Posts Tagged ‘What We’re Reading’

What We’re Reading: From Haneda to Happy Hour, Serving Alcohol Past 2AM, Liquor-Label Icons, Part 2, Big Red: Grenadine for the Grown-Ups

“From Haneda to Happy Hour” 3/8/2013 – Wall Street Journal
When Tokyo boomed in the ’80s and early ’90s, the city’s nightlife surged along with it. But even when the bubble burst and expense accounts shrank, after-hours spots continued to thrive. Today’s Tokyo still offers a wide array of bars where the whiskeys are served neat and the cocktails are made by men in tuxedos who have devoted decades to the art of mixology. Check out the guide to the best drinking and nightlife in the city. Read more!

“San Francisco Bars Open Late? New Bill Would Let California Venues Serve Alcohol Past Two A.M.” 3/14/2013 – The Huffington Post
Enter State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), armed with a bill that would change the lives of partygoers throughout the Golden State forever. SB 635, a measure Leno introduced on Wednesday, would allow restaurants and bars in local jurisdictions to serve alcohol until 4 a.m., pending a full public approval process. “Many cities in California have dynamic social activities that are vital to their economies, but they lack the flexibility to expand their businesses,” Leno said in a statement. “This legislation would allow destination cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego to start local conversations about the possibility of expanding nightlife and the benefits it could provide the community by boosting jobs, tourism and local tax revenue.” While a handful of venues in San Francisco keep their doors open long past the 2 a.m. booze cutoff (we’ve all slunk out of the Endup at sunrise once or twice), under current law, bartenders are strictly prohibited from serving alcoholic beverages during the wee hours. Many restaurant and entertainment groups support the proposal, including the California Restaurant Association, Golden Gate Restaurant Association, California Music and Culture Association and San Francisco Council of District Merchants. Read more!

“Liquor-Label Icons, Part II” 3/11/2013 –
While we’re fascinated with how spirits taste, the stories and people behind them can be equally interesting. For the second installment of our Liquor-Label Icons series, (you can read the first one here), we’re featuring the creators of some of our favorite brands. Cheers! Read more!

“Big Red: Grenadine for the grown-ups” 3/11/2013 – Tasting Table
Most grenadine is so sticky-sweet that only a child might find it appealing (hence, the genius invention of the Shirley Temple). But the brightly colored syrup actually has a long history in adult beverages. Traditionally made with pomegranate juice and orange-blossom water, it is a requisite in drinks like the Jack Rose and the El Presidente. To make its version, the Jack Rudy team tapped a small pomegranate farm in Northern California called Home Grown Cellars, which uses a custom press to juice its fruit. “The machine juices the pomegranates whole, so you get the flavors of the seeds and pith, all those tannins, in the juice,” Jack Rudy founder Brooks Reitz told us. The resulting grenadine is surprisingly tart, with a deliciously bready aroma. Read more!

What We’re Reading: Homebrewers in Hong Kong, The Power of the Pickle Back, Craft Beer’s Aspirations, Price Fix on Booze?, Parker Beam, Drinks by the Book, Turning Japanese, An Irish Explosion, Know Your Hops, Ginnin up Classic Cocktails

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“Homebrewers Get Hopping in Hong Kong” 3/5/2013 – Wall Street Journal
Until recently, homebrewing barely existed in Hong Kong, a city better known for its robust wine scene. But a nascent interest in craft beer among Western expats has brought more exposure to brews from the U.S., U.K. and beyond. While easy-to-use kits with prepared and pre-portioned ingredients are available for beginners, more advanced homebrewers mash their own grains, producing a sweet liquid called wort, which is then boiled with hops and fermented with yeast. Read more!

“The Power of the Pickleback” 2/28/2013 – Wall Street Journal
FEW DRINKS INSPIRE skepticism quite like the pickleback, the cult Americana-inspired whiskey shot whose signature ingredient can be a deterrent to the uninitiated. The drink—a slug of whiskey followed by a bracing chaser shot of pickle brine, poured straight from the jar—has gained popularity in the U.S. in recent years as a novel way of making mediocre liquors more palatable. Read more!

“Craft Beer’s Larger Aspirations Cause a Stir” 3/4/2013 – New York Times
Several new, high-profile breweries are putting their product only in so-called large-format bottles. Dogfish Head Brewery, one of the bigger, better-known craft breweries in the country, will soon dedicate one of its two bottle-filling lines just to the 750-milliliter format. The trend toward large bottles is part of what is being called the “wine-ification” of beer, the push by many brewers to make their product as respectable to pair with braised short ribs as is a nice Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and at a price to match. Bottles sell for as much as $30 in stores and much more on restaurant menus. But they are getting a chilly reception from many drinkers. Internet message boards dedicated to craft beer are replete with complaints that large bottlesare too expensive and, thanks to their typically higher alcohol content, a challenge to finish in one sitting. Unlike wine, a beer is nearly impossible to recork. Read more!

“Minimum Pricing, maximum Confusion: Should Government Fix The Price Of Booze?” 3/6/2013 – Forbes
As healthcare costs mug state and federal treasuries, the temptation to control deficits by trying controlling people’s behavior is understandable. Two birds: one policy. But understanding why these goals might be desirable is not the same as understanding whether such policies will actually work. Take the political battle to impose minimum alcohol pricing in Britain and the evidence being used to support it. Read more!

“Masters of Distilling: Parker Beam” 3/6/2013 –
The world of spirits and cocktails is usually a safe place. There is joy, camaraderie, occasional naughtiness and frequent passion. A drink in hand and wherever you are, that’s the spot to be. And then sometimes, infrequently, it is not. I must say that I was stunned into submission to learn that Parker Beam, the beloved and long-serving master distiller for Heaven Hill, has been diagnosed with ALS. It is a jarringly sober moment; solemn would not be an overstatement. I think of Parker like I think of my own father. They are only a year apart in age, hard-working guys who have always loved what they do. In Parker’s case, he has been distilling and blending whiskey for over 50 years. It certainly doesn’t hurt to be a member of the famous Beam family, but his merits and those of his whiskies have long been established and acknowledged. Read more!

“Drinks by the Book: 2013” 2/28/2013 –
Good news: Spring is less than a month away, and summer is just around the corner! But before you dig out your shorts and flip-flops, there are still many long, cold evenings to weather. We suggest you use the time wisely and read these new spirited books. They’re, of course, best enjoyed with a glass of your favorite elixir—Vodka Distilled; Dava! The Russians and their Vodka; Drinking with Men; The Drunken Botanist; Beam, Straight Up. Read more!

“Turning Japanese: Whiskey with water is worth a shot” 3/1/2013 – Tasting Table
Whiskey in Japan is bolstered by a distinctive cultural practice that is starting to gain traction Stateside. The whiskey, which has an incense-like aroma from the use of Japanese oak during the aging process, is designed to be consumed with water. Lots of it. Whiskey snobs might prickle at the idea of watering down their booze, but the Japanese insist that the process of adding water (called mizuwari) or carbonated soda for a classic Highball ensures the liquor is far more palatable when drunk with food. Until recently, our Japanese offerings have been limited to only a few brands: Hibiki, Yamazaki and Hakushu. But with the arrival of Nikka, one of Japan’s most lauded labels, now is the perfect time to explore this drinking genre. The two expressions, a 12-year-old Taketsuru Pure Malt and a 15-year-old Yoichi Single Malt, have ranked among the finest Scotches and have a price to show for it: The bottles start at upward of $60 for 750 ml. Read more!

“An Irish Explosion” 2/18/2013 – Whiskey Advocate
When I announced Yellow Spot as Irish Whiskey of the Year, I predicted that The Teeling Company would be bringing some of the Cooley sparkle back to theYellow Spot Whiskey Irish category. And I was right. Read more!

“Know your hops: A primer on flavors from around the world” 2/19/2013 – LA Times
Much more than just a bittering agent, hops are the soul of beer. They balance the sweetness of the malt and furnish a refreshing flavor and pungent aroma to beer, and American craft brewers are experts at showcasing this spectrum of flavors that hops lend to beer. Read more!
“Ginning Up on the Classic Cocktails” 2/22/3013 – Wall Street Journal
BEHIND THE BAR AT DUKES HOTEL, amid the polished lines of glasses, mountains of fresh lemons and ramekins of Puglian olives, stand more than 15 different gins. Read more!

What We’re Reading: Diageo Profit Soars, A Craft Chemist Making Over Big Bear, Junipero Gin, Liquor Stors NA Ltd About To Put More Money In Your Pocket

Diageo Profit Soars, Bolstered by U.S., 1/31/2013 – Wall Street Journal
LONDON—Diageo PLC is making headway in the U.S. market by raising prices across its portfolio of liquors, a move that has helped the London-based spirits maker offset its beleaguered business across Southern Europe. The maker of Johnnie Walker scotch, Smirnoff vodka and Guinness stout began raising prices last May in the U.S., its biggest and most profitable market. The push continued into the latter half of the year, with the company boosting its U.S. prices by 2% to 3%. Read more!

A Craft Chemist Making Over Big Beer, 1/25/2013 – Wall Street Journal
Rebecca Reid makes small batches of beer for the world’s largest brewer in search of the next big thing as brewmaster at Anheuser-Busch InBev’s ABI.BT +4.18% pilot brewery in St. Louis, the 29-year-old chemical engineer experiments with new beers in a scaled-down replica of the main brewery next door. Each batch of beer is just 10 barrels, barely a drop in the bucket for a company that ships 100 million barrels in the U.S. each year. Almost all of the 500 recipes she and her team brew each year never make it out of the building. But Ms. Reid’s efforts are increasingly critical for Anheuser-Busch, which has watched a growing number of Americans drop its giant domestic brands such as Budweiser, Bud Light and Michelob in favor of small “craft” beers sprouting across the country. In recent years, other types of alcohol such as liquor and cider also have swiped restless U.S. beer drinkers. Anheuser-Busch’s beer shipments in the U.S. rose 0.6% last year but its share of the U.S. beer market dipped to 46.3% from 46.8%, estimates Beer Marketer’s Insights, a trade publication and data provider. Read more!

Junipero Gin By Anchor Distilling Company Is Getting Us Through Winter, 1/31/2013 – Huffington Post
We know it’s wintertime. We know that gin cocktails are generally meant to be harbingers of spring and summer. But it’s always around this time of winter that we like to just go ahead and pretend like spring is right around the corner. With that in mind, let’s talk about Junipero gin.
Junipero is made by the Anchor Distilling Company out of San Francisco, and they call it “San Francisco’s original craft gin.” First introduced in 1996, Junipero is — to put it plainly — a bit like gin on steroids. This stuff is high proof (at 49.3% it is nearly 100 proof), high flavor and high intensity. We love it, in case that wasn’t clear. If you’ve tried gin and thought, “I don’t like how it tastes like a Christmas tree,” Junipero is probably not for you. If you prefer your martinis to be made with gin, however, and have begun to fall in love with the herbaceous, bracing quality of the spirit, this is your logical next step. Read more!

Liquor Stores NA Ltd About To Put More Money In Your Pocket, 1/25/2013 – Forbes
On 1/29/13, Liquor Stores NA Ltd (Toronto: LIQ) will trade ex-dividend, for its monthly dividend of $0.09, payable on 2/15/13. As a percentage of LIQ’s recent stock price of $19.23, this dividend works out to approximately 0.47%. Read more!

What We’re Reading: American Single-Malt Whiskeys Serve Notice, Swedish Punsch, Ohio’s Booze Bond, American Single Malts, San Diego’s North Park, Bartenders Are Doing More Than Taking Orders

Food, art and a hipster vibe in San Diego’s North Park, 1/13/2013 – Los Angeles Times
It’s edgy, it’s cool — and it’s official: San Diego’s North Park made Forbes’ list of America’s Hippest Hipster Neighborhoods in September, joining such spots as L.A.’s Silver Lake and San Francisco’s Mission District. North Park has all the ingredients for the cool school: It’s culturally diverse and has art galleries, boutiques, trendy bars with handcrafted cocktails and local brews, and foodie-approved eateries. Read more!

Bartenders Are Doing More Than Taking Orders, 1/22/2013 – New York Times

Around the neck of every bottle from the fledgling spirits outfit the 86 Co. — the gin, the vodka, the tequila, the rum — is a small glass ridge. To the untrained eye, it looks like a packaging flourish. It is not. Read more!

American Single-Malt Whiskeys Serve Notice, 1/15/2013 – New York Times
a single-malt whiskey from the Balcones Distillery in Waco bested nine others, including storied Scottish names like the Balvenie and the Macallan, in a blind panel of British spirits experts.

It was the first time an American whiskey won the Best in Glass, a five-year-old competition to find the best whiskey released in a given year. Balcones, said Neil Ridley, one of the organizers, is everything you’d expect from a young American: brash, robust and full of flavor. “It was like putting a New World wine against an Old World chateau,” he said. This wasn’t supposed to happen. American whiskey is all about corn and rye; malted barley, the primary grain in the Scotch variety, traditionally plays a minor role in bourbon recipes. And single malts have long been considered an exclusive province of Scotland. But suddenly, American malted whiskeys — most of them single malts — are popping up, some to loud acclaim. “There’s been a wave this year,” said Sean Josephs, a co-owner of Char No. 4, a restaurant in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, that features a bar flush with domestic and imported whiskeys. Read more!

Swedish Punsch: Kronan Brings It Back From The Brink, 1/14/2013 – Huffington Post
By now, you’re probably familiar with how excitable we become when we discover a liqueur or spirit we’ve never tried before. That’s just what happened the other day when we walked into our local wine shop and sampled a bit of Kronan Swedish Punsch. No, that is not a typo, do not adjust your screen — we’re talking “punsch,” not “punch.” Swedish punsch was a popular ingredient in cocktails in America until Prohibition, after which it just kind of disappeared. But thanks to Kronan, it’s back. A sugarcane-based spirit, Swedish punsch also contains rum, sugar and spices. Read more!

Ohio’s Booze-backed Bond Deal Could Be Trend Setter, 1/18/2013 – Forbes
In what could be one of the largest mixes of taxable and tax-exempt bond deals of its kind, Ohio officials are moving forward with a roughly $1.5 billion offering that will be secured with profits from the sale of liquor. The deal has been mired in controversy since it was concocted years ago. However, one thing that potential bond buyers may not have to worry about is the bonds going into default. This week, the state’s liquor control division announced that state liquor sales set a record last year. Given the rate of consumption of liquor in the Buckeye State, I believe there is little reason to think that the strong sale of beverages containing it (or on the rock pours) in the state won’t continue in future years, providing a more than adequate revenue stream to back the bonds. Read more!

American Single Malts, 1/14/2013 –
While America is, of course, famous for its bourbon and rye, another type of domestic whiskey is getting popular: single malt. Though the term is usually associated with Scotch, an increasing number of craft distillers across the US are creating unique versions of the spirit. Here are a few to look out for: ST. GEORGE SINGLE MALT WHISKEY ($70), UPRISING AMERICAN WHISKEY ($42), HUDSON SINGLE MALT WHISKEY ($45 FOR 375 ML), CORSAIR TRIPLE SMOKE ($45), WASMUND’S SINGLE MALT WHISKY ($37). Read more!

What We’re Reading: Cocktail history, dream jobs, 6 things you probably didn’t know about bourbon and more

Apple Growers Turn to Cider – Wall Street Journal

Elizabeth Ryan knows the ax could fall on Stone Ridge Orchard any moment. The sweeping 117-acre property that she has rented and operated for the past five years is for sale, its cresting hills and thousands of crooked, fruit-heavy trees atrisk to be razed by the first approved buyer. Now, like many apple growers, Ms. Ryan is looking in part to an unlikely savior: hard cider. Ms. Ryan has raised $1 million to buy the farm herself, she said. The centerpiece of her proposal: a 10-acre French-style cider orchard and tasting room, featuring apple varieties that are difficult to find in the U.S.


A Cocktail History Lesson, Page by Page – New York Times

Bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts intent on searching out-of-print cocktail books for the bygone mixology secrets therein need to have a lot of money, a lot of luck and quick eBay reflexes. In the near future, however, they may only need Internet access. Rémy Cointreau, the French liquor conglomerate, has assembled and digitized a collection of roughly 300 historic and rare first-edition books of cocktails, dating from 1862. The entire collection, which includes titles like “Snake Bites or Something” and “When It’s Cocktail Time in Cuba,” will be on display, in both material and digital form, from Sunday to Tuesday at a pop-up event space at 632 Hudson Street called La Maison Cointreau.


Barley Genome Breakthrough May Lead To Better Beer – Huffington Post

An international consortium of scientists has published a high resolution draft of the barley genome in a move that could not only improve yields and disease resistance but may also hold the key to better beer. “This research will streamline efforts to improve barley production through breeding for improved varieties,” said Professor Robbie Waugh, of Scotland’s James Hutton Institute, who led the research. “This could be varieties better able to withstand pests and disease, deal with adverse environmental conditions, or even provide grain better suited for beer and brewing.” Barley which has been malted is a key ingredient in brewing beer along with hops and yeast.


Dream Jobs: Rachel Barrie, Master Blender, Morrison Bowmore Distilleries – Forbes

110,000 casks of whisky later, Barrie is the master blender of Morrison Bowmore Distillers <> , the 60-year-old distillery that just happens to create the same “nippy juice” her granny nicked her decades ago, Glen Garioch. Talk about a Dream Job. <> If women are underrepresented in the lab-coated world of science, <> a female nose in the men’s club of single malt Scotch whiskies is an absolute anomoly: a chemist whose 21 years creating single matls has earned her the rare distinction of becoming the first female Master Blender.


Dewar’s – A Woman’s Scotch Whisky? – Forbes

Few industries remain as traditionally masculine as the Scotch whisky business,where those at the highest levels of whisky making are almost exclusively male. If you don’t believe me, just Google “Scotch-women-master-distiller.” I did and found exactly one candidate for the highest position available in the creation of single malt whisky, Kristy Lark. Except she’s making whisky in Tasmania, about as far as you can get from Scotland. But the glass bottle ceiling is not completely hopeless. After all, Scotch whisky is not just about single maltdistillation – we drink far more blended Scotch than single malt or single barrel, and few brands sell more Scotch than John Dewar’s & Sons <> , better known simply as Dewar’s. To say Dewar’s is a woman’s whisky is both accurate and an anomaly, since the person in charge of making the stuff, since 2006, has been Master Blender Stephanie Macleod, only the seventh person in the 160-year history of the venerable house to hold that title, and the first female to do so.


Beer Notes: the return of pumpkin ale – Los Angeles Times

It certainly hasn’t felt like fall in recent weeks as temperatures have topped 90 degrees in parts of the Southland. Yet regardless of the reading on the thermostat, two Orange County craft breweries are keeping an autumn tradition alive. Taps Fish House & Brewery and Bootlegger’s Brewery, separated only by about five miles, are once again serving a pumpkin ale. The style, oftenspiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, is a regular sighting at supermarket beer sections this time of year, but more rare is a spotting at an area craft brewery.


6 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Bourbon – Forbes

Bourbon Is Subject To Serious Regulation, Your Favorite Scotch May Have Some Bourbon In It, The Name “Bourbon”? Its Roots Are Controversial, Most Bourbons Don’t Make An Age Claim, Bourbon Has To Come From The US, The Following Things Will Make A Bartender Laugh At You


How to Mix: Beer and Liquor –

Maybe it’s all the college and pro football games on TV or the start of the baseball playoffs, but we’re suddenly craving a brewski. While we’ll skip the Oktoberfest lederhosen and polka, thank you very much, beer’s malty flavor works great in an autumnal cocktail. Fortunately, this summer’s Tales of the Cocktail conference <> offered a masterclass in building sudsy concoctions, hosted by Chicago bartender Adam Seger, master sommelier Doug Frost and Southern Wine& Spirits director of mixology Francesco Lafranconi. The most surprising piece of advice? Avoid hop-heavy IPAs, which tend to take over any recipe. Instead, the experts suggested using Belgian ales, whose acidic, fruity andoften funky notes play much better with spirits.


Shake the Tree: The American cider renaissance has come – Wall Street Journal

Luckily, American cider is enjoying a renaissance, stoked by adventurous cider-makers inspired, as I was, by a mix of European tradition and craft-beer ingenuity. While English ciders tend to be tannic and dry, French sweet and musky, and Spanish refreshingly tart, American cider has yet to come into its own. So it makes sense that when Anheuser-Busch bought theChicago craft brewery Goose Island, brewmaster Greg Hall lighted out for unexplored territory and started making his own under the label Virtue. Hisflagship cider, RedStreak, is an English dry style with the citrusy twist of a gin and tonic; he’ll soon release Lapinette, a funky French brut cider; andMitten, cider aged in whiskey barrels. Other cider-makers, like Minneapolis-based (and MillerCoors-owned) Crispin, play with Belgian beer yeasts; some even use hops. Sound familiar? Sure, microbrewers pioneered these tricks, and the industries overlap plenty. Harpoon Brewery started its cider program in 2007, after—naturally—a pilgrimage to England. Meanwhile, Dogfish Head recently released a beer-cider blend called Positive Contact.


Feeling Rummy (In A Good Way) – New York Times

It also struck me that rum (I like the darker stuff best) is a good choice this time of year. Its spicy warmth suggests autumn, but its Caribbean provenance says summer. I made him a variation on an Apple Rum Rickey. I’m a fan of Laird’s applejack — a strong, venerable American spirit made with apples — and it complements rum nicely. And without some fresh lime juice, it wouldn’t be a rickey at all. But I reined in the soda content; just a splash or two will do.


Mariposa Agave Liqueur Flutters Into Select Cities – Forbes

Heaven Hill Distilleries has come up with one of the most interesting liqueurs since St Germain flooded the market a few years back. Mariposa (Spanish for ‘butterfly’) is the first agave liqueur made from agave nectar, tequila, and vodka then enhanced with rose oil and gardenia. The nose is balanced with agave, vegetal and floral notes. The palate is thick (well duh it’s a liqueur), and has a unique start to finish of the sweet agave and ending with tequila.


Our Top 5 Autumn Apple Cocktails –

As hazy, hot and humid summer gives way to dewy and cool fall, it’s time to forget about fixing cocktails with ripe berries and fresh cherries and instead use another seasonal mixological staple: apples. Sweet and sometimes tart, apples come in dozens of varieties and taste great in both hot and chilled concoctions. Best of all, the fruit works with many different types of liquor. So, toast the apple harvest and crisp autumnal weather with these five mouth-watering cocktails. We’ll see you at the orchard!


Japanese Whiskeys, Translated From the Scottish – New York Times

After decades as an also-ran in the American whiskey market, Japanese whiskey is on the ascent. Last year, Suntory’s sales in the United States rose 44 percent, according to the company, which found it difficult to keep up with demand. So it increased prices of the Yamazaki 12- and 18-year-olds by 10 percent lastyear and this year. “We like the consumer to recognize Japanese whiskey as very high end,” said Yoshihiro Morita, Suntory’s executive manager for American sales and marketing.


What We’re Reading: Recommended cocktail books, history of Prohibition at Brooklyn Distillery

What Goes Well With a Martini: Book Review of Gin, Vodka, Rum – Wall Street Journal
Cocktail books, like culinary books, tend to come in two flavors. The most common are recipe collections. The other flavor of cocktail book is more discursive. It tries to make sense of some larger aspect of cocktail culture—a certain spirit, the folly of Prohibition, the changing social role of the bar.

Recommended cocktail books include: Gin (By Lesley Jacobs Solmonson, Reaktion, 167 pages, $17), Vodka (By Patricia HerlihyReaktion, 165 pages, $17), and Rum (By Richard Foss, Reaktion, 141 pages, $17). The article states that “it is with the rising tide of cocktail books: whether they err on the side of lore or analysis, they spread a broader understanding—or at least better storytelling—behind what goes into the glass. And that’s worth toasting.”


History of Prohibition Bottled Here & Whiskey Relics at Brooklyn Distillery – Wall Street Journal
Colin Spoelman and David Haskell, have created inside a small tribute to New York’s long and complicated history with booze, aptly dubbed the Boozeum. Kings County Distillery’s new quarters opened for public tours recently. “The history of spirits is lost on almost everybody,” Mr. Spoelman said. “People see them as immoral and evil, not a legitimate source of history. But so much of our history istied to alcohol.”


What We’re Reading: Kosher cocktails, the world’s hottest vodka, a new international rum and more

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At Jezebel, the Cocktail Must Be Kosher – New York Times

Of all the mixologists charged this year with creating a cocktail list in New York, Nick Mautone, the beverage director at the new SoHo restaurant Jezebel, may havefaced the greatest challenge. Jezebel is a kosher restaurant, and the cocktails also had to fall in line with the laws of kashrut.

Kosher wine lists are common in New York, and relatively easy to assemble. All a wine director has to do is look at the label. If it has a hechsher (a symbol of kosher certification), the bottle is a potential candidate for the cut. If not, it’s not. But cocktails are composed of a panoply of ingredients, every one of which must be checked out.

Base spirits are the easy part. “Most spirits are kosher by definition because they’re distilled,” Mr. Mautone said. “All the impurities have been removed. The majority of vodkas, gins, whiskey and tequilas are all kosher.” Still, you have to keep your eyes peeled. Some flavored vodkas and whiskeys are not eligible. And many whiskeys today are finished in wine barrels (port, sherry), a technique that negates their kosher bona fides, since all wine products must be certified.

But a glass of whiskey is not a cocktail. It requires modifying agents, and that’s where things gets hard. Many of the famous liqueurs and bitters — Campari, Benedictine, Chartreuse, Dubonnet, Peychaud’s bitters — that are required to make some of the world’s most famous cocktails are not kosher. That means no Negronis, no Sazeracs, no Vieux Carres, no Bobby Burnses. It’s enough to break your heart.


Ads for Skyy Vodka Come to TV – New York Times

When it comes to liquor brands arriving on television to advertise, the sky, it seems, is the limit – particularly now that Skyy vodka is joining their ranks.

Skyy, sold by the Campari America unit of Davide Campari-Milano and Grouppo Campari, is to start running its first commercial on Thursday. Until now, the brand’s ads have appeared in print and online.

The commercial is to appear on cable channels like Bravo, Comedy Central, E!, ESPN, ESPN2 and TBS. Plans also call for the spot to run on Web sites that include Facebook, Hulu and YouTube.

Campari America is also looking into running the commercial during “Saturday Night Live” on NBC.

Other distilled spirits that have come onto TV recently include Hornitos, Jägermeister, Maker’s Mark, Pucker, Sailor Jerry rum, Skinnygirl and another Campari America brand, Wild Turkey. They have joined a lengthy list of liquor brands using television, including vodkas like Absolut, Grey Goose, Ketel One and Smirnoff.


Bow & Truss restaurant adds to North Hollywood’s eclectic mix – Los Angeles Times

The arrival of a restaurant and bar like Bow & Truss has been heralded as a bit of a tipping point when it comes to destination drinking and dining in North Hollywood. It’s walking distance from the Federal Bar, Margolis’ first restaurant venture, which opened a little more than a year ago and draws a hip and fashionable crowd from over the hill as well as a satisfied roster of locals. Like downtown L.A. in 2007, when Cedd Moses opened his pioneering whiskey bar Seven Grand (also with Tello and Demarest), North Hollywood is showing it’s ready for a high-concept craft cocktail bar.



Island Hoping – Tasting Table

But with globalization comes a blurring of traditional boundaries, and a new rum is showing how flavorful an international approach can be.

A mixture of 23 rums sourced from seven places, Banks 7 Golden Age Blend ($30) displays all the complexity a well-traveled spirit should have. Rum from Barbados lends a nutty character to the mix; Guyanese rum adds a touch of tropical fruit; and a molasses-rich Trinidad spirit gives the blend rugged assertiveness. Guatemalan rum contributes a deep earthiness and Panamanian rum a bracing dryness; these characteristics are topped by a heady, funky fragrance from Jamaican pot-distilled rum, and deepened with a spark of spice from Batavia arrack, a sort of ancestral rum distilled on the Indonesian island of Java.



The World’s Hottest Vodka – Huffington Post Food

In a world where Peanut Butter and Jelly, and Glazed Donut flavored vodka exists — a chili vodka that will burn your face off is a welcome change. Not only is Naga Chili Vodka the opposite of sweet — but by infusing it with one of the hottest chili peppers on the planet, it is a tongue-melting 100,000 Scovilles hot.


Whiskey Makes Retirement Easier – The Wall Street Journal

Mr. Meyer is the founder of Wigle Whiskey, a distillery that crafts organic, artisan rye and wheat whiskeys. “There was a state law that forbade distilleries to sell their products on site,” he says. “Our whole plan was to do tastings and sell our whiskey right from the warehouse, so we built a case and testified in front of legislators and got the law changed.”


Fraser & Neave Play Raises Thai Tycoon’s Profile – Wall Street Journal

Thai beverage PCL’s surprise grab for a US$2.2 billion stake in Singapore-listed beverage group Fraser & Neave Ltd. is raising the profile of its chairman and founder, Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, as he looks to extend his empire overseas. Although analysts are awaiting more details of Mr. Charoen’s plans for Fraser & Neave, some have said they foresee the potential for a tussle with Heineken for control of the company’s food and beverage assets. That includes Asia Pacific Breweries, a joint venture between Fraser & Neave and Heineken that makes Tiger Beer, one of Southeast Asia’s most successful regional brands.


What We’re Reading (and Watching): Eric Alperin mixes a Scotch Breakfast (video), cold-fermented lagers, top-shelf vodka, house gin and more

A Bartender’s Scotch Breakfast – Wall Street Journal
Bacon, lemon, and whisky for breakfast anyone? Bartender Eric Alperin mixes the perfect morning fix for WSJ’s Deborah Kan — a Scotch Breakfast.


In From The Cold; Once an afterthought, cold-fermented-lagers are making a comeback – Imbibe Magazine
Portland, Maine is the Promised Land for beer lovers in the Northeast. In the seafaring city of 64,000, British-beer enthusiasts can sip malty brews from Shipyard and D.L. Geary, and fans of Belgian-style and barrel-aged ales can opt for Allagash. Hop heads have Maine Beer’s fragrant pale ales and IPAs, while Rising Tide’s inventive hybrids, such as a lightly smoky black ale, satisfy adventurous imbibers. Toss in Peak Organic’s flavorful eco-conscious ales and the farmhouse-style suds of nearby Oxbow Brewing, and most every major beer category is covered.

Despite the embarrassment of brewed riches, veteran brewer Tom Bull noticed one style was strikingly absent. “No one was doing lagers,” says Bull, 40, who previously brewed at Portland’s Gritty McDuff’s and now-defunct Stone Coast Brewing. “I saw the gaping hole in the market.”

He hoped to fill it with a recipe for a rounded, golden-hued Munich Helles lager (helles means “bright” in German), which he spent 15 years refining on his homebrew rig. This is somewhat unusual for homebrewers, as lagers’ bottom-fermenting yeasts require a lengthy cold fermentation in a stable environment. “I have one of the most tolerant wives in the world,” Bull says, laughing.

Of their three refrigerators at home before starting the brewery, “one was dedicated to food, one was dedicated to primary fermentation and another was dedicated to lagering.” Confident in his recipe, Bull partnered with local businessman Allen Jagger to found the Bull Jagger Brewing Company and, last October, debut half-liter bottles of Portland Lager. “The time is right for a craft-brewed lager,” Bull says.

The last decade has seen brewers venture to the far fringes of flavor, crafting increasingly bitter, brawny ales. Tradition played second fiddle to innovation, as craft brewers distanced themselves from the dominant American beer style, the lager. Done properly, a crisp, nuanced lager is an easy-drinking thing of beauty. But in the brew kettles of beer behemoths the American lager lost its way, and lager became synonymous with lowbrow. “We want to show people that not all lagers are PBRs,” Bull says, a rallying cry echoing among brewers crafting complex lagers that can stand head-to-head with ales. “I believe lagers can have as much flavor as ales,” says Matt Brophy, the brewmaster at Maryland’s Flying Dog Brewery, which recently released UnderDog Atlantic Lager. It’s a notion catching on nationwide, as New Belgium’s newest year-round release is the aromatic lager Shift, while Oregon’s Full Sail offers a range of year-round lagers, and the IPA mavericks at San Diego’s Ballast Point regularly feature seven lagers in rotation. Even more committed is Chicago’s Metropolitan Brewing, which exclusively focuses on lagers and German-style brews, as does McMinnville, Oregon’s Heater/Allen Brewing.

Don’t Be Bitter
For much of the 20th century, lagers defined American beer. If you were sipping a beer, then you were likely drinking a lager. So when the craft-brewing movement started percolating in the ’80s and ’90s, brewers did not mimic the mainstream. “In the early days of craft brewing, there was a predisposition toward ales,” says Bryan Simpson of Fort Collins, Colorado’s New Belgium, which launched with the fruity Abbey and the biscuity amber ale Fat Tire. “Brewers wanted to get back to bigger, fuller-bodied beers.” Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Deschutes Black Butte Porter and Stone IPA were drastic departures from the status quo, demonstrating that beer and flavor were not mutually exclusive concepts.

This is not to say that breweries completely shunned lagers. Many trot out robust, full-bodied märzens for Oktoberfest.Samuel Adams Boston Lager and Brooklyn Brewery’s namesake lager are iconic. And the pale lager known as pilsner is a common offering, though the intense aromatics are more in line with pale ales (and the word lager is conspicuously absent from most packaging). However, these are exceptions to the ale rule. That’s largely because lagers are time-consuming to brew. From grain to glass, it can take six or seven weeks for a lager to finish fermenting, and the style leaves little margin for error. Defects can’t hide behind heaps of hops or dark malts. By comparison, warmer- and faster-fermenting ales can be ready to consume in as little as 10 days, and the fruity flavors are more forgiving. For a start-up brewery desperate to pay down debt, focusing on lagers makes little economic sense. “If you have a choice between doing a lager or doing two batches of an ale and selling it, the choice is simple,” says Rick Allen, 59, the founder and brewmaster of Heater/Allen Brewing.

Allen did not take the easy route. After more than two decades as a homebrewer, he founded Heater/Allen in May 2007 with a focus rarely found on the hop-mad West Coast: German- and Czech-style beers, such as the roasty, subtly smoky Schwarz, dark and complex Dunkel and the lively, grassy Pils. “People often say, ‘This is a lager?’ ” Allen says. “I tell them they can come in all shapes, sizes and colors.”

Whereas Allen’s beers were once curiosities in an IPA-packed marketplace, he now sees the pendulum swinging away from palate-wrecking flavors. “People’s tastes are changing,” Allen says. “You’re getting a backlash to the IPA. People want something that’s crisp, refreshing and not heavy on the palate, and lagers fit the bill.”

Those were the same guidelines that Flying Dog brewmaster Brophy followed when designing the UnderDog Atlantic Lager, which is a departure from the company’s lineup. Flying Dog is known for full-throttle brews like the Gonzo Imperial Porter and Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA. While delicious, these are not beers suited for all-night imbibing—“and we like to have more than one beer,” Brophy says. “Pretty much everybody in the brewery felt that we needed to have a crisp, flavorful lager.”

Clocking in at just 4.7%, the golden UnderDog drinks brisk, with a soft and appealing fruitiness that leaves you craving another sip. “You could argue that you could have two of these beers for every double IPA,” Brophy says. “People have gone to the extreme and are now coming back.”


Everything About This Vodka Is Top Shelf – Forbes

Loyal readers will know that while I cover sprits regularly, I rarely drink or endorse vodka, which I consider the lowest common denominator in the spirits world. Since the basic idea behind making vodka is to erase all flavor – the opposite of just about everything else we eat or drink – it seems kind of pointless. Most great spirits have history and strict rules of production – good rum is made from sugarcane, Scotch from malted barley, Bourbon from corn – whereas vodka can be made from virtually anything containing sugar or starch, from potatoes and wheat to beets, grass or soy beans, even maple syrup. Most vodkas are more science project than craft, the result being clear, tasteless, diluted alcohol.

But it does not have to be that way. While vodka can (and usually is) made from inferior ingredients in a highly processed commercial fashion to produce a pedestrian product, there are a handful of producers who take just as much care in every stop of the process as the distillers of other fine spirits, it’s just that they are a lot fewer and farther between. I just found one I am really impressed with, and not merely because it tastes really good. I like everything about Double Cross vodka, from its story to production to ingredients to the bottle. I like the passion, and as vodkas go, Double Cross hit it out of the ballpark.


Your House Gin –
While vodka and gin drinkers can be as contentious as Democrats and Republicans, the two spirits themselves aren’t all that different. In fact, one could argue that gin was really the first flavored vodka.

There’s no shame in that: Infusing alcohol with herbs, spices and other botanicals creates a wonderfully complex liquor that’s at home in cocktails as diverse as the Martini and the Singapore Sling.

It also means that you can brew a batch yourself very easily (and legally) in your kitchen. Juniper berries (which you can find in many supermarkets) are a must, as their sweet and piney taste defines gin, but beyond that, the choices—from citrus peels and cucumber to black pepper and ginger root—are pretty much endless.

Inspired by the possibilities, we turned to three gin-making mixologists around the country and got three unique formulas for you to try.

At the Swann Lounge in Philadelphia’s Four Seasons Hotel, you can sample Michael Haggerty’s gin, which is bold and assertive, with grapefruit and clove holding center stage. He even uses it to replace whiskey in Old Fashioneds.

Keri Levens, wine director at New York’s famed Aquavit restaurant, is no stranger to infusions: Her menu offers a seasonally rotating assortment of 10 to 12 different house-made elixirs. And her three-ingredient Juniper and Lemon Aquavit is like gin reduced to its barest essence. She suggests featuring the concoction in a Negroni.

Fresh lemon verbena leaves from his establishment’s own herb garden are the secret to the G-Funk Gin (pictured above) dreamed up by Paul Sanguinetti at Ray’s and Stark Bar, the stylish restaurant at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The verbena gives the finished product a gentle vegetal note that’s best highlighted in a simple Gin & Tonic.

No matter which gin recipe you make, you just might never buy a regular old bottle again.


One Size Fits All; Bars expand their horizons – Tasting Table

“Niche” has been the name of our drinking game for the last few years.

We delighted as watering holes with established and focused agendas opened. Some were devoted to a single spirit, others to reconstructing a forgotten cocktail style.

That trend is certainly not abating: Check out Chicago’s new gin bar, for example. But on the trend’s heels is an equally exciting counter movement: the bar with a multiple personality disorder.

Take Tradition, the brand-new bar in San Francisco. Dedicated to the United States’ drinking traditions, the bar has menu sections–and physical areas called “snugs”–that are dedicated to a variety of bar types, such as the dive bar and the Big Easy. Here, myriad cocktail styles coexist under one roof.

In New York, the months-old Daily eschews a menu in lieu of a roll-the-dice method in which five different cocktail recipes are picked daily from a weathered Rolodex. The bar might channel island vibes one night only to embody the pre-Prohibition spirit the next.

And the just opened Barwares in Portland, Oregon, dodges pigeonholes with vaguely named cocktails–The Sake, The Gin, The Tequila, for instance. One version of The Whiskey takes shape as a garam-masala spiked old-fashioned.

Time to widen those horizons.


What We’re Reading: Malt, Samuel Adams Whiskey, Most Influential Cocktails, Jack Daniel’s Original Recipe and more

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Malters Bring Terroir to the Beer Bottle – New York Times

AT 8:30 one Monday evening, Christian Stanley pulled on his jacket. His 7-year-old daughter, who was reluctantly headed up to bed, asked, “Where are you going, Daddy?” His reply: “To the malt house.”

Since they founded Valley Malt in 2010, the malt house has become a little like a fourth child for Mr. Stanley, a mechanical engineer, and his wife and business partner, Andrea. It needs round-the-clock attention and even wakes them up occasionally with text messages on its progress.

On this evening, Mr. Stanley, 35, drove four blocks through his quiet residential neighborhood to a small garage crammed with equipment: a forklift, a grain auger, a Shop-Vac, two big sacks of wheat and a stainless-steel tank connected to a jumble of ductwork. He stripped off his jacket, pulled on a pair of rubber boots and opened the hinged top of his malt vessel, which looks something like a rocket ship. Grabbing a battered shovel, he leapt into the tank and began stirring 1,850 pounds of steamy New Hampshire wheat — a workout, but well worth the effort.

“Without malt,” he said, “there’d be no beer.”

As humble and jerry-built as the setup looks, this garage is on the cutting edge of the craft brewing movement. Driven by a growing awareness that the only thing local in most “local” beers is the water, microbrewers all over the country have begun using regional hops, fruits and honey. Now, many are taking the next logical step and snapping up local grains.

But brewing with homegrown barley or estate-grown wheat involves another process that has been overlooked for much of the last century: malt-making.


Boston Beer Finds Route Into Whiskeys – Wall Street Journal

Boston Beer is diving into a multiyear pact to supply two of its craft beers to a Massachusetts-based distiller, which will turn them into whiskeys.

The plan underscores the growing popularity of the craft distillery movement, which has grown exponentially the past five years, following in the footsteps of craft beer 25 years ago.

Berkshire Mountain Distillers Inc., which was founded in 2007, is buying thousands of gallons of Samuel Adams Boston Lager and Cinder Bock to be distilled in wooden oak barrels and eventually hit shelves by 2015.

Berkshire will receive all profits from the sale of the whiskeys produced in this venture, and the initial products will be branded by Berkshire, though the Samuel Adams name will be indicated on the label.

All whiskeys begin as a beer but the beer used to make whiskeys usually isn’t meant for initial consumption.

Boston Beer founder and Chairman Jim Koch said the craft distilling movement comes as consumers seek niche products that aren’t made by huge companies. The whiskeys will likely command premium prices as the distillation process is more expensive when using a craft brew. Retail prices haven’t yet been set Berkshire, which already produces six different spirits sold in 19 states.

Berkshire founder Chris Weld said when he began as a craft distiller in 2007, there were roughly 30 individuals working in the niche industry domestically. That figure has since jumped to around 300, Mr. Weld said.

The Samuel Adams whiskeys batch will initially be small—producing 1,000 to 1,500 nine-liter cases, though more batches can be developed along the way. Mr. Weld said the Samuel Adams whiskeys will taste different from each other, as Boston Lager is a lighter beer and should highlight sweet, fruity aromas during the distillation process, while Cinder Bock is heartier and smoky.

Boston Beer mostly operates in the craft-beer industry, which makes up a small percentage of the U.S. beer business though demand in the higher-priced segment is growing rapidly as seasonal blends and other new flavors appeal to more consumers. Boston Beer also sells Angry Orchard ciders and Twisted Tea, broadening the company’s slate of alcoholic beverages.

Industry observers and distillers say consumers in recent years have shown a greater interest in moving on from vodka, considered by some to be relatively tasteless, to richer-flavored spirits like whiskey and rum. That trend can help broaden the appeal of Samuel Adams whiskeys and other new brown spirits hitting shelves.

Analysts have lauded the resurgence of brown spirits as alcohol companies like Brown-Forman Corp. BFB -0.08% launch new flavors such as Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey that have become a hit with consumers. Total domestic whiskey volume grew 1.8% last year, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of America, besting the performance of rum, gin, and brandy and cognac.

Other craft beer makers have moved into distilling. Oregon-based Rogue Ales began distilling spirits in 2003. “For us, it was quite logical,” said Rogue President Brett Joyce. “We thought there is no reason why craft brewing is any different than craft distilling.”

Mr. Joyce and other craft distillers say consumers are responding to the artisan nature of the products they are cultivating, often from locally sourced products that result in more varied spirits than what the mainstream players sell.


The 7 Most Influential Cocktails Of All Time – Huffington Post

A lot of the cocktails you find in high-end bars today are based on the classics. But whether or not a single drink has been the most influential is almost impossible to say. There is a lot to consider when determining which drinks influenced the cocktail lists of today.

First you have to look at all of the popular drink families like the sours, Old Fashioneds and so on. If you take just the sour family alone, then a margarita would fit the bill — as would the daiquiri, white lady or sidecar. They’re all really important well-known drinks. But we’re not taking this family-by-family. That would be easy. Below are the seven most influential cocktails inspiring today’s drinks. Period.

Out of the seven classics below, there is not one that I feel has been distinctly more influential than another. That said, there are a number of drinks that I have come across in the last ten years that perfectly embody the spirit of the classics but have that contemporary edge like The Brambleby Dick Bradsell, The Gin Mule, The Old Cuban by Audrey Saunders, The Elder Fashioned by Phil Ward, The Gin Blossom by Julie Reiner and The Penicillin by Sammy Ross to name a few.

Jack Daniel’s Original Recipe: Man Claims To Have Found Original Formula – Guardian
A Welsh man claims that he has discovered the original recipe for Jack Daniel’s whiskey. Mark Evans, 54, was doing some family history research when he found a book of herbal remedies that belonged to his great-great grandmother.

The recipe, was written in 1853, around the same time her brother-in-law moved to Lynchburg, Tennessee, where the famous distillery was founded three years later. Her brother-in-law’s name? John “Jack the lad” Daniels.

The Jack Daniel’s website says that the founder was one of 13 children, though there are no birth records. According to the book “Blood and Whiskey: The Life And Times Of Jack Daniel,” Daniel wasn’t born until 1849, and was born in Lynchburg, Tennessee.

A spokesperson from the company has expressed interest in seeing the book and recipe.


Cole as Ice – Tasting Table

Cold brew is key to a coffee cocktail

Historically, coffee and booze played nice in mug-worthy drinks. But hot beverages are hardly appropriate during the year’s sweatiest months.

Coffee lovers have long buzzed about the cold-brew method, dubbing it the ideal process for iced coffee. Now, distillers and bartenders are catching on, too: A spate of new, delicious coffee liqueurs have joined the trailblazers, and each uses cold-brewing to extract optimum flavor.

The generally excellent distillers at House Spirits in Portland, Oregon, have released an excellent liqueur–made with Stumptown beans, natch. And neighboring New Deal Distillery has two coffee liqueurs–each made from a different roast.

The process is simple to replicate at home with the Toddy Cold Brew system. Substitute high-proof vodka or rum for water, and add sugar to the final product for a liqueur that matches beautifully with everything from bourbon to ice cream.

And caffeinated booze is getting play among bartenders as well: In the coming weeks in New York, bartenders are pairing with baristas in a competition.



What We’re Reading: DTLA, wine spritzers, summer cocktails, spiked jams and more

Downtown L.A.’s many communities live, work, play side by side – Los Angeles Times
No longer the 9-to-5 area it once was, the city this week hosts NBA and NHL playoffs while small bars and eateries serve new residents who have poured into the community.

For a downtown once famous for emptying out with the evening commute, the raucous scene around Staples Center and L.A. Live as the Lakers, Kings and Clippers compete in playoff games stands as a testament to how much the central city’s fortunes have changed.

Thousands jam sidewalks. Crowded cafes and bars pulsate with music and laughter. The streetscape is so lively that a group of Christian evangelists descends on street corners with free Bible booklets. READ MORE

It’s Time to Update the Wine Spritzer – New York Times
As much as I love gin and whiskey, my go-to drink at the end of most days is wine. More often than not, it’s just decent, honest, even slightly plonky red, drunk from a highball (stemmed glasses can be a bit of a bother, so I reserve those for when I’m having the really good stuff). But sometimes, particularly as the weather warms up, I want my wine transformed into something a little more festive. Beyond the familiar spritzer (and the Bellini, and the mimosa, and sangria), wine can be a surprising, refreshing component in a mixed drink, and not just the fizzy kind.

Creative bartenders in New York and elsewhere recognize what a versatile player wine — red, white, rosé, flat, sparkling — is. It’s easy enough to mix it with soda and add a squeeze of citrus, but there are innumerable other, more delicious possibilities. And galvanized by stronger spirits (even richly flavorful ones like cognac and rum), a wine-based drink packs a far more powerful punch. I can’t help thinking that these cocktails might have cheered up those ladies in the summer of ’79 a little faster than their spritzers. READ MORE

It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere – New York Times
Twelve Summer Cocktails That Taste Like Booze

Those bottles of premade mixes that line the beverage aisles of supermarkets are the Hamburger Helpers of the cocktail industry: you don’t need ’em. Mixing a good drink requires a bit of care, but anyone can do it. Most real cocktails contain little more than fresh citrus and a few other accompaniments like bitters or simple syrup (boil equal parts water and sugar, just until the sugar melts; store in the fridge, forever). Oh, and enough booze so that you can taste it. Most of these use a stiff pour of alcohol, about a quarter cup, about a third more than the average “jigger.” READ MORE

The Booze Crew – Wall Street Journal
These spiked jams are delicious enough to make you dizzy.
UNLESS YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF DEVIANT, you might opt to keep a safe distance when confronted with whiskey marmalade or brandied black-cherry jam. No sense getting drunk off your morning toast or sending your children to school with spiked PB &Js.

Naughty as they may sound, though, these jars generally contain only a modest amount of liquor. And by the time the goods are bottled and sealed, most of the alcohol has typically been simmered away, leaving behind only nuanced aromas. “That makes it ‘safe for breakfast!’,” said Rebecca Staffel of artisanal preserves maker Deluxe Foods. Or, put another way, by Jessica Quon of Brooklyn’s the Jam Stand: “Sadly, you can’t get drunk off of our jams.”

If sweet fruit spreads seem an odd place to go looking for heft and complexity, consider marmalade’s tart bite or pepper jelly’s heat. Modern jam makers treat aperitifs and spirits as ingredients like any others, and use them with a reverence and care akin to the most diligent mixologist, said Rachel Saunders of Blue Chair Fruit in Oakland, Calif., who has been known to add everything from sloe gin to Austrian pine-needle digestif to her condiments. “You can get flavors from liquor that you really can’t get many other ways,” Ms. Saunders said.

What boozy flavor remains can range from barely announced to aggressively stiff. Each has its best uses, from weekend breakfast to cheese plate to drink mixer. By treading into savory territory, these liquored-up preserves are perhaps even more versatile than their virgin sisters. They can be painted onto baked hams or rolled into roast pork loin; spooned on a ploughman’s sandwich or shaken into a vinaigrette. And their intense perfume breathes new depth into sweets too: Imagine them piped into jelly doughnuts, layered in trifles and cakes and pooled in thumbprint cookies. And of course, there’s always toast.

Distiller Drops Fight in Rum War – Wall Street Journal
PARIS—Pernod Ricard said it would end its 17-year legal battle to recover control of the Havana Club rum brand in the U.S. and instead create a new label, preparing to tap the U.S. rum market should Washington lifts its embargo on Cuban goods.

The new brand, Havanista, will come from the same Cuban distilleries that produce Havana Club for countries other than the U.S., Pernod Ricard Chief Executive Pierre Pringuet said Monday.

Pernod said it decided to create the new brand after its multimillion-dollar battle for the Havana Club brand reached an impasse.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday let stand a lower-court ruling that effectively blocked the French company from renewing the trademark for Havana Club in the U.S. because of a law barring the trademark registration of Cuban brands confiscated by the regime of Fidel Castro.

The legal saga began in 1995 when global rum maker Bacardi International Ltd. adopted the Havana Club name for a rum made in Puerto Rico and sold on a small scale in the U.S.

France’s Pernod sued, triggering more than a decade of courtroom battles over the trademark. Bacardi lobbied successfully in Washington for passage of the so-called Bacardi Bill, which ultimately prevented Pernod from U.S. registration of the Havana Club trademark.

Pernod has distributed Havana Club rum in other countries since 1993. The rum sold 3.8 million cases world-wide last year, up from less than 100,000 in 1993. The company had hoped to keep the trademark for the U.S. market in case the embargo was lifted. With 40 million cases a year, the U.S. rum market is the world’s biggest, accounting for 40% of global sales, Pernod said.

“Some people wanted to deprive us from selling Cuban rum into the U.S.,” said Mr. Pringuet, the Pernod CEO. “Well, sorry gentleman, we’re ready.”

While the Obama administration has loosened travel restrictions and the Cuban government under President Raúl Castro has approved economic overhauls, the five-decade-old embargo remains in place.

Fizz This – Tasting Table
A better way to dry-shake
The key to a good egg-based drink, i.e., proper emulsification, can be hard to achieve.

It is sometimes accomplished with a technique called the dry shake, in which the cocktail is shaken first without ice, then shaken once more with ice added.

Even then, emulsification can take forever, as evidenced by the Ramos Gin Fizz. The directions for this classic egg-white cocktail call for excessive dry-shaking of two or three minutes. Consider it the busy bartender’s nightmare.

So it’s no surprise that enterprising bar folk have found ways to cut corners. Here, two of our favorite tips for making your favorite fizz or flip.

The Cat Toy: At a recent Tales of the Cocktail event in Vancouver, legendary New York bartender Audrey Saunders revealed that she adds an (unused) cat toy to the tin before a dry shake. The toy acts like a whisk, helping coagulate the egg’s proteins. Other bartenders have been known to throw the spring from a Hawthorne strainer into the tin for the same effect.

The Sugar Cube: Instead of using simple syrup in her Ramos Gin Fizz, bartender Karin Stanley of Dutch Kills in New York City adds sugar cubes to her tin before dry-shaking, which helps break up the egg and halves the shaking time. She then uses pellet ice to shake further; the small pellets melt faster, thus creating the dilution that would have occurred from using simple syrup.

Get shakin’.

Hard Core Brewing –

Once as common as water in any part of the country with apple trees, hard cider is now on the rebound. For awhile, I’ve been a fan of Warwick Valley’s Doc’s Draft Hard Ciders—especially the pear, which is slightly dry, earthy and loves to be sipped on a sunny day—and I’m happy to report that they are no longer alone on store shelves. A casual walk through a good shop will reveal a growing collection of interesting bottlings. Here are some of my favorites. READ MORE