Rated B

Reviews of spirits, wine, and beer (and various errata like mixers and garnishes) comprise more than 80% of the content at Drinkhacker, and the B rating is used for products that are good but which we don’t exactly love — and which we can provide with a qualified recommendation. On a five-star scale, these products would score 3 stars. On the traditional 100-point scale popular with many wine and spirits graders, these products would merit scores of 83 to 86 points.

Book Review: The Professional Bartender’s Handbook

By Christopher Null | February 23, 2010 |

What a strange little tome we have here. All business, this book claims to offer “a recipe for every drink known–including tricks and games to impress your guests.” Do professional bartenders engage in tricks and games? For most that I know, scowling is as close as they get to anything approaching a tabletop diversion. The…

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Review: Deschutes Brewery Hop Henge Experimental IPA (2010)

By Christopher Null | February 18, 2010 |

Part of Deschutes’ Bond Street series, Hop Henge IPA is in limited release through April, a strong beer (8.75 percent alcohol) with even stronger hop content. “Several pounds” of hops go into each barrel of this beer, with crystal, pale, and carastan malts dropped into the mix. The result is intense and challenging: Very bitter…

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Tasting Tempranillo with Ramon Bilbao, 2010 Releases

By Christopher Null | February 14, 2010 |

Tempranillo has always been a tricky grape for me, lacking a distinct archetypal style like you get with, say, pinot noir, cabernet, or even (to a lesser extent) zinfandel. Recently I attended a tasting from Spanish winery Ramon Bilbao, which focuses on tempranillo and a few Spanish whites to whet your palate with. Winemaker Rodolfo…

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Tasting Blackstone Reserve Wines with Winemaker Gary Sitton, 2010 Releases

By Christopher Null | February 10, 2010 |

Blackstone is known for its supermarket brand — the company sells over 16 million bottles of budget wines each year — but you may not know about its Reserve lineup, which comprises less than 10 percent of its sales. Recently I tasted through the Reserve lineup with winemaker Gary Sitton, a veteran of Ravenswood and…

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Review: 6 Sparkling Wines for Valentine’s Day 2010

By Christopher Null | February 7, 2010 |

Run out and buy your special someone a bottle of Moet or Veuve… or look off the beaten path at a different sparkling wine. Here’s a look at six recently released sparklers from literally all over the world (six wines from six countries) — tasted blind, just for the fun of it — featuring three…

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Review: 2008 Dr. Peter Poontinger Riesling

By Christopher Null | January 4, 2010 |

When launched, the ad for this new German import will read, “A Great White Win Named Poontinger? Believe It.” And there is a picture of a Jackalope. Apparently Poontinger is a play on the German version of the mythical creature. Serious wine? No, not really. It’s a $10 wine designed for restaurants to sell by…

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Review: Fever Stimulation Beverages

By Christopher Null | December 31, 2009 |

Tonight you’ll be consuming vast quantities of alcohol (remember one for your homies at Drinkhacker, y’all), so what better way to prep for the festivities than by downing something to up the level of your game. That’s the theory, anyway, of Fever, which aims to “Make Healthy Sexy,” with its collection of herbal, non-carbonated beverages…

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Review: Wines of Tempra Tantrum, 2009 Releases

By Christopher Null | December 27, 2009 |

It’s not a bad idea at its core: Take Spain’s national grape, tempranillo, and blend it with grapes that American consumers might actually know, and sell the concoctions as double-varietal bottlings. Tempra Tantrum (get it?) takes cabernet sauvignon, merlot, grenache, and shiraz, and blends them in 40% concentrations with tempranillo (60%), in each of the…

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Review: Pierre Ferrand Reserve Cognac

By Christopher Null | December 25, 2009 |

On the heels of Pierre Ferrand’s 10-year-old Ambre, I gave the distillery’s 20-year-old Reserve cognac a try. I was less of a fan of this edition of Ferrand’s brandy, which is considerably darker in color but comes off as a bit brutish and somewhat unbalanced. The flavors are relatively typical of the space, veering more…

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Review: Plantation Rum, Three 2000 Editions and Grande Reserve 5 Years Old Barbados

By Christopher Null | December 22, 2009 |

Plantation Rum. The name sounds innocuous, but the way these rums are made are unlike any others you’re likely to encounter. The rums are produced by the team behind Pierre Ferrand cognac and Citadelle Gin, single-country in origin with a bit of a twist. The rums are distilled in the country in which the sugar…

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