The Cheat Sheet: The Professor’s Guide to the Best Cocktail and Spirits Links

Posting will probably be light this week, so here are some things worth reading that will keep you busy in the meantime. 

  • Liquor.com offers up a list of the things they're looking forward to in 2012. The one on their list that's most interesting to me: Pierre Ferrand is introducing a classic cognac-based orange liqueur, Dry Curaçao Ancienne Méthode. Great news!
  • The Los Angeles Times has a cool piece on Neat, a new bar in Glendale, CA, that has more than 300 bottles of carefully selected spirits. The twist? They serve all their liquor straight-up (i.e., neat) with a variety of chasers. An eccentric idea, but I'd definitely visit.
  • Serious Eats has an excellent primer on rum, my favorite spirit. Well worth reading.
  • Speaking of rum, Simon Difford has very complimentary things to say about English Harbour's line of rums. (I've only got the 5 year in my cabinet.)
  • Meanwhile, The Spir.it provides an overview of tequila. I drink tequila on the rare occasion, but have never developed an appreciation for it.
  • New York Distilling Company, a new player on the craft spirits scene, is doing some interesting things. They're currently selling two types of gin — an American gin and a Navy-Strength gin — and later this year will introduce an Old Tom Gin and a Rock & Rye. If anyone is paying attention out there, please send me a bottle!
  • An article from a few months back: Eric Asimov wrote about Calvados for the New York Times. I've never tried Calvados — an apple brandy made in Normandy — although I have had American apple brandy.
  • Another one I missed a little while back: Camper English wrote about bartenders infusing their own spirits for the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • Simon Ford visited Moscow and reports back on the best bars to visit.
  • Tulare County, California — next door to my old stomping grounds of Bakersfield — grows lots of Meyer Lemons. Now Charbray Distillery is combining them into their small-batch vodka. I don't usually drink flavored vodka, but this sounds like it could be good.
  • Can you stock a bar with just 12 bottles? Here's a good way to start. I think one type of tequila would be enough, though. I would replace it with an amaro (or Campari) or a blended scotch.
  • Would you drink a beer called Wild Onion Hop Slayer? What if you knew it came in a can? Here's a list of 6 new extreme canned beers. (I'm at a loss to explain why the can is a selling point.)
  • What's the best brand of vodka? According to bartender Jessica Smith of Bubble Lounge (Fairfield, Conn) it's Absolut. I've never cared much for it myself. Sobieski or Stoli are better.
  • Will Gordon shares his thoughts on the best cheap spirits. The only one of these that I've tried is Cruzan Black Strap Rum — and it's recommended if you like your rum dark and molasses-y. Not a spirit you'd drink every day, but it has its uses.
  • Learn about bitters — an essential, too often overlooked cocktail ingredient — including some of the bartenders making their own.
  • Did you know you can make your own coffee liqueur? It's not even that hard. I never drink coffee liqueur, though, so I don't think I'll be doing this.

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