over ice until very cold. Strain into chilled martini glass and garnish with a cherry.

The A-List December 2013

After several months of excellent and broad-reaching releases, our A-List is a wee bit scant this month. “B+” ratings were in no short supply, but as we all know, “B+” simply doesn’t make the cut. Either way, these are the monsters which earned our seal of approval for the month of December.

AListDec13 525x838 The A List December 2013

The Drinkhacker Shopping List – 01.10.2014

Welcome to the first edition of the Drinkhacker Shopping List for 2014. For those just tuning in, the Shopping List is a printer friendly compendium of the best and the worst of our reviews over the last several weeks. In a peculiar turn of events, this edition features plenty of vodkas and liqueurs but is scant on bourbon and scotch. Hang in there, as we have plenty of whisk(e)y reviews coming down the pipeline!

TheList011014 525x998 The Drinkhacker Shopping List   01.10.2014

Drinkhacker Reads – 01.08.2014 – Notorious A.B.V.: Diddyageo Acquires DeLeon Tequila

Diddy done at it again! Unsatisfied with his dominance and rebranding of Ciroc, the Puff Diddles has partnered once more with Diageo to acquire DeLeon tequila. While few details of the transaction are available, the partnership has proven profitable for all parties in the past. Ciroc has gone from shipping 50,000 cases to 2 million cases annually in just under six years. It’ll be interesting to see what happens this time around. [BevNet]

Organizers of the Beer Bloggers Conference have taken time to sort through the wide spectrum of static to give us a stronger signal on what they believe to be the 20 most influential beer websites in the world. The results are mildly surprising, with many corporate brand sites dominating the top half. We’re not exactly sure “influential” is the right term to be used here, as its hard to see just how consumers are influenced or compelled to drink a product just from a visit to a web site. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting methodology and fine attempt at developing a picture of the beersphere. [Beer Bloggers Conference]

NPR radio program Here and Now makes an argument that Bourbon makers outside of Kentucky could spark innovation. Because clearly there’s absolutely no innovation happening with bourbon in Kentucky. WARNING: There’s no mention of Pappy Van Winkle here. Like… none. Go home, NPR. You’re drunk. [Here and Now]

Bloomberg Business Week has a great (but quick) interview with Beam figurehead Fred Noe, who is out promoting the new Beam Single Barrel. Fred’s in his usual great and humorous form, and then the interviewer has to go and screw everything up by bringing “PVW” into the conversation. [Business Week]

And finally today, a new study from Denmark suggests that women who drink a glass of wine a day during pregnancy have better, well-behaved children. Now buy me a toy!!! [Express UK]

Drinkhacker Reads – 01.06.2014 – Canadian Beer Company Celebrates Team USA Hockey

USA1980 300x166 Drinkhacker Reads   01.06.2014   Canadian Beer Company Celebrates Team USA HockeyThe massive snowstorm that hit the majority of the nation, the Winter Classic, and now: the Olympics. For hockey fans, this winter simply can not get any better. In celebration of the forthcoming gold medal from Team USA, Canadian brewer Labatt’s has issued a series of commemorative cans celebrating the outstanding tradition of U.S. Hockey throughout the ages. No word on whether or not Labatt’s is commemorating any other countries who may have robbed the U.S. of their gold medal in the last Olympics. [CBS Sports]

With the controversy surrounding a recent Dewar’s television advertisement, one would think the newly announced regulations on alcohol and television advertisements were a positive outcome from the incident. Turns out it’s just coincidence. The Spirits Business reports that the new rules stem from a report on children’s exposure to alcohol advertisements. Their primary objective? To minimize the amount of time little Johnny or Jane is exposed to Captain Morgan, the world’s most interesting man, and other characters. [The Spirits Business]

A recent report from the University of Adelaide has traced which grapes are the most popular around the world for wine. For those who don’t have time to read the entire 35 page report, we’ll sum up the somewhat unsurprising answer: Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are leading the pack, with a few assorted grapes trailing after. [University of Adelaide]

Finally, for those who enjoy the “inside baseball” aspect of beer writing, Brewery History has made its latest issue available online for free. Its subject? None other than one of the best beer writers ever: Michael Jackson. Nine articles on Jackson, his legacy and how his impact still carries on today in digital media. Thanks for the free issue! [Brewery History]

Recipes: 2013 New Year’s Eve Cocktail Ideas

While it’s already January 1st in some parts of the world, we’re still awaiting the stroke of midnight in our part of the world. Here are a few last minute cocktail recipe ideas for your gathering. Happy 2014, and may this coming year bring you every resolution accomplished!

ELECTRIC MIDNIGHT ED HR 225x300 Recipes: 2013 New Years Eve Cocktail IdeasElectric Midnight
1 oz. Ciroc Red Berry
0.5 oz. simple syrup
0.5 oz. lemon juice
sparkling rose
1 Strawberry

Muddle fruit with Simple Syrup. Add remaining ingredients, shake and strain. Top with sparkling Rose. Garnish with strawberry slice.

Ciroc 224x300 Recipes: 2013 New Years Eve Cocktail IdeasCoquito Ciroc
1.5 oz. Ciroc Coconut
0.25 oz. pineapple juice
0.5 oz. coconut cream
1 oz. milk
1 egg white
1 Dash cinnamon
1 Dash nutmeg
1 Dash allspice

Combine all ingredients. Shake, strain.

1942 Legendario
1 ounce Don Julio 1942 tequila
0.5 ounce Grand Marnier
Splash of lime juice
Splash of orange juice
Orange Peel for Garnish

Combine Tequila Don Julio 1942, Grand Marnier, fresh lime juice, fresh orange juice, and ice into a cocktail shaker. Shake well. Strain contents into a martini glass. Garnish with orange peel.

Christmas Drinking – A Drinkhacker Spotify Playlist

In the spirit of the holiday season, we present for your consideration our very first Drinkhacker Spotify playlist. We volleyed songs back and forth to come up with an hour-plus long playlist suitable for a wide variety of holiday drinking environments. Tune in, and get your nog on.

What are some of your favorite holiday songs? Drop us a line in the comments field. In the meantime, enjoy!

Book Review: Whiskey Women

Whiskey Women Cover 393x5901 Book Review: Whiskey WomenOne of the more problematic challenges of historical books is their inability to provide truly holistic, objective testimony on actual events. There will always be omitted perspectives, conflicting stories and incomplete narratives. Facts and figures may contradict oral histories and withering records may not fill in cracks the way one would hope. When it comes to the history of alcohol, many of these books share the deficit of not recognizing the plentiful contributions women have made over the centuries to the history of drinking. Perhaps this can be attributed to the lack of consistent information needed to construct a narrative; perhaps this is due to the male-dominated arena of alcohol-oriented historical non-fiction. Whatever the case, there’s plenty of attribution to go around at the table.

Which is why Fred Minnick’s Whiskey Women makes for such a crucial piece of historical documentation: It remedies many of these errors through incredibly thorough scholarship. He takes the reader from the earliest of recorded history in Egypt all the way to Marge Samuels’ invention of the red wax packaging now synonymous with Maker’s Mark. Along the way Minnick makes stops in Europe and the United Kingdom to keep the reader compellingly flipping pages through amusing anecdotes and stories which otherwise may have been lost to dust and library basements. He is passionate in his subject and serves to provoke the reader into considering different approaches to the largely accepted traditional narratives long after the book has been put down. Hopefully this is the first of many books providing an alternative history, giving life to those voices largely ignored.

A / $17 / [BUY IT HERE]

Book Review: Uncorking The Past

Uncorkingcover2 222x300 Book Review: Uncorking The PastAs I took the opportunity to sample the Dogfish Head Ancient Ales collection, it felt appropriate to enjoy a book written by one of the men whose scholarly pursuits inspired and acted as a catalyst to many of the creations. It’s a nice supplementary companion while drinking and enjoying.

Dr. Patrick E. McGovern is the Scientific Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Project for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia and for the last several decades has been a pioneer in the field of Molecular Archaeology. Uncorking The Past is an engaging road map of humanity’s fascination with fermented beverages. With narrative passages that would make Indiana Jones proud, McGovern goes to incredible lengths to ensure scientific and anthropological accuracy and integrity with each discovery; travelling the ancient world to reveal the secrets behind beer, wine and other alcohol-based drinks. Through it all McGovern reveals a striking connection between civilizations, ritual, and their intoxicating elixirs. He also develops a new field of anthropology from which to appreciate parallels between cultures.

McGovern’s writing is densely packed and rich in detail, but crafted in a way that is accessible to casual readers and fosters moments of amusement and discovery. More than once I found myself looking up things on Wikipedia or Google for further information on a topic. Best of all, the whole experience is greatly enhanced while enjoying a glass of whatever subject is being discussed (if you can find it).

Though at times it wanders a tad too much into the waters of academia, Uncorking The Past is an incredibly fascinating read and should be on the holiday wish list of every avid reader that enjoys history, alcohol or the history of alcohol.

A- / $16 / [BUY IT HERE]

Recipe: Christmas Cocktails, 2013 – Part II

And now we present round two of our Christmas cocktail round up, starting things off with an incredible concoction!

IMG 4002 300x199 Recipe: Christmas Cocktails, 2013   Part IIArt In The Age Sage Cobbler
(via Art In The Age)
1 part SAGE liqueur
3 parts cranberry juice
1 part simple syrup

Combine ingredients and top with club soda and a wedge of lime.
(Author’s note: I realize full well that we’ve been showing lots of Art In The Age Sage love lately, but out of all the cocktail recipes I tried this season, this might very well be my favorite. I could do these up year-round and never tire!)

6522830331 9ef879e79b b 300x199 Recipe: Christmas Cocktails, 2013   Part IINcredible Mistletini
(Courtesy of Ingrid Hoffmann)
2 oz Skyy Infusions Blood Orange Vodka, chilled
1 oz frozen passion fruit pulp, thawed
1 oz orange liqueur
1 oz rosemary infused simple syrup, cooled
3 oz ginger ale, chilled
Rosemary sprigs and raspberries for garnish

For the rosemary simple syrup: In a small saucepan, boil the water, sugar, and 3 rosemary sprigs. Remove from heat and let rest until it cools. Remove the rosemary sprigs and strain. Refrigerate until ready to use. In a cocktail shaker, mix the vodka, passion fruit and rosemary infused simple syrup. Pour in a martini glass and top with ginger ale. Take a raspberry and skewer it with a 3-inch rosemary sprig and garnish drink with it.

Christmas Clementine Pomander
(courtesy of KTCHN Restaurant, NYC)
4 tsp clementine chopped
2 tsp brown sugar (muddled)
2 oz Mescal Vago Espadin
0.5 oz orange juice
0.5 oz lime mix
3 mint leaves
top with 1 oz. club soda

Muddle 4 tsp of chopped clementine and 2 tsp of brown sugar; then add 2 oz. of Mescal Vago Espadin, 0.5 oz. of orange juice, 0.5 oz. lime mix, 3 mint leaves, and top with club soda in a highball glass. Garnish with a clementine slice studded with cloves.

Knob Creek Ol’ Fashioned Holiday Maple
(Created by Chef Michael Symon)
1 pinch of raw sugar
1 orange peel
3 dashes Bitters
1 1/2 parts Knob Creek Smoked Maple bourbon
1 part Calvados Boulard apple brandy

Drop a pinch of raw sugar, orange peel, and 3 dashes bitters into a rocks glass and muddle. Add Knob Creek Smoked Maple and Calvados Boulard apple brandy. Stir with ice.

Recipe: Christmas Holiday Cocktails, 2013

The Christmas holiday season is once again upon us, and with that a flurry of places to go, people to do, things to see. We’ve received a bountiful number of recipes this year for your consideration, and we’ve taken great pains (and hangovers) to ensure that these are some of the best of the bunch. Ho ho ho!

Mistletoe Martini 196x300 Recipe: Christmas Holiday Cocktails, 2013Mistletoe Martini
1.5 oz. Devotion Vodka Black & Blue
1 oz. Kahlua
1 oz. Bailey’s Irish Cream
1 oz. white crème de cacao

Pour all ingredients into a martini shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain mixture into a martini glass, and garnish with chocolate shavings.

Hemingway Hot Rum Punch
(Created by Phil Greene, author of To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion)
9 oz Pilar Blonde rum
6 oz Pilar Dark rum
6 oz Cognac Ferrand 1840
1 oz water (author’s note: totally optional)
4 1/2 oz lemon juice
3 oz lime juice
3 oz Depaz Cane Syrup or 1 oz brown sugar simple syrup

Directions: Add all ingredients to a pot, set on stove on low, allow to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve in punch cup, Irish coffee glass, sturdy wine glass, or rocks glass. Garnish with lemon peel. Optional: Add a dash of Angostura Bitters or Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Bitters to each serving. Serves 8.

image004 Recipe: Christmas Holiday Cocktails, 2013More Precious than Gold
(Courtesy of Milagro Tequila)
1.5 oz. Milagro Anejo
0.5 oz. dark crème de cacao
4 saffron threads
1 pinch of chili flakes
0.5 oz. brown sugar syrup
3 dashes of chocolate bitters
.5 oz. of sweet potato puree
1.5 oz. of hot water

Add all ingredients in small pot and heat up till almost boiling. Pour into irish coffee cup or mug. Top with whipped cream and garnish with saffron. (Note: Because of the price of saffron, I’m making the call that this is totally optional. Your drink will not be ruined with its absence.)

image009 175x300 Recipe: Christmas Holiday Cocktails, 2013Cranberry Collins
1 ½ parts Bacardi rum
¼ parts St. Germaine Elderflower liqueur
1 part fresh lemon juice
¾ parts simple syrup
2 bar spoons cranberry jam
Top with soda water

In a Boston glass, add all ingredients except for soda water. Fill glass with ice, top with shaker and gently shake to mix ingredients. Strain over ice-filled Collins glass, top with soda water, and garnish with fresh cranberries and sprig of rosemary.

pearrosemary Recipe: Christmas Holiday Cocktails, 2013Pear Rosemary Cocktail
(courtesy of celebrity caterer Andrea Correale)
1 bottle pear infused vodka
12 sprigs of fresh rosemary plus more for garnish
1 oz. pear nectar
2 oz. sparkling water
fresh cranberries for garnish

Add 12 sprigs of rosemary into a 48-ounce glass jar, then add pear vodka and seal the jar. Let it stand at room temperature overnight. Pour 3 oz pear rosemary vodka into glass, add the pear nectar and sparkling water. Garnish with fresh cranberries and sprig of rosemary.

The Gingerbread
1 oz vodka
1 oz Baileys Irish Cream
½ oz Kahlua
½ oz gingerbread syrup
Whipped Cream (garnish)
Gingerbread Cookie (garnish)

Combine all ingredients (except garnish) into a cocktail shaker and shake until well combined. Serve in a glass of your choice and garnish.

image001 235x300 Recipe: Christmas Holiday Cocktails, 2013Winter Star Martini
2 oz. Skyy vodka
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
¼ oz. agave syrup (or simple syrup)
½ oz. raspberry compote (or jam)
½ ripe green pear
Raspberries (for garnish…. or snacking)

Chop the pear into small pieces. Muddle all ingredients together in a shaker and shake vigorously. Double strain into a martini glass. Garnish with three raspberries on a cocktail stick.

image015 128x300 Recipe: Christmas Holiday Cocktails, 2013Midori’s Elf Kiss
1.5 parts Midori Melon Liqueur
1.5 parts sweet & sour mix
1 part Skyy Infusions Citrus
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 ½ inch squares of fresh ginger
Top with cranberry juice
A floater of orange liqueur

Fill tall glass with ice, pour Midori as the bottom layer. Muddle fresh ginger and juice of 1/2 a lemon. Add sweet & sour and SKYY Infusions Citrus. Shake with ice. Strain and pour over the bottom layer. Finally, carefully top with cranberry juice and a floater of Orange Liqueur. Garnish with candied ginger and a cranberry.

Drinkhacker Reads – 12.18.2013 – On The Matter Of Festivus Poles, Fashion and Alligators

We have seven days until the whole gift-giving thing commences. If you’re without a clue as to what to bring to that holiday party to make that all important impression, why not stop on over at our full color gift guide for some suggestions and solutions? We’re here to help!

Also in keeping with the spirits of the holiday season, a man in Flordia has constructed a Festivus tree in the state capitol building made out of cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Needing a brief primer on the origins of Festivus? We’ve got you covered. [NPR]

Festivus has come early for some of us: Shanken News Daily is reporting that Stoli is planning on realigning its product line in 2014, which includes phasing out several of their not-so-in-demand flavored vodkas. Stoli reps are planning on rebranding as a luxury line, which is kind of hard to do when your product line includes salted caramel, chocolate coconut, and jalapeno vodkas. [Shanken News Daily]

Ardbeg inspires multi award winning fashion designer Judy R Clark in n... 300x199 Drinkhacker Reads   12.18.2013   On The Matter Of Festivus Poles, Fashion and AlligatorsHere’s one with a twist: award winning Scottish fashion designer Judy R. Clark has been commissioned by Ardbeg to create a clothing line inspired by the Scotch whisky. The collection will include waistcoats for men and shorts for women, along with matching trousers. Clark also incorporated proprietary Ardbeg tweed into the designs, as well as triple lapels on the waist coats and gold rivets along the collars to reflect the Ardbeg logo. The collection will be worn by lucky employees of the company worldwide at various events.

And finally today, a man in Flordia tries to buy beer by bartering a live alligator. There’s nothing much more we can really add to that. Story just sort of sells itself, really. [NBC News]

The Drinkhacker Shopping List – 12.13.2013

Welcome to the Shopping List, our semi-regular printer-friendly portable checklist of everything we’ve covered over the past several weeks. We’re getting you ready for the trip to the liquor store to stock up for those holiday parties in good form. Our coverage over the last two weeks plus our annual Drinkhacker Gift Guide pretty much covers the range of spirits you’ll need to have your party be the one that everybody talks about in 2014.

TheList121313 525x998 The Drinkhacker Shopping List – 12.13.2013

Drinkhacker Reads – 12.11.13 – Brit Boozer Boasts Bourbon Bests Barley

(Back to our regularly scheduled formatting…)

millerlite Drinkhacker Reads   12.11.13   Brit Boozer Boasts Bourbon Bests BarleyOld people and retro addicts rejoice! Miller Lite is bringing back its old packaging for a limited time. To help cross promote this historic occasion, several cans of the vintage design will be featured in Anchorman 2, which has seemingly attached itself to literally everything this holiday season. The can will be available on the market starting in January and throughout the spring of 2014.

Speaking of fossils, normally we don’t lend much credence to Jim Murray’s biblical decrees but this time he may be on to something: Bourbon might be surpassing Scottish whisky in quality. Of course this news comes from the Washington Times, and we’re told by incredibly reliable sources (namely: awesome readers of this daily feature) that said paper isn’t exactly a reliable source, so he might have said the opposite. Either way, we wouldn’t be surprised if he actually said both at some point. [Washington Times]

Becky Paskin is no stranger to awesome booze writing, and her profile for the Spirits Business on the insanely astronomical prices folks are paying for Scotch is one of the more engaging reads of the year. Definitely worth the time to read through and daydream about affording some of the beauties profiled. [The Spirits Business]

Whisky Advocate is starting to announce their best picks of 2013, starting today with Few Spirits Rye taking home its Craft Whiskey Of The Year. More selections are on their way this week, none of which will probably as expensive as those in the Spirits Business profile, and (hopefully) in a store near you. [Whisky Advocate]

And finally today, Shanken News is reporting that Four Roses is scaling back production due to a barrel shortage. Industry barrel supplier Independent Stave Company is having problems sourcing American white oak lumber. Instead of enacting company layoffs and a distillery shutdown, Four Roses made the smart move to reduce production for the time being. Stay tuned… [Shanken News Daily]

Drinkhacker Reads – 12.09.2013 – Absurd Upworthy Headline Edition

With the inpouring of luxury goods and spirits into the nation, the Chinese are also slowly developing their own class of whisky connoisseurs. Financial Times examines the emergence of this new class of savvy and sophisticated drinkers. You won’t believe what happens next. Also in the Financial Times: a discussion of rare releases and the constant demand they bring. [Financial Times]

Jason Barber spent years developing a vodka made from cow’s milk. What happens next may blow your mind. [The Guardian UK]

Here is what happens when a man seeks crowd-sourced funding to bring another rum into existence. [Newsday]

Find out what happens when a large tequila company partners with a Russian distribution company to increase profits and market share. The answer may astound and stun your sensibilities. [Beverage Daily]

A Kentucky distiller makes only 273 bottles of its sour mash. Find out the astronomical price these bottles are fetching on the inflated spirits market. [Poughkeepsie Journal]

Click here to discover which famous Will Ferrell character is slated to receive his own expression of Scotch. The answer will not surprise you. At all. [Huffington Post]