Author Archives: Rob Theakston

Recipe: 2013 Halloween Cocktails

Halloween falls on a Thursday this year, meaning parties will be gearing up all over the place this weekend. We’ve had many, many recipe suggestions this year (and thank you for all of them). Here’s a sampling of some of the best we’ve tried over the past few weeks while getting into the spirit of things, multi-layered pun intended.

Bloody Ghost
(courtesy of Chris Ross of Jim Beam)
1 part Jim Beam Jacob’s Ghost whiskey
1 part tomato juice
Pinch salt
Pinch sugar
Dash of Tabasco sauce (to taste)
Dash of fresh lime juice (to taste)

Instructions: Combine Jacob’s Ghost with tomato juice, sugar, Tabasco hot sauce and lime. Shake over ice and pour into a salt-rimmed shot glass and garnish with a lime.

candy corn cocktail 300x282 Recipe: 2013 Halloween CocktailsCandy Corn Cocktail
2 oz. Skyy Infusions Pineapple Vodka
1.5 oz. orange sherbet, softened
1 oz. pineapple juice
1 oz. milk
1 oz. simple syrup

Combine Skyy Infusions Pineapple and pineapple juice in cocktail shaker with ice. Strain over fresh ice into a clear Collins glass. Combine softened orange sherbet and ice in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain, and pour over bar spoon to layer in the rocks glass. Then, combine simple syrup and milk in cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Layer milk mixture on top of sorbet mixture.

beetlejuice Recipe: 2013 Halloween CocktailsBeetle Juice
1 part Courvoisier Rosé
1/2 part DeKuyper Crème de Cassis
orange juice

Build cocktail in an ice filled highball glass. Garnish with a lime squeeze.

Heebie Jeebies
(courtesy of Zachary Henry, Next Door Lounge, Los Angeles)
1.75 oz. The Black Grouse
.25 oz. Velvet Falernum
.75 oz. lemon juice
.5 oz. simple syrup
.25 oz. egg white
Yellow Chartreuse rinse

Dry shake first five ingredients together, then shake with ice and strain into a Yellow Chartreuse rinsed-coupette glass. Garnish with an Angostura Bitters “branded” star.

Kilbeggan Masquerade Mixer
2 parts Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey
1/2 part ginger liqueur
1 part apple juice
1 part lemon sour
Red & orange sugar mix

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a sugar rimmed cocktail glass.

survivor 116x150 Recipe: 2013 Halloween CocktailsCorpse Survivor No. 2
2/3 oz. Herradura Silver
2/3 oz. Lemon Juice
2/3 oz. Lillet Blanc
2/3 oz. Cointreau
Spray of absinthe

Spritz a little absinthe into a chilled coupe glass and set aside. Place all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with cubed ice. Shake hard, strain into the chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon zest.

ghostly 140x150 Recipe: 2013 Halloween CocktailsGhostly Captain
3 oz. tea, brewed
1 oz. Captain Morgan Black Spiced rum
1 tbsp. agave
Splash of cranberry juice
Splash of orange juice

Brew two teaspoons of tea (or two tea bags) in 6-8 ounces of water for four minutes and flash-chill. Combine 3 oz. of brewed tea with rum, a and sweeten with agave or sweetener of choice. Add a splash of cranberry juice and a splash of orange juice. Serve over ice in a rocks glass. Optional Halloween garnish: black cherry, and puree raspberries to “bleed” down the side of glass.

The Gandalf Elixir
3 parts Bacardi Superior
1 part Pedro Ximenez sherry
½ part apricot brandy
1 heaping spoon of sugar
3 dashes Fee Bros. Black Walnut bitters
Orange zest (for garnish)

Directions: In mixing glass add sugar and bitters. Gently mix the bitters and sugar using the end of a bar spoon. Add all other ingredients except for orange, allow sugar to dissolve then add cubed ice to your mixing glass. Gently stir and strain over fresh cubed ice. Garnish with an orange slice.

Drinkhacker Reads – 10.28.2013 – Australia Dumps Six Million Bottles of Wine

popcorn 199x300 Drinkhacker Reads   10.28.2013   Australia Dumps Six Million Bottles of WineIn this seasons’s edition of “Let’s Go To Court Over Aesthetics”: in the blue corner, we have whiskey titan Jack Daniel’s. And in the red corner, young Nashville upstarts Popcorn Sutton, whose square bottled packaging has started a Hatfield-McCoy styled brawl in the foothills of Tennessee. The square bottles are claimed to cause confusion even for the most sober of consumers, and therefore Daniel’s has requested the product be removed from shelves and replaced with different packaging. We’ll be ringside to see how this one ends up. [Times Dispatch] (photo courtesy of Ann Richardson, Ann Richardson Photography)

Elsewhere in the world’s courts, Treasury Wine Estates is currently enjoying a class action lawsuit after a massive oversupply situation forced roughly six million bottles of wine to be poured down the drain. The continent faced a similar situation in the 1990s, when six million unpurchased Silverchair CDs had to be buried in the outback, and in the late ’80s when the Bee Gees attempted their first of many comebacks. [France 24]

Unsatisfied with brewing the world’s strongest beer at 65% ABV, Scottish brewery Brewmeister has topped itself with its new Snake Venom, coming in at 67.5% abv. Unlike “that other beer” Armageddon, Snake Venom isn’t supposed to mask the taste of the high alcohol content, which uses smoked peat malt and yeasts from beer and Champagne. It’ll be available for about $81 and available for sale at The Real Ale Company. [Brewmeister]

This month’s issue of The Atlantic features a pretty swell article on Buffalo Trace’s experimentation and scientific approach to bourbon making. We’ve been championing their commitment to doing weird and interesting stuff for years now, and it’s been well documented elsewhere. However, it’s nice to see major media outlets finally catching on to what Harlan and company are doing over in Frankfort. [The Atlantic]

Screen shot 2013 10 28 at 12.18.49 PM Drinkhacker Reads   10.28.2013   Australia Dumps Six Million Bottles of WineJust in time for the holiday season, Master of Malt has unveiled the 2013 edition of its Advent calendar. However, this year there’s a twist: there’s a regular edition clocking in at $242 and a premium edition for $404 bucks. So you’ll know whether you’ve been good or extra good this year depending on the quality of your calendar. [Master of Malt]

The Drinkhacker Shopping List – 10.25.2013

Happy Friday and welcome to another edition of the Shopping List, the absolute best and the worst of what we’ve reviewed over the past several weeks. Though it seems as if bourbon release season is finally winding down, we had one heck of a run with some excellent scotches in this edition, with the Laphroaig Cairdeas getting the rare A+ rating. We also visited this year’s WhiskyFest San Francisco and came back with a full report, including marks for this year’s edition of the non-stolen Pappy.

TheList1025131 525x895 The Drinkhacker Shopping List   10.25.2013

Drinkhacker Reads – 10.23.2013 – Johnnie Walker Completes the Trade Route Trilogy

 Drinkhacker Reads   10.23.2013   Johnnie Walker Completes the Trade Route TrilogyJohnnie Walker is wrapping up the trio of whiskys in its Explorers’ Club Collection. The Royal Route is now readily available in duty-free retail outlets at about a cost of $159. We haven’t reviewed them, but if you’re had a dram, drop us a tasting note in the comments. [Johnnie Walker]

And speaking of explorers: We’ve received an update from Doug Stone over at the Whiskey Explorers Club regarding the company’s latest shipments. As we all know, they’ve been hindered by several obstacles with shipping and customs. Thankfully they’ve remedied this with a solution to set everything up stateside, but starting up the new operation has introduced some new delays. Look for packages to arrive around mid-November, with hopefully little to no service interruption from here on out. [For Whiskey Lovers]

The New York Times takes a look at another trend happening in the bourbon world, the increased phenomenon of blending bourbon and rye. Whether or not this proves to be yet another passing fad, author Chuck Cowdery sums it up best at the end of the article: “Overall, I think the producers are driven to make news and get attention.” Indeed, sir. [New York Times]

Just in time for the arrival of Anchorman 2, Ben and Jerry’s is rolling out its latest ice cream in tribute to legendary anchorman Ron Burgundy. The limited edition Scotchy Scotch Scotch will be arriving in stores shortly, and will be butterscotch ice cream with butterscotch swirls. Mmmm. Nonetheless, we’re all still patiently waiting the arrival of the Brick Tamland Chocolate Squirrel Swirl. [Ben and Jerry's]

Time Out Chicago recently sampled 22 gins from the midwest, picking the best for martinis, the best with tonics, and the best just for straight sipping. In related news, there are 22 gins being made in the midwest. [Time Out Chicago]

A new campaign and phone app from Amstel Light is challenging people in Bulgaria to put down their smartphones in exchange for free beer. [Fast Company]

And finally today, the geniuses at MIT are at it again. DrinkIn is a delivery service for Cambridge/MIT residents to get alcohol delivered right from the store to their door via a mobile app. The company is reporting early success and brisk utilization of the service, which will no doubt be extra useful for those who like their beers chilled courtesy of wintry Boston winds. Kudos for making that degree pay off. [Boston Magazine]

Review: Mellow Corn Straight Corn Whiskey

Mellow Corn 225x300 Review: Mellow Corn Straight Corn WhiskeyWith the craze of flavored spirits reaching a fever pitch, I’ve been patiently waiting for the corn whiskey renaissance to take on full steam. There have been promises via Hudson, Balcones and other distillers, but it doesn’t seem to be taking on momentum the way the “white dog moonshine” trend of 2012 did.

The folks at Heaven Hill make Mellow Corn from a minimum 81% corn with a bit of rye in the mix to spice things up a bit. The bottle which I sampled upon is bottled in bond at 4 years, which I’m told by the elderly gentleman sitting three stools away at the bar makes a difference vs. the 3-year-old edition.

As you’d expect, the nose is pretty much straight up corn. The taste provides an oily, buttery popcorn experience and the finish is a lingering… you guessed it…. corn feel, with a wee bit of heat courtesy of the rye, serving as a gentle reminder you’re not drinking corn oil from the bottom of a movie theater popcorn machine, but rather are drinking corn whiskey. It’s sweet with a little bit of bitterness, and it offers absolutely no complexity whatsoever.

Drinkers searching for something similar to bourbon may be taken aback, even disappointed, by the taste and experience of a corn whiskey. However taking Mellow Corn on its own terms, it’s quite unique and worthy of experimentation. Give in to it the next time you’re craving something different, especially at $10 for a 750ml bottle.

100 proof.

B / $10 / heavenhill.com

Recipe: Knob Creek Smoked Maple Cocktails

Recently, we ran a review of the Knob Creek Smoked Maple Bourbon which Beam has offered forth this fall. We were also lucky enough to receive a recipe for an Old Fashioned for the upcoming holiday season courtesy of Iron Chef Michael Symon. It’s quite the tasty cocktail. However, not one to shy away from making a cocktail worthy of an Iron Chef, we also decided to take a stab at creating our own in celebration of the arrival of the 2014 NHL season. We don’t have the luxury of three celebrity judges to determine a winner, but leave your thoughts… or your own ideas… in the comments field!

Knob Creek Ol’ Fashioned Holiday Maple
Created by Michael Symon

Pinch of raw sugar
Orange peel
3 dashes bitters
1 ½ parts Knob Creek Smoked Maple bourbon
1 part 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 bourbon and Apple brandy. Stir with ice.

The Hockey Puck
(a Drinkhacker original)

2 parts Knob Creek Smoked Maple bourbon
1 part Nocello walnut liqueur
1 dash bitters
Cinnamon Stick (for garnish)
Add bitters, then Knob Creek Smoked Maple bourbon and finally Nocello liqueur. Serve neat or on the rocks with a side of plain cake donuts.

Drinkhacker Reads – 10.21.13 – The Great Pappy Van Winkle Saga Continues

Pappywatch continues: While no definitive leads made their way into the public, officers are still investigating possible suspects and those who may have had access to the large quantity of Pappy Van Winkle stolen last week. Bourbon Blog has been doing the excellent heavy lifting while the rest of us sinners took it easy this weekend, and its coverage is giving folks possible clues as to whether or not their newly acquired Pappy is the black market or legitimate version. [Bourbon Blog]

Good news for wine drinkers: Amazon’s wine service is expanding to New York, Michigan, Arizona and Louisiana. Mashable reports that Amazon’s revamped wine marketplace is growing in popularity and size, and allows more wine merchants an accessible marketplace from which to sell their wares. [Mashable]

Better news for beer drinkers, specifically those in the New Jersey area: 15 new microbreweries are slated to open within the next year. [Philly.com]

Worse news for Anheuser-Busch/INBev: another lawsuit has emerged for the mega-conglomerate, this time courtesy of a Florida man who states the company’s Beck’s beer line is misleading consumers into thinking the beer is brewed in Germany. [St Louis Post-Dispatch]

NPR reports on a new book which helps folks scratch and sniff their way into becoming a wine expert. While nothing could possibly beat the education one receives from sampling glass after glass, this could prove to be an interesting trend in the drinking world. Elsewhere on NPR, Scott Simon writes with great romanticism and whimsy about the new Absolut Chicago offering. [NPR]

Elsewhere in science news: Gizmodo’s Steve Savage makes the case on why GMO grapes could potentially make for great wine. [Gizmodo]

And finally today, Bloomberg TV has a roundtable discussion about current trends in bourbon including flavored bourbon, white whiskey, and microdistilleries. Nothing groundbreaking or earth-shattering revealed here, but it does reveal an interesting portrayal of how whiskey is being portrayed in mainstream media. [Bloomberg TV]

Drinkhacker Reads – 10.16.2013 – PAPPYGATE!

As if the Van Winkle brand needed any more press, hype or mythology surrounding it, now we have this: roughly 65 cases of Pappy Van Winkle 20 year old were stolen from the back of a “secure” truck and was reported to authorities on Tuesday night. Apparently an inside job, there is now an investigation pending. While some folks are lamenting such a tragic loss and what it will mean for Pappymania ’13, others have taken to social media to start #pappygate, with conspiracy theories abounding. Bourbonblog has a podcast with the sheriff, who is now on a personal mission to find the Pappy 20. By coincidence, we were at Buffalo Trace today for an unrelated matter and the mood seemed quite somber. No doubt we’re just getting warmed up with this story, which could be one of the best of year. Our take? Perhaps the NSA can track the thieves down with all of the information they’ve been gathering on everyone.

In equally bewildering news: Japan has now made wine for cats. We were lucky to score some and had a guest reviewer take it for a test spin:

Wine 300x168 Drinkhacker Reads   10.16.2013   PAPPYGATE!

Scientists delve deep into the question of whether or not Guinness really does taste better in Ireland than everywhere else. It’s a myth that has been volleyed about for ages now, so it’s great that someone’s finally getting down to brass tacks and trying to find an answer. [Discover Magazine]

And finally today, in non-scientific news NewYork.com tries to make the case for why wine tasting is great for career advancement. If this were the actual case, someone needs to pour a vineyard’s worth for the Yankees and Mets for next season. [New York]

UPDATE: The folks at Van Winkle have hired a private detective agency and it’s currently en route to Kentucky to apprehend the thieves. Stay tuned for updates!

mystery machine3 300x200 Drinkhacker Reads   10.16.2013   PAPPYGATE!

Drinkhacker Reads – 10.14.2013 – Wemyss Readies Largest Ever Offering

Wemyss 300x199 Drinkhacker Reads   10.14.2013   Wemyss Readies Largest Ever OfferingHarper’s UK is reporting that Wemyss Malts is readying its largest offering in the company’s eight year’s history. Named after each expression’s taste profile, each bottle will be available in an incredibly limited run of a few hundred bottles each and will represent every major region of Scotland. Just in time for the holidays. [Harper's UK]

Craft Writing: Beer, The Digital and Craft Culture will be a one-day symposium held at the University of Kentucky this upcoming February. Several brewmaster and microbrewery CEOs will be in attendance for the day-long event, held February 15th, 2014, and will feature a keynote address from Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster and author Garrett Oliver. Unlike most events of this nature, this is absolutely free of charge to attend (but advance reservations are suggested). We’ll be there providing full coverage of the day’s events. [Craft Writing]

In science news: a compound found in red wine may make cancer treatment more effective, food and wine pairings may be just “bunk”, and a man from Milnsbridge is currently attempting to develop a “beer diet.” Which is different from your diet, we assume.

Harry J. Shapira, the Executive Vice President of Heaven Hill distillery passed away yesterday after a ten-year battle with cancer, at age 66. Shapira was instrumental in the evolution of his family’s business, establishing the Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown and the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, which is slated to open in Louisville later this month. A noted local philanthropist and dedicated member of the Louisville community, he was often just as passionate about serving his fellow man as he was serving a glass of the distillery’s finest. Another major loss in a year which has already seen so much of it in the bourbon industry. Our condolences from the entire Drinkhacker staff to the Heaven Hill family during this tragic time. [Press Release]

Review: Kentucky Gentleman Bourbon

ProductImages Kentucky Gentleman KSBW 80prf 1000ml Glass 1 525x786 Review: Kentucky Gentleman BourbonInitially I was apprehensive to even approach this long-standing brand, as the gentleman who stumbles down my street during his early morning commute usually has a pint of the stuff firmly fastened in hand. However, Kentucky Gentleman has recently earned the dubious cachet of being the “PBR of Bourbons” by the youth of today — meaning it is cheap yet still worth drinking as long as you do so ironically.

So it was with a “can do” spirit and a healthy surplus of denial that I’m no longer “with it” that I forked over $10 and bought myself 750ml of this Barton brand.

Madam, this is no gentleman. In fact, there were moments while forcing sips down my throat where I wasn’t fully certain how this concoction connected to the greater context of the bourbons I adore. A cursory glance at the back of the bottle revealed the answer: it’s actually 51% straight whiskey and 49% grain neutral spirits, so it leans closer to a blend than actual bourbon. That’s not to say there aren’t traces of bourbon lingering in the glass, because they’re here. Sort of. Hints of caramel and corn are present but only to announce that they’re drowning in a sea of alcohol and thick iced-tea colored silt.

There’s a certain practical joke quality in the misnomer of calling this Kentucky Gentleman — no gentleman from Kentucky with whom I’ve made acquaintance would actively procure and participate in drinking this spirit. And who knows? Maybe that’s the point of it all: to deflect folks from trying the good stuff. If true, that’s one of the few points where “KG” succeeds: to protect against newcomers hell-bent on upping market prices and hoarding limited editions for online trading and selling. In fact, I might just keep this on the shelf and serve it to the next annoying houseguest who asks me if they can try a sip of Pappy Van Winkle.

D / $10 / greatbourbon.com (…)

The Drinkhacker Shopping List – 10.11.2013

This week’s Shopping List is dominated by bourbons once again, as we seem to be in the full throes of bourbon release season for 2013. No doubt the coveted slot for our bourbon pick in this year’s holiday gift guide will have some pretty steep competition. Also worth checking out for a quick read: Chris’s post on grading and critiquing. Definitely some points to consider when making up your own mind on anything we’ve reviewed on the site. Have a great weekend!

TheList101113 525x1024 The Drinkhacker Shopping List   10.11.2013

Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Flavored Cocktails

Maple. Spice. Moondust. It seems as if there are plenty of flavors and cosmic minerals “of the season” this autumn 2013, but none more dominant than the mighty pumpkin. Rearing its head in our lattes, candles, air fresheners, and everywhere else, it is seemingly inescapable this time of year. So of course, it makes perfect sense to join on in and present for your consideration some cocktail ideas which may further reinforce your love for all things pumpkin, or solidify your disgust and disdain for the seasonal squash:

pumpkinspice1 Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Flavored CocktailsPumpkin Spice Margarita
2 parts Cruz Reposado Tequila
1 part Pumpkin Spice Liqueur
2 parts Half and Half
Cinnamon Sugar

Combine Cruz Reposado, pumpkin spice liqueur and half and half in shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a glass over ice cinnamon sugar rim.

pumpkinspice2 Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Flavored CocktailsPumpkin-Tini
3 parts pumpkin-infused Portón Pisco* (instructions below)
Apple Slice

Shake pumpkin-infused Portón over ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with apple slice.

*Pumpkin-Infused Portón
2-750mL bottles of Portón Pisco
½ of a whole Nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick
20 whole cloves
½ of a whole vanilla bean
1 medium sized Sugar Pumpkin (also known as a cooking / baking pumpkin)

Cut off all outer skin of pumpkin and the cut the pumpkin into cubes and separate seeds and non-usable pieces. Take vanilla bean and cut in half horizontally. Place all ingredients into a large glass jar, and store warm. After 2 days, remove the cinnamon stick (as it will overpower infusion). After 4 days, remove ingredients, strain through a cheese cloth, and return to empty bottles or clean glass container.

Drinkhacker Reads – 10.09.2013 – Drink Me To The Moon, Part II

071311 space beer poll 300x200 Drinkhacker Reads   10.09.2013   Drink Me To The Moon, Part IIHe may not be able to enjoy the fruits of his labor, but 11-year-old Michal Bodzianowski from Colorado has won a national competition to have his science project aboard the next space rocket heading to the international space station. His mission: to boldly go where no 11 year old gone before and brew beer in space. Can homebrewing work in the cosmos? Should Earth ever collapse as a sustainable planet, will we be able to take our lagers with us? We’ll hopefully have the answers in short order. Congrats, and uh…. a clink of the root beer mug, Michal! [The Register]

Meanwhile back on planet Earth, a different type of drama is, ahem, brewing. Apparently the folks at Old Overholt Whiskey have taken umbrage to the recent cult phenomenon of Pappy Van Winkle, and have taken their grievances to that public forum where we all can be heard loudly: the internet. Specifically, Twitter. No response as of yet from Overholt’s parent company, Beam, nor from Team Pappy — probably as they’re too busy promoting their new clothing line. [Hat tip to the always awesome Las Vegas Whisky for the excellent spot]

Meanwhile on planet Italy, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that a court has ruled against Anheuser-Busch InBev NV and in favor of a Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar over the name “Budweiser.” InBev will be changing the name to “Bud” in short order. This is a major blow to the megaconglomerate in a very long battle which now includes 50 trademark lawsuits in over 20 countries. [Wall Street Journal]

And finally today in science news, Chinese researchers examined close to 60 drinks looking to find the ultimate hangover cure. Turns out Sprite is the leader of the pack. From the Daily Mail:

When we drink, our livers release an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), which breaks down the ethanol in alcohol into a chemical called acetaldehyde (so less the alcohol enters the bloodstream). This is then broken down into another chemical called acetate by an enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). While acetate is usually considered harmless – and has been linked with some of the health benefits of alcohol – being exposed to the more potent acetaldehyde is what causes hangover symptoms, the researchers found. With this in mind, the researchers at Sun Yat-Sen University, in Guangzhou, tested a range of drinks, from teas, hot herbal drinks and various fizzy drinks – and examined how they affected ADH and ALDH. They discovered that a herbal drink made with hemp seeds actually increased the length of the ADH process and inhibited the ALDH process, so a hangover would last for longer.

A drink which would make hangovers last longer? We’ll pass, thanks. [Daily Mail]

Drinkhacker Reads – 10.07.2013 – Drink Me To The Moon

moondust 300x224 Drinkhacker Reads – 10.07.2013 – Drink Me To The MoonThese days everything has a marketing gimmick: maple this, spice that, aged in barrels made from the Italian Renaissance and so forth. But this one’s kind of cool, and unfortunately limited: Dogfish Head’s Celest Jewel Ale is only available at its brewpub, and is made with a small bit of moondust in each bottle. That’s right, now you can have a wee piece of the moon in your digestive track. A small select group of 10 folks can also enjoy their moon beer in a space age koozie made from the same material as an astronaut suit. This is an extremely limited edition, so get yours quickly before it’s gone. [Dogfish]

One of the absolute “must-reads” on our daily list is the anonymous person writing over at The Bourbon Truth. Quite refreshingly, he/she often shoots straight from the hip while offering a complete and utter disregard to conventional grammar and spelling. He/she also has an excellent knowledge base and plenty of wisdom to back those opinions up. This time the site begins an investigation as to what’s going on at the legendary Stitzel-Weller plant. It’ll be interesting to see if these theories become fact. [Bourbon Truth]

This week in science news: wine drinkers by and large remain clueless about assessing the volume of a proper serving, a special champagne glass can increase the amount of fizz one may enjoy per glass, geeks have discovered the potentially perfect pour for a pint, and drones are now helping to make wine.

Cabo Diablo 210x300 Drinkhacker Reads – 10.07.2013 – Drink Me To The MoonAnd finally today, legendary rocker/multi-millionaire geriatric tequila proprietor Sammy Hagar is at again. No doubt unsatisfied with the over saturation of celebrity tequilas now available to the consumer, he’s (“he” being mutli-bev conglomerate Campari of course) decided to diversify and offer up Cabo Diablo, his variation on the time-tested “tequila and coffee” combo. If the photo released provides any clues, it also apparently has a nice glow of “Photoshop red” to it. It’s currently in limited release in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin at $22.99 a bottle.

The A-List September 2013

This month’s worth of reviews saw a lot of brands and releases right on the cusp of making it with a B+ grading, not enough to earn a spot on the A-List for September. However, kudos to Buffalo Trace for dominating the spirits section with their Experimental and Antique collections, as well as offering an assist to the up-and-coming Bowman Brothers brand. We’ll be taking a break from the A-List for a few months to ready the 2013 edition of our Holiday Gift Guide, and working on our year-end best of lists as well.

AListSep13 525x899 The A List September 2013

National Vodka Day Recipes

October 4th is National Vodka Day, a celebration of one of the world’s biggest selling spirits. Why October 4th? According to the official website:

While October 4th seems well documented as National Vodka Day, we have not found the origins of why, but it works for us. No harm celebrating responsibly on other days as well. October 4, 2013 is a Friday!

And there you have it. Here are a few recipes sent to us courtesy of Skyy to help you celebrate this weekend.

LiveMule 241x300 National Vodka Day Recipes“Live” Mule
1.5 oz. SKYY vodka
3 oz. ginger beer

In a rocks glass full of ice, pour SKYY Vodka and Ginger Beer. Stir and finish with sliced lime wedge and 4-5 drops of bitters.

The Savoy
2 oz. vodka
2 red grapes
2 white grapes
SaltyKitten 300x225 National Vodka Day Recipes1 oz. lemon juice
½ oz. agave syrup

In a rocks glass, muddle two red grapes and two white grapes. Shake vodka, lemon juice and agave together with ice and strain over muddled grapes. Garnish with a skewer of four to five grapes.

Salty Kitten
1.5 oz. SKYY vodka
.5 oz. Campari
2 oz. grapefruit juice
.5 oz. honey simple syrup
2 oz. Cava sparkling Rosé

In an empty shaker glass, pour SKYY Vodka, Campari, Grapefruit Juice and Honey Simple Syrup. Add ice to shaker and shake. Open shaker and add Cava Rosé. Strain over fresh ice in a Collins glass. Finish with sliced grapefruit and a pinch of hibiscus & rosemary infused Himalayan Pink Salt.

Drinkhacker Reads – 10.02.2013 – Government Shutdown Edition

We’re on day two of the U.S. government shutdown and regardless of one’s political affiliation, things are starting to get annoying. So what has this meant for the drinking industry? Quite a bit. Companies waiting on approval for label designs are sitting on their hands, with BeerPulse estimating about 400 labels a day stacking up. And with Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau employees on furlough, no one is around to approve new breweries. Thankfully though, companies can still pay excise taxes on the agency’s website.

50050 Jack Daniels Master Distiller Bottle and Box preview 200x300 Drinkhacker Reads   10.02.2013   Government Shutdown EditionJack Daniels has announced that its formerly limited Master Distiller #1 bottle will be available nationwide at retail locations across the United States. Previously only available at duty-free shops and Tennessee, the bottle is the first in a planned series paying tribute to all the past master distillers of the company and will be available at a price tag of $24.99 for a 750ml bottle.

Jack Daniel’s parent company, Brown-Forman, is planning to expand and open a distribution center in France in January. The corporation will also be opening a new European operations center headquartered in Amsterdam, and will be moving its Finlandia team there from its current base in Louisville, Kentucky. The move makes perfect sense for a company that relies on European sales to account for 30% of its total net sales.

Jagermeister Spice 153x300 Drinkhacker Reads   10.02.2013   Government Shutdown EditionOne of the world’s most consumed spirits brands is finally getting an extension. Jagermeister Spice will be arriving in stores in limited quantities at a retail price of $22.99 per 750ml later this month. This coming on the heels of the new Wild Turkey Spiced and various other flavored offerings, it poses the question: are companies attempting to replicate the somewhat inexplicable flavored vodka phenomenon with other spirits in hope of replicating the success? Is this really innovation? (Either way, a review is forthcoming.)

And finally today, congrats to fellow whiskey scribe Fred Minnick. America’s favorite ascot-wearing, photographer boozehound is on a roll as of late with his new Whiskey Women book (review forthcoming) and other articles in fancy magazines when he’s not traveling the globe judging at competitions. Now he’s scored another job for which most would trip over themselves: “Bourbon Authority” for the Kentucky Derby museum. Fred will be hosting private tours, tastings, cocktail sessions and other events for the museum. If you’re in Louisville or planning a trip there any time soon, it may serve you well to book a session with Fred. Kentucky proud, indeed.

Review: J.W. Dant Bourbon

4605 6544jwdantoubnbox 199x300 Review: J.W. Dant BourbonFirst, for your consideration, a bit of history: Joseph Washington Dant was a well-known Kentucky distiller who in 1836 gained a reputation for making his whisky using a log still. For those not versed in the distillation arts, that’s essentially a hollowed out tree trunk with copper piping running through the center. The logs would then be filled with mash and steam would run through the copper pipe for the distilling process. Dant would go on to own a proper distillery some 40 years later, and generations of his family would continue to work in the industry. Eventually they would honor his legacy with a bottle bearing his name in the late ’50s. The brand would stay in the family name until Heaven Hill purchased it in 1993; the bottle has stayed in Heaven Hill’s core lineup since, though it is no longer made in a log. (No age statement is offered.)

And now the tasting: At first, Dant seems promising. A fresh, neat pour offers up traces of orange, spices, and a bit of smoke on the nose; ideal for cocktails for the forthcoming autumn season. The first sip and swish ease in with a bit of the usual suspects: vanilla, caramel, and oak, but then follow up with an absolute knockout punch of heat and alcohol which linger until the (somewhat) short, oaky finish. Nothing really changes much over the duration of a glass. It mellows with a bit of ice, but the song remains the same.

Overall it’s not an unpleasant experience, but definitely not a stand-up memorable tasting event either. It’s a bit like that very odd dating situation where things went fine and nothing went wrong, but considering the field is wide open and plenty of options remain available, a second date might happen only with a bit of reluctance. Heaven Hill would be well served in re-tooling the brand to compete on a pedigree with other big names like Stagg, Parker’s, and Booker’s. It’s the least it can do for a man who contributed much to the advancement of bourbon. He certainly deserves the consideration.

B / $18 / no website

Drinkhacker Reads – 09.30.13 – Return of the Son of Drinkhacker Reads Part II

ww 525x349 Drinkhacker Reads – 09.30.13 – Return of the Son of Drinkhacker Reads Part II

After a bit of a summer/early fall hiatus, Drinkhacker is proud to return a feature of the site to its regularly scheduled program. Join us now as we return to the weird, wild and mildly informative side of drinking news.

No doubt many readers are recovering from last night’s finale of Breaking Bad, and are probably feeling a lingering want for more. The good news is that the Bob Odenkirk/Saul Goodman spinoff is happening, but the bad news is the wait ahead. In the meantime, the Spirits Business pays tribute to a few brands prominently displayed throughout the show’s excellent run. [Spirits Business]

And speaking of waiting, Buffalo Trace once again has sent out a gentle reminder that as the holiday season approaches, the demand for its product will grow, which could result in barren shelves, as the global demand for bourbon is already taxing its supply heavily. The company has already suspended two product lines (Ancient Ancient Age and Charter 10 Year) in order to make room for others in heavy demand. Bourbon marketing director Kris Comstock asks people to display a bit of patience: “aging good bourbon takes time, and we’re doing our best to keep up.” [Buffalo Trace]

In science news: Impact Magazine educates college students on the biology and chemistry of how and why one gets drunk, Eureka explores why the size, shape and color of one’s wine glass affect how much wine one pours, Science Alert discusses the mixing of alcohol and energy drinks, and Live Science discusses the unusual case of a man whose beer gut can brew alcohol for him.

And finally, in an effort to boost slumping sales in South Korea, Johnnie Walker opened its newest House of Walker in Seoul last week. The six-floor building has its own distillery room, VIP lounge, and rooftop bar where visitors can enjoy Johnnie Walker 1949, a blend made in tribute to the first year its brands were available in Korea. The bottle will set you back a cool $2,200, but no doubt the memories of shelling out that much money for Johnnie Walker will last a lifetime. [Bloomberg]

Recipe: Chicago’s Signature Room Cocktails

Located atop the Hancock building overlooking the metropolis of Chicago, the Signature Room at 95th has been serving up fine dining for two decades. We were lucky enough to snatch the recipes from some of their classy, signature drinks to present for your enjoyment.

martini 200x300 Recipe: Chicagos Signature Room CocktailsIsland Waters Martini
(created by Jesse Bivens)
2 parts Pinnacle Whipped vodka
½ part Malibu rum
½ Amaretto
1 part Blue Curacao
Splash of pineapple juice
Orange slice (for garnish)

Shake and serve in a cocktail glass.

hollyberry 200x300 Recipe: Chicagos Signature Room Cocktails

Frozen Holly Berry
1 part Remy Martin
1 parts Pinnacle Red Berry vodka
1 part Amaretto
1 part strawberry puree
Splash of Sprite

Serve in a tall glass.

sidecar 249x300 Recipe: Chicagos Signature Room CocktailsThe Signature Room at the 95th Chicago Sidecar
(created by James Kuehner)
1 ½ ounces Hennessy VSOP
¾ ounce Grand Marnier
½ lime

Mix Hennessy and Grand Marnier into a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a martini glass with a sugar rim. Squeeze lime into the martini. Garnish with a lime wedge.