Following Up on the Lesson: The Army & Navy

Last night I followed up on one of Jennifer Colliau's "lost cocktail" recipes.  She dug into the old David Embury book, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks (1948), pulled it from page 235 and tweaked Embury's own 8:2:1 ratio in place of the 2:1:1 listed.  I followed Jen's specifications:

The Army Navy Cocktail

- 2 oz. gin

- 1/2 oz. Small Hand Foods Orgeat

- 1/2 oz. lemon juice

Shake with ice and double-strain into a cocktail glass

This is basically a Gin Sour with Orgeat used as the simple syrup. I thought the Orgeat added a nice creamy texture, but I think I'm going to lighten up on the lemon juice next time around and add a bit more Orgeat to give the almond notes more life.

In any case, this is a simple, easy, deliciously dry aperitif cocktail to wet your whistle before a meal.

-David Driscoll


Whisky Season 2012: First Two Casks on the Shelf!

The pre-arrival orders have been processed, so I'm putting these two babies on the shelf!  Reviews so far have been very, very positive, both from customers who have tasted and our staff members.  The Laphroaig is freakin' fantastic, much better than I remember it tasting in Scotland.  David and I were at one point considering not taking it, but now I don't know what we could have been thinking.  Transfers to SF and LA will be done next week. Redwood City people can begin feasting now!

Kilchoman K&L Exclusive Single Sherry Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $109.99

1994 Laphroaig 18 Year Old K&L Exclusive Chieftain's Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $139.99

The Laphroaig is going to fly once people start tasting it.  At 55% it drinks beautifully with no additional water needed, really. 

-David Driscoll


Sheep Dip Revival

A few years back we carried a 1990 Sheep Dip "Herbridean" Vatted Malt Whisky for about $75 that was part Old Fettercairn, part Dalmore, and part 25 year old Ardbeg.  It was delicious.  I didn't see much more from Alex Nicol and his crazy selection of vatted whiskies until yesterday, when he walked back into K&L and presented me with some familiar names and a couple of fresh faces.  He's got new importation, new distribution, and the prices are more competitive than ever.  I loved all four products and they're all coming into stock today.  We've got plenty of interesting, exciting, expensive whisky.  What about in the under $50 range?  Feast your eyes on these:

Pig's Nose 5 Year Old Blended Whisky $28.99 - Made with 40% single malt, the Pig's Nose drinks like a really tasty, value-priced single malt.  The proportion of grain whisky is almost unnoticeable next to the incredible balance of the Lowland, Speyside, and Islay single malts.  We hope to make this a unique, interesting alternative to the big brand blends we don't currently offer.  I'd choose this over many single malts, let alone inexpensive blended whiskies. Rich, sherry-aged flavors on the entry that last clear until the finish. Yes, please!

Sheep Dip Blended Malt Scotch $39.99 - Created by blending 16 single malt whiskies to create an outstanding blended malt whisky.  Surprising finesse and elegance give way to a majestic and complex pure malty flavor representing all distilling regions of Scotland.  There's all kinds of goodness going on inside this value-priced whisky.

1999 Sheep Dip Amaroso Oloroso Scotch Whisky $46.99 (1 bottle limit) - This didn’t arrive today as scheduled, but it should be arriving in the next week or so.  Keep your eyes peeled.

The mystery malt finally arrives! When the owners of Sheep Dip discovered that some unnamed, yet fully-certified Highland Scotch whisky distilled in 1999 had been sitting in the Oloroso sherry butts of a Spanish Bodega unclaimed, they immediately made an offer to take all of it.  Apparently, a Scottish producer had filled the casks with fresh white dog, but had never returned to collect on his investment.  The bodega owners weren't sure if anyone would even want the whisky at that point.  The sherry really took to this malt, penetrating so deep into the core of the spirit that it's almost unrecognizable as Scotch.  To me, this tastes more like sherry-aged rum, Ron Zacapa or Zaya, but not as overtly sweet.  The vanilla and burnt sugar aromas are supple and inviting, but never over the top.  Anyone who likes Balvenie Doublewood would love this.  One bottle limit per customer because there is a finite amount of this stuff and we can't get very much of it.

Edinburgh Gin $35.99 - Distilled in England on a 200 year old copper pot still called "Jenny," the Edinburgh Gin uses juniper, coriander, citrus peel, angelica and orris root to create a classic, yet decidedly lighter style of gin, perfect for martinis or more subdued, delicate cocktails. After distillation, it's sent back up to Scotland pine heather and milk thistle are then added in an additional maceration.  The result is a tasty dichotomy that harkens back to both old London and old Edinburgh styles of gin production.

-David Driscoll


Some New Arrivals This Week

Now that our 1994 Laphroaig 18 Year Old Chieftain’s K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength has arrived, pre-arrival orders are no longer being taken and we’re sending all the bottles over to our operations team for processing.  As soon as pre-orders have been handled, we can put these on the shelf!  The price will be $139.99.  If you ordered one you should be hearing from us within the next week or so. Of course, our friends at JVS aren’t going to just bring one cask over at a time.  They had a few other knick-knacks on board that container that I thought were quite special.

1993 Linkwood 19 Year Old Chieftain's Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $135.99 - This cask strength Linkwood delivers all the flavor this Speyside institution is known for - creamy vanilla, rich oak, supple malt, and a powerful, spicy finish due to the cask strength proof.  An absolute classic example of the distillery and the style.

1989 Miltonduff 22 Year Old Chieftain's Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $179.99 - Miltonduff is a Speyside distillery we don't see too much from stateside.  This 22 year is aged in hogshead, likely a sherry cask due to the darker color.  The oily flavors come forth first - resinous fruit, wood, and spice.  The finish brings more richness, with the sherry component coming to life.  The full proof adds extra character.  It's definitely worth grabbing for devoted single malt drinkers.

We also brought in some new Rogue products from the famed Oregon brewery:

Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey $39.99As David OG states in the tasting notes, this stuff is waaaaaaaaaay better than it was upon first release.  I literally spit this whiskey out in shock a few years back.  Since then they’ve really turned it around.  The Dead Guy Whiskey is made with the same 4 grains that are used to make Dead Guy Ale since 1991. Northwest Harrington, Maier Munich, Klages, and Carastan malts; Free Range Coastal Water & Distiller's yeast. The bottle also claims the whiskey is “ocean aged,” so maybe they’re putting it on ships off the coast?  In any case, all new packaging, all new whiskey from the famed Oregon brewer.

Rogue Spruce Gin $35.99Made with 14 ingredients - Spruce, cucumber, angelica root, orange peel, coriander, lemon peel, ginger, orris root, grains of paradise, tangerine, juniper berries. Champagne Yeast, Grain Neutral Spirit & Free Range Coastal Water.  A fresh and clean tasting gin from the Oregon brewery.

Both products come in beer bottles with a bottle cap on top, but with a swing top attached for resealing.  More info here on the Rogue website.

Another bitter aperitif liqueur for the mix as well!

Suze Gentian Liqueur 1L $27.99 - Suze Gentiane Liqueur is a bitter aperitif that's been produced in France since 1889, but we're just getting it at K&L now!  Lightly sweet with plenty of gentian bitterness, this is the perfect ingredient for a white negroni, or just plain soda water.

-David Driscoll


Talking About Booze: Part II - Forgotten Ingredients


It's San Francisco Cocktail Week! Time for another episode of cocktail talk! After such a fantastic session with Erik Adkins, Thad Vogler, and Eric Johnson, I had to get Jennifer Colliau and Erik Ellestad together for a second part to this "Talking About Booze" series. Listening to San Francisco's best bartenders talk about the drinks they make is fascinating for anyone who takes their mixing seriously. I've learned so much over the past few years from my conversations with Jennifer and Erik, so I thought filming one of these encounters might be helpful to budding cocktailians. If you didn't know already, Jennifer is the brain behind Small Hand Foods, a company dedicated to recreating lost syrups and sweeteners once indespensable to the world's best bartenders. Erik is the man behind Savoy Stomp, the über-popular blog documenting every single recipe from the famed Savoy Hotel Cocktail Book. Erik's blog was so influential, they actually gave him a job at Heaven's Dog! I met them both by chance in 2009 while sitting with my wife at the HD counter, looking to learn a bit more about what they do. Since then they've become good friends, people I count on when I need help and trusted companions of the liquor industry who share my ideas about education and contagious passion.

Since whisk(e)y from forgotten and lost distilleries has become quite the rage, I thought we could talk about the cocktail equivalents.  Absinthe, Creme de Violette, and Orgeat were not all that accessible in 2007.  Since then there has been a concerted effort to recreate and reintroduce these products into a market hungry for cocktail history. Jennifer has played a large role in this genre herself with the Small Hand Foods products. Erik is a concerted historian who spends his time delving through old manuals in search of more information and lost recipes. There are no two bartenders more equipped to tackle this subject than Erik and Jen.

If you're looking to recreate some of these drinks at home, here are the recipes for a few "forgotten" cocktails mentioned in the video:

The Army Navy Cocktail

- 2 oz. gin

- 1/2 oz. Small Hand Foods Orgeat

- 1/2 oz. lemon juice

Shake with ice and double-strain into a cocktail glass

The Brooklyn Cocktail

- 2 oz. rye whiskey

- 1 oz. dry vermouth

- 1/4 oz. maraschino liqueur

- 1/4 oz. Amer Picon (or Paolucci CioCiaro since Amer Picon is not available in the U.S.)

Stir with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Pisco Punch

- 2 oz. Pisco

- 3/4 oz. lemon juice

- 3/4 oz. Small Hand Foods pineapple gum syrup

Shake vigorously with ice and double-strain into a cocktail glass.

From the Savoy Cocktail Book (adapted by Erik Ellestad)

Inca Cocktail

- 3/4 oz Italian Vermouth

- 3/4 oz Dry Vermouth

- 3/4 oz Sherry (Manzanilla)

- 3/4 oz Dry Gin (Navy Strength is fun)

- Barspoon Orgeat

- Dash Orange Bitters

 Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Barbary Coast Cocktail

- 3/4 oz Scotch

- 3/4 oz Dry Gin

- 3/4 oz Creme de Cacao

- 3/4 oz Cream

 Shake with ice and pour down the sink.

-David Driscoll