Navigation
Friday
Jul172015

A Must-Have Gin

I didn't know what yerba mate was until a year ago when I visited Oaxaca and the chef at the restaurant where we were eating used the local herb to flavor one of the meat dishes. Typically consumed as a tea in Latin America, yerba mate is used in all sorts of regional beverages from healing elixirs to energy drinks, and it's cultivated heavily in Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. One of the many reasons I love gin is because—in the spirits worldit's really as close as we can get to actual terroir with liquor. Different parts of the world grow different herbs, botanicals, and spices, which means each geographical location can put its own spin on the historic beverage. As new distilleries come online, each has the chance to add something new to the genre, or as Apostoles Mate brand owner Tato Giovannoni says, "New world gins move away from the strong wintery flavors of junipers and use it merely as a platform for more regional and contemporary notes."

Produced out of Mendoza, Argentina on a copper still in 200 liter batches, the Principe de los Apostoles gin uses yerba mate as well as other potent herbs from South America to offer an entirely new take on the spirit. It's absolutely delicious, full of fresh minty flavor and a vibrant finish that is both clean and savory. I'm totally enamored with it at the moment, both for its unique flavor and its geographical basis. I love that we're living in an age where new regions of the world can bring something new to the conversation. Most of all, I love that we were able to get our hands on some of this for all you K&L gin drinkers. Check it out:

Principe De Los Apostoles Mate Gin $32.99- The first premium gin from Argentina brings not only divine botanical flavor, but a marriage of fine herbs and spices not normally used in standard gin production. Yerba mate is a an herb derived from rain forest trees, and consumed primarily in Central and South America where it's made into a beverage called "mate". It is said to have the strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate all in one. Made at a small distillery in Mendoza, Renato Giovannoni’s new project uses the famed yerba mate, as well as peppermint, eucalyptus, coriander, and pink grapefruit skin. The mouthfeel is creamy and soft, and the botanicals are potent, as flavors of spearmint, savory herbs, and bits of citrus wash over the palate to a clean and vibrant finish. This is the first must-have gin we've tasted this year. Mix it with tonic and add a sprig of eucalyptus for fun. It's absolutely divine. 

-David Driscoll

Thursday
Jul162015

Empty Barrels

If you've ever wondered what we do with the empty Bourbon barrels we purchase each time we bottle a cask, the above photo should clear that up. We send them to our brewer friends! The up-and-coming new SoCal brewery Modern Times recently made two different imperial stouts exclusively for us: one aged in a Four Roses barrel, the other in an Elijah Craig cask. You can imagine that our beer list pretty much exploded when we emailed these two little gems out last week. While you can no longer buy a bottle from this very special project, you can indeed taste these two beers tonight, Thursday the 16th, in our Redwood City store at 5 PM.

I'd get here early if I were you. These are going to get emptied fast.

-David Driscoll

Thursday
Jul162015

Stiggin's Fancy

When I first had requests from customers to order this new "Stiggin's Fancy" pineapple rum, I thought I was dealing with some super-sweet, tropical-flavored, artificial slop that some big brand had whipped up for a blender bonanza. You put the words "pineapple" and "rum" together and I start shuddering just from thinking of the potential hangover. However, we were getting literally hundreds of requests, so I knew something was up.  It wasn't until I finally did a Google search that I realized this was a David Wondrich project with a serious nod to the classic cocktails of the Dickensian era (see the New York Times article here). Packaged in a beautiful bottle and made with complete restraint, the Ferrand family has really upped their game in Tiki Town as of late. First, they delivered the fantastic dry Curacao that all we orange liqueur fanatics have been begging for. Now, another quality-oriented creation that uses a pineapple bark infusion to add just the right amount of flavor.

In classic Wondrich fashion, the complete story is on the label. As far as what to do with it: the world is your oyster! Mai Tais, Piña Coladas, rum and coke, rum on the rocks, rum straight out of the bottle and into your mouth—however you like it!

We've gotcha covered:

Plantation "Stiggin's Fancy" Pineapple Dark Rum $29.99 - With a nod to Charles Dickens, the folks at Ferrand teamed up with renowned cocktail historian David Wondrich to create a serious pineapple rum that focuses completely on flavor, rather than sweetness. Made by infusing the flesh of pineapples in the standard Plantation Dark Rum. Then, seeking more aromatics, Ferrand distilled the pineapple rind with the classic white rum, then blended the two and matured them for an extra period in barrel. The result is something completely unexpected and absolutely delicious. Not at all sweet, goopy, or in the vein of Malibu Maui. This is a resurrected piece of history that should make your cocktail mixing that much better.

-David Driscoll

Thursday
Jul162015

Cut Spike Magic

Upon the arrival of our third batch of Cut Spike yesterday, I immediately popped a bottle and took a quick sip. A huge smile quickly washed over my face. "It's the best parts of batch one and two combined!" I said to Kyle. "It still has tremendous richness, but it's really moved beyond the core of creaminess. It's beginning to develop its own house style." The tremendous achievement inside these bottles is not only the deliciousness of the whisky, but the fact that the Cut Spike truly has its own unique character. It's not just a good tasting single malt; it's full of spruce, and ginger, and other exotic elements that are completely unlike any other whisky I've tasted. But where do those flavors come from? In an attempt to learn more about what exactly goes on over there in Nebraska, I reached out to distiller Jason Payne for a more detailed explanation.

Here's what he had to say:

I have listed some of the "magic stuff" that I think makes Cut Spike Single Malt Whiskey unique and special!  Let me know if this is what you were thinking.

1) The limestone filtered water from the Ogallala Aquifer that we ship in from the Sandhills of Nebraska is something, as far as I'm aware, nobody else is doing.  The water is truly delicious, and acts as the perfect compliment to our hand-crafted whiskey when proofing the spirit.  Hardly touched by the elements of man, the liquid is pumped directly from the Blue Spring Creek that runs beneath the prairie land of the Sandhills.  Only a simple filtering process is implemented that removes sand and sediment before it is packaged and shipped off to the distillery.  

2) We should not disregard that fact that our stills are hand-pounded copper stills produced in the far land of Scotland. Hailing from the mecca of great whiskey, our pot stills were constructed by a family run company that has been producing whiskey stills since the early 20th century. This company has been producing stills for many of the renowned distilleries of Scotland, and we are fortunate to have two traditional pot stills here in our distillery in Nebraska. Even more interesting, is that the design of our stills is based off the design of one of our favorite distilleries (I think I don't want to reveal exactly which distillery our stills are modeled after - it may be proprietary info). When producing a premium whiskey, the exact shape of the still being used matters, just ask the Scottish. We modeled our stills off one of the best distilleries out there, but exactly who that is will have to remain confidential...

3) The blend of barrels we use to age the whiskey is ever evolving as we continue to hone our craft and strive to create one of the best whiskeys around. The barrels we buy are premium dry-aged barrels used to promote maximum interaction between the wood and the whiskey. We implement new charred oak barrels in our aging process, and then blend the whiskey that has been aged in barrels of different char levels ranging from toasted to a #4 (alligator) char. Used bourbon barrels and freshly emptied wine casks are used in finishing single malt aging process. The distillers at Cut Spike distillery have a proprietary blend that gives Cut Spike its own unique flavor. The exact blend will remain a secret with the distillers.

4) Before whiskey there must be beer - without the hops that is! We are fully trained brewers who decided to jump into the distilling world. So making whiskey wash was our expertise upon entering this wonderful world, and making a great wash is the first step to making a great whiskey. First and foremost, we use only the highest quality suppliers of barley. We have quality control measures throughout the process that do everything from: calculating fermentable sugars in the wash to maximize yields, counting yeast cells for proper fermentations, controlling the temperatures of these fermentations to reduce unwanted by-products, and resting the wash for at the appropriate temperature and for the appropriate length of time to "clean" the wash before distillation. All these controls and measures ensure that we are producing consistent wash at the highest quality.  And this is not something that can be learned overnight. It is as much a desired skill as that of distilling amazing spirits.

Does that explain it? I don't know. All I know is that this batch of Cut Spike is bigger than the last batch, and despite the greater amount of available bottles, I expect it to sell even faster than previously once we launch the email notice. It's the best batch yet, which is really saying something.

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Jul152015

Singani Basics

I've been getting a lot of emails lately—and for good reason—about the Singani 63. Namely: what in the hell do I do with this stuff? As one reader wrote:

David—I saw the Soderbergh party in LA, it looked awesome, everyone seems to be enjoying this stuff, so I bought a bottle, but I have no idea what to do with it.

Don't worry! If you're not on the same track as our Academy Award-winning director friend (drinking Singani straight on the rocks), then an amazing cocktail is just a few simple steps away. Personally, I have many intriguing Singani recipes I've developed over the last six months (email me if you want more suggestions), but one stands far and away above the rest. AND....it's so easy to make that there's almost a 0% chance that you'll mess it up. It's a spin on an Aviation, which is fitting because there's a floral element to Singani that mimics that little dash of Creme de Violette you sometimes add to the famed cocktail. All you need is:

1 bottle of Singani 63

1 bottle of Luxardo Maraschino liqueur

1 lemon

ice

(simple syrup optional)

Pour 1 and 1/2 oz. of Singani into your shaker. Add 1/2 oz. of Luxardo Maraschino and 1/2 oz. of fresh squeezed lemon juice. Add ice. Shake and strain (I double strain through a fine mesh to get those little ice chips out).

And voila! There it is! A cocktail so freaking delicious you'll likely slurp it down in under a minute. I made one just a few minutes ago, took a picture, and then pretty much downed it in one sip. I could honestly drink this every single day and never get tired of it.

Seriously. We're not just kissing Soderbergh's ass when we say that Singani 63 is one of the most easy-to-like products in the store. It's the ketchup of the bar: you can put it in almost anything and it's going to taste good. Try it for yourself and be your own judge. 

-David Driscoll