Categories
Cocktails Drink Recipes Rum Spirits

Celebrating National Rum Day

Everything under the sun has its own day. And today is rum's chance! (Apparently August is also National Rum Month, but that seems to be pushing it a little.)

Rum is probably my favorite spirit. It encompasses so many different possibilities. Sweet, spicy, dry, fiery, toasted, smoky, mixed in a cocktail, or enjoyed on its own. If there's something spirituous you have in mind, rum can probably make it happen.

El Dorado 12 Year OldMy favorite rum to drink neat is El Dorado 12 Year Old. I have many more expensive rums in my collection, but this remains a favorite. It's affordable, versatile, and delicious. Costing under $30 a bottle, it makes a great cocktail, but is also a pleasure to sip like a fine whiskey or brandy.

El Dorado is a demerara rum from Guyana, so it has a rich flavor of brown sugar, along with fruit and spice. It's not overly sweet, though, and some find it slightly smoky (although it's very subtle). It's easily one of the best rums around.

My favorite mixing rum is probably still Appleton Estate V/X. I adore Jamaican rums in general, and the V/X works well in so many different drinks. Plus it costs less than $20 a bottle.

There are dozens of rum cocktails I love, including the Mai Tai, Daiquiri, Mojito, Planter's PunchScorpion, Hurricane, and so many more.

It's hard to beat the classics, but if you're looking to try something new, here are a few recipes that you might want to explore further.

All drinks

For a twist on a classic, try substituting an aged rum for bourbon in a Manhattan.

Rum Manhattan

2 oz. Ron Zacapa 23 Rum
1 oz. Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Stir ingredients with ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Another classic with a slight difference.

Deck Hand Daiquiri
Adapted from a recipe by Tony Abou-Ganim

2 oz. Shellback Silver rum
3/4 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
1 oz. Simple Syrup
Fresh, seasonal fruits and berries

In a mixing glass, muddle fresh fruits with simple syrup. Add lime juice and rum, then shake with ice. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a thin slice of lime and fruit of your choice.

Looking for something savory? Try this.

Garden Mojito
Adapted from a recipe by King & Grove

1 1/2 oz. Brugal Extra Dry Rum
1/2 oz. Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
4 Cucumber Slices
6 Basil Leaves
Club Soda 

In a mixing glass, muddle cucumber and basil with simple syrup. Add remaining ingredients (except soda) and shake with ice. Strain over crushed ice, then top with club soda. Garnish with a cucumber slice.

Do you like sweet and easy? Here you go.

Port Royal Punch

1 750 ml bottle Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum
1 32 oz. bottle Pineapple Juice
3 cups Mango Juice
4 1/2 oz. Grenadine
3 Oranges (sliced thin and quartered)
1 cup Soda Water

In a punch bowl or large serving vessel, add the ingredients and stir. Serve over ice in a punch glass.

Happy Rum Day!

Categories
Spirits Spirits Reviews Whiskey Whiskey Reviews

Whiskey Review: Stagg Jr. Bourbon

Stagg jrStagg Jr.
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Grade: five stars(Highest Recommendation)
Price: $50 (750ml)


Buffalo Trace Distillery
has long been one of the most aggressive whiskey outfits when it comes to experimenting with and producing new bourbons. Their latest is one that's already generating a great deal of interest: Stagg Jr.

A younger version of the highly sought-after George T. Stagg Bourbon, this new bottling is, like its Dad, barrel-proof, uncut and unfiltered; clearly a whiskey designed to appeal to the bourbon connoisseur.

The first batch of Stagg Jr. comes from barrels aged for eight or nine years. (The regular Stagg is aged for at least 15 years.) So it's not a young bourbon by any means. It's coming in at a whopping 134.4 proof (67.2% ABV).

The aroma of the Stagg, Jr. bursts out of the glass. Rich, candied fruit, with moderate ethanol fumes. You can tell it's going to be a strong one.

Taking a few sips, I immediately tasted a burst of caramel sweetness, followed by a delicious grain flavor, and finally closing with a lingering spicy finish. It has quite a kick, but it's a welcome one. This is definitely a hot spirit, but not an overpowering one.

A splash of water brought out even more of the unctuous, almost honeyed sweetness. Stagg is made from Buffalo Trace's "Mash Bill #1," which is their low-rye version, containing a higher percentage of corn. Even so, you can taste the rye influence. There are some pumpkin pie spice hints of cinnamon and clove that help balance out the sweetness.

Stagg jr bourbonInterestingly enough, just a little more water overpowered the spirit. You'd think that a bourbon this strong could handle a lot of dilution, but I found that the flavor started to drown very quickly. So add water with a very strict hand.

I have not had the pleasure of tasting the original George T. Stagg, nor many of the other highly acclaimed bourbons like Pappy Van Winkle. But I am quite confident when I say that this is the best bourbon I've ever tasted.

Expect this whiskey to be almost impossible to find. Once it hits the shelves, people are going to swarm on it like locusts. Stagg Jr. will be available in select markets beginning in August of this year — but not for long.

Categories
News Spirits

Assorted News from the Spirits Business

We're mostly consumer-focused here at Professor Cocktail, but occasionally we come across news from the booze biz that we think you might be interested in.

  • The U.S. spirits market achieved steady growth in 2012, as vodka solidified its position as the leading category on the strength of its top-selling brands. Total U.S. spirits sales rose by 3% to 204 million cases, according to Impact Databank. Smirnoff vodka was #1, rising by 2.1% to 9.8 million cases. Bacardi rum was #2, approximately 200,000 cases behind.
  • Bulleit Bourbon is set to offer a higher-proof, higher-priced offshoot, Bulleit 10. The new 10-year-old Bulleit expression is 91.2-proof (the core brand is 90-proof) and will retail for around $45 a bottle, approximately $20 higher than the core brand, depending on the market. It’s expected to hit shelves this month.
  • In related news, the famed Stitzel-Weller Distillery (once owned by Pappy Van Winkle, now owned by Diageo) is reopening. No doubt the bourbon will be nothing like the stuff they used to make, but it's still kinda cool.
  • Grand Marnier is planning to introduce three new products over the next year: GM Titanium, a double-distilled, clear, Cognac-based spirit targeted at urban millennial consumers; Louis Alex Bourbon Barrel, a new cuvée, double distilled with essence of orange and aged in Bourbon barrels; and Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach, a new flavor extension.
  • Sazerac Co. is introducing Epic, a new French vodka, to the American market. Sazerac plans to start shipping Epic (roughly $13 a 750-ml.) to around 30 states in February, with national availability expected later in the year. Along with the core offering, Epic has six flavor extensions: Peach, Whipped Cream, Kiwi Strawberry, Cherry, Cake and Coconut. Sazerac said more flavors will be added at later dates.
  • Celebrity mixologists Simon Ford, Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric have launched a new venture, The 86 Co., starting with a portfolio of four mixology-focused spirits. The lineup includes Caña Brava ($34.99), a three-year-old rum aged in a combination of new uncharred American oak and used American whiskey barrels; Fords gin ($37.99), distilled in London and featuring a blend of nine botanicals; Tequila Cabeza ($42.99); and Aylesbury Duck vodka ($30.99).
  • Serrallés USA is launching a new ultra-premium Tequila brand, Casamigos, this month. Casamigos was created by actor George Clooney and nightlife entrepreneur Rande Gerber, alongside partner Mike Meldman.
  • Beam sells brands to Luxco for $65M. Including Rebel Bourbon, Calvert whiskey, and Dark Eyes vodka.
  • A. Hardy USA is set to introduce a new liqueur—Serata Amaretto Di Piemonte—to the U.S. market. Produced in Ghemme, Italy, the new offering will be available nationwide beginning next month, priced at $22.99 a 750-ml. bottle.'
  • According to GuestMetrics, the fastest growing cocktail flavors in restaurants and bars in 2012 were Mango (+35), Tea (+30), Ginger (+15), Melon (+15), and Cucumber (+10).

Booze

Categories
Rum Rum Reviews Spirits Reviews

Rum Review: Shellback Silver Rum


Shellback silver rumShellback Caribbean Silver Rum

Bajan Rum
Grade: two stars(Average)
Price: $16 (750ml)

Shellback Caribbean Rum, currently available in silver and spiced varieties, represents another bold move into the spirits world by E.&J. Gallo, the ubiquitous California winemakers. It’s produced in Barbados by the West Indies Rum Distillery, the company that also make the rum that goes into Cockspur and Malibu.

Shellback Silver Rum is reportedly aged for at least one year in once-used American bourbon barrels, which are the most popular barrels for aging rum. It must be heavily filtered after that aging, because it’s completely clear in appearance. There’s a little bit of spice on the nose, but mostly vanilla. Lots and lots of vanilla. You could easily mistake this for vanilla extract. (This could be from the aging, although a year in wood isn’t very long, but more likely it means the distiller gave it a little help.)

The vanilla also hits you on the first sip. It’s not as strong as the aroma, but it’s definitely there. This rum is sweet, with a fruity, molasses-y flavor. There’s just a little spice and acidity that hits you at the end, but mostly it’s sweet vanilla. It also has an appealing creamy texture. This is the standard 40% ABV, but it goes down very easily.

Shellback Silver Rum is acceptable to drink neat, but it’s obviously designed to use in cocktails, and it  works well there. It’s good in a Cherry Daiquiri or Cuba Libre. Any rum drink that works well with a hint of vanilla would likely taste good with Shellback.

This isn’t an especially sophisticated rum. But it’s a useful one, and the low price — I’ve seen it on sale for $11 — can’t be beat.

Categories
Miscellaneous

What to Expect in 2013 According to Professor Cocktail

Everybody likes predictions — especially when the predictor gets things horribly wrong and looks like a dolt. So here are my predictions for the spirituous world in 2013. Bookmark this page so you can come back in a year and see how I did.

An end to whiskey insanity:

The past few years have been crazy ones for the whiskey business. Prices are climbing steadily, yet a shortage of older whiskey remains. More and more rare expressions are hitting the market and there seems to be no ceiling on the demand for them — or the prices they fetch. Bourbons like Van Winkle and the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection have become almost impossible to find. Can all of this continue? I doubt it. Consumer trends are nearly always cyclical and there's no reason to think that whiskey will be any different. Eventually things will settle down and return to a more normal state of affairs. It might as well be this year.

Less complicated cocktails:

When the craft cocktail revolution hit full flower, things got a little out of hand. Cocktails with seven ingredients, two of which had to be made from scratch and one that cost $100 an ounce. Did these drinks really taste good enough to justify all the fuss and expense? Probably not. I think we'll see more normalcy coming to our mixology. Skilled bartenders are still going to make great drinks with delicious and unexpected flavors. They're just going to do so without the extra layer of nonsense.

The year for mezcal:

We all know how popular tequila is. But what about mezcal? Tequila's agave cousin from southern Mexico is poised to break through to a larger audience — and this just might be the year it happens. Look for more brands and expressions to hit the shelves. And give one a try.

More wine in cocktails:

We've been seeing this trend picking up steam the last year or two, and I think it's ready to go mainstream. Cocktails with port and sherry especially are going to start popping up everywhere.

Skinny is the new fat:

Although the merits of the "skinny" trend are debatable, it's not going anywhere. Skinny spirits, skinny wine, skinny cocktails — you're going to see plenty of them this year.

Drink local:

It's been years since Alice Waters began her push to encourage people to eat local. In 2013 we're going to see this trend really start to assert itself in the cocktail and spirits world. Fresh, local ingredients in cocktails, accompanied by regionally-made booze, will continue to grow. People want to know where the stuff in their drinks is coming from, and this desire to drink local will help support the growing craft spirits movement.

Carbonated spirits:

Carbonated cocktails have been featured in recent years in several of the high-end cocktail bars — especially when wizards like Jeffrey Morgenthaler and Jamie Boudreau are behind the stick. But now we're going to see booze that comes with the carbonation right in the bottle. Prevu and Nuvo are at the leading edge of this trend.

 What do you foresee on the horizon? Anything you're excited or horrified about?

Cocktails
(Stolen from People.com)

Categories
Cocktails Drink Recipes

Some Holiday Cocktails to Try

The bars are closed on Christmas, but that doesn't mean a festive cocktail wouldn't hit the spot. You just have to mix it up yourself. Here are some suggestions to get you started.


Highball Holiday hiro cocktail 
Carte blanche  Gin peppermint fling

Whiskey Highball

2 oz Bourbon or Rye Whiskey
Lemon-Lime Soda or Ginger Ale
4 Dashes of Aromatic or Angostura Bitters

Build over ice in an old-fashioned or highball glass, depending on how much mixer you want. The bitters give it a nice Christmas-spice taste that I find festive and delicious.

Holiday Hiro Cocktail

One part Hiro Sake Red (Junmai)
One part Spiced Rum
One part Apple Cider
Sprinkle of Cinnamon

Combine equal parts sake, rum and apple cider. Either heat together in a saucepan over medium heat or in the microwave. Pour into a mug and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Carte Blanche

1 1/4 oz Crown Royal Maple Whiskey
1/3 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Orange Bitters

Shake with ice, then strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Cozy Christmas Cocktail

1 1/2 oz Spiced Rum
3/4 oz Amaretto
1 oz The Perfect Purée Coconut Puree, thawed
4 oz Hot Chocolate

Combine ingredients into a mug. Top with whipped cream, if desired. Serve hot.

Gin Peppermint Fling

2 oz Citadelle Gin
1 oz Heavy Cream
1/2 Egg White
2 oz Peppermint Simple Syrup (see below)

In a shaker, build cocktail in order of ingredients listed. Dry shake (without ice) vigorously until egg white becomes frothy and heavy cream is incorporated. Add ice and shake again. Strain into a chilled, peppermint-rimmed cocktail glass.

Peppermint Simple Syrup

1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Water
10 large Red/White Peppermint Candy Canes

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Dissolve sugar and candies on medium heat, stirring continuously. After sugar and candy has dissolved, heat the syrup to just short of boiling, until it begins to thicken, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow syrup to cool.

Peppermint Garnish

Red/White Peppermint Candy Canes
Peppermint Simple Syrup

Crush candy canes and place on a flat plate. Moisten the edge of the cocktail glass with the peppermint syrup. Dip the edge of the martini glass into the crushed candies and allow rim to dry for one minute.

Categories
Gifts Mixology

Professor Cocktail’s Holiday Gift Guide: Non-Booze

Last week, we ran our holiday gift guide, with suggestions for spirits in different categories. We had posts with rum recommendationsbourbon recommendationsgin recommendations and other spirits recommendations. Today we're closing out the list with non-booze gift suggestions.

Professor Cocktail's Holiday Gift Guide: Non-Booze

You want to get that special tippler in your life a gift, but you don't want to actually give booze. Here are some suggestions that will get you started.



Pimento bittersDale DeGroff's Pimento Aromatic Bitters ($19)

The newest addition to the bitters landscape, crafted with the help of King Cocktail himself. These bitters really spice up classics like a Manhattan and are my new favorite for Tiki drinks.


Oxo jiggerOxo Double Jigger ($9)

One  of the keys to making great cocktails is precise measuring. For that, you need a good jigger. This is my favorite one.


Pdt cocktail bookJim Meehan's The PDT Cocktail Book: The Complete Bartender's Guide from the Celebrated Speakeasy ($16)

One of the best cocktail books to come along in recent years, this makes for both a useful guide and a fascinating read. Plus, it's a beautiful book.


Waring ice crusherWaring IC70 Pro Ice Crusher ($79)

I've been using this for over a year now and I still love it. If you want to crush ice in style, this is the way to go. (See our original review.)



Tovolo ice cube tray
Tovolo King Cube Ice Trays ($8)

Great for making big cubes, which are very useful in cocktails. Pop one into an Old-Fashioned or Manhattan and it will cool the drink fast, but melt slowly.

Categories
Gifts Liqueurs Spirits

Professor Cocktail’s Holiday Gift Guide: Other Spirits

This week we're running our holiday gift guide, with suggestions for spirits in different categories. So far we've offered our rum recommendationsbourbon recommendations and gin recommendations. We're closing the week with other spirits.

Professor Cocktail's Holiday Gift Guide: Other Spirits

Here is a variety of suggestions for booze that didn't fit into the other categories, but would make great gifts.


Grand marnier cherryGrand Marnier Natural Cherry ($40)

A limited edition flavor from the masters of orange liqueur. One of the most delicious cherry liqueurs you'll find. Buy some before it disappears from shelves. (The regular Grand Marnier always makes a great gift as well.)


Tequila avionAvión Silver ($40)

My favorite tequila, and the winner of our Tequila Taste Test. Makes brilliant cocktails or can be savored on its own.


Karlsson's Gold VodkaKarlsson's Gold Vodka ($30)

Vodka with flavor and nuance? Who'da thunk it! Made from seven different kinds of potatoes, this is primo stuff. Leave the Grey Goose on the shelf and give this instead.

Pisco portonPisco Portón ($35)

Pisco, the brandy of South America, is a spirit on the rise, and Portón is the best one I've tasted. Would make a great gift for the drinker who likes to try new things.


Carpano anticaCarpano Antica Sweet Vermouth ($27, 1L)

The champion of all sweet vermouths. Makes delicious cocktails, including perhaps the best Manhattan. It's pricey, so a lot of people wouldn't buy it for themselves. That's why it makes a great gift.

We've included links for each suggestion to K&L Wines (where available). K&L is a great spirits store, with impeccable service and a sterling reputation. You can order from them with confidence. Send them an email to see if they ship to your state. (Note: We're not being compensated for these links.)

Categories
Gifts Rum Spirits

Professor Cocktail’s Holiday Gift Guide: Rum

This week we're running our holiday gift guide, with suggestions for spirits in different categories. So far we've offered our bourbon recommendations and gin recommendations. Today we're doing rum.

Professor Cocktail's Holiday Gift Guide: Rum

Rum doesn't get the respect that whiskey does, but it's just as wonderful a spirit. Although it shines brightest in cocktails, the right rum is also delicious on its own.


Cruzan rumThe Bacardi Alternative: Cruzan Aged Light Rum ($14)

Both better and cheaper than the ubiquitous Bacardi, this rum is aged for two years and then filtered to remove the color. A very good all-purpose rum.


Appleton rumThe Best Jamaican Rum: Appleton Estate Extra 12 Year-Old ($35)

My favorite rum for a whole slew of cocktails, including the Mai Tai, this is also great all by itself. Everyone needs some in the cabinet.


El dorado rumSip, Sip Away: El Dorado 12 Year-Old ($26)

Rich, balanced and bursting with flavor, this is my favorite sipping rum. One of the best buys in all of spirits. Try finding a 12 year-old Scotch this amazing for under 30 bucks.


Banks rumThe Ultimate White Rum: Banks 5 Island ($26)

A great addition to any cocktail. It will make your Daiquiris, Mojitos and everything else sing.


Mount gay rumRum for Whiskey Fans: Mount Gay Extra Old ($40)

Convert the whiskey lover in your life to rum with this dry, complex spirit. Hailing from Barbados, the birthplace of rum, everything Mount Gay makes is good and this is probably their best.

We've included links for each suggestion to K&L Wines (where available). K&L is a great spirits store, with impeccable service and a sterling reputation. You can order from them with confidence. Send them an email to see if they ship to your state. (Note: We're not being compensated for these links.)

Categories
Gifts Gin Spirits

Professor Cocktail’s Holiday Gift Guide: Gin

The holidays are upon us once again. Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or all three, you want to find the perfect gift to give to those you care about. If that special someone enjoys a good tipple, your task is that much easier. Just give them booze!

This week we’ll be running our holiday gift guide, with recommendations for spirits in different categories. First up is gin.

 

Professor Cocktail’s Holiday Gift Guide: Gin

Gifting a bottle to a gin lover is simpler than with most spirits. There aren’t as many choices as there are with Scotch (for example), and most of the brands are damn good.


Tanqueray ginCan’t-Miss Gin: Tanqueray ($19)

One of the world’s most ubiquitous gins is also one of the best. The classic gin of the London dry variety, Tanqueray is always welcome.


Plymouth ginPerfect All-Purpose Gin: Plymouth ($30)

Virtually any cocktail that calls for gin can be deliciously made with Plymouth. Softer and a little sweeter than Tanqueray, every bar (and every gin drinker) needs a bottle on the shelf.


North shore ginThe Gift for the Gin Connoisseur:  North Shore No. 11 ($32)

A truly unique gin that most haven’t heard of, North Shore No. 11 has the classic flavors of a London dry, augmented with amazing herbs and spices. Makes a one-of-a-kind delicious gin and tonic.

We’ve included links for each suggestion to K&L Wines (where available). K&L is a great spirits store, with impeccable service and a sterling reputation. You can order from them with confidence. Send them an email to see if they ship to your state. (Note: We’re not being compensated for these links — but we should be!)